Activities & Special Interest

- Tanzania

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & safari activities in Tanzania

Big-game viewing

Serengeti game drive, Tanzania

Most big-game viewing in Tanzania occurs on game drives in either open or closed 4×4 vehicles. In the north of the country, it is usual to take a private ‘closed’ vehicle (and guide) and travel overland between the safari regions which are close together, although there are an increasing number of camps now offering a fly-in option with game drives in open vehicles. In the south and west of the country, where regions are linked by internal flights, open vehicles are used. The best regions for seeing big game are the Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Selous, Ruaha and Katavi. Please view our regions page for more information on these and other areas.
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Night drives

Serval on a night drive, Tanzania

Night drives are not possible in National Parks and Game Reserves, and are therefore limited to a few specific private conservancies/properties.
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Walking Safaris

Serengeti walking safari, Tanzania

Walking is widely available in Tanzania. Whilst some safari properties offer nature walks as individual activities, the country is also an excellent destination for longer, more adventurous walking trails, often walking over several days and staying in fairly basic ‘fly-camps’ in the wilderness. All walks are fully guided with a back up crew to provide meals, drinks and undertake camp chores. In Mahale and Gombe Stream national parks, walking is the main activity when searching for primates such as chimpanzee.

Some of the best ‘dedicated’ walking safaris are found in the Selous Game Reserve, where operations such as Sand Rivers Selous Walking Safari offer genuine wilderness walking with big game encounters. Other regions that offer good overnight walking safaris or trails include Katavi, Tarangire, the Ngorongoro Highlands and the Serengeti ecosystem, including the National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Loliondo.
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Mountain trekking & Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro summit trekking, Tanzania

Mount Kilimanjaro offers superb mountain trekking and the trek to Uhuru Peak (at 5,895 metres/ 19,370 feet, the highest point in Africa) is a challenging and rewarding adventure. From the dense forests of the lower slopes, where wildlife can be seen, you traverse rolling moorland, rocky ridges and alpine desert before the final ascent up the prominent ‘Kibo Dome’. The views from on top of the Kibo Dome are awesome and inspiring, if not especially picturesque.

There are several different routes you can take, none of which involve technical climbing, but all of which are exhausting and expose you to freezing temperatures. You need a minimum of 4 or 5 nights on the mountain (often 6 nights), as well as a night either side close to the mountain. Accommodation is either in mountain huts (Marangu route only) or camping (all other routes including Machame, Shira, Lemoshi Glades and Rongai) with all food and services provided by your climb outfitter.

Mount Meru offers a shorter high altitude trek (usually 3 days/ 2 nights from Arusha), whilst the Ngorongoro Highlands offer some good lower level trekking, with an ascent of the active volcano Ol Donyo Lengai possible for the really hardy and experienced (we actually do not recommend this as the conditions on the volcano are incredibly dangerous).
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Birding

Purple crested turaco, Ruaha, Tanzania

With over 1100 species recorded, Tanzania is one of Africa’s premier birding destinations. On any safari, even those with little bird knowledge are likely to record around 100 species over a period of a week. Changing habitats and altitude will prove even more productive. We do not specifically arrange birding group tours, but many of our customers are keen birders and putting together an individually designed itinerary is very easy. Some of the key areas to include are the montane forests around Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru, the riverine woodland and waterways of the Selous Game Reserve, the drier bush habitats and miombo woodland of Ruaha and Katavi and the Great Rift Valley lakes of Natron and Manyara. In particular, Lake Natron is one of the largest breeding grounds for the lesser flamingo. Specialist guides are available for the more serious birder, who may also wish to consider destinations such as the Usambara Mountains, and Udzungwa Mountains National Park and the southern highlands.
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Species specific interests

Mahale chimpanzee, specialist species, Tanzania

Tanzania offers a very wide range of wildlife viewing, but some of the key species that can be specifically focused on include chimpanzee, elephant and the big cats.

The Serengeti is one of the best regions in Africa to see all three big cat species – lion, cheetah and leopard, whilst elephant viewing is especially good in Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, and at the end of the dry season elephants can be seen in vast herds in Katavi National Park.

In Gombe Stream and Mahale Mountains National Parks on the shores of Lake Tanganyika,  Tanzania offers some of the best places in Africa to see chimpanzees in the wild. Chimps have been studied in these regions for many years, and some families habituated to the presence of humans, making viewing excellent.

Tanzania is also a great country for seeing giraffe, and there is a growing population of wild dogs, especially in the Selous Game Reserve. The waterways of the Rufiji River are some of the very best areas in Africa to see hippo and crocodiles. On Zanzibar, it is possible to snorkel with dolphins.
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Cultural Experiences

Masai granny, Lake Natron, Tanzania

Tanzania is a fairly heavily populated country with a multitude of ethnic tribes and colourful peoples, and even staying within the designated National Parks & Reserves, you will meet local people in the form of guides and camp staff. Some safari camps and lodges, especially those outside of national reserves, work closely with local villages and as a guest you can learn as much about the local community as you desire. The best opportunities are arguably around the Ngorongoro Highlands, where the colourful Maasai dominate, and hunter-gatherers such as the Hadzabe provide a less touristy experience.
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Photographic Safaris

Photograph of leadwood tree at sunset, Serengeti, Tanzania

Most people who head out on safari plan to take a few photographs. However, in depth photographic safaris are growing in popularity, whether in the form of small group trips (please see the ‘Groups’ section for links to specialist photographic tours) or individually tailored holidays.

We are best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your safari to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles and guides.

