Tag Archives: Safari Index

In Search of Africa’s Ultimate Safari Destinations

In 2016, Jake Hoddinott and Donovan Rule set out on a mammoth overland trip through the wildest areas of Sub-Saharan Africa, with the goal of finding Africa’s ultimate safari destination. They visited South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya. Their travels took them to many places off the beaten track. This was an unforgettable experience for them, and an inspiration for the rest of us. They were able to acquire a wealth of knowledge, so that we too can find the ultimate safari destination, without the trial and error they faced.

Here are some of the highlights from their unforgettable adventure.

Botswana

The Okavango Delta remains one of their all-time favourite places, not only in Africa, but in the world. The sheer bird and wildlife concentrations of the region is amazing. Here, one can watch elephants cross a crystal clear channel that’s just a little too deep for the youngest members of the herd, so that all that is visible are their wettened trunks. At the same time, you can enjoy a sundowner while casting a line for an African pike or a tackle-busting nembwe, all to the tune of the omnipresent African fish eagle. A truly unique experience!

Whilst Botswana has adopted a high-value, low-impact model with respect to tourism, making it a relatively expensive trip, the richness of its wildlife biodiversity is unrivalled, and the swamps are a truly special place.

Namibia

Namibia: Breathtaking landscapes, massive expanses of seeming nothingness… the rust-red sand dunes of the Namib, and oases of wildlife dotted throughout the country. Add in the feeling that, culturally and economically, you haven’t really left home, and Namibia becomes a very appealing option.

Zimbabwe

Chitake Springs is a truly wonderful Zambian destination. Unfenced camps, a real sense of wilderness, and one of the few wildlife parks that allow unguided walks make it a superb safari destination. And just 50km north, both the  Zambezi and the iconic Mana Pools can be found. Jake and Donovan didn’t see any other people during their stay, bar the Anti-Poaching Unit. This was possibly due to the time of the year that they visited, and a real sense of being in the wild pervaded. This made it a very special part of the trip, somewhat reminiscent of their time at Lake Tagalala in the Selous.

Zambia

Liuwa Plain National Park is unique, with rural communities continuing to exist within the park boundaries. It is a great example of a sustainable solution to Africa’s growing population and the potential human-wildlife conflicts that result. The local communities have a participatory stake in the park, and benefit directly from the tourism associated with the park, creating an ecosystem where people and wildlife co-exist. Liuwa is home to Africa’s second-largest wildebeest migration, and has been the site of many positive changes since African Parks began managing the park in 2003. These include a growing pride of lions, increasing cheetah numbers, and drastically-reduced poaching. Jake and Donovan enjoyed some incredibly special sunsets, observing massive lines of wildebeest, with thousands of black-winged pratincoles landing and taking-off in the ensuing dust cloud, all punctuated by the ubiquitous spotted hyena. The Zambian people were some of the friendliest they encountered, which added a wonderful warmth to the experience.

Tanzania

Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park, and Selous Game Reserve offered up some truly incredible wildlife sightings, accompanied by a genuine sense of wilderness and solitude. Tanzania has some challenges- the traffic officials can become tiresome, and the park fees (USD denominated) are very high. When Jake and Donovan arrived, the parks had just added 18% VAT to all park fees under the premise that this would see an improvement in facilities. This was not something they could really attest to, as the facilities they encountered were extremely basic, if any were provided at all. However,  when it comes to a wilderness experience and wildlife densities, the parks of Tanzania’s southern circuit really are exceptional.

This is just a fraction of what Jake and Donovan experienced on their incredible expedition. The African continent has so much to offer, such wonders to see. Don’t you think it is worth your time to visit some of these spots for yourself?

The Okavango Delta: A paradise surrounded by the parched Kalahari

One would be forgiven for being completely and utterly awed by the Okavango Delta. This  unique wetland spans between 6000 to 1500 square kilometres, depending on the season. Situated in the northern reaches of Botswana, the Okavango Delta is a lush paradise made up of islands, woodlands, and floodplains, surrounded by the parched sands of the Kalahari Desert.

