It is magical to be in a vehicle watching wildlife. Whether you are self driving or being taken around in an open sided vehicle by your guide the excitement of spotting an animal or bird and then watching it does not diminish.
However here are some suggested other ways of seeing wildlife and experiencing all that the bush has to offer:
This has to be one of the nicest ways of seeing wildlife at a pace that suits you. It is also a chance to see the smaller things that you miss when in a vehicle. Your guide and ranger (armed) have excellent eyes for spotting all sorts of things and enjoy interpreting the tracks and signs along the way. Your heart rate will rise when you see lion or a herd of elephant but your guides ensure that you are not in any danger.
These types of safari could be for a few hours or for several days, usually starting after an early breakfast and taking breaks during the heat of the day. Distances are not great but can be extended if you have to go round an animal. Moving quietly through the bush brings you close to many animals and gives you a chance to study their actions. The beer at your camp is always welcome at the end of the day!
Walking safaris are in some of the best wildlife areas in Africa and come highly recommended.
This is another great way of seeing wildlife and enjoying the thrill of horse riding in the bush. Having a certain amount of skill at riding helps and those who are confident will enjoy the freedom of riding over the veldt or through bush. Other animals seem to accept horse and rider as something not to worry about, allowing you to ride close to them.
As with walking you can spend half a day or be in the saddle for a few days. In the latter case the crew ride on ahead of you to set up camp so that when you arrive the fire is lit, the kettle is boiling and the tents are up. The horses are very well looked after are usually as keen as you to head out.
For those that are not so comfortable on horses, there are places that will accommodate your skill levels and set a time table that allows time to recover from each ride – perhaps visiting the area’s wildlife on a game drive as an alternative.
This activity is available in many African destinations so has different scenery and wildlife opportunities to consider.
Mountain Biking Safaris
As cycling has become more popular so the advent of the mountain bike safari has come in to being. Some lodges/camps have offered this for a number of years but the scale, length of the safari and locations have grown. As with walking and riding, decide on how much time you want to spend in the saddle and tailor make your trip accordingly.
Presently there are not as many longer distance cycling safaris as with horse riding but this is changing. Picking the right time of the year (and this applies to walking and riding) is important and the amount of your holiday that you want to spend doing this activity.
It is all about the planning and the options available and of course the time you have and the price you want to pay.
This is another completely different way of seeing wildlife. Many Lodges and camps based on or very near water offer trips on lakes and rivers in boats of varying sizes. This is a terrific way to see things like hippo, crocs and a host of birds up close and having the chance of seeing rarities such as otters. One of the best moments must be when you are on the water watching the sun go down and a herd of elephant come down for their evening drink.
Now picture yourself in a kayak on a river or lake doing the same trip. Somehow it seems more magical and personal. There are options to kayak for a few days or just for a day or less.
Sea kayaking can be just as much fun with inquisitive seals coming to check you out and dolphins tempting you to try to race them.
Photo courtesy of Isibindi Africa
Island Hopping Dhow Safaris
In places like Mozambique and Madagascar where there are so many different islands to explore, then taking a dhow safari is the best way of travelling between them. With the option of taking to kayak to explore further afield or to visit the mangrove swamps there is always something to do and see.
Diving off the dhow to go snorkelling or to swim to shore ready to help set up camp for the night on a deserted beach helps to leave the modern world behind. There is something special when you sail in to a bay, drop anchor and then snorkel over pristine coral. Later sitting around a fire made of drift wood and with the waves on the beach as a backdrop symphony as you discuss the day’s events is unique.
Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis
Photo courtesy of Peter Ellis
Not all game lodges are welcoming of children and it is worth discussing this with your advisor. For those with concerns about health there are places that are malaria free and have just as good wildlife to offer. There are a good number of lodges that welcome families and in some places the adults’ are envious of their children’s activities. Who would not want to make a bow and arrow and then go in to the bush tracking!
Looking to older children’s requirements there are places that have options to be involved in work with animals in crisis or learn about conservation. For those contemplating a Gap Year careful planning will ensure that you have a truly worthwhile experience, which should look good on a C.V. Getting value for money is important and researching each option is vital.
If your interest is in the history of Africa or archaeology then there are places that will take you back to the dawn of man or to the battlefields of a number of wars – WW1, WW2, Boer, Zulu and a host of places relating to the wars for independence. There are many places to see Bushman art and to learn about a prehistoric hand axe and even try making one yourself. The museums found in East and Southern Africa are an overlooked but hugely interesting source of information. Adding in these to your safari itinerary will enhance the whole experience.
Safaris to see a given animal/bird
The obvious type of safari in this category is trekking to see the mountain gorillas of Rwanda but if you long to see a leopard or rhino or a host of different birds then careful planning is required. There is never any guarantee when wildlife spotting but your chances of seeing something in particular is enhanced by being in the right place.
There are migrations that go on all year but being at pinch points such as river crossings or just in the right part of the migration ensure you have the best view of this amazing spectacle. The same applies to birding – seeing the birds in their mating plumage are seeing them at their best – so pick the right time of the year.
Which ever type of safari you have in mind it is always worth talking to an expert about what, where, when and how to go. It will always pay dividends.