In Tanzania, photographing big game is possible in many of the parks, especially prime areas such as the Serengeti, where the wildebeest and zebra herds can also be found. The Ngorongoro Crater is an amazing scenic spectacle and the best place to see rhino, whilst the Selous Game Reserve will offer a different opportunity with magical waterways and fantastic opportunities to photograph birds and water-dwelling species such as hippo and croc. In the west of the country, Mahale and Gombe are without doubt the best places in Africa to photograph chimps in the wild.
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Water-based Safaris

Selous boat cruise, Tanzania

The Selous Game Reserve, with the Rufiji River and a string of four beautiful lakes that connect off the main river, offers some of the best boating safaris in Africa. Throughout the rest of the country, there is very little on offer, though Lake Tanganyika offers scenic cruises and kayaking, and canoeing is sometimes possible on Lake Manyara.
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Fishing

Fishing boat, Zanzibar, Tanzania

Whilst there are some freshwater fishing opportunities on Lake Tanganyika and in some of the great rivers such as the Rufiji, the best fishing on offer in Tanzania is big game fishing off the coast (both traditional and on fly). There is not really a ‘fishing culture’ but most beach hotels can arrange deep-sea fishing through local specialists. Bill fishing, particularly for sailfish, is superb from September to March. Marlin (blue, black and striped), broadbill swordfish, shark, barracuda, trevally/kingfish are just some of the other species regularly caught.
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Scuba-diving and Snorkelling

Diving, snorkelling and fishing, Tanzania

Diving is widely available off the islands of Mafia, Zanzibar and Pemba, where there is some excellent diving. Mafia Island, Mnemba Island off north-east Zanzibar and Mesali Island off western Pemba are some of the best diving locations. Snorkelling is good in most places, but it is usually necessary to go out in a boat, rather than snorkel from the beach. Mnemba and Chumbe Islands off Zanzibar offer some of the best conditions. On Zanzibar, it is possible to snorkel with dolphins.
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Other activities

Hot-air ballooning, Serengeti, Tanzania

Other activities available on a limited basis include sailing, kayaking, mountain biking. We can also cater for very specific interests such as dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc.

Horse-riding is not widely available in Tanzania, and limited to the areas of Arusha, West Kilimanjaro, Manyara, the Ngorongoro Highlands and the Grumeti Reserves in the western Serengeti.

Most places that offer riding concentrate on half day or full day rides, and are usually available for all capabilities. Serious riding enthusiast should consider the more dedicated operations found in Kenya and southern Africa.

Hot-air balloon safaris are possible in a couple of places in Tanzania, most notably in the Serengeti National Park. Take-off is at dawn, and you float over the plains for about an hour before landing (usually bumpy). A ‘champagne’ breakfast is served before you transfer back to your lodge/camp. Although expensive and commercial, balloon safaris are memorable and the views are magical.
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- South Africa

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & Safari activities in South Africa

Big-game viewing

Game drive, Mala Mala, South Africa

Most big-game viewing in South Africa occurs on game drives in open 4×4 vehicles. The premier region for seeing big game is the Kruger National Park (and the adjacent private reserves of Sabi Sands, Manyeleti, Timbavati and Thornybush), though many other areas are also excellent, including Madikwe Game Reserve, Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, Phinda Resource Reserve, Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserves, Kwandwe Game Reserve, Shamwari Game Reserve and several other parks and private reserves. Some regions are malaria-fee. Please view our regions page for more information on all these areas.

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Night drives

Serval on night drive, South Africa, DA

Night drives are possible from various National Park restcamps and from most safari lodges located in private game reserves. South Africa is one of the best countries to enjoy night drives and view Africa’s nocturnal species such as leopard.

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Walking Safaris

Walking safari, Kruger region, South Africa

Whilst walking is widely available in South Africa, it tends not to be the focus for most safari lodges, who tend to concentrate on game drives (and only offer ‘token’ walks during the heat of the day – once the morning drive has finished). This is a pity as the standard of guiding within the country is generally very good and has improved dramatically in recent years, and walking guides, in particular, are highly qualified.

There are a few luxury properties located within the Kruger, Timbavati and Mashatu (Botswana) which specialise in walking, either from the property itself or on trails.

The National Parks Board offer a number of small group 3 night walking trails within the Kruger National Park, based out of a single trails camp, whilst in Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve, it is possible to do multi-day walking trails using basic fly-camps during the winter months.

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Walking and Trekking

Walking and trekking, South Africa

South Africa offers a wide range of walking opportunities, including hiking and trekking through various mountain ranges such as the Drakensberg and Cederberg. There are also many wonderful coastal walks, including guided multi-day trails, notably in the Eastern Cape and along the Garden Route. 

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Horse-riding Safaris

Horse-riding, Waterberg region, South Africa

Horse-riding is available in South Africa and there are several excellent operations. Aside from one operation in the ‘lowveld’ (near Kruger), most of these operate in the Waterberg region of northern South Africa, including Ant’s Nest and Horizon who offer rides for mixed capabilities within game country. We can advise which is best suited for you.

Further north, just over the Botswana border in the Tuli Block (which is accessed from South Africa), Limpopo Horse Safaris offer the most adventurous horse-riding trails in the region, combining fantastic scenery and wilderness with excellent game encounters. This operation is however suited to experienced riders only.

However, not all riding in South Africa is through big game areas and there many of places where you can enjoy casual and scenic riding without being vastly experienced.

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Birding

Lesser double-collared sunbird, South Africa

With around 900 species recorded, South Africa is an excellent birding destination. The sheer size of the country and variety of different habitats means that any birder could be kept busy for months if needed. We do not specifically arrange birding group tours, but many of our customers are keen birders and putting together an individually designed itinerary is very easy. Specialist guides are available for the more serious birder, as are pelagic tours from Cape Town.

