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9 Left Field Safari Options

January 6th 2016  |  Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe  |  by  Richard Smith
Karisia walking safaris -camel train

If you thought safari was all about wildlife drives and bush walks, think again. Here are some of the more unusual ways to experience Africa’s wilderness:

Take a houseboat in Botswana

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A relaxing safari, Zambezi Queen, Chobe River, Botswana

Zambezi Queen cabin, Chobe River, Botswana

Moving along the Chobe River, Zambezi Queen is a 5-star, 42-metre long luxury houseboat offering unparalleled sophistication in one of the most remote locations on the planet. Even deep in the bush, you can enjoy a unique and adventurous river safari holiday in complete comfort. Each of the 14 suites on Zambezi Queen features air-conditioning and your own private balcony, from where you can enjoy unobstructed views of the Chobe River and the African landscape beyond. Perhaps you’ll wake up to the sight of an elephant drinking from the river, or watch a fish eagle take flight – all from the comfort of your own luxurious bed.

Explore Namibia on a quad bike

Quad biking, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia

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Serra Cafema quad bikes

Quad bikes are an excellent way to explore the dunes of Namibia.

In the far north of the country, way up on the border with Angola, around Serra Cafema Camp, their wide tyres and a designated route limits any damage to the fragile dunes surrounding this remote camp. Quads are not the only way to explore, as the camp sits on the Kunene River so unusually for Namibia boat trips are an option, and even the drive from the airstrip is an adventure.

Bush skills safari

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Nature skills Okavango Guide School, Botswana

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Guiding skills Okavango Guide School, Botswana

Letaka Safaris is run by Grant and Brent Reed, brothers who have been brought up in the bush. They understand the area and its wildlife extremely well and run the Okavango Guide School. The school offers various courses from 7 to 28 days including skills such as: tracking, weapons handling, wilderness walks, motor boating, game driving and poling a dug-out canoe

Enjoy a helicopter safari

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The ultimate safari luxury, Loisaba, Kenya

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Fishing in style, helicopter safaris Loisaba, Laikipia, Kenya

There are a variety of helicopter safaris available in Kenya. Private flights from Borana, Sirikoi, or Lewa can take you fishing on Mount Kenya or Ol Malo’s resident helicopter will take you to the beautiful Lake Turkana or the Rift Valley lakes.

A must see from Livingstone in Zambia or Victoria Falls town on the Zimbabwe side is a breathtaking helicopter flight over the Victoria Falls. This can be arranged from any of the lodges or hotels in either town.

In Botswana at Linyanti Bushcamp scenic flights are included, while complimentary helicopter transfers are available between Duba Plains and Selinda Camp for a stay of six nights or more.

Walk with camels

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Children camel rides, Karisia Safaris, Laikipia, Kenya

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Camel safaris, Karisia Walking Safaris, Laikipia,Kenya

Karisia offers tailor-made walking safaris in Kenya. The multi-day trips are led either by one of their amazing Samburu guides or by Kenya born guides (and owners of Karisia) Kerry Glen and James Christian. In all cases they are great hosts and incredibly knowledgeable about Kenya’s history, its wildlife, people and landscapes. Walks can be arranged in many parts of Kenya such as the Laikipia region, or as camel supported expeditions in lesser travelled areas such as the Mathews Range to the north of Mount Kenya.

You can walk with camels in Kenya with Karisia Walking Safaris, or from the Lewa Conservancy with Walking Wild, and also at the following lodges Sarara, Sabuk, and Tassia.

Canoe the Zambezi

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Canoeing Chongwe House, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

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Canoeing on the Zambezi River, perfect adventure for teens while staying at Chongwe River House

Canoe safaris explore the Zambezi River, with Zimbabwe and Zambia forming the banks on either side.

In Zambia, the focus is on short half-day trips, or canoeing between lodges, while Zimbabwe offers longer expeditions lasting several days or more, exploring the shoreline of Mana Pools National Park with its myriad species of birds, honking hippos and huge elephants.

The craft are two-man Canadian-style canoes, stable and sturdy enough to cope with the river’s flow. All safaris use the current and travel slowly downstream. On longer trips all the camping equipment and provisions are carried in waterproof drums, with overnights spent on quiet islands and beaches, watching as the region’s game come to the river to drink. These canoe safaris require a certain level of fitness but no previous experience is necessary.

The following camps and companies arrange canoeing in Zimbabwe: Goliath Safaris, Zambezi Lifestyles, Ruckomechi Camp, and Natureways.

In Zambia, in the Lower Zambezi National Park, canoeing is offered by Chongwe River Camp, Sausage Tree Camp, Chiawa, and Old Mondoro

Mokoro in the Okavango Delta

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Riverside bar, Camp Okavango, Botswana

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Mokoro, Seba Camp – Mokoro Image credit Caroline Culbert

In Botswana a highlight is exploring by mokoro, a traditional poled canoe used since time immemorial by local people, to travel around their watery delta wonderland. To preserve the environment the craft are now generally made out of fibreglass, but the experience is the same; you sit securely in a legless chair in the middle of the canoe, while your guide stands in the back to keep the mokoro gliding along.

Although in some camps mokoro excursions are only available seasonally, when the floodwaters come into the Delta, you can mokoro from the following properties: Jacana Camp, Kwara Camp, Pelo Camp and Xigera Camp as well as many more.

Wildlife viewing from a hide

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Waterhole hide at Mashatu, Limpopo, Botswana

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Elephants in front of the hide, The Hide Safari Camp, Hwange, Zimbabwe

Choosing a camp with a concealed hide by a waterhole offers a great vantage point from which to watch wildlife at very close quarters. Herds of elephant, buffalo and many others are drawn to the waterhole providing some excellent photographic opportunities.

Underground hides mean the action is at eye-level. In Namibia, Andersson’s Camp alonside Etosha has an underground hide, while in Botswana there are two, one at Kings Pool, in the Linyanti region, and another in the Mashatu Game Reserve. In Zimbabwe three camps in Hwange have eye-level hides at The Hide, Bomani, and Camelthorn.

Hone your photographic skills

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Getting close up to wild dog, Laikipia Wilderness Camp, Laikipia, Kenya

Whether you are an enthusiastic beginner with your first DSLR or an experienced photographer wishing to take your images to the next stage, a photographic safari can help anyone hone their photographic skills.

Photographic tuition is available in Botswana at Mashatu or on a Letaka photography safari. In Tanzania we recommend Wayo or Serengeti Safari Camp, while in South Africa you might try Cheetah Plains. Some of Africa’s best wildlife photography comes from the Masai Mara and the guides at Kicheche Mara are well versed in getting their vehicles into the right position for the best photos.

Whatever you do, you’ll end your holiday with plenty of photos and even more incredible memories.

What Next?

Start you safari holiday planning now. We can ask the right questions, suggest camps, lodges and safari areas, or match you with the right African holiday. Just give us a call or pop us an email and we will do the rest.

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