Roughly translated, safari means ‘journey’ in Swahili. Here, Kathy Vigolo, Head of Long Haul Product at group travel specialist Newmarket Holidays, showcases five incredible journeys through Africa, with the search for the Big Five of lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards and buffalo at the heart of each.
The company is offering up to 15% off guided tours booked before 31 July as part of its Dream It. See It. Share It. campaign celebrating the return of international travel. See its full programme of African wildlife tours here, https://www.newmarketholidays.co.uk/holiday-types/safari
KRUGER FOR FIRST-TIMERS
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is the continent’s oldest wildlife conservation area. The sweeping grasslands, set against the backdrop of the Lebombo Mountains, are home to some of the most diverse wildlife on earth. With hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and countless insects, flora and fauna, many of which are found nowhere else on earth, Kruger is a thrilling choice for anyone travelling on their first safari.
Daily excursions include daytime safaris and an evening adventure to see how the bush changes as the sun go down and nocturnal creatures appear, with caracals, bush babies, and ant bears among the after-dark arrivals.
This very special safari holiday includes an all-inclusive six-night stay at a luxury tented safari camp, where there are just six canvas-style luxury tents, set on elevated platforms for uninterrupted views of the pristine African bush.
A guided nature walk brings guests closer to zebra, kudu, nyala and warthog that frequently wander through the camp, and a panoramic mountain tour provides panoramic views of the Lowveld and lush forest-clad ravines below.
There’s also a visit to a local wildlife rehabilitation centre that cares for injured animals that won’t be released back into the wild and undertakes essential research projects such as studying the movement and behaviour of leopards.
UNDER AFRICAN SKIES
After he’d seen the Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River, explorer David Livingstone famously said that: “No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England.”
This is southern Africa in a nutshell. From the tumult of the Falls to the serenity of Lake Kariba, the pristine landscapes of Hwange National Park and the magnificent Winelands of South Africa, the journey is always breathtaking.
This tour starts with a safari through Hwange, Zimbabwe’s biggest national park and famous as the home of African painted dogs and 45,000 elephants.
The pace then changes at Lake Kariba, which was created by damming the Zambezi River to flood the Kariba Gorge, creating the largest manmade lake in the world. Guests are based on a small houseboat with just 10-cabins and transfer to smaller boats for excursions to watch wildlife approaching the shoreline, catch a glimpse of rare birds including Pel’s fishing owl and the black eagle, and fish in the bountiful waters.
From the peace of Lake Kariba, the adventure continues to the crashing waters of Victoria Falls, where visitors can wander along jungle-clad walkways to reach different viewpoints.
The journey then changes pace again as guests board the Franschhoek Wine Tram through the patchwork of vineyards in Franschhoek Valley, and then transfer to Cape Town for a taste of city life, and a cable-car ride for the incredible views from Table Mountain.
The accommodation options for this tour include Elephant’s Eye, a four-star luxury eco-lodge with eight stilted chalets overlooking a nearby waterhole, the family-run Bayete Guest Lodge at Victoria Falls, and the four-star Cape Town Hollow Boutique Hotel in the city’s historical centre, nestled in the shadow of Table Mountain.
Namibia is Africa, but not as you know it. Characterised by rolling red dunes, ethereal landscapes and wondrous wildlife, Namibia offers its own take on safari.
Iconic sights include the large, sweeping, red-dune-framed salt pans of Sossusvlei and Deadvlei, the barren moon-like landscape of Solitaire, and the half-timbered houses of Swakopmund, a seaside city founded by German colonists.
At Twyfelfontien, there are more than 2,500 UNESCO-protected ancient rock engravings that are thought to be the largest on the African continent, with a guided tour bringing these fascinating engravings to life.
The journey goes even further back in time when it reaches a Petrified Forest, where a collection of 280-million-year-old tree trunks have been preserved from the Ice Age.
The search for the Big Five continues at Etosha National Park, Namibia’s largest wildlife sanctuary, where lions, giraffes, elephants and many other animals roam freely, and guides point out animal tracks and indigenous tree species as visitors immerse themselves in nature.
The incredible mix of accommodation on this tour includes the Desert Breeze Lodge on the banks of the Swakop River, luxurious tented accommodation at Twyfelfontein Adventure Camp, stylish and intimate thatched lodges at Okutala Etosha Lodge, just south of Etosha National Park, and the four-star Midgard Country Estate hotel at Okahandja at the foot of the Otjihavera Mountains.
BEACH & SAFARI
Safaris can be hard work, with early mornings and bumpy jeep drives, so combining a wildlife trip with a beach break is an enticing option for many travellers.
This Kenyan tour bookends a safari adventure in East Africa’s famous wildlife reserves with beach fun on the Indian Ocean coast.
The holiday starts with lazy days and warm nights at the all-inclusive Voyager Beach Resort in Mombasa, where guests soak up the pleasures of life by the ocean. The popular hotel sits on the beachfront and has two pools and a water sports centre, plus three restaurants and four bars for a relaxing start to the African adventure.
The action then moves to the Taita Hills Sanctuary in the country’s interior, where the safari experience opens with the chance to see lions, elephants and colourful birdlife. Accommodation here is the five-star rated Sarova Salt Lick Game Lodge, an imaginative collection of buildings overlooking a series of floodlit waterholes that attract animals through the night.
Scenery, wildlife and accommodation changes daily, as the safari moves on to Tsavo West National Park and the mix of grasslands, desert scrubland and rocky ridges are home to a new selection of game and wildlife. The accommodation for this stage of the journey is the sumptuous Kilaguni Serena Safari Lodge.
The action then moves to Tsavo East where towering Mudanda Rock and the vast lava flows of Yatta Plateau punctuate the landscape, and stays are at Ashnil Aruba Lodge. The dam from which the lodge takes its name is a magnet for wildlife in the bone-dry landscape.
When the safari ends, the tour returned to the coast, for a final few days of complete relaxation.
EXTRAORDINARY SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse destinations, with one of Africa’s most spectacular cities, startling scenery, and giants of the animal kingdom.
Starting with a guided group tour of Cape Town, gloriously set beneath Table Mountain, this tour visits historical landmarks including the Castle of Good Hope, the House of Parliament, and the colourful Bo Kapp colonial district, with the option of heading to the infamous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Guests are taken to the top of Table Mountain and treacherous Cape Point, where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean, before heading east into Cape Winelands and the fabled Franschhoek Wine Valley.
As the journey continues the wildlife watching increases, starting with Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the World. Safari starts at the Garden Route Game Lodge, a private reserve in the shadow of the Langeberg mountains, with game drives to seek out the Big Five bringing an awe-inspiring end to an incredible journey.
About: Newmarket Holidays is a multi-award-winning, independently owned British tour operator, providing a portfolio of escorted trips, resort-centred stays, and event-focused tours throughout the world.