In addition to the wildlife regions, which always offer superb birding, there are many key birding spots throughout the country. KwaZulu/Natal alone has recorded around 690 species, whilst the Drakensberg Mountains, Karoo Desert, coastal forests of the Garden Route, fynbos habitat and coastal environs of the Western Cape, and the scrub bush of the Kalahari Desert will all offer superb birding opportunities with local specialities to seek out. From October to March, many intra-African and European migrants are resident.

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Species specific interests

Specific species, southern right whales, South Africa

In terms of the big game, the private game reserves around the Kruger are especially productive for leopard viewing and South Africa has for a long time been a real stronghold for both black and white rhino. In the Timbavati region bordering the Kruger, a ‘white lion’ gene exists and it is possible to see ‘white lions’ in the wild. Elephants are widespread in the traditional big game areas but Addo (Elephant) National Park in particular offers really amazing elephant-viewing experiences.

Southern Right whales are a major attraction off the south coast from late June through to November, whilst Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs from October to December along the beaches of northern KwaZulu Natal (and hatching takes place from December to March). African penguins (previously Jackass), great white sharks and Cape fur seals can be seen around the Western Cape, whilst ragged tooth sharks, whale sharks and humpback whales can be seen off the KwaZulu/Natal coast. Dolphins are prominent along the whole South African coastline.

Meerkats can be seen in the Kalahari and Karoo deserts, and in a couple of places have been habituated to human presence. If you are looking for somewhere where you can see an elusive aardvark, then these desert regions boast properties which regularly sight these shy creatures.

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Cultural Experiences

Cultural exepriences with Zulu people, South Africa

South Africa offers a huge variety of cultural experiences, from rural villages, township tours and school visits to Robben Island tours and visits to the Anglo/Zulu and Anglo/Boer battlefields. There are also many galleries, museums, restaurants and concerts that show off South Africa’s rich cultural diversity and heritage.

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Photographic Safaris

Photography, South Africa

Most people who head out on safari plan to take a few photographs. However, in depth photographic safaris are growing in popularity, whether in the form of small group trips (please see the ‘Groups’ section for links to specialist photographic tours) or individually tailored holidays.

We are probably best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your safari to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles and guides. Your itinerary in South Africa will depend on your interests and priorities, however some of the possible highlights would be leopards and other big game in the best wildlife regions, marine life such as whales, turtles, dolphins, white sharks, penguins and seals, and  meerkats in the Karoo and Kalahari. Wild flowers of the western Cape are a major attraction in August, whilst birds and people can be viewed throughout the country. The scenery is splendid and varied, from dry arid plains to the Drakensberg Mountains in KwaZulu/Natal and Mpumalanga.

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Water-based Activities

Water activities, Phinda, South Africa

South Africa’s coastline offers a wide range of ocean activities, including scuba diving, surfing, sailing, snorkelling, kayaking, fishing and boat cruises to view penguins, seals, white sharks, whales, dolphins and pelagic bird species. Away from the coast, water-based activities are more limited although there are rafting, kayaking, canoeing and boat cruise options available.

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Scuba-diving

Moray-eel,-KZN

Much off South Africa’s coastline is ‘deepwater’ and is not protected by reef, making scuba diving a little limited considering the amount of coastline available and the diversity of marine life that exists. The best scuba diving is off the KwaZulu/Natal coast, particularly in the north towards the border with Mozambique, where it can be spectacular.

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Wild Flowers & Botany

Wild flowers and botany, Namaqualand, South Africa

The fynbos flower kingdom of the Western Cape is one of our planet’s most interesting botanical destinations. In addition, the daisies of Namaqualand are a spectacular sight in August and September each year, whilst the Karoo Desert is home to huge range of succulents. Other regions of particular interest include the Drakensberg Mountains, coastal forests of the Garden Route and KwaZulu/Natal and the Soutpansberg Mountains in Limpopo Province. The Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town are world famous and well worth a day’s exploration for anyone keen on botany.

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Battlefield Tours

Battlefield Tours, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

The Anglo/Boer and Anglo/Zulu battlefields in KwaZulu/Natal can all be visited on guided tours. Most famous are the Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, the Boer war battles including Spioenkop, and from Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, the frontier battles. Specialist guides will enigmatically talk you through almost every detail of the famous battles, and for anyone remotely interested in colonial history, these should not be missed.

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Other Activities

Other activities, South Africa

There are a number of places where elephant-back safaris are offered to tourists, from the Kruger region to the malaria-free Waterberg region and Eastern Cape. In addition to riding the elephants, you are able to get to know the individual elephants and learn about them as a species.

Fly-fishing is available at various spots throughout the country, but especially in KwaZulu/Natal and Mpumalanga where rivers and streams tumble down from the Drakensberg Mountains. The considerable oceanic coastline of South Africa provides shore-based and offshore sea fishing.

South Africa boasts three private rail companies which offer more than just a journey between two places. The exclusive Rovos Rail and The Blue Train hotel-trains are both renown for their high quality service and luxurious accommodation, and rank amongst the best services in the world. They cover a number of routes around South Africa, and in the case of Rovos, further afield. The most common route is that between Pretoria and Cape Town (or v/v) which is undertaken overnight by the Blue Train, and over two nights by Rovos.

The Shongololo Express runs on a slightly different concept which allows you to undertake an extensive tour of the region (three different itineraries) with regular off-train excursions included.

Other activities available on a limited basis include golf, quad-biking, mountain biking, helicopter flights, and hot-air ballooning. We can also cater for very specific interests such as dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc.

