For a holiday that is truly out of the ordinary, look no further than an extraordinary safari through the majestic wilderness of Tanzania and Namibia.
A majestic lion stretches and yawns after feasting, 500lbs of pure muscle and tawny fur relaxing in the sunshine. A mother elephant stretches her trunk to embrace her baby, her enormous ears waving like a flag. A herd of giraffes saunter across the plain as the red sun gently sinks on the horizon, spindly legs and graceful necks making long shadows in the waving grassland.
Seeing these incredible sights with your own eyes is a travel experience that is difficult to surpass. A safari in Tanzania or Namibia is a chance to venture into the wild and largely unspoilt bush land to seek out predators and prey in their natural habitat. Start the day with a sunrise game drive, where experienced local guides will ensure that you have the best possible chance of seeing the wildlife up close. Take in the culture of local tribes and learn about their unique way of life before spending the evening relaxing around the campfire and sharing stories while millions of stars twinkle above. Life experiences are the new luxury and this trip will help make memories like no other.
A recent two year study by an online market place for safaris resulted in over 1,000 industry experts voting Tanzania as the best country in Africa for safaris. Nearly a third of Tanzania is protected for wildlife viewing and these regions are considered to have some of the best safari locations in the world. If you have always dreamed of seeing the Big Five in the wild, then add Tanzania to your travel bucket list right now.
Here you will find the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater—two of the most famous safari destinations in the world. Ngorongoro is the largest unbroken volcanic caldera on earth. Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa. You can also make your way to Selous Game Reserve, which is one of the largest protected areas in the world. Boat safaris often spot crocodiles and hippos.
Be sure to take some time to get to know the Maasai culture in Tanzania by taking tours of farms, villages and sustainable projects. You can also take a detour to Zanzibar, with its exotic culture, sandy beaches and superb snorkelling. Or, head to Lake Manyara, which was a personal favourite of Ernest Hemingway during his African adventures.
What you will see
There are more than 430 different species of wild animal in Tanzania. Serengeti National Park is legendary for the annual zebra and wildebeest migration, and at the Ngorongoro Crater you have a good chance of seeing rhinos, hippos and lions. Tarangire National Park is famous for its enormous herds of elephants and beautiful baobab trees. Buffalos, lions and hyena are abundant. Other animals that you might see include giraffes, gazelles, antelopes, dik-diks, kudus and buffalos. Keep your binoculars and camera at the ready and your eyes trained on the horizon as you roam the land in an open-topped safari vehicle.
Best time of the year
Tanzania offers excellent wildlife viewing throughout the year. The wildebeest migration takes place during June and July, but the overall best season for game viewing is from June to October. This is the dry season, so the bush will be less dense and the animals will congregate around the watering holes, making them easier to see.
Wildlife safaris in Namibia can be a truly extraordinary experience. The landscape of huge sand dunes and volcanic mountains is so surreal that it might make you feel like you have travelled to a different planet. The fourth-largest nation in Africa, Namibia has some of the largest yet least known game parks in the world. The range of climates within this country means that you will discover a range of diverse ecosystems during your visit.
When you visit Namibia, you will immediately feel that tourism is different here. The vibe is low-key and there are many small, environmentally sustainable lodges in the remote and beautiful corners of the wilderness. You will also be fascinated by the Khoisan people, who represent one of the earliest formed unique human genetic groups and whose language has an unmistakable “click” sound.
What you will see
This country has the highest population of cheetahs in all of Africa, so there is a good chance that you will see one of these sleek spotted cats on your adventures. You might also see leopards and black rhinos, as well as lions, zebras, elephants and antelope. Zebras are easy to spot in the bushland because their eye-catching black and white stripes stand out. The most frequently seen animals are antelopes, or oryx, with their long spiky horns. You might also spot kudus, with their striking spiral horns.
To stand the best chance of seeing an elephant, visit the Etosha National Park in the north of the country. It is also possible to see wild horses in the arid regions of Namibia. The Skeleton Coast of Namibia is home to a large colony of Cape Fur Seals. These large coastal beasts are the only species of seal in the world that has external ears.
Best time of year
Namibia does not receive nearly as much rain as other African nations, so the climate is dry and pleasant throughout the year.
The dry season from June to October is the best time of year for seeing wildlife. In the wet season, the animals will be further away from the waterholes and harder to find throughout the parks. Although most tourists visit during the dry season, the parks don’t feel overcrowded. Be sure to bring warm clothing because it can be very cold during the early morning game drives.
Where to stay
High end, private guided safari experiences are the best way to see the incredible wildlife that Tanzania and Namibia have to offer while travelling in style and comfort.
Located in one of the most remote areas of the Kaokoveld and flanked by hills on the east and west, the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is the ideal base from which to explore Namibia’s vast remote wilderness and unique desert wildlife. Surrounded by sand dunes and lush oases, this camp consists of one family unit and seven large tents that each contains luxurious en-suite bedrooms and covered outdoor decks. It operates on 100% solar power, with a design that makes as little impact as possible on the fragile desert surroundings.
Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is the only permanently located luxury lodge in Lake Manyara National Park in Tanzania and it is known for its elegant and romantic stilted tree houses within the mahogany forest. The lodge perfectly balances its unique brand of luxury with the natural beauty of the wild forest surroundings and when you wake up you will experience the forest with all of your senses from a generous wooden deck. The park is renowned for the strange tree-climbing lions, pink flamingo, Masai giraffes and families of elephants. Look out for other unusual residents, including the Cape clawless otter, Egyptian mongoose and olive baboon.
This ‘fly-in’ safari is perfect for anyone who seeks the extra convenience of flying around Tanzania in order to see the major highlights in a short amount of time without losing hours on the road between each lodge. You will be on a trip with a maximum of eight people, flying in ultimate comfort between the three main areas of Serengeti, Ngorongoro and Tarangire. The journey includes several of the most elegant and luxurious Tanzanian safari lodges, including Tarangire Treetop Lodge and The Manor at Ngorongoro, as well as activities such as visiting an authentic Masai village, horseback riding and a night game drive.
Photos: courtesy of Hoanib Skeleton Coast; Wilderness Safaris; Lake Manyara Tree Lodge; &Beyond; Reynard van As Tourism That Cares; Luxury African Safaris; /123rf