Top 5 Special Interest Safaris
Special interest safaris are special experiences, tailor made for you, focusing on your particular interests. That’s not to say that regular safaris aren’t as good, but that special interest safaris are for that unique, individualised experience which you may not find in a regular safari.
Whether it’s Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, or wherever, there is an abundance of special safaris to suit whatever interests you may have. I’ve been on a lot of safaris, and I mean a lot. So let me tell you all of these places are equally awesome, but some provide special experiences that others cannot cater for (you won’t see gorillas in South Africa, outside of a zoo).
However, you may be thinking, “but I don’t have any special interests.” Well, snap out of it, because I’m about to whet your appetite with my top five amazing, special interest safaris.
Here are my top five special interest safaris:
- Gorilla tracking safaris
Known as the Cradle of the Nile, Uganda promises luxurious eco-friendly accommodations, walking safaris and a variety of wildlife, rarely found anywhere else. It is here, deep in the forest where you can trek through the dense tropical plant life for a chance to come face to face with the endangered mountain gorilla. When you look into their eyes, these gentle giants will leave you awe stricken and humbled.
- Volcano safaris
Hiking up a volcano can be a lot of effort but the views from the top make it all worthwhile. In Rwanda these volcanoes are also a great opportunity to track some golden monkeys in the nearby forests.
And in Uganda, massive craters that were once volcanoes offer incredible views of wildlife and distant mountains.
- Chimpanzee safaris
Our closest relatives, the chimpanzee, is certainly an experience you’ll never forget. These great apes are fairly rare, found in only about 10 locations throughout Africa including orphanages. Where gorillas may be quiet and keep to themselves, chimps tend to be much more lively – you may experience a huge troop of them squawking madly, leaping from tree to tree. Don’t be frightened, though, these chimps are well habituated to humans being present.
- Leopard photo stalking
You’ll need a good tracker for this one. Leopards are the most elusive of the big five. They are hard to spot even when they’re just hanging out in a tree. It could take days to find one, but when you do it’s well worth the effort.
Watching a leopard swagger lazily over to the watering hole, while all the warthog and gazelle look up, terrified, and proceed to run for their lives, is one of my most cherished memories.
- Hot-air balloon safaris
Imagine yourself ballooning across the vast, seemingly endless, Masai Mara in Kenya, while the red sun sets in the distance. Or floating over the Serengeti in Tanzania, watching thousands of wildebeest stampede through the rolling, African plains. I’ve seen this first-hand and it is surely a sight to behold.
You’ve booked your flights, you know which animals you want to see, what scenery you want to take in, and now you need somewhere to lay your head at night after a long day’s adventure on safari.
So what are the various types of accommodation that you will find on safari? Safari accommodation can range from the humble tent to the luxury, five-star lodge. It’s all up to you, your budget, your preferences.
There are two main types of safari accommodation:
Camping in the wild can be done a budget or with fancier, larger, permanent tents. Budget camping is more popular among DIY types. You’ll put up your tent yourself, bring all your own supplies, and believe me, don’t forget your mosquito net!
The beauty of this type of accommodation is the freedom to set up camp almost anywhere in the wild. You can wake up the next morning to elephants passing by, or a friendly giraffe saying hello. Then again, you can also be terrified by hyena snuffling around your tent at night, while you sit wide-eyed, hoping you properly disposed of that last meal you had in your backpack. Not to worry though, you’re sure to be accompanied by experienced guides who will shoo away any camp invaders.
Lodges also come in the budget variety and the luxury, top of the range comfort lodges with pools and cocktail parties. Of course bedding is provided by virtually all lodges and you probably won’t need to bring your own mosquito net, but it’s always a good precaution to do so. Think of a lodge like a hotel in the bush, there’s your typical two star bed and breakfast and your five star Hilton.
Personally I recommend choosing a lodge with a great view of the landscape, because you never know when you’ll see a herd of elephant while you’re relaxing in the pool.
Often times, adventurers will mix and match accommodation to get a taste for the more rustic and also the finer side of African safari.