Alternative Safari Experiences
Gorilla Trekking, Hot Air Balloon Safaris and More...
If you’re looking for an alternative twist on the traditional safari, Africa has a handful of truly unusual experiences in store. You can swap the classic open-topped jeep for the saddle of a pure-bred Arabian horse or the basket of a hot air balloon, giving you a very unique perspective of the African bush and an adrenaline-fuelled adventure at the very same time!
Active travellers eager to explore Africa on two feet can trek deep into tropical forest searching for a Silverback gorilla family or try an epic walking safari, hiking across sun-streaked African plains between safari camps. These are both wonderful ways to really get a grassroots, back to nature African experience, involving a real sense of personal achievement as well as the safari of a lifetime.
Budding photographers can set off on a specialised bush experience by booking a Photographic Safari Package. These are now offered by many lodges and feature on-location workshops run by photographers to help you get the very most from your safari snaps.
Each of these options will give you an extraordinary new slant on the idea of safari, making them perfect for second-time safari-goers or anyone after an individual wildlife adventure that doesn’t revolve around ticking off the traditional Big Five.
© Norman Carr SafarisA walking safari truly gives you a different perspective of the wild African bush. Walking through the bush opens your eyes to sights that you otherwise would have missed from your vehicle - the tiny tracks made by an army of ants, for example, or the intricate spider's web hidden in the branches of an acacia bush.
But it is not only your eyes that will be amazed. Your ears become tuned to the smallest noises of the African bush, sounds that otherwise the engine would have drowned out. Listen as the wind blows through the trees, hear the sound of the woodpecker or notice the distant alarm call of an impala.
The bush has a distinct smell to it too - fresh and almost 'buttery'. And use your last sense - touch - to feel the texture of the different leaves, or run your finger over the pawprint of the lion who passed by late last night, leaving his print embedded in the fresh dew-laden earth.
As this is the African bush, the wildlife will still be there, and if you are lucky, you will get to encounter some of it. There is something magical about standing still while a herd of zebra graze in front of you, or a giraffe peers out at you from between the tree branches, or watching quietly from a safe distance as an elephant meanders down to the waterhole for a drink, or even seeing the tip of a lion's tail as he disappears into the the bush in front of you.
Watching the African bush become tinier and tinier as you drift upwards in a hot air balloon is magical safari stuff. The higher you soar, the more the savanna will stretch out before you, filled with herds roaming free and all kinds of wildlife wandering towards the waterholes. It’s an experience to cherish for life and a surefire way to get a totally different take on the bush.
Leaving just before dawn, you’ll see the scorching African sun peep up over the horizon as you glide smoothly through the air. The silence of the clear blue sky is astonishing, marked only by the occasional burst from the balloon burner to lift you further from the ground. You’ll be treated to a steaming coffee and safety briefing before you take to the skies for a bird’s eye bush adventure that will last an hour but will feel like the blink of an eye. Then, upon landing, you’ll be whisked off for a champagne breakfast hidden in the bush or provided by a nearby lodge. There really is no better way on earth to start the day.
This kind of safari is made for intrepid travellers mad about monkeys and it’s an awe-inspiring experience in its own right. Gorillas are now highly endangered and seeing them in the wild is one of life’s true privileges, so these safaris are beyond special. Permits for these gorilla treks are now extremely limited, so these safaris are incredibly exclusive and rare.
With a small group, you’ll trek through tropical African forest in the early morning mists until you suddenly stumble across a family of Silverback gorillas grooming one another and wild chimpanzees getting up to all sorts of monkey business in the trees above. These are magical, once-in-a-lifetime moments that only a handful of people are lucky enough to experience firsthand, so you’ll be pinching yourself as these wonderful primates play in the forest around you.
Exploring the African bush on horseback offers a completely unique wildlife experience. The horses are exceptionally well-schooled, and both expert riders and novice alike can enjoy the activity.
Riders will be given a horse that matches their riding ability, and for the complete novices, the horses can be led by a professional guide until you get your confidence in the saddle.
Listen to the sounds of the bush that otherwise would be missed over the engine noise of a Land Rover; smell the fragrances that arise from the bushes as your horse brushes past the foliage; and take your time to enjoy the scenery and wildlife at a relaxed pace.
Safaris With a Professional Photograher
Every kind safari is rich with phenomenal photographic opportunities, but if you’re after snaps that stand out from the crowd, some expert guidance will take your shots to a whole new level. More and more lodges are now offering photographic safari packages led by professional photographers who will show you how to get the most out of your safari Kodak moments.
During these specialist safaris, you’ll set off in a customised vehicle kitted out with charger points and tripod stands, scouring the bush and savanna for extraordinary photo opportunities.
While you’re on the move, you’ll learn how to take wonderful wildlife and brilliant birding shots under the expert supervision and one-to-one instruction of professional photographers. Of course, these are skills that travel across borders, so you’ll be able to use your newfound knowledge on future trips and safaris.