Photo credit: Eric Bauer
African safari adventures can thrill you in so many ways, from the pure power and beauty of staring into a leopard’s eyes to the adrenaline rush of cage diving with a great white shark. It all depends on how you like to get your thrills!
Photo credit: Ray Morris
1. Watch the greatest wildlife show on earth: the wildebeest crossing from the Serengeti into the Masai Mara, expected from June onwards, is one of the best African safari adventures to experience. By mid-July 2015 they still hadn’t crossed but were gathering in vast herds along riverbanks. HerdTracker is a web-app that plots the precise location of the wildebeest migration in real time to a Google map. Live updates from lodges, rangers and pilots report where best to see a crossing. While in the area, clock up another once-in-a-lifetime thrill with a hot air balloon ride over the migration.
2. Look in the eye of a leopard. Probably the best place to do this is the Sabi Sand Reserve bordering Kruger National Park. This reserve has such an abundance of leopards that in a two-night stay you will almost certainly see one. It’s a rare privilege, so savour the moment as you stare into the golden eyes of this giant pussy cat…with gigantic teeth! African safari adventures like these can be experienced from stunning lodges like Singita Boulders, Singita Ebony, Ulusaba and Leopard Hills, all located in the Sabi Sand Reserve.
3. Sleepout in a treehouse. You may not be all that intrepid, but a night out in the middle of a game reserve on a platform on stilts will feel like quite a romantic adventure. You’ll still have most of the comforts of a bedroom, just no ceiling or walls! Safarichic’s Makanyane Safari Lodge and Tswalu both have sleepout platforms, and some Singita lodges have beds on the terrace.
Photo credit: Andrew Ashton
4. Canoe along the Zambezi. We’re talking big thrills here, especially when negotiating a patch of river patrolled by a territorial male hippo. There are crocs too…or was that just a floating log? Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but when they come out of the water and sunbathe on the banks, you see how very large they are. Mana Pools in Zimbabwe is the wildest place to do this, but if you prefer someone else to steer your boat around the wildlife, take a sunset cruise on the Zambezi in the Victoria Falls area.
Photo credit: Kasia Wallis
5. White water rafting at Victoria Falls. This is the biggest adrenaline thrill in our Top 10 of African safari adventures and is a must for any adventurer who finds themselves at Victoria Falls. You can choose the hold-on-for-dear-life inflatable raft or the paddle-like-crazy and hope-you-don’t-fall-out option. Either way, you are going to get wet!
6. Great white shark cage diving. While we’re on the subject of wet and wild African safari adventures, cage diving with great whites is a singular thrill that people travel the world to experience. The seas around Cape Town have a thriving population of great whites, so the chance of seeing them from a cage-diving boat that attracts them with bait is very high.
Photo credit: Aftab Uzzaman
7. Walking the desert sands of Sossusvlei. Now for something completely different and one of the most mesmerising African safari adventures! The desert dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia glow from purple to gold from the zillion fragments of garnets ground down over millennia. Discard your shoes and follow the crest to the top of the dune for magnificent views over the dunescape. It will take your breath away (in more ways than one)!
8. The gorillas of Uganda. Go and see the gorillas in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest now, while you can. Trekking through damp, entangled forests to see these highly endangered primates is one of Africa’s unique wildlife encounters. It’s a heart thing… an inexplicable emotion that connects us on a deep level to our distant cousins.
Photo credit: Frank
9. Mokoro through the Okavango. This is a canoe trip of a different sort, with a pole pushing you silently through the narrow waterways of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It’s the most peaceful way of watching game like elephant and antelopes grazing on lush grasses and gliding quietly past hippos and crocs.
10. Walking safari in South Luangwa. Norman Carr is one of the pioneers of African walking safaris in the wilds of Zambia’s South Luangwa. People come here not just because there is exceptional game viewing, but because the guides are the best in the business. Walk a few hours a day learning bushlore from someone born and bred in the area and spy on game from a safe distance. This is one of the most enlightnening African safari adventures, where you can get in tune with Africa here in a way you can’t in a vehicle.