This natural masterpiece is the largest inland delta in Africa, and hosts hundreds of bird and animal species. This includes red lechwe and sitatunga. The area provides excellent safari opportunities, with not only a variety of wildlife to observe, but also several ways of going on safari. These include mokoro canoes, hot air balloons, and boat cruises- you are spoiled for choice. With Moremi Game Reserve situated on the eastern edge of the Okavango, even traditional game drives are on offer!

There are dozens of Okavango lodges to stay in, allowing for a unique experience when visiting different parts of the delta. These Okavango lodges strive to provide the best experience for their guests, making sure they enjoy this stunning World Heritage Site to the fullest.

Gunn’s Camp is one of the last few remaining luxury vintage safari camps, and maintains a fine balance between comfort and a true bushveld experience. Overlooking the legendary Chief’s Island, this Okavango lodge is set on raised platforms, giving it superb views over the delta plains. The dense wooded island on which it is situated gives Gunn’s a discrete and intimate atmosphere, perfect for honeymooners and couples.

Xugana Island Lodge is situated on a private concession. This Okavango lodge takes full advantage of its majestic location. Xugana has an expansive deck, which allows guests to dine under the stars while overlooking the pristine waters of the delta. Xugana is a wonderful place to relax. The swimming pool and garden are perfect for cooling off after a long day on safari.

Camp Okavango is our next Okavango lodge on offer. It is an authentically African safari camp, situated on the remote Nxaragha Island.  This Okavango lodge is a hidden gem, offering individual safari tents raised on platforms. They all enjoy private open-air viewing decks.

There are a plethora of Okavango lodges to choose from, each offering something unique and wonderful, just like the Okavango Delta itself. Visit this luxurious location for yourself- contact us to book your stay at one of our Okavango lodges.

What are the best Kruger Camps to visit?

 

Heading to the Kruger Park is super exciting but the planning can be both an exhilarating and daunting undertaking. With 12 main camps, 5 satellite camps, 5 bush camps, and 2 overnight hides, not to mention luxury lodges and wilderness trails, you are forgiven for not knowing which to choose and what to expect when staying in one of the Kruger camps.

Here are our 5 favourite Kruger Camps and what you can expect:

Punda Maria Rest Camp

The Northernmost Kruger Camp is first on our list and with good reason. Punda Maria is perhaps the best camp for birding in the whole of the Kruger. This lush green camp is known for sightings of Paradise Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied and Terrestrial Bulbul, Bearded Robin and Black Eagle, all this before even leaving the camp itself!
Running in a 25-kilometre course around the camp is the Mahonie loop, perhaps the most rewarding birding drives in the Kruger. A patient birder will be rewarded for taking their time on this trail by being able to spot Yellow Oxpecker, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Crested Guineafowl, Cape Parrot, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Stierling’s Barred Warbler and Dickinson’s Kestrel. A select few might even see the Narina Trogon, a shy and elusive species.

Lower Sabie Rest Camp

Lower Sabie is situated in the southern region of the Kruger Park and is a very popular family destination. With an abundance of foliage and watering holes, there is plenty of game, making Lower Sabie ideal for game drives.
There is always something to see in the region. Lions are quite common as well as Cheetah. Lower Sabie is also a great location for viewing White Rhino and there are large herds of Buffalo that roam the area. The watering holes and dams also make it an ideal place for birding as there is a variety of bird species close to the water’s edge.

Olifants Rest Camp

If panoramic Kruger views are what you are after look no further, Olifants is one of the best Kruger camps for breath taking vistas. Set on a hill, the camp overlooks the Olifants River and long stretches of bushveld.
Olifants offer a wide range of game due to the fact that it is a transitional zone, where one ecosystem flows into another. To the North Mopane trees provide cover for Zebra and Impala while the rolling plains to the south are home to Buffalo and Giraffe.
Ideally placed shaded lookout platforms along the Olifants River makes it easy to view the river’s edge and gives views of Hippopotamus, Crocodiles and the occasional Lion kill.