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- Namibia

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & Safari activities in Namibia

Big-game viewing

Game drive in Damaraland, Namibia

Most big-game viewing in Namibia occurs on game drives in open 4×4 vehicles, though mobile operators use closed vehicles with roof hatches. It is possible to view big game by self-driving too. The premier regions for seeing big game are Etosha National Park and the Caprivi Strip reserves, whilst other areas such as the northern Damaraland, the Kalahari Desert and certain individual game farms and private conservancies support enough big game to offer dedicated game drives.

General desert species can be seen throughout the country, though in many of the more remote regions, such as the Namib Desert and Kaokoland, the emphasis on drives is usually more about the spectacular scenery than the game itself, with sightings being a welcome bonus. The restcamps within Etosha National Park have floodlit waterholes which afford excellent opportunities to see a wide range of species, and especially rhino.
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Night drives

Night drive Ghecko web foot MB, Namibia

Night drives are available on privately operated reserves, concessions and guest farms and in Etosha National Park through Namibia Wildlife Resorts. Night drives can be productive for seeing more unusual nocturnal species such as Cape fox, aardvark, aardwolf and caracal but are not usually a major focus of a trip.
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Walking Safaris

Walking in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

Walking is widely available in Namibia, but often the emphasis is as much about scenic exploration and learning about the desert environment as it is viewing or stalking big game. Of course, good guides will always interpret the bush for you and in some places more dedicated big game tracking and specific wildlife viewing is possible (i.e desert rhino tracking in Damaraland). In the private reserves bordering Etosha and in the Caprivi Strip, and in the Waterberg region, where conditions are less harsh, more traditional walking safaris are offered. For serious walkers, strenuous walking is possible and the desert conditions can provide a tough challenge. Namibia offers a limited choice of more dedicated walking trails where you can walk over several days and stay in mobile tented camps in the wilderness.
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Horse-riding (or Riding) Safaris

Horse-riding in the Namib Naukluft, Namibia

Horse-riding is available in a limited number of places in Namibia. One of the best spots is the Kulala Reserve bordering the Namib Naukluft National Park, where short afternoon rides or longer multi-day riding trails are available. The lack of dangerous game in the region allows less experienced riders to be catered for, but the terrain can be challenging. Further afield, and for the serious riders only, Reit Safaris offer a series of very wild and challenging riding trails across the country.  These rides are a fantastic way to appreciate the scenery but you encounter very little wildlife.
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Birding

Birding, black-shouldered kite, Etosha, Namibia

With around 700 species recorded, Namibia offers some very interesting birding. The desert habitats that make up much of the west of the country limit the variety of species to an extent, but there are plenty of endemics to seek out. Where the habitat changes and becomes more heavily vegetated, the variety of species increases and different species can be found. Birding along the Skeleton Coast offers a different perspective, and Sandwich Harbour to the south of Walvis Bay is a superb birding spot, where a great number of waterbirds congregate. The Caprivi Region (in the north-east) offers a habitat much more similar to that found in northern Botswana and a greater range of birdlife can be experienced, including woodland species and wonderful water birds. For an overall birding experience around Namibia, the key regions to consider would be the Kalahari and Namib Deserts, the coastal region around Walvis Bay (including a trip to Sandwich Harbour), Damaraland, the Erongo Mountains, Waterberg region, Etosha National Park and Caprivi Strip.
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Species specific interests

Specific species, black rhino in Palmwag concession, Namibia

Namibia is predominantly a desert country and the range of wildlife that can be seen reflects this. Namibia would definitely be one of the best countries to view and photograph species such as oryx, springbok, Hartmanns mountain zebra, bat-eared fox and ostrich.

Specific species that can be focused on include desert elephant, desert rhino, the big cats (either in the wild or at Okonjima’s Africat foundation), meerkats in the Kalahari, bat-eared fox, and Cape fur seals along the Skeleton Coast. There are also some 14 endemic or near-endemic bird species to seek out.
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Cultural Experiences

Cultural activities with Himba people, Namibia

Namibia is a country all about space, scenery and wildlife, and with less than 2.5 million inhabitants in a country roughly the size of France and Spain put together, there are relatively few genuine cultural experiences available. Most documented are the Herero/Himba peoples of north-west Namibia who provide a fascinating insight into nomadic life in the harsh desert environment. In other corners of Namibia, genuine rural villages can be visited and local people go about their everyday lives. But for the most part, Namibia is an ‘empty’ wilderness and authentic cultural experiences are limited.
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Photographic Safaris

Photography, Namib Desert, Namibia Elaine Robertson

Namibia is a photographers dream. The dramatic scenery alone is enough to keep a keen photographer busy for weeks, but the country also offers varied wildlife, interesting local peoples (mainly Himba) and incredible night skies.

We are probably best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays around Namibia, although if you’re interested in travelling in a small group, please see the ‘Groups’ section for links to specialist photographic tours. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your trip to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular landscapes and species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles, guides and access points. At some of the most impressive destinations in Namibia it is crucial you know where to stay to make best use of the early morning light. In other areas, having a particular guide might make all the difference. Your itinerary in Namibia will depend on your interests and priorities, however some of the possible highlights include the sand dunes of the Kalahari and Namib deserts, the hostile environment of the Skeleton Coast, the rugged scenery of Damaraland, the nomadic Himba people in Kaokoland and the big game and birds of Etosha and the eastern Caprivi.
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Scenic flights and air safaris

