Spending days out in the wilderness, away from creature comforts, and camping out in the wilds surrounded by the big game of Africa is a privilege today that few have the opportunity to experience. In fact there are not many safari experiences left in Africa today that do not require the use of motor vehicles - an Okavango Makoro safari is one such adventure. Days are spent exploring the channels and islands of the delta and nights are spent under the stars experiencing the African night.
The majority of parks and reserves in Africa require a four-wheel drive vehicle to negotiate the roads - which are mainly dirt tracks. The Kruger National Park is the exception to the rule for here you can traverse the whole park from north to south in a small sedan car. There is a great combination of tarmac and dirt roads to allow for any needs. Accommodation in the park allows for any budget and is suitable for families and single safari travel. Being able to dictate your own time on safari is a privilege.
As exciting as an African safari by motor vehicle is, nothing can match the back-to-nature excitement of a walking safari through Africa's wilderness areas. Many lodges have options to walk as activities but spending days and nights out in the bush is an experience that goes beyond a mere safari. Walking safaris get you close to the earth, allowing you to scent the wilderness. The walking safaris of Zambia are legendary but there are also exceptional walking safaris offered in Zimbabwe and the Kruger National Park.
A wide river teeming with wildlife, vast amounts of water rushing over a 300 foot drop and a deep gorge to carry the water on can only add up to adventure. Victoria Falls is more than one of the world's most spectacular waterfalls. It is also known as the Adventure capital of Africa. For adrenaline junkies there is no better place to be - what with the most exciting white-water rafting in the world, bungi jumping, gorge swinging, micro lighting and much much more.
Taking to one of the world's great rivers in the early light as the mist begins to lift, and seeing hippos easing back into the water after a night of foraging - and watching the wilderness come to life after a night of sounds and trepidation - is an experience that cannot be described in words. It has to be experienced. Sleeping out on islands or on the banks of the legendary Zambezi allows for a yearning of an adventure of old.
Primate safaris are some of the most sought after safari experiences in Africa today, with the gorillas of Uganda and Rwanda high on the priority list, but there is a place on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania where a close encounter with chimpanzees is an experience unrivalled anywhere on the continent. The Mahale Mountains National Park is only accessible by boat and airplane, making it one of Africa's remotest parks. The setting is pure fantasy and the interaction with the chimpanzees is the best primate experience around.
Cultural interactions have become a big part of the African Safari, with many operators touting a genuine experience. Unfortunately today there is a drive to earning a quick buck and the cultural interactions in many countries is a sterile version of what the culture is about. Quite easily the most recognized culture, and indeed the most photographed, in Africa today is the Masai culture of East Africa. Synonymous today with a Kenya and Tanzania Safari the Masai provide arguably the most traditional view of their culture.
Seeing the colossus of Kilimanjaro rising from the plains into the African sky is a lifetime experience. Kilimanjaro is an African icon and provides an image of what is arguably the epitome of the African Safari - the view of the mountain rising above the plains of Africa with a herd of elephant in the foreground. Revered by the locals Kilimanjaro today is a magnet for adventurous souls who strive for the peak, but also for those who merely want to view it from a distance.
The Ngorongoro Crater has to be Africa's most unique wilderness areas. Here is a place of varied eco-systems and countless wildlife all wrapped up in a proverbial hole in the ground. The animals are free to move out but most stay in the crater year round. African theme parks around the world could easily have been inspired by this phenomenon. Although reality television-like in nature no script writer would dare suggest a production as Eden-like as the Ngorongoro Crater is. It is truly one of nature's masterpieces.
Want to experience some of these highlights ? Select an African safari vacation package from our recommended Top Ten African Safaris