Helping to protect Africa’s wildlife makes for an unforgettable experience. // © 2015 iStock
Feature image (above): Victoria Falls is a great spot for adventure activities. // © 2015 iStock
Home to some of the most beautiful scenery on Earth, the countries of Southern Africa offer rich history and life-changing experiences. We asked experts on Southern Africa to create a bucket list guide for the area. Here are their top picks.
Okavango Boating Safari
“The Okavango Delta is totally wild and remote with an incredible variety of game,” said Sarah Fazendin, business development director for Rothschild Safaris.
Located in Botswana, the delta is flooded half the year, which means clients can experience its wildlife via a boating safari and stay at one of the area’s island camps, says Starla Estrada, managing director for Africa and the Middle East at Geographic Expeditions.
For clients who want to visit during the dry season, a driving safari is also an option, she added.
“Mobile safaris provide the magic of old-time safaris just like the ones Hemingway used to do,” said Estrada.
Learning about the country’s history of apartheid and taking a tour of the townships are an important part of any South Africa itinerary. For instance, Geographic Expeditions’ township tours follow Robin Binckes, a gifted storyteller who lived through apartheid.
“That tour consistently comes back as one of the highlights for our clients, even though it’s only one day during a multiday trip,” said Estrada.
Visiting Victoria Falls
“Without a doubt, taking my kids to see Victoria Falls has been the highlight of my experience in Southern Africa so far,” said John Spence, president of Aardvark Safaris.
Estrada agreed, describing the area as “Africa’s hub” for adventure travelers, thanks to offerings such as world-class whitewater rafting.
According to Spence, Victoria Falls is also popular for microlight flying.
Aiding conservation by relocating or tagging wildlife is a special experience for clients and one that can be found in many Southern African countries.
For example, Fazendin raved about helping to relocate two lions that were in conflict with a local village.
“Touching their paws and helping to lift the lions into the vehicle was magical,” she said.
Clients can also help protect cheetahs and rhinos at places such as Camp Jabulani, where guests can track rhinos on foot.
Meet the People
Estrada and Fazendin both recommend interactions with the Himba people of Namibia, known for their elaborate hairstyles and their tradition of covering themselves in red clay. But for experiences with the locals, you can’t beat connecting
with the oldest people on earth by taking a walk with the San Bushmen of the Kalahari.
It’s an opportunity not to be missed, said Spence.
“You’ll learn about how they hunt, start fires and forage for roots and berries,” he said. “They’re one of the original ancestral clusters from which we all descended.”