It was good news at the end of last week when the Foreign and Commonwealth Office revised its views on travel to Kenya. Apart from those regions abutting the border with Somalia, the rest of the country is considered safe for travellers.
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
Being one of the first to take advantage of this news could ensure you have a wonderful safari in iconic African surroundings, finishing with time on one of the world’s best beaches and all at very reasonable prices. Provided you do not want to go in school holidays or when the wildebeest migration is in the Masai Mara then you could very well be going for a 4 night safari followed by 5 nights on the beach and including your flights for under £2,500 per person.
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
Nor are we talking about large hotels and crowded minibuses. We are thinking of small tented camps in some of the best locations in Kenya. Because you will be in a Conservation area or Game reserve that exists alongside the National Parks, you will have a feeling of safaris as it was when it all started. Then there is time to relax on a stunning silver beach and the warm Indian Ocean to swim in. Relax, snorkel, dive or deep sea fish – it is all up to you.
Direct flying time is just over 8 hours and usually overnight allowing you to start your safari soon after you arrive.
Holidays to Kenya? This has been a question that has been asked regularly following the security issues in the country and the FCO warning relating to Mombasa Island and parts of Nairobi.
The Kenyan Government has been pouring in huge resources to ensure that security around all tourist destinations is as high as is possible. Almost all safari destinations, because of their remoteness, are considered safe and the security on the beaches north and south of Mombasa has increased massively.
The answer to whether this is a safe holiday destination is a very personal one. Being informed about the risk helps to make the decision, so feel free to call and chat about your proposed destinations. We receive regular up dates from the lodges in Kenya, both on the coast and inland, and the Kenya Tourist Board keeps us well informed on the latest situation and Government initiatives.
Personally, I am returning to Kenya in October to visit some of the key safari destinations so that I will have my own feel for the situation. I do feel that it is a safe destination, subject to you having a well planned itinerary and using a reputable ground handler.
If you would like to discuss this further, get in touch by email or phone on the following:
Family holidays in Kenya – if you still are wondering if you can get away this summer or over the May and October half terms with the children, then there is the chance to plan a safari and time on the beach and the children under the age of 12 stay at the hotels free!
Pictures courtesy of Peter Ellis
One of our favourite hotel companies is making this offer for families that wish to explore Kenya between May and October. Combine a stay in one of their Safari Lodges in either in the Msai Mara or Tsavo West with a stay in either of their beach hotels and take advantage of this offer.
With time learning about the animals in one of Africa’s top National Parks followed with time on the silver sands of the Kenya coast and you will have something for everyone.
Experience Holidays along with Destination Quebec are attending Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia London, 29th January – 1st February 2015. This is the UK’s biggest and longest-running travel show.
Come along and visit us on stand AC12 to discuss your travel plans.
As if going on safari is not exciting enough you could combine your stay here with some truly amazing sporting events making your holiday one to remember for all sorts of reasons. The obvious one, and one of the oldest events (first one in 1953), is the East African Safari Classic Rally that is held in November. Let us know your interest and we will ensure your trip is tailored to see the start or watch a particularly stunning point.
If you fancy running a marathon then the Nairobi Marathon in October would see you running with about 23,000 other participants and if a full marathon sounds like too much hard work, then half marathon and 10km are also included. But for the truly braver runner then there is the Masai Mara Marathon, held in the Masai Mara National Reserve in August. You will have unusual spectators – all the wildlife of the reserve, some of which may help you cover the ground faster. This can be a 5km fun run, 5km elite or 21 km run. Just let us know which you fancy.
For those of you that have always fancied yourself as a good off road driver, then consider the Rhino Charge held in May. Held to raise funds for wildlife conservation in Kenya it is held on rough terrain covering mountains and forest ecosystems. Come and take part or just watch those that are. It is all a matter of organisation and planning.
If any of the above take your fancy then please get in touch:
With the sun starting to shine and the temperatures beginning to rise, our thoughts turn to the summer – the hopes that the weather here in the UK will be lovely, and the realisation that it’s probably not likely! If you haven’t already planned your summer holiday, now is the time to think about it. Flights and accommodation are starting to get very busy for the peak travel dates in July and August and before long it will be tricky to find availability.
Consider the United States or Canada – perfect for a family holiday with plenty of diverse attractions to include – vibrant cities, wild national parks, stunning scenery and of course beautiful beaches. Get out on the open road in a hire car or motorhome, and explore at your leisure. We can help you build an itinerary to cater for your interests and preferences.
Picture courtesy of Gill Kemp
Or how about Southern Africa? Whilst our summer is their winter, this time of year brings glorious clear skies, great game viewing and a fascinating culture. The exchange rates with the South African Rand at the moment make this a very affordable region to consider.
Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis
Finally, if your timeframe allows, consider a bespoke or tailor made trip to Australia – the northern tropical part of the country will be in its dry season – the best time of year to travel. Enjoy beautiful sandy beaches, the incredible Great Barrier Reef or the ancient Daintree Rainforest. The north west of the country is home to the Kimberley region – a wild and unspoilt outback best explored by four-wheel drive or by expedition style ship along the coast.
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