Special interest safaris
What makes Africa so special is its people. The wildlife is wonderful but it is the people that really shape the continent. One can travel to all corners of the globe but we always miss the warmth and the broad smiles of the African people and their sense of infinite optimism. It is impossible to travel to Tanzania or Kenya and not be struck by the vibrant red, white and blue blankets of the Maasai, the strikingly etched faces of the Samburu or the regal profiles of the Somalis and there are no, overall, more educated or more friendly African people than the Malawians. Sadly, though, the bushmen of Botswana and Namibia are rapidly decreasing and we offer an opportunity to spend time with these wonderful, gentle, people and learn about them in an uncontrived manner. Here is a sample of what we can offer, the list is changing all the time:
The rains arrive in the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana, triggering a migration of herds of zebra and wildebeest across the plains with predators closely following in their wake. The plains become green and scattered with wild flowers, the horizon ablaze with rainbows backed by glorious sunsets and clouds illuminated by lightning. Jack’s Camp and San Camp offer Bedouin chic in the Makgadikgadi and are a window into an otherwise unknown world. We offer either individual stays at these camps or a “package” of two nights at Jacks Camp followed by three nights spent in the western Kalahari with the Zu’hoasi Bushmen. We also have two “set departures” each year led by bushman expert and bon viveur, Ralph Bousfield. Deception Valley Lodge in the Kalahari is also an excellent place to come into contact with the Bushmen.
A more rustic experience can be had by visiting the Hadzabe and Datoga tribes of the Lake Eyasi region of northern Tanzania. The Hadzabe have been featured by Ray Mears as one of the last, genuine, hunter-gatherers left on earth and our trips here are very “down to earth”. There is a super small camp near the lake, which is a magnet for pelicans, that is ideal as a springboard for visits to these very special people.
Lake Turkana, in northern Kenya, is the “Jade Sea” detailed by Count Teleki in his travels. Here one can see the Turkana tribe of fishermen. This is a magical, mysterious and timeless part of Kenya where the tribes live an ancient lifestyle. There is a lovely camp here as well as a beautiful homestead to stay at not far away. Lobolo is a gem of a tented camp with just four luxury, en-suite tents overlooking the vast Lake Turkana (Jade Sea). The owners, Halewiijn and Joyce, have spent the last ten years working with the local Turkana community to create this most unusual camp and project. Ron Beaton’s Jade Sea Expedition is a 5 day waterborne expedition to Lake Turkana, fly camping and exploring the crater lakes and volcanoes as well as visiting the paleontological site of Koobi Fora, one of the Cradles of Mankind, and the Lower Omo River in Ethiopia.
Africa provides wonderful opportunities for fishing. We cover fly fishing, deep sea game fishing and just about everything in between. We sent The Field magazine on an all encompassing safari incorporating Dullstroom in South Africa and Lake Kariba and the Lower Zambezi in Zimbabwe. They declared it trumps, being guided by a southern African fishing aficionado; one can equally make a private party. Little compares to challenging a mighty Tiger fish on a fly rod. Tiger are normally caught on a spinner and there are camps that gear themselves with expert guides and tackle to specifically enhance your Tiger experience! Bom Bom Island, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles all offer tremendous deep sea fishing opportunities. Marlin, bonefish and tuna are just an example of what can be caught whilst fishing, fly or otherwise, and Tiger fishing is wonderful in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana.
The best trout, brown and rainbow, are probably in South Africa but there are plenty of other places in Africa to catch a trout. We can offer fly fishing tuition in South Africa with specialist guides.
Star Gazing in the Namibian desert:
Africa must be one of the most wonderful continents from which to stargaze. The sky has such brilliant clarity and the stars seem literally to become diamonds. We’ve spent hours in Namibia sharing the knowledge of resident astronomers at various lodges and we now offer carefully chosen places where part of the overall experience includes gaining a better knowledge of our solar system. The area around Sossusvlei, home to the world’s largest sand dune, and the neighbouring NamibRand is wonderful for stargazing. After an evening staring at the stars, the following morning can take one actually into the skies; the dawn hot air ballooning across the desert is wonderful, a photographer’s dream culminating in a champagne breakfast on landing amongst the dunes. Whilst airborne the dunes change through a myriad of hues as the sun rises and each dune is etched by the increasing sunlight. At one property each cottage has a window in the roof above the bed; one can simply lie back and stargaze all night. The rooms are kitted out with a Swarovski telescope and there is an astronomer actually in residence.
Elephant Safaris in the Okavango Delta:
Have you ever thought of walking, as an elephant (Africa’s largest and most gentle mammal) cradles its trunk in your hand? If not, this is one to consider and top of our list is the most wonderful, humbling, experience imaginable. One can spend hours with zoologist Doug Groves, who will explain the finer points and behavioural patterns of these magnificent pachyderms. Doug will encourage you to stroll with Jabulani, Marula and Thembi, who lay their trunks on your shoulder as you walk with them. This is the only opportunity one will ever have to be in the presence of elephants that are intrinsically wild and cannot be ridden but are at the same time totally trusting and unafraid to the point of allowing you to touch and stroke them and observe their playful behaviour and social interaction. This is a gem and not be missed by anyone interested in these beautiful creatures.
At Abu’s Camp, we can offer elephant back safaris in Botswana where one can ride the elephant in the waters surrounding the island. This is a three day experience, exploring the Delta on elephant back through verdant vegetation.
In Kenya, Elephant Watch Camp is a jewel where one can also visit the Save The Elephant research station. The magnificent, bohemian, unusual and highly recommended “Ellie Watch Camp” is owned by Iain and Oria Douglas-Hamilton. A proportion of funds are donated to Iain’s Save The Elephants Trust.
Malawi and Botswana remain our two favourite countries for birding but, of course, birding can be done anywhere in Africa providing one has the seasons right when the migrant species return. Whether it’s the Shoebill Stork, the Angolan Pitta, the White Backed Night Heron, the Pels Fishing Owl, the Narina Trogon or the Bar Tailed Trogon, we know exactly where they most proliferate and we will send you there to be with the finest guide in each area.
Whale Watching/Shark diving:
South Africa is the only African country where one watches whales at close quarters from the land. Hermanus is home to the greatest concentration of the Southern Right whale at certain times of the year. This is a fascinating old fishing village; some of South Africa’s best wine estates are in close proximity! There are also wonderful walks here and there is a great concentration of wild flowers and fynbos in this area.