Letaba Rest Camp

Letaba is perhaps the best of the Kruger camps for first time visitors to the Kruger. It offer a wide range of accommodation options, ranging from air conditioned bungalows, safari tents, 2 guesthouses, rusting huts and camp sites, making it ideal for those on their first safari as well as experienced campers.
The camp is green and lush, known for its large trees and indigenous gardens. Bushbuck wander freely around the camp and other residents include Tree Squirrels, Fruit Bats and Vervet Monkeys.
Letaba is known for the large mammals that call the area home, particularly around the Letaba River’s sandy riverbed. Lion and Cheetah kills have been known to take place in the riverbed as well, a real treat for those visiting the restaurant which overlooks it.

Satara Rest Camp

Satara is one of the best Kruger camps to visit if seeing the big cats are on your itinerary. Lion, Leopard and Cheetah pray on the grazers that call the area home due to the fertile grazing lands that surround the camp.
The other members of Big 5 (Elephants, Buffalo and Rhino) are also spotted frequently in this part of the park. Blue Wildebeest, Zebra, Waterbuck, Giraffe and Impala are also plentiful and Honey Badgers are a rare treat for those on safari.

Each of these Kruger camps are definitely worth a visit. Each has their own charm and attractions, making the Kruger the ideal safari destination. If you are still unsure which the ideal camp is for you, look no further; simply drop us a line and we will help you plan your ideal Kruger experience.

 

Zambia Lodges

The Southern African country of Zambia,  named for the mighty Zambezi River that flows through its borders, is a safari and nature treasure. It is home to 19 incredible national parks and reserves.

The safari accommodation found in the country is not only affordable, but are some of the best on the continent, each offering a unique experience, tailored to reflect the park or reserve they are located in.

These are some of the best Zambia lodges on offer:

 Gorges Lodge

As far as Zambia Lodges go, Gorges Lodge, located in the Victoria Falls National Park, is one one of the best. It offers stunning vistas over the Zambezi River from its perch above Batoka Gorge. Not for the faint of heart, the main lodge is set on the very edge of the gorge, 250 meters above the raging waters below.  The accommodation, ten stone and thatched chalets, is set against an indigenous garden backdrop, and each has a private deck from which to take in the stunning surrounds and wildlife.

Gorges Lodge is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit. Its location in the Victoria Falls National Park allows guests access to activities such as elephant back safaris, white water rafting and bungee jumping.

King Lewanika Lodge

For those looking for Zambia Lodges that offer something a bit more on the wild side, one need look no further than King Lewanika Lodge, right in the heart of Liuwa Plains National Park‘s vast grassy floodplains.

King Lewanika Lodge is the only fixed lodge in the park, and is made up of 6 luxurious villas. Each villa is raised above the surrounding plains, allowing for magnificent views of the plentiful wildlife of the area.

Mfuwe Lodge

If you would prefer a Zambia Lodge a touch more on the luxurious side, look no further than Mfuwe Lodge, the jewel of  South Luangwa National Park. It boasts every luxury one could wish for, and more. 18 bespoke chalets have private decks that look out over the banks of a lagoon.

The lodge features top-notch facilities that include a spa, outdoor gym, and excellent dining facilities. Also on offer are superb safari activities, such as thrilling night drives and guided walking tours.

Mfuwe Lodge is also known for its four-footed guests- a herd of elephants has tried checking in at reception before- a uniquely African event!

There are many more Zambia lodges to choose from, each with their own unique surrounds and offerings. Contact us to experience one of these magnificent lodges and enjoy the beauty Zambia has to offer.

Gorilla Trekking Safari

Mountain Gorilla

The words gorilla trekking safari conjure up an iconic image, Dian Fossey surrounded by a troup of majestic black gorillas in a sea of green foliage. For any would-be-naturalist this is a once in a lifetime experience – sitting in close proximity to one of humankind’s closest primate relatives. A gorilla trekking safari allows you to experience the wonder of coming in contact with these magnificent and powerful creatures.

