What are the must see highlights of Africa??? This is a question I have been asked a hundred times. Some say it is a question without an answer. Every area has something that sets it apart from the other areas. Discover some of my favourite places and experiences you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
Firstly, the “Great Wildebeest Migration” in Kenya and Tanzania is one of my most memorable highlights of Africa. The sheer numbers of wildebeest on the move is incredible. Seeing the other grazers and browsers (gazelle, zebra, giraffe, impala etc) closely escorted by the big cats is truly awesome. After 15 years of guiding safaris, the Migration still takes my breath away every time.
Next up is my favourite region, Southern Tanzania. Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha National Park, Katavi National Park and the Mahale Mountains (best place to see the Mountain Chimps). These areas receive very few visitors which mean there are some of the most exciting wildlife encounters here. Whilst it is harder to find the game, when you do, it is truly memorable.
Another highlight of Africa is watching this world wake up to another day, on a canoe safari on the mighty Zambezi. Gliding along, you can hear the grunts of the hippo, and see the silent glide of a crocodile. The silence of travelling by canoe gives you the perfect opportunity to get a close but safe distance to hippos. Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe offers walking Safaris (as well as canoe safaris) for those wanting to be close to the animals but not on the waterways.
Fourthly, there is no better way to get close to animals (with an experienced walking guide of course), than on a walking safari. To take clients close to lions, cheetahs and other animals is a privilege. Whilst it may sound scary, it isn’t. Clients can be nervous before a walk. However, once we approach, say, a lion, excitement takes over and even the most timid, enjoy this experience. During a recent walking safari in Zambia, I guided my clients close to a large male lion and a lioness; standing next to me, a young client said: “It’s hard to believe that I am standing in the middle of the bush looking at two lions and I’m not scared, just really excited”
If you are looking for remote solitude, then Botswana is the place to visit. The Okavango Delta, famous for its tranquillity and beauty is a bird-watchers paradise. From the noisy and gregarious yellow-billed hornbills to the might and power of the majestic fish eagle, this area ranks amongst the world’s best for variety and number of birds.
Even though I enjoy the Delta, I prefer the contrasts of the Savuti Channel. Linking the Linyanti Marsh – via the Selinda Spillway – to the Delta, this mysterious channel ebbs and flows watering the Savuti Marsh area. There is ample game viewing on both water and land. This region is best known for its predators – lion, leopard, cheetah and the elusive wild dog. Because of it’s large population of elephants, there is some of the best elephant viewing in Africa.
Finally, Zanzibar has to be the most perfect place to relax after a safari adventure. Highlights of Africa include this exotic island off the coast of Tanzania with its idyllic beaches and friendly people. Showcasing historic buildings and remnants of its slave trade past through to white sand beaches, nowhere offers the diversity that Zanzibar does. Enjoy incomparable diving and snorkelling, local food and colourful markets. A great range of accommodation is available. Select from lovely Zanzibari hotels in Stone Town (the main town of Zanzibar) to exotic resorts on the East and North coasts.
So, imagine sitting in a land-cruiser, watching lion cubs rolling over each other, or a cheetah ready to run down its prey. See a family of elephants bathing in the river, trumpeting to all that life is wonderful! These are just some highlights of Africa. With the choice of budget camping trips, luxury lodges, luxury tented camps and fly-in safaris, Africa can accommodate the budget traveler through to the most discerning clients.
So in conclusion my advice is simple. “Must see highlights of Africa” – all of it – but don’t take my word for it – experience it for yourself, and see why Africa keeps drawing me back over the last 34 years.