The picture that usually springs to mind of an African safari is the quintessential game vehicle roaming across sweeping plains in search of the Big Five. However, with the increase of wildlife-focused tourism across Africa, the industry is ever evolving and safari-enthusiasts are looking for a new breed of experience to entice them. So what else is on offer?
1. Flying Safaris
Although pricier than a traditional game drive safari, a flying safari is a truly unique way of experiencing Africa and gives you the opportunity to see stunning wildlife and landscapes from a whole new angle. One of our favourite trips, Epic Flying Safari, has recently been featured in a six-page spread in the Telegraph Ultra Travel magazine. Having grown up in Zimbabwe, journalist Lisa Grainger is particularly fond of this diverse continent. However, even she felt that her epic journey through the air gave her a fresh perspective on what each country had to offer. From weathered mineral cliffs in Zimbabwe to the dazzling aquamarine reefs of Mozambique, she encountered an abundance of wildlife, luxury camps and sumptuous fresh seafood along the way.
Flying safaris have many advantages including no set flight paths, birds-eye and high-angle vantage points for photography, and the time you save hopping from camp to camp.
This type of safari may not be for everyone but for those short on time but not on funds, a flying safari is ideal.
2. Balloon safaris
Similarly to the flying safari, a hot-air balloon ride gives you a great chance to see wildlife and landscapes from a whole new perspective. Particularly popular for spectacular events such as the wildebeest migration in Kenya and Tanzania as you can really get a feel for the magnitude of the migrating herds. Another extraordinary place to experience a hot-air balloon safari is the rolling, red sand dunes of Namibia. A sunrise or sunset ride above these dunes displays a stunning array of colours like no other.
A sunrise flight with a glass of champagne in hand is an excellent addition to an African honeymoon safari or, if you haven’t yet, perhaps the perfect place to pop the question!
3. Walking Safaris
Walking safaris give you the chance to explore the national parks and reserves of Africa from the ground and are a fantastic option for small groups. Not only will you look out for the Big Five but you will also get up close and personal with some of the smaller species that you would otherwise miss if you were on a traditional game drive. A skilled guide escorts you throughout the walk to ensure your safety and to impart their extensive knowledge of the local wildlife, scenery and culture.
Mobile camps will be your home over the course of your journey so you may have wildlife roaming through the camp at night, but you’ll still have some of your home comforts to help you relax and rejuvenate after your day of excitement.
4. Water-based safaris
If you’re looking for a more relaxed safari, a tranquil water-based safari such as a mokoro ride through the Okavango Delta in Botswana can be a fantastic experience. Many of the land animals will be oblivious to your presence, which will allow you to observe and photograph them at your leisure. Being on the water also gives you a great perspective for spotting wetland birds such as egrets, herons and kingfishers.
Certain reserves and activities are weather-dependent so if you are set on visiting a particular country, reserve or travelling at a specific time of year, it is worth checking if you can combine traditional game drives with water-based activities.
5. Horseback safaris
Yet another alternative for those looking for an active, outdoors experience is the horseback safari. This can be a fun and exciting opportunity for novices and experienced riders alike to explore otherwise inaccessible areas of reserves. Your presence on horseback will seem less intimidating to animals such as zebra and antelope so you are free to ride amongst them while on safari, which offers a completely unique experience. Your guides will tailor your trip to your riding ability to ensure that you have the best possible experience and are safe at all times.
If only some of your family are interested in riding, don’t fear, camps such as Horseback Horizon in South Africa offer plenty of other activities to suit your needs.
As you can see, there are plenty of options available for those looking for an alternative to the traditional African game drive safari. Any number of these can be combined across the continent to create a unique and extraordinary journey.