Alternative safaris: wildlife holidays with a difference
Think African safari and you’ll probably picture Kenya’s Masai Mara or South Africa’s Kruger National Park. But while they’re the poster pin-ups for safari holidays, they aren’t the only options for a wildlife trip.
If you’re looking for a safari with a bit of a difference, there are some fantastic alternative safari destinations out there. We’ve pulled together our pick of the bunch, from gorilla-trekking trips to off-the-beaten-track adventures in Madagascar.
The Big Five are all present and correct in Zimbabwe, a country that’s back on its feet tourism-wise after years of turmoil. It’s a great time to go – national parks and game reserves are refreshingly uncrowded, and locals are keen to welcome visitors back to their beautiful country.
Lots of the country’s wildlife can be found around its waterways, so we include a three-night cruise on our new tour of Zimbabwe. Being on a small boat (just nine cabins) and having a tender vessel at our disposal, we can explore some of the narrower channels that feed the lake – so you’ll get the chance to try game viewing from the water.
The tour also includes time in Pamuzinda wildlife reserve and Hwange and Matusadona national parks. Here, you’ll be able to go in search of elephants, hippos, black rhinos and more.
Find out more about our Zimbabwe escorted tour.
Without a doubt, the stars of the show on a Uganda safari are mountain gorillas. These majestic animals roam free in the rainforested mountains here, and catching a glimpse of them as they go about their lives is a moment that’ll stay with you forever (as product manager Phil found out when he visited Uganda).
But gorilla trekking isn’t the only wildlife highlight. On our 12-day tour of Uganda, we’ll also go in search of endangered chimpanzees and rare mountain monkeys in Kibale Forest; keep our eyes peeled for crocs and hippos in the Kazinga Channel; and go on a game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park (home to lions, leopards, elephants and much more).
Find out more about our Uganda escorted tour.
Namibia is all about untamed wilderness, with scenery on an epic scale. In the Namib Desert (the world’s oldest at around 43 million years old), dunes the size of small mountains ripple across the landscape and long-dead trees dot sun-cracked ground. Etosha National Park, meanwhile, offers grasslands, watering holes and salt pans as far as the eye can see.
When it comes to the wildlife, Etosha is the big name. Animals congregate around the park’s watering holes, so you’ll have a good chance of spotting elephants, black rhinos, zebras, giraffes and more.
On the coast, the waters off Walvis Bay play host to seals, dolphins, sunfish and (from June-November) whales. We’ll search for marine life in style on our tour of Namibia, with a champagne and oyster cruise.
It’s not just game drives and cruises, either – as we travel between destinations, the wildlife continues to pop up. Keep a look out and you might spy baboons, oryx, springboks and hornbills.
Find out more about our Namibia escorted tour.
Madagascar really is a one-off – a huge percentage of its flora and fauna can’t be found anywhere else in the world. So while you won’t be spotting the Big Five here, you will be on the lookout for a unique roll call of animals, birds and insects.
Our Madagascar tour gives you plenty of opportunities to clap eyes on the island’s most famous residents: lemurs. We’ll look for greater bamboo and golden bamboo lemurs in Ranomafana National Park, ring-tailed and sifaka lemurs in Isalo National Park, and rare indri lemurs in Andasibe-Mantadia National Park.
We’ll also keep an eye out for curly-tailed chameleons, their colours constantly shifting to match their surroundings, and watch endemic birdlife darting between baobab trees in Reniala Reserve.
Find out more about our Madagascar escorted tour.
For more wildlife holiday inspiration, take a look at our Walk on the Wild Side guide.
Although she loves a lie-in at home, Laura is often up and about before dawn on holiday. She’s watched the sun rise over the Grand Canyon, Uluru and Angkor Wat, but her favourite was seeing the first light of the New Year sweeping across the yacht-dotted waters of Sydney Harbour.
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