Arguably, the most typical and popular reason tourists come to Africa is for a safari experience. However, some sights – such as the Serengeti in Tanzania – are becoming increasingly overcrowded, making them feel more like a zoo at times than a genuine experience with the wildness of Africa. This article will show you some of the more unique and off-the-beaten-trail safaris you can take across Africa that will give you a much richer experience of the real Africa. For those who are simply looking for something a little different from a traditional safari experience with a bit more adventure thrown in.
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Safari Experience: Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
This safari experience here is not a particularly unique safari experience, but the writer of this article spent his honeymoon there and cannot recommend it enough. Unlike the overcrowded Serengeti in the north of the country, here you will most likely be the only people around. Quite literally, you will have a guide all to yourself, and you will not even see Masai villages on your 8-hour day safari experience. Although you can visit some genuine ones just outside the reserve included in your package – also an incredible experience with your personal interpreter/guide. This safari experience is the real, wild Africa you’ve always dreamed of. And with the highest concentration of Elephants, Lions, Buffalo, and Hippos in Africa, your chances of seeing all of these are around 100%. And the icing on the cake is that you’ll have the whole, vast reserve to yourself. In fact, the only way to access the reserve is by single-propped aircraft landing on a dirt strip runway. Flying in, while looking at giraffes gracefully galloping through the plains and tree lines through your aircraft window, is a magical experience in itself. All in all, this safari experience is highly recommended; and it’s worth mentioning that you can get some reasonable last-minute deals just before the rainy season where the handful of resorts close down.
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Safari Experience: Okavango, Botswana
Okavango is Botswana’s spectacular delta region, often described as one of the ‘natural wonders of the world, unreachable by vehicles, so well and truly a slice of the wild and untouched Africa. There are two very unique experiences here for the adventurous and those with a bit too much to splurge. The first is a helicopter excursion based in Chief’s Camp – a seasonal island created by the annual floodwaters – in a luxury tented camp. This safari experience is the aerial adventure of a lifetime that takes you across the delta, viewing some of the rarest and endangered animals in Africa. You will experience this on a doors-off helicopter to take in the entire thrilling experience! Needless to say, this safari experience creates some phenomenal opportunities for aerial photographs, so it would be wise to take a decent camera with you. The second safari experience is horse-riding across the delta. Obviously, this is not for the faint-hearted and best for those who are comfortable on the saddle. There are only very few activities that can match galloping across the delta next to herds of buffalo and giraffes, so for the adventurous, there are limited activities that can beat this safari experience.
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Safari Experience: Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique
Organize a tailor-made safari experience around this gorgeous archipelago with a 12-foot traditional dhow (i.e., a traditional sailing boat) and/or sea kayaks, led by a crew of professional sailors. You can hop between the numerous pristine, untouched islands, and even spend time on a couple of those that have lodges. In between your island hopping, you can sea-kayak out to prime snorkeling spots in this aquatic paradise, which is home to a diverse variety of fish, turtles, and the rare dugong (i.e., sea cows). And after all of these nautical adventures, you can feast with Mozambique’s famously delicious barbecued seafood over an open fire.
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Safari Experience: Volcanoes National Park and Virunga mountains, Rwanda
For those who like to volunteer or enjoy the act of giving back to society, can also visit Africa. The Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project in Rwanda represents one of the best conservation projects on the continent. A conservation safari experience in the breathtaking Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda gives you the opportunity to learn about the epic struggles the Veterinary Project faces to save the last few remaining mountain gorillas in this part of Africa. This was the region that brought the plight of the Rwandan mountain gorillas to the world stage, with Dr. Dian Fossey’s famous book ‘Gorillas in the Mist’, which was also turned into an award-winning movie, starring Sigourney Weaver.
Courtesy of Free pictures for conservation/VisualHunt
Okonjima Reserve is a 55,000-acre sanctuary for around 1000 cheetahs and leopards that have been saved from poachers. But happily, over 85% of these have been successfully rehabilitated and brought back into the wild. The Africat Foundation, based in Okonjima, Namibia, is a charity that educates locals and farmers on issues such as how to protect their livestock from these formidable predators without having to resort to killing them. This safari experience makes a fairly sobering feeling in some ways, as you see the grim effects that poaching and other human activities have on Africa’s wildlife. From another perspective, it’s also a very rewarding experience because your stay here directly benefits the ongoing and successful conservation efforts. Also, as a guest here, you can get closer to cheetahs than you ever could on game drives, and see a plethora of other species on a walking safari experience. The overall experience is nicely balanced, and you can leave with a very warm feeling that your money has gone towards a worthy cause.