Five speciality safaris in Africa:
Perhaps it’s because it’s your second, third or even fifth trip to Africa, or because it’s something you’ve dreamed of your entire life, but are you for looking for an alternative to the traditional African safari holiday? Something new and unique. Something that would compliment your passion or hobby. More and more, camps, lodges and tour operators are recognising this.
Little niche safaris are popping up across Africa, and we love it! It makes planning your perfect holiday in Africa even more enriching. So whether it’s a skill you’re looking to improve, or simply want to make your life-long dream come true, here is our list of the top five speciality safaris in Africa that are perfect for the traveller with something specific in mind.
1. Photographic safaris
This speciality has already become legendary in Africa. Aside from it being a totally unique way of learning more about photography and being taught new skills by a professional, a photographic safari is one of the best ways to preserve your safari memories. Each year the offering is getting better and better, with custom-built safari equipment to help you make the most of your time in Africa. If a photo safari is your thing, we always recommend properties that offer photographic support; whether it’s beanbags to prevent your camera from bouncing, mounts so you don’t need to lug your tripod around, or hides allowing you time to sit still at a waterhole and wait for the wildlife to wander by. Our favourite camps with great photographic hides are Mashatu in the Tuli Block of Botswana, and Kaingo in South Luangwa, Zambia.
Just remember, you don’t have to be a pro photographer to experience a photographic safari – we see a real mixture of clients on these trips.
2. Birding safaris
Did you know that Africa has more bird species than Europe and North America combined? So it is a no brainer for bird lovers to head to Africa on safari – the diversity of landscapes and mammals is simply a bonus!
While most good guides will point out bird species on your traditional game drives, a speciality birding safari brings together people from all over the world with a shared interest: birds!
Even the guides are specifically recruited for their passion and knowledge of our feathered friends in the sky. If you’re passionate about birds and would love to try this speciality safari, our top destinations for birding safaris in Africa are Kenya and Uganda.
3. Walking safaris
Forget the comforts of five star hotels and take a walk on the wild side in Africa. Walking safaris – as you guessed it – are safaris that take place on-foot.
And yes, there are animals – big and small! Guests on a walking safari truly immerse themselves in spectacular landscapes, seeing a very different side of the African bush than those who rely on 4×4 game trucks only.
Can you imagine standing only metres away from a wild elephant or lion? If it doesn’t make your palms sweaty (it probably should!), then our favourite areas for walking safaris would be in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park, plus Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park and Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
4. Boating safaris
For those who love being out on the water, nothing beats a boating safari. Whether it’s a half-day safari on the waterways of the Okavango Delta or a few nights spent on the Chobe River cruising along in your luxury river boat, you’ll get a kick out of seeing wildlife from the water.
Often, boats can get closer to the animals than game trucks. Boating safaris offer a completely different perspective to the African bush, not to mention access to striking sunsets. This is also a more tranquil experience compared to the bumpy back seat of a 4×4 safari vehicle.
With the cool breeze on your face instead of dust in your eyes, you can relax and enjoy the scenery, and marvel at the wildlife coming down to drink from the river or crossing right in front of you! Botswana is the best for boating safaris and you can combine it with traditional 4×4 so you don’t suffer any FOMO.
5. Primate safaris
Many travellers have primates on their bucket list, more often than not the Mountain gorilla and chimpanzee. With the impending extinction crisis of the world’s primates, it’s little wonder primate safaris are becoming more and more popular. To get close to mountain gorillas, Rwanda and Uganda have always been high on the list, but it’s also possible to see them from the Republic of Congo and DRC.
Chimpanzees, our closest relatives (sharing over 98% of our DNA) are fascinating to see in the wild. It’s worth every inch of mud you tramp through, and drop of sweat that falls from your brow, as you tackle the thick rainforests in the Mahale Mountains of Tanzania. Chimps are more intelligent, active and fascinating to watch – they move faster than gorillas usually so it can be quite an active (or exhausting) experience!
Both the Mountain gorilla and chimpanzee are threatened by habitat loss and poaching, so there is no time like the present to go on a primate safari.