One of the most popular reasons for visiting Africa, especially when it comes to central Africa, is the attraction of seeing big game in their natural environment.
A herd of elephants at play down at the watering hole, hippos wallowing in a muddy river. A pack of lions lazing around in the hot afternoon sun. Most images of safari assume observing the animals from secure vehicles.
However there are a number of alternative safari experiences that offer new unique ways to view the animals, wildlife and lush scenery of Africa.[toc]
These are the exotic sights of Africa that bring thousands of hopeful wildlife enthusiasts and tourists to the vast continent each year. All of these safari visitors are eagerly hoping for a unique encounter with Africa’s most beloved natives.
Four Alternative Safari Experiences
When you think safari, your mind probably conjures up images of jeeps and dirt tracks. While you search for those elusive wild animals from the back seat of an open-top 4×4.
African Safari Videos
Vehicle safari is by far and away the most popular form of wildlife observation. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s the only one available. There are plenty of alternative safari experiences, each offering up their own unique perspective and opportunities.
African Safari By Canoe
Swap the rumbling of a car engine for the gentle swishing noise of an oar as it slices through the water of a calm African river.
Down here, below the plains and at eye-level with the smallest of African game, you’ll experience safari in a totally different way. At a nice steady, rowing pace, you can take in the surrounding landscapes. View the beauty of the water, and all the plants that are drawn to it.
No other method of transport allows you to view Africa in such a way. It isn’t just the scenery you can see from a whole new angle. All of Africa’s wildlife, big and small, needs to drink to survive. So, instead of chasing animals across the savannah, on a canoe safari they simply come to you.
It might take a bit of patience and luck. Yet if you are in the right place at the right time, you’ll be part of an animal encounter that will form memories that will last a lifetime. Just picture it now.
The reeds of the shoreline part, a brutish yet beautiful bull elephant. Sharp tusks gleaming in the sun, he plods his way to the river, leans in just meters from you and drinks from the nourishing water. If the thought of this leaves you awe-struck, just imagine what the real thing would be like.
Safari by Hot Air Balloon
From the lowest point on the plains to the highest, a hot air balloon takes everything you knew about safari and turns it on its head. This time, we aren’t down on their level, peering through the trees in hope for a glimmer of grey skin or brilliant golden fur.
Instead we are high above it all, watching the entire ecosystem as it lives and breathes below us. No other option offers up such a sense of scale and wonder as floating above the African plains in a hot air balloon.
Not only is a hot air balloon advantageous at getting an entirely new perspective on the safari experience. Hot air balloons also trump other airborne options, like planes and helicopters. Planes, unsurprising travel so quickly and so high that spotting wildlife can be tricky, and although a helicopter may be tempting, the noise pollution is sure to scare off the animals you are trying to view.
The hot air balloon then is your animal friendly and relaxing answer to seeing Africa. See Africa in all her beauty and glory from hundreds of feet high above the ground.
Walking Around With Guided Tours
For some the next idea may seem a little intimidating. It may seem downright terrifying. However consider alternative safari experiences. Such as going on safari under the transportive powers of your own two feet.
Now, let me put your mind a rest. First of all by saying that I don’t suggest you go walking in the wilderness alone. There are plenty of guides and groups available that will take you out on the walking safari.
If you walk through the forest, you can take in all the details of the trees. See what sits below them. Experience the sounds, the smells, the serenity of the natural world. A walking safari is exactly like this, it’s an immersive experience. It’s taking the time to smell the roses. Instead of being a watcher of the wild world around you, you step into it, you become part of it.
Horseback Riding Safari
Horses are versatile creatures. Resilient, tough, yet docile, they make the perfect travel companion. Horses are ideal when venturing across the plains of Africa in search of wildlife. Among alternative safari experiences their benefits are many.
Horseback riding includes the ability to travel long distance like vehicles. Yet horses can traverse rough terrain and pass obstacles. Obstacles that only could only otherwise be passed by somebody on foot. For example narrow ravines and forest areas.
This combination of distance and ability to travel across diverse sets of terrain allows for horseback safari experiences to reach otherwise unreachable destinations. It is worth noting though, that riding some experience is required to go on a horseback safari, so if this sounds like the type of safari you’d be interested in, get some lessons first!
The Magic of the African Safari
African safaris are an unparalleled travel experience. They offer visitors to the continent a unique way of viewing and interacting with some of the most beautiful and breathtaking creatures ever to roam the earth. Safaris are unique adventure holidays for all sorts of occasions.
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All the alternative safari experiences presented here provide completely different and worthwhile ways to see the animals.
If you have the time and money, I recommend you try more than one version of a safari while you have the chance. Credits: Words by Marc Crouch of Tongole Wilderness Lodge.