A gorilla trekking safari is one of the most unique and memorable safaris one can undertake in Africa. Exploring the expansive rain forests of central Africa on foot does not only bring one in touch with nature, but also allows you to observe gorillas and other primate species in their natural habitat.

Guide blends in to the foliage in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

 

The guides who accompany you on the gorilla trekking safari are true experts in their fields. They know which gorilla families occupy which areas as well as which patterns they move in, ensuring that your gorilla trekking safari meets its intended gorilla family. While on route the guides will point out other animals you might meet along the way such as the Uganda Kob, Forest Buffalo or Colobus Monkey and a variety of bird species from brightly coloured Turaco’s to the secretive Broadbill.

Mother and baby

Upon discovering the family of gorillas your guide will allow you to spend an hour’s worth of observation time with that particular family. Here time slows and you you will spend the session watching the family going about their daily routine of feeding, playing and communicating,. Highlights are no doubt the young playing in the foliage while the mothers keep a close eye or when a massive Silverback passes by close to you.

Volcanoes National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

With tours spanning over Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, the Congo’s Odzala-Kokoua National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park there are numerous opportunities to find your perfect gorilla trekking safari. From the novice to the expert trekker everyone can see these wonderful creatures int he wild.

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park

 

This is one for the bucket list, nothing can beat meeting a families of gorillas in the forests of Africa. Get in touch with the Safari Index to tick off your dream gorilla trekking safari!

The Kruger Park

South Africa’s world-renowned Kruger National Park spans over 2 million unspoiled hectares and is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. The Kruger Park, as it is known locally, is one of the world’s most fertile and abundant wildlife sanctuaries, and famously hosts the majestic Big 5. The Kruger Park is a dream destination for anyone wishing for a safari getaway.

Kruger Park guided safari

There is plenty to see when out on a game drive while in the Kruger Park.  The park’s incredible diversity of life includes 336 tree species, 507 bird species and 147 mammal species. Whether you choose to do a self-drive safari or guided game drive, there are plenty of ways to see what the Kruger Park has to offer. When doing a self-drive safari, you need not be concerned about wear and tear on your vehicle, as the Kruger Park boasts a well-maintained road infrastructure.

 

RWS walking safari

Driving safaris are not the only type of safari on offer in the Kruger. Several camps, like Rhino Walking Safaris Plains Camp, offer walking safaris, where keen-eyed, well-informed guides are able to find even the most elusive animals.

The famous African Big 5- consisting of the lion, leopard, rhino (white and black), elephant and Cape buffalo- can be found in the Kruger Park. The highlight of any Kruger safari is spotting all 5 members out in their natural habitat. Imagine being on an early-morning walking tour, the sun rising above the plains, and spotting a family of elephants in the distance. Picture enjoying sundowner drinks with a view of a waterhole, where a pride of lions joins you in enjoying some refreshments after a hot day. The Kruger Park is a magical place where just such occurrences can take place.

The Kruger Park offers different accommodation options to suit anyone’s budget and taste. From the versatile accommodation types at Skukuza Rest Camp, to the rustic rondawels of Pretoriuskop Rest Camp, to the more luxurious lodges like Singita Lebombo, there is something to suit everyone.

Singita Lebombo
Pretoriuskop Rest Camp

No matter what your budget, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Let the experts at Safari Index help you find the best option for your pocket. Contact us today to book your dream safari getaway to the Kruger  Park.

Cape Town and the Garden Route

Expansive beaches, breathtaking mountain views and ancient forests- these are just some of the features that you can expect to encounter when traveling along South Africa‘s famous Garden Route. Known for its diverse landscape and vegetation, this 300km route stretches from the Storms River in the Eastern Cape all the way down to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape. Traveling on the Garden Route will give you the perfect opportunity to not only see perhaps the most beautiful part of the country, but also to partake in a variety of experiences.

The Garden Route is like no other, a paradise for those with a love for nature. Found between the Outeniqua Mountains and the ocean, the area features a mild climate, which allows for a mixture of fynbos, wetlands and forests to thrive. The Route is also a paradise for animal lovers. There are nearly 300 species of birds, several types of large and small game, as well as a diversity of marine life found in the region- safari opportunities are plentiful. You can even see the Big 5 in Gondwana Game Reserve or Sanbona Game Reserve.