Scenic flying along the Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Whilst Namibia is a great self-drive destination, the scenery is also amazing when seen from the air. Air transfers between destinations will offer splendid views from a reasonable height, but for the best aerial experiences you need to book specific scenic flights or dedicated air safaris. The best scenic flights can be booked over the sand dunes of the Namib Desert or south along the Skeleton Coast from Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. For more in depth aerial safaris, private air safaris can be arranged, or consider joining the incredible Skeleton Coast Safaris journeys run by the Schoeman family.
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Water-based Safaris

Water-based game viewing on the Kwando River, Namibia

Namibia is fundamentally an arid country, so water-based safaris are very limited. Along the coast, specifically at Walvis Bay, boat cruises and kayaking can take you close to the seal colony at Pelican Point. In the far north, the remote Kunene River offers boat cruises in places. However, by far the most productive region for water-based safaris is the Caprivi region, where excellent boat cruises are possible in a number of places on the Okavango, Kwando, Chobe and Zambezi rivers.
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Quad-biking

Quadbiking in the Namib Desert, Namibia

Namibia offers some of the best quad-biking in Africa, through stunning sand dunes and rugged hills. Some of the best quad-biking operations exist in the Namib Desert, on the Skeleton Coast between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund, and from Serra Cafema Camp on the Kunene River in northern Kaokoland.
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Other Activities

Other activities, ballooning in the Namib Desert, Namibia

Sea fishing is popular with the locals along the coast, and trips can easily be arranged from Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. Usually of more interest to visitors though, is the fishing for tiger fish on the Zambezi and Chobe Rivers in the far north-eastern Caprivi region, one of the best spots in Africa.

Other activities available on a limited basis include hot-air ballooning, mountain biking, dune boarding, sky-diving and kayaking. We can also cater for very specific interests such as geology, dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc.
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- Zambia

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & Safari activities in Zambia

Big-game viewing

Game drive with lions, Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Most big-game viewing in Zambia takes place on game drives in open 4×4 vehicles. The best regions for seeing big game are the South Luangwa National Park, Kafue National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park. Please view our regions page for more information on these areas and other regions.
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Night drives

Night drives, civet, Zambia

Night drives are widely available throughout all National Parks in Zambia. Typically, camps will spend an hour or so game-driving with a spotlight on the way back to camp after sunset drinks in the bush. Night drives in Zambia are good fun and usually very rewarding, with the woodlands of Luangwa and Lower Zambezi being especially productive for seeing a variety of nocturnal species including leopard.
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Walking Safaris

Walking Safaris by Francois, Zambia

Zambia is a great walking safari destination and game-viewing on foot is widely available both inside and outside the national parks. However, the best regions for walking in the bush are the South Luangwa, North Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks.

Most safari properties offer nature walks as an individual activity, even if their main focus is game drives. If you are keen to combine walking with a comfortable and relaxing stay, there are several permanent camps which focus more on walking than driving, and you can base yourself at such a property for any number of days. For those who are really keen to get out into the bush and focus entirely on a walking adventure, there are a number of fantastic walking trails and adventurous ‘walking only’ bush camps to choose from. Guiding is excellent in Zambia, and it remains arguably the best country to consider for in-depth walking experiences.
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Water-based Safaris

Water-based safaris on the Zambezi River, Zambia

Zambia offers some excellent water-based safaris. The Zambezi River offers the best canoeing safaris, especially along the Lower Zambezi National Park shoreline where there is a wide variety of game to enjoy. The Lower Zambezi also offers wonderful boat cruises which can combine good wildlife and scenic viewing with some fishing.

In general, the Luangwa River which flows through the South Luangwa National Park is only navigable in the rains, and few companies offer this.

Boat safaris are also available in Kafue National Park and on the Upper Zambezi above Victoria Falls, whilst more remote destinations such as the Bangwuelu Swamps include boating and dugout canoe exploration when water levels allow. Below the Victoria Falls, the Zambezi offers some of the best white-water rafting in the world.
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Birding

Birding, Woodland Kingfisher, Zambia

Zambia is a wonderful birding destination, with around 750 species recorded. The Zambezi River on its own is a haven for a huge variety of birdlife, especially water birds, whilst the woodlands and thickets of South Luangwa and Kafue National Parks are also very rewarding. Pels fishing owl can be seen in both the Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, as can white-fronted and carmine bee-eaters which nest in the river banks from late August to October. The Luangwa is also home to large stork and crane colonies. Away from the more mainstream safari regions, serious birders should consider including the Bangwuelu Swamps, one of the best places in Africa to see the rare shoebill, and Lochinvar. We do not specifically arrange birding group tours, but many of our customers are keen birders and putting together an individually designed itinerary is very easy. Specialist guides are available. From September to March, many intra-African migrants are resident.
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Species specific interests

Specific species, hippo in Luangwa River, Zambia

Zambia offers a very wide range of wildlife viewing, but is especially known for excellent leopard viewing in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi national parks. Exceptional up-close elephant, hippo and crocodile viewing is also available along the major rivers, and the country has a wide range of antelope and other plains game including rarer species such as puku, oribi, sable and roan antelope, Litchenstein’s haartebeest, Cookson’s wildebeest and Thornicrofts giraffe.

Zambia is also very good for nocturnal sightings of species such as civet, genet, bushbaby, white-tailed mongoose and porcupine.

However, it is worth noting that rhino are unlikely to be seen, cheetah viewing is limited to Kafue National Park, and giraffe are not found in the Lower Zambezi.
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Cultural Experiences

Sussi cultural village visit, Livingstone, Zambia

Zambia, like the rest of Africa, offers many varied cultural experiences although it is now rare to see local people dressing traditionally. Along the edge of most of the wildlife areas, you’ll be able to visit villages and share experiences with the local people – this is particularly common if travelling through the South Luangwa or along the upper and lower Zambezi. Kawaza village outside the South Luangwa Park offers international guests the chance to stay overnight and experience much more of the local customs and culture.

