Here are your winners and runners-up in the 2017 edition of the Safari Index’s popular Tusker Awards 

In 2017, the Safari Index’s popular Tusker Awards ran for the second time. Taking its name from the majestic “tusker” elephants of Africa, the awards celebrate the ultimate safari destinations and experiences in Africa. A “tusker” refers to an African elephant with notably large tusks, and the “big tuskers” are the largest of the tuskers. It is rare to see a Big Tusker in the wild today, and the Big Tusker Awards celebrate the ultimate safari experiences and destinations that stand out from the rest.

The Safari Index team selected worthy nominees in nine different categories. Voters submitted their votes through the awards page on the Safari Index website, and a winner and runner-up was chosen in each. And here they are- Africa’s ultimate safari lodges, camps, parks and experiences for 2017- The Big Tuskers…

ULTIMATE SAFARI HOTSPOTS 

South Luangwa National Park

South Luangwa National Park is located in the north-east of Zambia. This 90 000-hectare park is one of the world’s greatest wildlife sanctuaries, supporting a staggering variety of mammal, bird, plant, reptile and insect species. Four members of Africa’s legendary Big 5 are found in the park: lion, elephant, buffalo and the elusive leopard. The Luangwa River also hosts a rich variety of species, notably hippos. South Luangwa is where walking safaris originated- these provide a unique and thrilling way to experience a safari in the African wilderness, and are led by professional, experienced guides. 

ULTIMATE AFRICAN SAFARIS

Busanga Plains Camp, Kafue National Park

Busanga Plains Camp is a small and intimate tented safari camp, located in the remote wilderness of Zambia‘s Kafue National Park. It is situated on a small palm tree island amongst the wetlands of the park’s northern Busanga region, and consists of just 4 luxurious tented suites. Each tent is well-appointed, features en-suite bathroom facilities, and provides wonderful views of the surrounding plains, on which wildlife are often seen. Guided game drives and walks are available, bringing guests up close to the Kafue’s diverse and rich wildlife population.

Runner-Up: Kanga Camp, Mana Pools

ULTIMATE FAMILY SAFARIS

Governors’ Camp, Masai Mara

Governors’ Camp is situated in the heart of Kenya‘s Masai Mara, one of Africa’s key safari destinations. The camp was established in 1972, and set new standards for luxury safari camps. It is today still considered to be one of the best in Africa. The camp’s luxurious tented suites are comfortably furnished, with en-suite bathroom facilities. The location of each tent is superb, with some overlooking the Mara River, and others providing panoramic views of the Mara plains. These plains are home to an incredible diversity of wildlife species, including the Big 5, while the river houses populations of hippos and crocodiles. The region is well-known for hosting plenty of big cat species, and the camp is also the perfect destination for those wishing to witness the spectacle of the Great Migration.

ULTIMATE VALUE SAFARIS 

Taita Falcon Lodge

Taita Falcon Lodge is situated in Zambia, in a spectacular position above the Zambezi River. The lodge overlooks the Batoka Gorge, and boasts magnificent views. It is found just 11km from the world-famous Victoria Falls, and offers rates that are well-suited to those on a budget. It consists of comfortable, well-appointed chalets, each with en-suite bathrooms, as well as private gardens with outdoor showers. The birdlife is plentiful in the lodge grounds, and includes eagles as well as the taita falcons for which the lodge is named. There are plenty of activities in the region for guests to enjoy, including boat safaris, Victoria Falls tours, elephant interaction, fishing, and more.

ULTIMATE ROMANCE SAFARIS 

Fig Tree Bush Camp

Fig Tree Bush Camp is luxury tented safari camp, located in Kafue National Park in Zambia. It is named for the gigantic fig tree that stands in the middle of the camp. Its luxury tented suites are each positioned on elevated platforms 3 meters above the ground, providing gorgeous views over the lagoon in front of the camp. The lagoon is home to an abundance of wildlife and birdlife, so guests can even enjoy game-viewing from camp! The remote location and unique position of the tents amongst the tree canopies make this the perfect camp for couples and honeymooners.

ULTIMATE LUXURY SAFARIS 

Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge

Ghoha Hills Savuti Lodge is found in the Savuti region of Botswana. This ultra-luxury camp is perched atop a hill, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding savannah wilderness. The lodges features just 11 luxury canvas suites, each elevated on wooden decks, which again ensures stunning views. The lodge features a full range of facilities, including a pool, bar, gym, and spa, and offers WiFi connectivity, as well as a laundry service. The wildlife in the region is abundant and varied, and guided game drives and walks allow guests the chance to encounter these species.

ULTIMATE UNIQUE SAFARIS 

Chelinda Lodge, Nyika National Park

Chelinda Lodge is located in Malawi‘s Nyika National Park, the largest park in the country. Nyika is located at a high altitude, and features rolling grasslands and valleys. It also has a number of unique features, such as spectacular cloud formations, an incredible variety of wildflowers, and a thriving population of leopards, which are commonly seen. The lodge’s six wooden cabins are double-storeyed, with en-suite bathrooms and cosy fireplaces. A range of activities are on offer to guests, including game drives, walks, hiking, fishing, cycling, cultural tours, and star-gazing.

ULTIMATE SELF-CATERING SAFARIS 

Chelinda Camp

Chelinda Camp is also located high up on the plateau of Nyika National Park in Malawi. It features four two-bedroom chalets, as well as six twin-bed rooms, each featuring en-suite facilities and fireplaces. The family chalets have small kitchens for self-catering guests. The views from the camp are stunning, as it overlooks the area’s rolling hills and grasslands, as well as a dam. There are a host of exciting safari and adventure activities to be enjoyed at Chelinda. Guided game drives and walks allow guests to encounter the park’s wildlife, which includes the Big 5. Go cycling, fishing, or hiking, and spend the evenings star-gazing under the African sky.

ULTIMATE ADVENTURE SAFARIS 

Malawian Style Southern Explorer Tour

This incredible safari tour takes guests on an adventurous safari trip through Malawi, showcasing the best bush and beach destinations of this incredible country. You will visit a host of destinations and have the chance to enjoy a range of activities. You will enjoy game drives into the wilderness of Liwonde National Park, and take nature walks on the Zomba Plateau. You will stay on a beautiful uninhabited island on the magnificent Lake Malawi, enjoying kayaking, snorkelling and scuba diving in the clear waters. You can choose to enjoy the tour over either 7 or 11 days; there are also various budget and accommodation options available.