East Africa or Southern: Where to Go on First Safari Experience?

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East Africa Wildebeest Migration

East Africa

We pretty much covered East African Safari destinations in a previous blog which you can access here, however, before we head to Southern Africa, we should draw your attention to Rwanda and/or Uganda, especially if gorilla trekking is of interest to you! For many this is the ultimate wildlife experience and adventure.

These gentle giants can be found in the area known as the Virunga Mountains and Bwindi National Park.

The Virunga Mountains is composed of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda, Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The mountain gorillas can be reached after a trek of three to eight hours up and through the rain forest, which you should not attempt unless you are in good health and able to sustain a slow mountain climbing pace. However it is totally worth it! Trackers will let your ranger know where to find them prior to your trek up the mountain, and then lead you to them. Seeing these incredible animals up close is nothing short of magical!

Southern Africa

Southern Africa, the southernmost region of the African continent, comprises of amongst others; Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Each magnificent in it’s own right and quite different. We will start with Zambia safaris and work our way down from there.

Zambia has awe-inspiring natural wonders, including the Victoria Falls, an abundance of wildlife, huge water bodies and vast open spaces, offering unforgettable holidays! Zambia is home to 17 other glorious waterfalls and 5 massive lakes making it a very popular fly fishing venue.

Whether you want an action packed, adventure filled vacation or honeymoon with activities such as kayaking, white water rafting, elephant back trails, bird watching or participate in the legendary walking safari, or enjoy a river cruise with your favorite beverage at sunset while watching the game at the edge of the river, is up to you.

Of course we encourage you to participate in it all! Besides hippos and crocodiles, there are vast herds of wild game that come to quench their thirst on the great Zambezi river and there is no shortage of activities to choose from. Explore deserted islands, visit the awesome beauty of the Victoria Falls, watch wildlife while kayaking, or enjoy a romantic private dinner on a sampan floating in the middle of the Zambezi.

Next we explore Zimbabwe. If you are into painting and conservation, you will find both here. The Wild Horizons Elephant Sanctuary and Art of Africa have teamed up to create an eco conscious and unique elephant experience, brought to life by the artistic strokes of your fingertips, while surrounded by the African bush. You will learn about these beautiful and gentle giants and how they came to be adopted by this organization, have lunch and have the opportunity to paint them.

Both Zambia and Zimbabwe safaris can include one of the world’s most intriguing destinations; the Victoria Falls. This means that whichever country you choose for your safari destination, you will be able to include the Victoria falls in your itinerary. Zimbabwe offers a large variety of scenery, one of the African continent’s finest, the largest concentrations of wildlife and a perfect climate with an average of 7 hours of sunshine daily throughout the year. As the country with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe’s hundreds of San rock paintings and ancient ruins from the Iron Age satisfies the most avid history buffs. You can enjoy the finest views atop the infamous Knife-edge Bridge or walk through the Rain Forest that grows within the billowing spray. With so much to offer, Zimbabwe safaris are a popular choice with visitors to Africa.

Botswana is a safari paradise with several safari options that highlight the unique destinations in “Old Africa’s Last Refuge.” These can include dry game drives, canoeing wet safaris, exciting walking safaris and more, a never-never land where the beasts roam free as they have done for millennia. With a small human population, including some of the last remaining Bushmen, Botswana is truly a ‘wild’ safari destination. Your Botswana safari starts off with much excitement as your bush pilot maneuvers the light aircraft over the vast Botswana wilderness at an altitude that allows for aerial game viewing. There is so much to experience and we actually recommend that guests spend two nights at each of three distinctly different Botswana camps, that are unique in design and personality, and offers a variety of activities. “Water” camps specialize in wildlife activities aboard boats and mekoros (canoes). The fauna focus is birdlife, hippo, crocodiles and other wetland species and the walking safaris are so exciting and wildly popular. The “land” camps are geared to the pursuit of the big 5. Open 4×4 vehicles allow you to get so close to the wildlife that you can leave your zoom lenses behind! Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned safari aficionado, Botswana’s spectacular wildlife legacy never fails to set the heart pumping and the cameras clicking on the Great Wing Safari Botswana.

Namibia is a land of enduring tribes, timeless tradition, wild and ghostly coastlines littered with shipwrecks, fantastic geography and abundant wildlife. Namibia boasts one of the greatest wildlife populations in the world including some truly unique and many rare species. A few whose lineage goes back long before the first ancestors of mankind evolved. In the Etosha National Park, huge herds of springbok, gemsbok, zebra, and blue wildebeest, as well as smaller numbers of red hartebeest, lion, cheetah and the elusive leopard, gather at waterholes and are spotted easily against the stark white background of immense salt pans. On a Namibia safari, you can travel from the endless, rippling sands and towering dunes of Sossusvlei to the dolphin-filled waters at Swakopmund and Walvis Bay, through the stark plains of Damaraland and onto the Etosha Pan.  Etosha, meaning ‘Great White Place’, is made of a large mineral pan, where abundant wildlife has adapted to this wild and arid landscape. This is a truly unique African experience and not to be missed.

South Africa has so many wildlife reserves both private and government owned, that it can make your head spin to choose the one best suited to your needs! Luxury lodges, tented camps, both luxury, (if you love glamping) and basic, in South Africa. I believe that the best safaris are in an area called Mpumalanga, which includes the Kruger National Park; South Africa’s finest wildlife refuge. This park is one of the premier game viewing areas in all of Africa, for safari adventures & tours, where you are introduced to one of the world’s most treasured nature preserves. Be prepared for heart-stopping adventures, as the Park is home to all the Big Five: lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and hippo. Enjoy the magnificent scenery on morning and afternoon game drives in open safari vehicles, expertly maneuvered by professional game rangers. You could also go on a night drive, walking safari or just relax in the camp overlooking the wilderness.

Safaris are a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an adventure that everyone should have! Whatever your preference, whether staying on the coast or in the bush, spotting lion or wildebeest, enjoying the world renown South African wine country, or exploring new cultures; you will find it all in South Africa.

Source: This article “East Africa or Southern Africa” first on the Jewish Journal

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