4 Must-See Wildlife Encounters

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wildlife adventures

This article is brought to you by National Geographic Traveller (UK).

  1. Botswana: Discover the Wonders of Hippos

Botswana is renowned for its exceptional safari destinations, such as the Okavango Delta and Chobe National Park. To experience this wildlife haven affordably, embark on a mokoro (traditional canoe) or river boat expedition. Explore the public safari areas where self-drive cars and tour vehicles are permitted, and be prepared to witness an abundance of elephants and hippos.

How to Experience It: Ultimate Routes can tailor a 10-day self-drive camping safari in Botswana starting from approximately £1,000 per person (based on two sharing). This price excludes fuel, food, guided activities, and flights.

  1. Zimbabwe: Encounter the Enigmatic Wild Dogs

Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe offers an extraordinary array of wildlife, from majestic elephants and antelopes to lively baboons, all amidst magnificent trees. It is also a vital conservation and research hub for the endangered African wild dogs. Combine your visit to Hwange with a trip to Victoria Falls and Botswana’s Chobe National Park for an unforgettable experience.

How to Experience It: Acacia Africa provides seven-day small-group guided camping tours in western Zimbabwe, encompassing Victoria Falls and Hwange, as well as northeastern Botswana, including Chobe. Prices start from £1,330 per person, excluding flights.

  1. Zambia: Encounter the Elusive Leopards

Zambia shares the remarkable Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe, but it boasts its own abundant natural treasures. South Luangwa National Park is particularly renowned for its leopard sightings. For an exhilarating multi-day adventure, venture eastwards from Victoria Falls through Zambia, continue into Malawi and southern Tanzania, and culminate with a rejuvenating retreat in Zanzibar, combining the best of the bush and beach.

How to Experience It: Intrepid offers 20-day small-group guided camping tours from Victoria Falls to Zanzibar, including South Luangwa National Park, starting from £2,385 per person, excluding flights.

  1. Tanzania: Witness Giraffes, Wildebeest & Zebras in Abundance

Northern Tanzania is home to two of Africa’s most breathtaking protected areas. The Serengeti, the Maasai Mara’s larger counterpart, offers captivating sightings of cheetahs sprinting after their prey. The Ngorongoro Crater boasts a diverse ecosystem, including rhinos, elephants, and hippos. Begin your adventure in Arusha, where accommodation can be found for under £50 per night.

How to Experience It: Oasis Overland presents 14-day overland truck camping tours of Kenya and Tanzania, starting from Nairobi and traveling to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Prices begin at £1,200 per person, excluding flights.

This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK).

To subscribe to National Geographic Traveller (UK) magazine, click here. (Available in select countries only).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about wildlife adventures

Question: What are the best wildlife experiences in Africa?

Answer: Africa offers a range of incredible wildlife experiences. Some of the best include encountering hippos in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, observing wild dogs in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park, spotting leopards in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, and witnessing giraffes, wildebeest, and zebras in Tanzania’s Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. Each destination has its unique charms and wildlife encounters to offer.

Question: How can I arrange a safari in Botswana?

Answer: To experience the wildlife wonders of Botswana, you can arrange a safari through reputable tour operators such as Ultimate Routes. They can help organize a bespoke 10-day self-drive camping safari, starting from around £1,000 per person (based on two sharing). This price typically excludes fuel, food, guided activities, and flights.

Question: Which areas should I visit in Zimbabwe for wildlife encounters?

Answer: For exceptional wildlife encounters in Zimbabwe, consider visiting Hwange National Park, known for its elephants, antelopes, and baboons. It’s also a hub for African wild dog conservation. Combining this with a trip to Victoria Falls and Botswana’s Chobe National Park will provide a comprehensive wildlife experience in the region.

Question: Where can I spot leopards in Africa?

Answer: Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is renowned for its leopard sightings. The park offers excellent opportunities to observe these elusive creatures in their natural habitat. Consider joining guided camping tours offered by Intrepid, which include South Luangwa National Park as part of a 20-day itinerary from Victoria Falls to Zanzibar.

Question: What are the highlights of Northern Tanzania for wildlife enthusiasts?

Answer: Northern Tanzania is home to two exceptional wildlife areas. The Serengeti, famous for its wildebeest migration, cheetahs, and other wildlife, is a must-visit. The Ngorongoro Crater, with its rich ecosystem, including rhinos, elephants, and hippos, is another highlight. Starting your journey in Arusha, you can explore these magnificent areas while staying under £50 per night.

Question: How can I book a tour to explore Kenya and Tanzania?

Answer: Oasis Overland offers 14-day overland truck camping tours that allow you to explore Kenya and Tanzania. Their tours typically start from Nairobi, traverse through remarkable destinations like the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, and end in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. Prices for these tours start from £1,200 per person (excluding flights).

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