One of Africa’s great ceremonies takes place annually when the Lozi people of the Barotse floodplains (western Zambia) undertake the traditional ‘kuomboka’, when the King moves with his people and cattle from floodplains onto higher ground before the big floods. This occurs sometime in March or April but is extremely difficult to predict.

The people of Zambia are very friendly and most guides and staff in safari camps will be able to tell you about their lives, culture and customs.
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Photographic Safaris

Photographic safaris, Tanzania

Most people who head out on safari plan to take a few photographs. However, in depth photographic safaris are growing in popularity, whether in the form of small group trips (please see the ‘Groups’ section for links to specialist photographic tours) or individually tailored holidays.

We are probably best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your safari to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles and guides. Your itinerary in Zambia will depend on your interests and priorities, however some of the possible highlights would be scenic photography of the Victoria Falls, elephants, hippo and crocs along the Zambezi River, leopards and lions in the Luangwa and Lower Zambezi, rare antelopes such as sable and roan in Kafue, and spectacles such as nesting carmine bee-eaters, and stork colonies. Many of the better safari camps, particularly in the South Luangwa, build seasonal ‘hides’ in strategic locations which offer excellent photographic opportunities.
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Fishing

Fishing on Lower Zambezi, Zambia

Fishing is widely available on the Zambezi River. Tiger fish are the key quarry for serious anglers, either on the Upper Zambezi above Victoria Falls, in Lake Kariba or on the Lower Zambezi. Away from the Zambezi, fishing is available in a few spots including Lake Tanganyika in the far north of the country.
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Other Activities

Other activities, microlighting in Luangwa Valley, Tanzania

In the Mosi au Tunya National Park, near Livingstone and Victoria Falls, it is possible to join elephant-back safari excursions. These include riding the elephants for about an hour, with two further hours spent interacting with them, watching them feed or perhaps even take a mud bath!

Horse-riding is limited in Zambia, but is available in a couple of spots, including outside Livingstone and at Shiwa Ng’andu in northern Zambia.

Other activities available on a limited basis include quad-biking, mountain biking, white-water rafting, bungee-jumping, jet-boating, micro-lighting and helicopter safaris. We can also cater for very specific interests such as dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc.
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- Botswana

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & Safari activities in Botswana

Big-game viewing

Game Drive, Botswana DA

Most big-game viewing in Botswana occurs on game drives in open 4×4 vehicles, though mobile operators often use closed vehicles with open sides and roof hatches. The best regions for seeing big game are the Chobe National Park, Linyanti Region, Moremi Game Reserve and Okavango Delta, Nxai Pan National Park and the Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block. The central Kalahari Game Reserve and Makgadikgadi Pans National Park are also good for game-viewing. Please view our regions page for more information on these areas.
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Water-based Safaris

Chobe River boat cruise, Botswana

Botswana offers incredible water-based safaris. The Okavango Delta is made up of a number of deep water channels and lagoons which hold water and are navigable by boat all year round. The Delta floods seasonally from around April to September, and creates huge areas of shallow floodplain. At this time of year, boat safaris are often able to leave the main channels and explore the plains. Mekoro safaris (local dug out canoes) are a peaceful way to explore the shallow areas of the Okavango, and many camps offer this as an activity all year round.

Away from the Okavango, there are other regions which offer water-based activities. The Chobe River is well known for offering amazing river cruises, with fantastic game-viewing along the banks in the dry season. In the Linyanti region, both the Kwando and Linyanti rivers are used for boat cruises.

In the past few years, heavy rains and seasonal flooding has resulted in areas such as the Selinda Spillway and Savute Channel flowing again. Canoeing safaris are now available on the Selinda Spillway. There are also a number of houseboats in operation on the Chobe and Zambezi Rivers (registered in Namibia, but accessed from Kasane in Botswana), and in the Okavango Delta.
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Walking Safaris

Walking safari in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Walking is widely available in Botswana. Outside of official national parks and game reserves, most safari properties offer nature walks as an individual activity. However, there are more dedicated walking trails available in the Okavango Delta and Linyanti regions, either based from a static camp (and walking each day from there – a favourite is Footsteps Camp in the Okavango Delta, by Ker and Downey) or by linking a number of mobile/ seasonal tented camps. All walks are professionally guided, and a full back up crew undertakes all camp chores. In the Kalahari regions, walking safaris are often guided by the San bushman where it is possible to learn more about their lifestyle, the land and survival techniques.
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Horse-riding (or Riding) Safaris

Riding safari in Mashatu, Botswana

Horse-riding is available in Botswana with three of Africa’s best riding operations based here. Two of these companies, Okavango Horse Safaris and African Horse-Back Safaris are located in the Okavango Delta, and the third, Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris is located in the Mashatu Game Reserve in the Tuli Block. Although casual riding, and that for beginners, is not well catered for, Botswana is one of the very best African countries to consider for serious riders. T he specialist companies do, however, cater for non-riders accompanying riders by offering a range of alternative activities whilst the main party is out riding.
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Elephant-back Safaris

Abu Camp elephant-back safari, Okavango Delta

Botswana is home to arguably the best and most in depth elephant back safari operation in Africa. Abu’s Camp in the Okavango Delta has long been known as an exclusive and upmarket operation where you are able to enjoy a number of days riding elephants through the Delta. In addition to riding the elephants, you are able to get to know them individually and learn about them as a species. Other activities such as mekoro excursions, walks and drives are also included.
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Birding

Pels Fishing Owl, Okavango Delta, Botswana WS

With around 590 species recorded, Botswana is an excellent birding destination. We do not specifically arrange birding group tours, but many of our customers are keen birders and putting together an individually designed itinerary is very easy. Specialist guides are available for the more serious birder.

