Returning to Africa after three years of being away was like having a really good hug with an old friend. I can't tell you how much I missed the rich, earthy aromas, the warm-hearted people and the daily delights of looking for wildlife in an open vehicle. There's really nothing like going on safari in Africa. I am spoilt by having the best groups ever, of course, and this was the case in Rwanda in December. I am always amazed how complete strangers bond on my safaris and I'm sure it's got to do with having the desire to connect to nature in common, even when people come from different countries and have totally contrasting lives back home. There is something about an African safari that brings everyone together on the same level around a campfire. It's no beach holiday; this is a grand adventure, and you will grow from the journey and trust me, you'll never forget it.
A few highlights from Rwanda were seeing two leopards in Akagera National Park in one day, finding all of Clan B (the largest herd of elephants in the park) as we arrived at Magashi Camp and being able to enjoy their company by boat as they bathed and played in the water, sharing our gorilla sighting on one day with several forest elephants (which got our heart beating a bit faster!), seeing the new Ellen DeGeneres campus of the Dian Fossey Fund at Musanze and learning more about the plight of gorillas and efforts to conserve them, and seeing a large male baboon chase a spotted hyena off after the hyena tried to prey on a young baboon! So many highlights - and I forgot to mention the plethora of birds for which Rwanda is famous. The Veroux eagle owl on a fresh francolin kill was another highlight, thanks to the 'eagle eyes' of our guide, Herman van Kusi, and seeing a Ross's turaco for the first time too. I've tried to summarise it all in my photo montage below.
I had the pleasure of four days in the company of five local safari guides and a park staff member prior to the safari in order to run a training course in elephant identification techniques as part of the Akagera Elephant Project. I want to acknowledge the two generous sponsors from Singapore who funded this training, who are also safari guests of ours. More on this and the latest results from the Akagera Elephant Project in my next blog.
My next safari is in Botswana and you can still sign up if you'd like to experience 7 nights in the Okavango Delta and surrounds, the home of Africa's largest elephant population and one of the wildest parts of Africa. My Botswana Highlights safari has only got space for a maximum of 8 people, less than my usual group size of 12, so if you're looking for a really intimate safari in an extraordinary wildlife area, this safari is for you. This part of Botswana is well known for its rare African wild dogs and we can expect some excellent predator sightings as the area is home to leopards, lions and spotted hyenas, just to name a few. The highlight may be your night at The Skybeds, a tower under a star-studded sky overlooking your own private waterhole... or it might be your night at the luxurious Dukes Camp, an upgrade for this group only, located on a tributary of the Okavango Delta, where we are able to explore the World Heritage wetlands by boat and mokoro (dugout canoe). Seriously it doesn't get much better than this! Contact me now if you would like to join me from 17-24 June this year. I have two rooms left on this exclusive safari that gives so much back to conservation and local communities through the Natural Selection Foundation.
Namibia remains one of the best safari destinations for those looking for a self-drive adventure or something more luxurious among the desert dunes, and our guests, the Larkin family from Western Australia, recently discovered this for themselves on a self-drive family safari with their two kids. I've done this type of safari myself with my husband and two kids, then aged four and eight, and the kids still rave about it as one of their best safaris ever. Namibia's sand dunes are un-beatable for unmitigated FUN for kids when they're not learning the tracks of the animals, and for the parents the desert sights, from the might oryxes on the dunes at sunsets to the flamingoes on the coast and the lions and white-dusted elephants in Etosha are unforgettable. This is a country where you can self-drive or do a guided fly or drive safaris, so there are lots of options.
In Sally Larkin's words:
"Our trip was amazing thank you very much. Such variety in scenery, and great animal sightings. Our favourite stays were Safarihoek (Etosha), Okonjima (Etosha), Wolwedans (Namib Rand) and Etendeka (Damaraland). The guides were all very good... not sure if that was because we stayed at brilliant places or because they kept the best of the best for us due to COVID. We found the country very clean, very safe, easy and familiar as regional Australia."
The photos below were taken by Sally Larkin on their family safari in Namibia. The smiles say it all! Thanks for sharing your photos Sally.
If you are thinking about a safari this year or in 2024, please drop us a line and register your interest so we can keep you in the loop. If you get in now, you can have a say in where my group safaris will focus in 2024, and I'd love to hear from you. We are so excited to be back in business and to be sharing Africa with our guests again. Drop us a line and let us make your dream safari a reality!