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At dawn you awaken inside your tent and stretch, enjoying the cool fresh air after a restful night’s sleep. Outside your tent the natural noises of the campsite emerge. Grasshoppers chirp in a hypnotic, high-pitched chorus. And a lion roars in the distance. A lion?
Eagerly you unzip the tent flaps and poke your head outside. Ten meters away an elephant wanders-surprisingly quietly-around the campground, sweeping its great gray trunk along the ground in search of fallen acacia pods.
You grab your weapon of choice and quietly approach. Framing the great beast in your sights, you shoot! Great shot! You got him, the perfect photograph of the beast with the burnt orange sunrise forming a rising mountain of fire and light behind it.
Welcome to your African safari.
Safaris are the only way to experience the beauty, romance and soul of Africa. Just mentioning the word “safari” immediately conjures up images of exotic treks through the bush in the heart and heat of Africa, thousands of miles from a Starbucks or McDonald’s, decked in khakis and a pith helmet, exhausted and grimy with sweat and dust.
While a safari experience like that is definitely an option, you may be surprised to discover that it’s just one of many. Travel agents love to dispel this great safari myth. Ask one and they’ll roll out the long list of wilderness adventures available in every degree of comfort, adventure and budget. The only constants are the stunning African landscapes and the amazing scope and proximity of wildlife.
Safaris range from luxury holidays, where elegant lodges and fine wines share time with tracking giraffes from a sturdy, open-roof vehicle, to mobile camping safaris where you follow predators or stake out the great wildebeest migration, sleeping in tents at a different locale each night. It’s all about how you want to get from amazing Point A to spectacular Point B-from a hot-air balloon, a canoe, or from the back of a horse or elephant.
While the word safari comes from Arabic for ‘to travel,’ Africa transformed the meaning into ‘to travel in the shadows of extraordinary animals.’ Each safari is judged by the thrilling wildlife it encounters, and many come through with high marks as they bring you into the playgrounds of zebras, lions, elephants, hippos, rhinos, gorillas and cheetahs and a whole ark-full of other animals. So many beasts roam these lands that the ground itself feels alive.
Some people choose their safari destination based on the wildlife they most want to capture and cage in a picture frame on their wall. But please consider the many natural wonders of Africa. From Victoria Falls to Table Mountain, safaris and unparalleled sightseeing wondrously go hand-in-hand.
One of the best locations for both is Kenya, the quintessential safari experience. Kenya’s must-see is the Masai Mara National Reserve, known as the Mara, home to a variety of wildlife where you can see the “Big Five”: lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes and rhinos-oh my! ….all in a single day, usually before lunch.
The Mara is the ideal site for following the great migration, when more than 1.5 million wildebeests, zebras and gazelles cross swift-moving rivers along the Tanzanian border to graze in the Mara’s lush grasslands. Hunted by lions, cheetahs and hyenas, and circled by vultures at every turn, many wildebeests never complete the dramatic journey, but the birth of new calves the following year make up the numbers as they prepare for another migration.
This great migration begins each year in Tanzania at Serengeti National Park. When you think safari, images of the Serengeti subconsciously enter your brain. Dry, flat and dusty, the land is punctuated by a scattering of flat acacia trees, under which lions lie to escape the midday heat, their manes billowing in the breeze. These rugged conditions keep some tourists away, yet those who come here are rewarded with the snow-capped peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro crater, the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera, which many believe to be the best single spot for game viewing in all of East Africa.
Thousands of unique safari adventures await you in Africa, from South Africa and Botswana to Ethiopia and Uganda, home of the mighty silverback gorillas. Whichever one peaks your interest the most, it’s vital to get the facts before you travel.
We can help you determine the best times to visit each African country. Arrive in Tanzania for the great migration too late, and all you will be photographing are muddy, week-old hoof-prints. We’ll also help you find hotels that harmoniously blend in with the surrounding environments without damaging the eco-systems, while keeping you away from monstrous tourist traps with zebra-striped buses.
We can help you figure out what to pack for your safaris, too. They stress not to wear black—it absorbs the heat. White will reflect light and alarm the animals. And camouflage is fine in American cities, but not a good idea in Africa where you might be mistake for military personnel.
Victoria Falls, which straddles the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe along the Zambezi River, may not be the tallest nor the largest waterfall in the world, but it’s certainly one of the most spectacular.
The falls—which are twice as wide and twice as deep at Niagara Falls—were named Mosi-oa-Tunya, or “The Smoke That Thunders,” by the local Kalolo-Lozi people. But British explorer David Livingstone, who was the first European to see the falls in 1855, named them after Queen Victoria. Livingstone wrote of the falls:
“No one can imagine the beauty of the view from anything witnessed in England. It had never been seen before by European eyes; but scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.”
For more fashion tips and to plan your perfect African safari , give us a call.