Some of the key areas to include are the riverine habitat, flood plains and woodland of Chobe National Park, the riverine woodland, papyrus-fringed waterways, open grassland and flood plains of the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve, the mixed woodland and grassland plains of the Linyanti region and Nxai Pan, and the scrub bush, sand dunes and arid grassland of the Kalahari Desert. In particular, the Okavango Delta is one of the best places in Africa to see Pels fishing owl and to experience large heronries, whilst during the wet season flamingos breed in vast numbers on the Makgadikgadi Pans. From October to March, the intra-African and European migrants are resident.

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Species specific interests

Meerkat viewing in the Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

Botswana offers a very wide range of wildlife viewing, but some of the key species that can be specifically focused on include meerkat, wild dog and elephant.

Meerkats are found in the drier Kalahari regions, and in particular have been habituated at Jacks Camp on the Makgadikgadi. If you are keen on seeing meerkats, this is one of the best experiences available in Africa.

The Linyanti and Okavango regions have excellent wild dog populations and are probably the most consistent areas in Africa to see them.

The Chobe and Linyanti regions are home to a vast number of elephants which congregate in large herds during the dry season. Boat cruises on the Chobe River are especially rewarding for elephant viewing. For anyone really keen on elephants, the elephant experience ‘Grey Matters’ is available from Stanleys Camp in the Okavango Delta, where you are able to learn about and spend the morning at very close quarters with a group of semi-habituated elephants (these elephants cannot be ridden).

Other species of particular interest can include the semi-aquatic and rare sitatunga antelope, found in the wetland reaches of the Linyanti Swamp and Okavango Delta, the majestic sable antelope and the beautiful desert-adapted oryx antelope. Brown hyaena, aardvark, aardwolf and a variety of other interesting nocturnal creatures are particular widespread in the Kalahari regions.
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Cultural Experiences

Central Kalahari Bushman, Botswana

Botswana is a country that offers wildlife, wilderness and exclusivity, rather than a wide variety of cultural experiences. The guides and camp staff will be able to tell you about their lives and where they live, and will often perform impromptu dances or songs (which they love to do), but it is rare to be able to visit local villages and really see how the local people live.

The best cultural experiences are found in the Kalahari regions where the San bushman communities live and often lead bush walks. Some will dress traditionally, and although only a scattered few speak English, the experience is very interesting. Some lodges offer San ‘performances’ which depict various aspects of their culture and may even include a dance around the camp fire – all very atmospheric, but of course a ‘show’. For the dedicated cultural enthusiast, a couple of companies offer more in depth bushman safaris.
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Photographic Safaris

 

Hwange Elephant-head 202Most people who head out on safari plan to take a few photographs. However, in depth photographic safaris are growing in popularity, whether in the form of small group trips (please see the ‘Groups’ section off our home page for links to specialist photographic tours) or individually tailored holidays.

We are probably best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your safari to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles and guides. Your itinerary in Botswana will depend on your interests and priorities, however some of the possible highlights would be elephants along the Chobe River, wild dogs, cheetah and general big game in the Linyanti region and some parts of the Okavango Delta, birds and specialist wildlife in the Okavango region, meerkats, brown hyaena and other desert wildlife in the Kalahari regions, and landscape photography with the uniqueness of the Okavango Delta and Makgadikgadi Pans.
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Night Drives

 

Serval on a Botswana night drive
Night drives are not possible in National Parks and Game Reserves, but are widely available within the private concessions of the Okavango Delta, Makgadikgadi Pans, Tuli Block, Central Kalahari and Linyanti regions. Botswana is one of the best countries to enjoy night drives.
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Fishing

 

Fishing in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Fishing is widely available where there are boating activities, mostly on a casual basis, though more serious fishermen will want to head to the Okavango Pan-handle, Chobe and Zambezi rivers to fish for tiger fish (crossing into Namibia from Kasane to access the Zambezi River is common).
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Other activities

Mountain Biking in Mashatu, Botswana

Other activities available on a limited basis include quad-biking, mountain biking and helicopter safaris. We can also cater for very specific interests such as dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc.
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- Kenya

Activities & Special Interest

Special interest & Safari activities in Kenya

Big-game viewing

Elephant focus, Amboseli, Kenya

Most big-game viewing in Kenya occurs on game drives in either open or closed 4×4 vehicles. The safaris we arrange do not use minibuses for game-viewing unless it is specifically requested. The best regions for seeing big game are Amboseli, Samburu, Lake Nakuru, Tsavo West, the Lewa and Ol Pejeta conservancies and the exceptional Masai Mara. Please view our regions page for more information on these and other areas. Night drives are not possible in National Parks and Game Reserves, and are therefore limited to Kenya’s numerous private game sanctuaries/conservancies.
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Walking Safaris

Walking safari, Masai Mara, Kenya

Walking is widely available in Kenya. Whilst many safari properties offer nature walks as individual activities, the country is also an excellent destination for longer, more adventurous walking trails, often walking over several days and staying in fairly basic ‘fly-camps’ in the wilderness. All walks are fully guided with a back up crew to provide meals, drinks and undertake camp chores. In northern Kenya, camels are often used to transport camping equipment and food (and willing guests), and walking safaris supported by camels are often known as ‘camel safaris’.
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Horse-riding (or Riding) Safaris

Riding safari, Chyulu Hills, Kenya

If horse riding is a priority for you, Kenya is one of the best African countries to consider with excellent riding options to suit all abilities. Riding is available throughout the country and many properties offer horse riding as an individual activity (alongside nature walks, game drives etc). Whilst this gives you the flexibility to choose how much riding you wish to do, please note that these riding safaris usually cater for mixed riding abilities, so are less likely to satisfy very experienced riders.

