There are a wide range of activities possible on safari. Almost anything you can dream of is offered somewhere in the safari world. Game drives are the core of most safaris since that is the easiest, most effective way to view the wildlife. However, if your dream includes something less obvious, such as safari on horseback, tracking wildlife with a Bushman, or even learning to drive a 4×4 off road we can help if we know of your interest. A growing trend is people tend to want to mix in more activity so there are growing opportunities for walking, biking and canoeing.
Below is an overview of activities, but if you don’t see it just ask as almost anything is possible.
Game drives are easily the most popular safari activity and on most safaris it is by far the dominant activity. Viewing wildlife from a vehicle allows you to cover large areas and safely view the behavior of animals at close distances.
In some areas night game drives are allowed. Typically, following a stop for a sundowner drink, the guide (or tracker/spotter) will use a spotlight to search for animals after dark on your way back to camp. This adds to the diversity of wildlife as about 1/3rd of the species are typically only active at night. It is also a time when animals seen during the day, like big cats, are often more active so adds a chance to witness more behavior. At most camps the ‘night drive’ entails spotlighting for an hour or so on the way back to camp from the afternoon game drive. If you run into great activity, such as hunting lions then the drive may extend longer as you stick with the action and dinner is served late. Few visitors have the energy after the early morning wake up game viewing schedule but upon request it can be possible to have an after dinner game drive which increases the chances of finding the more nocturnal species that are seen with less frequency in the early evening.
Taking to foot opens up a whole new world. It is a chance to discover little things that are rarely experienced from the vehicle. Special attention is given to looking at spoor (tracks) and other signs such as dung or a leopards scratches on a tree. This is also a time to learn about plants and local uses of them.
Many active travelers are simply excited to get some exercise and break up the game drive routine. Note that bush walks in safari areas are not high pulse exercise walks, the presence of large and potentially dangerous animals requires that the guide lead you with bush craft, paying attention to the wind and where you are traveling. By moving with purpose it is actually a very safe activity. If you do encounter big wildlife it is amazing as seeing any of the Big 5 on foot feels quite different then seeing them from a vehicle.
In most areas a walk is a one off activity of 2 to 3 hours that takes the place of a game drive. However, there are some places where you can have a great safari focusing on serious walking, taking to foot daily and even walking between camps. Zambia and Zimbabwe are superior for walking because walking safaris have been occurring for decades, leading much of the wildlife become habituated to humans walking on the landscape. This makes it more possible to view more species, and get closer on foot than in other safari areas.
Having quality cultural experiences is both the easiest and most challenging facet to incorporate into a safari. The easy comes from the organic culture you receive. Just being in company of your local guide, camp safari staff, and passing through places can give you such a connection and indoctrination to the area. Making cultural visits is highly recommended and a wonderful way to learn more but finding low impact less-touristed opportunities that are logistically near excellent game viewing is not always easy. We do have some recommended places that excel with high quality cultural interactions with a wide range of cultures including the Bushmen, Hadza, Maasai, Samburu, Kuria, Himba and others. There are also more cosmopolitan opportunities in larger cities and villages.
On the Water
In locations with rivers, flood channels, or lakes there is often opportunities to take to the water in various craft. Canoeing is ideal for active adventure travelers, and can be done as a one of activity or a multi-day safari. Mokoro is the traditional dugout canoe in Botswana where the guide does the work poling it along like a gondola. Kayaking is available in many coastal areas. Power boats and house boats are relaxing ways to explore larger waterways. Fishing is popular in many areas with boating as well.
Wildlife Research Interests
Some wildlife researchers invite guests to participate in their activities or will give special lectures. If you have a special interest let us know and we can tailor to that interest.
This is an area we are very weary of as we are always concerned for the welfare of the animals involved. Often projects are described as having a conservation purpose when it is just a pure money maker. For those who want to be hands on there is an excellent opportunity to do so in Botswana with orphaned elephants. Also in Botswana and South Africa there are chances to be in close proximity to habituated meerkats.
Among the most exciting wildlife safaris is gorilla or chimpanzee trekking. This is an exciting way to do something physical with an amazing reward as you get close up on foot viewing of one of the captivating species of great apes.
There is also climbing of major mountains, with Kilimanjaro being the most famed.
Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Balloon over wildlife or stunning scenery is very popular. The Serengeti, Masai Mara or Namibia’s sand dunes are the most famous areas for this activity.
There are safari operators that specialize in horseback safaris. Many safaris are multi-day rides and require a high level of skill as you really integrate into the wild. Some places also offer one-off shorter rides that are suitable for other levels.
Camels are another option for a one-off activity or a multi-day trip.
There are places for amazing quad bike rides exploring vast areas.
Africa has thousands of miles of coast, providing lots of high quality opportunities for visiting beaches or visiting high quality reefs with scuba or snorkeling. Off South Africa are some of the best shark and whale viewing areas in the world.