A number of smaller game reserves can be found dotted along the Garden Route, allowing for visitors to enjoy a variety of activities. Hiking is a popular activity, as there is a lot to explore. The Knysna Forest is world-famous for its population of ancient Outeniqua Yellowwoods, while the Table Mountain Nature Reserve is home to the world’s smallest yet most diverse floral kingdom- the Cape Floral Kingdom.

For those interested in history, the Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve is the perfect place to visit. This World Heritage Site offers informative tours led by experienced guides, who take guests to over 130 bushman painting sites. The area is also famous for the indigenous rooibos that grows there.

There is also plenty to do for those looking for adventure or an adrenaline rush. Go shark-cage diving, canoeing, rock-climbing, quad biking, paragliding, and even skydiving! The world’s highest bungee jump is located along the Garden Route, at the Bloukrans Bridge. There is also horse-riding, zip-lining, sandboarding, surfing, and whale and dolphin-watching- the list is endless…

There is something for every nature lover on the Garden Route. It is the most beautiful part of the Cape, and definitely worth the trip. The Safari Index team will expertly help you to plan your Garden Route holiday- contact us today.

African Wildlife Poaching: The Forgotten Ones

Game reserves, national parks and protected areas play a critical role in the protection and conservation of vulnerable species, especially those that are in high demand amongst illegal poaching rings. In 2017, official statistics released in July by the Department of Environmental Affairs showed a decrease in the number of rhinos poached compared to the same time in 2016- a positive sign.

However, with the focus being primarily on rhino poaching in the last few years, there are a number of other animal populations that are being targeted without restraint. Animals such as lions, elephants and pangolins are also under threat from poachers. These creatures generally don’t get the media attention that they deserve.

Elephant poaching has occurred for centuries. However, rates have dramatically increased in recent years, with most elephant tusks ending up in Asia and the Middle East on the black market. With this rise in demand for elephant tusks, various national parks and private reserves have taken up commendably strong initiatives to help protect these gentle giants and bring a halt to the illegal ivory trade. Sadly, many parks and reserves do not have the funding needed to support a cohesive anti-poaching effort, and these incredible creatures are getting slaughtered every day.

Even the King of the Jungle is not safe…

Despite an increase in awareness and conservation efforts, lion populations are still dropping. Without urgent intervention, the lion could be extinct by 2050. There do exist, however, shining beacons of hope in organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund and African Parks. These organisations not only do fantastic work in creating awareness and raising funds to conserve lions, but they are also actively involved in the management of areas where lions are found. A great example of this can be seen in Zambia‘s  Liuwa Plains National Park, where lions have been successfully reintroduced and the population is re-establishing itself. Then there is the much-anticipated arrival of lions in Malawi‘s Liwonde National Park,  where the big cats were wiped out by man 20 years ago.

The fascinating pangolin is another wild creature that is currently at risk. One of Africa’s most elusive nocturnal creatures, the pangolin  is  currently the most trafficked animal specie in the world. This is due to the demand for its unusual scales (modified hairs), which are ground up and consumed as a medicine. Several organisations are doing wonderful work in the effort to ensure the survival of the pangolin. These include PangolinConservation.org  and Now-or-Never-Africa.  Game reserves are also doing their part for the pangolin. Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari provides a safe environment for these rare creatures, and is one of the best places in Africa to see the pangolin in its natural habitat.

 

Although the situation may seem dire for many of Africa’s magnificent creatures, there are many people, organisations and parks in Africa that are doing great things to ensure that the continent’s incredible wildlife species survive for future generations to see and enjoy. You can do your bit by creating awareness, supporting conservation initiatives, contributing to fund-raising efforts, or simply just by visiting one of these parks on a safari holiday. As long as parks and reserves generate revenue from people wanting to see the wildlife, there will be an incentive to preserve them!