Trying to decide what to do on the world’s most exciting continent is a challenge. Safari Consultants founder Bill Adams tells us his favourite places
It never ceases to amaze me that there’s “always something new out of Africa”. I can vividly remember the first time I tracked rhino on foot in South Africa’s private Timbavati Game Reserve, walked among a herd of buffalo in Botswana’s Okavango Delta or saw the wildebeest migration in Kenya’s Masai Mara. However, my favourites stand out well above the rest:
Best for kids – Kenya
The non-malarial areas of South Africa are the most obvious choice, but being a safari purist I’ve gone for Kenya as my favourite country for a family holiday. My children were four, six and ten when we first went and it was a great success. You can achieve a good balance of safari, culture, activities and beach. Mobile phones, tablets and computers have little place here and you’ll be amazed by how they adapt to some quality time in the natural environment.
• TA Tip At Kicheche Mara Camp, your children can enjoy shooting bows and arrows with the askaris (night watchmen), baking cakes in a tin trunk with the camp chefs and visiting local schools. You don’t need to seek out places with ‘kids’ clubs’, as most good small lodges and tented camps offer this kind of activity as a matter of course.
Best place to splurge – Botswana
As a whole, this southern African country offers the continent’s most exclusive safari experience, albeit at a price. Outstanding lodges on huge private concessions give you the chance to explore the numerous attractions, away from the crowds.
• TA Tip A visit to the Okavango Delta’s islands and waterways is a must, but make sure you also spend a few nights at a concession such as Wilderness Safaris’ Chitabe Camp or Great Plains’ Selinda Camp.
Best remote park – Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
I first travelled to this secluded reserve in 1988 when the only access was over a manually operated pontoon, as the engines had long given up. The sheer quantity of wildlife was staggering, and we had the 15,000sq-km area to ourselves. Indeed, our group accounted for well over 10 per cent of the total visits that year. Ruaha is now significantly larger, having combined with the Rungwa, Kizigo and Usangu reserves, but still relatively undisturbed.
• TA Tip Read more about Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park by clicking here.
Best for adventure – North-west Namibia
My fondness for this southern African country goes back to when I was stationed there during my military conscription. The wilderness areas of Damaraland and the Kaokoland are truly alluring. To appreciate them fully, escape the villages and lodges, follow the elephant paths and camp up remote river valleys. The ever-changing scenery and rawness are awe-inspiring.
• TA Tip Travel with guides who know the area well such as Chameleon Holidays, Karibu Safari and Kunene Tours.
Best for wildlife – Masai Mara, Kenya
For sheer animal numbers and ease of viewing, the Mara rises head and shoulders above anywhere else. The glorious, rolling grasslands interspersed with forested glades give refuge to both predator and prey alike, and it’s not uncommon to see more than 20 species at once. Couple that with the charismatic Maasai, who graze their cattle in relative harmony with the wildlife, and it’s not difficult to appreciate that if you only go on safari once in your life, this is the place to go.
• TA Tip Stay in the conservancies bordering the northern edge of the reserve. They’re more exclusive and better for predators. Depending on your requirements and budget, consider Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Plains Camp or Kicheche Bush Camp.
Best secret – Namaqualand, South Africa
For around six weeks a year — between August and September — the vast, arid plains and mountains of this region are ablaze in a floral spectacle that will amaze even those uninterested in botany. Dependent on good winter rains and the warming spring sunshine, the fields erupt in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colours, stretching from Cape Town in the south to the Richtersveld on the border of Namibia.
• TA Tip For more on South Africa’s wildflower route, read Ann and Steve Toon’s article and guide on travelafricamag.com.