National Tourism Week arrives this year in the middle of a global pandemic that has closed borders and eliminated travel for the foreseeable future. Africa is a tourism hotspot; the home of safari, and a place studded with pure, unadulterated wilderness areas.
“Africa is also our home and the inspiration behind everything we do.”
So, in honour of our heartland and National Travel and Tourism Week, we’re highlighting our founder, Shannon Wild’s top five safari destinations.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Loved not only by us, but honored by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta is a place of unique biodiversity and beauty. It is a glistening oasis breathing life into the Kalahari basin in southern Africa and sustains an incredible number of species. Inland islands are surrounded by slow-moving channels and possessed by lions that have become adept at hunting buffalo in the water.
The Delta is a paradise for bird watchers and for lovers of elephants, which can be seen wading across the papyrus-lined waterways. Leopards wait out the heat of the day in the boughs of sausage trees, and water-adapted antelope leap easily through marshy territory, expertly evading the lurking Nile crocs.
Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
Bwindi, part of the central African rain-forest belt, is home to the endangered mountain gorillas. This tangled, mountainous jungle has dense, green volcanic slopes that are bulging with life and it is one of Africa’s most alluring wild places. You visit Bwindi Impenetrable Forest for the life altering experience of seeing gorilla families in their natural habitat, but you leave with so much more than that. It is an astonishingly lush wilderness, sprawled between two deserts, and it speaks to every one of your senses.
The surreal feeling of sitting mere metres from the powerful silverback king of the jungle is a rare and indescribable encounter. It is this singular experience (you only have an hour with them, if you find them) that puts Bwindi on the map and we simply can’t list the top five safari destinations in Africa without adding this majestic place to the list.
Quite the opposite to Uganda’s dense jungle is Namibia’s vast, stark desert. The African continent is full of contrasts and Namibia seems to capture it all, but at the heart of the country’s mesmerising natural attractions is Sossusvlei. A red desert of sand dunes, salt pans, and the skeletons of long-dead trees, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d stepped onto another planet altogether.
Photographers travel to this deserted landscape to capture the otherworldly landscape in haunting and captivating frames. Wildlife lovers venture to this great, open wilderness to see the resilient existence of the oryx, giraffe, and even elephant in a place this dramatically empty. At night, when the red dunes have lost their glow and the geckos bark in the still night air, the sky erupts in a cascade of stars. Perfect pinpricks burn against the velvet backdrop and a smudge of cosmic matter defines the Milky Way - our galaxy. Here, both Earth and stars are at their most glorious.
Masai Mara, Kenya
The birthplace of safari, the iconic heart of Africa’s tourism industry: the Masai Mara. This place makes our list for more reasons than one. Meeting the Mara is a big bucket-list tick for many African adventurers and it was for our founder, Shannon Wild, too, but being here also catalysed the birth of Wild in Africa (read about Shannon’s near-death experience in the Mara here). So, while it is a world renowned safari destination, it also holds personal value to us too.
The wildlife density is second to none and each year when the millions of migrating wildebeest cross the river gauntlets, the chaos reaches a crescendo. This is what brings the crowds to the Masai Mara; cheetahs race across the open plains in pursuit of leaping gazelle; lions and hyenas battle over carcass after carcass; and crocodiles gather in their hundreds in the hopes of catching a animal at the treacherous crossing. Not for the faint of heart, but certainly one of Mother Earth’s most powerful performances.
The land of the lemurs. And chameleons, butterflies, geckos, orchids, spices, and baobabs. Madagascar is known as the Eighth Continent, and for good reason, but of great concern is the longevity of this extraordinarily diverse island. Madagascar’s status as a megadiverse island is attributed to its high population of endemic fauna and flora, but tragically, deforestation and over utilisation of resources has led to an enormous decline in ecological health. Eco tourism and supporting conservation on Madagascar will help protect the exquisite habitats and the species that call them home.
Visiting this great island off the coast of southern Africa will leave you imprinted on forever. The call of the indri, the dance of the sifaka, the giant silhouettes of baobab alley, and the kaleidoscope of reptilian beauty will enchant and captivate your heart.
So add these to your travel wishlist to take advantage of once travel restrictions lift due to Covid-19 ... Africa relies on tourism to thrive and we look forward to welcoming you back soon!
Written by Chloe Cooper