A few specific operators offer multi-day riding safaris which are suited to more experienced and dedicated riders. These longer safaris will typically involve spending up to 7 hours a day in the saddle, with nights out in the bush in more adventurous ‘fly-camps’ or ‘mobile tented camps’, which adds to the whole safari experience.
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Birding

Secretary Birds on nest, Masai Mara, Kenya

With over 1100 species recorded, Kenya is one of Africa’s premier birding destinations. On any safari, even the uninitiated are likely to record around 100 species over a period of a week. Changing habitats and altitude will prove even more productive. We do not specifically arrange birding group tours, but many of our customers are keen birders and putting together an individually designed itinerary is very easy. Some of the key areas to include are the montane forests around the Aberdares, Mount Kenya or Mount Elgon, the arid acacia savannah of the north, the Great Rift Valley lakes (Naivasha, Baringo, Bogoria and Nakuru), and the remnant rain forest of Kakamega (where 10% of the 367 species are found nowhere else in Kenya). On the coast, Mida Creek and the Arabuko Sokoke forest are exceptional areas. Specialist guides are available for the more serious birder. During September/October and March/April, many intra-African migrants pass through the country.
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Mountain trekking

Mount Kenya mountain trekking

Mount Kenya offers superb mountain trekking and the trek to Point Lenana (the trekking peak) is a challenging and rewarding adventure. The views from Point Lenana, and from anywhere around the circuit summit path, are breath-taking. There are various other places in Kenya where serious walking is possible, from Mount Longonot in the Great Rift Valley to the Laikipia region and Mathews Range in northern Kenya.
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Hot-air ballooning

Ballooning over the migration, Masai Mara, Kenya

Hot-air balloon safaris are possible in a couple of places in Kenya, most notably in the Masai Mara. Take-off is at dawn, and you float over the plains for about an hour before landing (usually bumpy). A ‘champagne’ breakfast is served before you transfer back to your lodge/camp. Although expensive and commercial, balloon safaris are memorable and the views are magical.
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Species specific interests

Bushbaby on night drive

Kenya offers a very wide range of wildlife viewing, but some of the key species that can be specifically focused on include the big cats (the Masai Mara is perhaps the best region in Africa to see all three big cat species – lion, cheetah and leopard), black & white rhino, and elephant. In particular, there are a few properties that focus on elephant viewing and will offer anyone who is really keen on elephants, the most thrilling experience. Kenya is also home to three species of giraffe.
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Cultural Experiences and Community Lodges

Masai-wedding,-Chyulu-Hills, Kenya

Kenya is a heavily populated country with a multitude of ethnic tribes and colourful peoples, and even staying within the designated National Parks & Reserves, you will meet local people in the form of guides and staff. Outside of National Parks and Reserves, much of the land is owned by local communities. Many safari camps and lodges in these areas work very closely with their landlords, and you will be able to visit villages and learn as much about the local community as you desire. In some conservancies, camps and lodges are run totally by the community offering an even more in depth experience. Please see our section on responsible tourism for more information.
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Photographic Safaris

Lioness dawn photography, Masai Mara, Kenya PG

Most people who head out on safari plan to take a few photographs. However, in depth photographic safaris are growing in popularity, whether in the form of small group trips or individually tailored holidays. We are probably best equipped to arrange individually tailored photographic holidays. The flexibility and service we offer allows you to carefully plan your safari to meet your exact requirements, whilst our specialist knowledge is crucial, not just in terms of knowing where to photograph particular species, but also in terms of being able to provide suitable vehicles and guides. However, if you do wish to travel on an organised photographic tour, we currently work closely with a number of photographers who lead small groups in Kenya.
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Water-based Safaris

Lake Naivasha boat cruise, Great Rift Valley, Kenya

Despite having a string of lakes along the Rift Valley, water-based activities in Kenya are very limited. It is possible to do boat cruises in a few places, most notably the fresh-water lakes of Victoria, Naivasha and Baringo. On the coast, various more escapist properties may include river cruises or dhow cruises. Other water-based activities, such as canoeing, are rarely available.
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Fishing

Fishing, Kenya

Whilst there are some freshwater fly-fishing opportunities on Mount Kenya and in the Aberdares, and on Lake Victoria (for Nile perch), the best fishing on offer in Kenya is big game fishing off the coast (both traditional and on fly). Some resorts specialise in deep-sea fishing and have a fleet of good fishing boats. Most beach hotels will sub-contract fishing activities to local specialists who operate a ‘tag and release’ system. Bill fishing, particularly for sailfish, is superb from September to March. Marlin (blue, black and striped), broadbill swordfish, shark, barracuda, trevally and kingfish are just some of the other species regularly caught.
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Scuba-diving and Snorkelling

Scuba Diving and watersports, Kenya coast

Most of the Kenya coastline is protected by reef which provides excellent diving and snorkelling. Diving is best along the central section of the coast around Malindi and Mombasa, and much more limited in the far north around Lamu and Manda Islands. Snorkelling is good in most places, but it is usually necessary to go out in a boat, rather than snorkel from the beach. Up at Lamu Island, it is possible to take a boat trip to snorkel with dolphins.
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Other Activities

Other activities available on a limited basis include quad-biking, white-water rafting, helicopter flights, rock climbing and mountain biking. We can also cater for very specific interests such as dendrology, Lepidoptera, archaeology etc
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