“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” – Ernest Hemingway
In the realm of worldly travel and exploration, the safari is itself a timeless classic. It is a unique experience of wilderness and wildlife, adventure and intrigue, learning, excitement, and most often finished with a dash of British signature luxury. In fact, the only thing that the wild African savannas have yet to welcome is an Aston Martin in all her elegance. Luckily for the same reason, there is still an expanse of untamed wildlife and wilderness for the Gentleman to explore.
If the gentleman fancies international travel, a safari is an absolute necessity. In fact, the Swahili word “safari” means just that: a trip or journey. By that same association, the reference to a safari typically implies you are headed for the African continent. This digest should help accommodate your next adventure to the cradle of mankind.
Travelers typically find themselves in locations renowned for the wildlife and landscapes they are seeking. If you are searching for Gorillas, go to Uganda or Rwanda (or the DRC, safety permitting). If you want to witness the great migration of Wildebeest and Zebra, set out for the Maasai Mara or Serengetti. If it’s penguins and Great Whites you are after, Cape Town is your destination. For rainforests and a view of Mount Kenya, explore the Aberdares.
- Tip: don’t try to ‘see it all’ in one go. Find a place where your heart can wander and experience the surroundings that are unlike anywhere else on earth. If they don’t have both elephants and leopards, so be it (though the two are often rather close).
- Seasons: timing can be everything. Be sure to research the best times of year for your target wildlife, climate, and geography. For example, the Great Migration occurs in Southern Kenya during the time between mid-July and early October.
- The Ark of the Aberdare rainforest in Kenya is one of a kind. It is a hotel literally shaped as an ark, set in the middle of the rainforest, and surrounded by elephants. Enough said.
- Olerai House is a quiet getaway with only three rooms, not far from Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley. This private enclave is high recommended…pause for emphasis there.
Mode of travel and accommodation is often an afterthought, but it is most probably the heart of your experience on a safari. Are you seeking a guided tour of the savanna? Should you take the 110 Defender, or a hot air balloon? Here are a few ways to slice it:
- Professional Guide & Lodge: This is generally a permanent camp in or near a park reserve, catered, may include entertainment, and pairs you with an experienced guide to drive you through the park in search of game.
- Tip: Always choose a company that employs trained, local guides. A Maasai knows a lion trail or track because he’s hunted one before. When in doubt, ask him, “Amaa, ey sidai ngishu?” If he doesn’t know what you’re saying, ask for a different driver. However, you won’t need to worry about that with the companies we’ve listed here.
- Day Drive: In some parks, you can drive your own vehicle on established paths and park at designated areas to have a meal and a view. Lake Nakuru offers this option for visitors from Nairobi.
- Camping: This is the ‘real deal’ for visitors, or a weekend past time for locals. Camp at your own risk…and enjoyment. The benefit of camping is that you escape the confinement of riding around in a vehicle for hours on end.
Quality & Luxury
The quality of your experience can also correlate with the amount of luxury your host affords you. Some tent sites are equipped with more niceties than you will find in a modern home, if you are willing to pay for them. A word of caution for the gentleman here: when on safari, leave the home life behind! Don’t require a WIFI connection during your time in the wilderness.
- For the highest rated in recent years’ Travel & Leisure awards, choose Rothschild Safaris for nearly anywhere in subsaharan Africa. Experience speaks volumes, and they have it. More importantly, however, is that they value ‘tailored’ experiences. A custom adventure is worth the investment indeed.
- For the conservation-minded, Encounter Mara offers an exclusive perch on the edge of the Maasai Mara in Kenya. This family-run company partners with local communities to preserve both the environment and culture. This also means that your guide is ‘the real deal.’ As an added bonus, they are also part of the large African Encounter network.
- In South Africa, Makweti Lodge provides luxury and adventure in abundance. Camps are guarded from neighboring wildlife due to the ‘up close and personal’ lifestyle.
- Game Drives (Day and Night)
- A Walk About (don’t go alone)
- Sky Tour (hot air balloon)
- Boat Excursion
- You must eat local. Crocodile, ostrich, and other delicacies should not be passed up.
- Dining with the wildlife – also a must. At Olerai House, breakfast is served on the lawn amongst zebra and giraffe.
- Often, dinner in Maasai territory is accompanied by a local dance and jumping match. This is quite the entertaining evening, though you may not be up for competing…
Unless you live in similar proximity to the equator as your destination, some apparel and equipment discernment is in order. More here