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6 unforgettable luxury safari experiences

Luxury safaris are stuff that dreams are made of, where you and your guide rove the remote bush of private reserves in a chauffeured vehicle searching out elusive wildlife with few, if any, other humans in sight. Traditional safari game drives are an amazing way to get up-close to the incredible flora and fauna of Africa, but there is so much more to adventuring in these natural wonderlands. From the heart-pounding to the serene, here are our top 6 “only in Africa” adventures that can be blended into your next safari: Hot air ballooning  Where? Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia Game drives are one way to view the animals, especially for photography buffs who can zoom their lens. But you’ll find an entirely different, awe-inspiring perspective from the basket of a hot air balloon. You’ll drift, virtually silently, among the vast herds of the Great Migration, above elephants frolicking at waterholes and gazelles bounding through the plains. You might even spot a predator in the long grass and a hunt if you’re really lucky. What you will certainly gain is a new appreciation for the grandness of the landscapes and the interactions of the wildlife. Walking safaris Where? Many safari camps located on private reserves offer nature walks focused on flora, animal tracks, and birds, but some of the most qualified guides leading tracking walks (whether single- or multi-day) can be found in Zimbabwe and Zambia. A walking safari is yet another way to experience the African bush. It’s one thing to be above the animals in a balloon, or beside them in an idling vehicle, but just imagine observing wild animals at eye level, your feet sharing the same ground. Stepping foot onto some the wildest terrain in the world with highly-qualified trail guides is, for many, the pinnacle of African adventure. Stargazing Where? Anywhere in Africa’s wilderness areas, but Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve is recognized as a top Dark Sky reserve. Aside from fascinating wildlife, the immense, undeveloped areas of Africa are home to some of the world’s darkest skies, making stargazing an unexpected bonus on safari. Many guides pride themselves on their star knowledge and are happy to share it over a fireside nightcap. Some safari camps even have luxurious, private sky beds for guests to sleep under the stars. You’ll feel enveloped by the universe as you stare up into the infinite, twinkling darkness. Mokoroing Where? Botswana The Okavango Delta represents life at its most fertile—abundant water, sunlight, and rich soil combine to form a paradise bursting with life and a landscape of indescribable beauty. Exploring the marshy canals in a traditional, hand-dug mokoro canoe (Africa’s version of the Venetian gondola), you’ll not only experience how the Botswanan bushmen have traditionally navigated these waterways, but you’ll also be just inches from the lifeblood of the region. Listen to the birdsong as your guide gently poles the boat among the tall grasses.  Coming face-to-face with humanity’s closest relatives Where? Rwanda The thick rainforest of Volcanoes National Park is where the largest groups of remaining endangered mountain gorillas make their home, moving each day in search of food. Each gorilla family has a maximum amount of time that groups can spend with them throughout the day and permits are coveted, limited, and expensive. Trekking through the forest, you’ll emerge into a clearing and see these powerful yet gentle primates, a moment that never fails to impress even the most experienced adventurer. Paddling on the Zambezi River Where? Zambia or Zimbabwe  Why stick to land when you can be on the water that flows into Victoria Falls? For thrill-seekers, you’ll find class 5 rapids. Paddle furiously or cling to the side as a passenger! For those that aren’t quite up for the rampaging class 5’s, there are plenty of gentler class 1 and 2 rapids, as well. And if you’re looking for something more leisurely, enjoy an afternoon guided canoe trip through hippo and croc-infested waters (giving them a wide birth). Delight in the abundant bird life, and perhaps arrange a picnic lunch on one of the islands. Matt Holmes is the Founder & President of Boundless Journeys. Boundless Journeys is an award-winning tour operator that goes off the beaten path for immersive and authentic travel experiences. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Matt Holmes

Matt Holmes is the President and Founder of Boundless Journeys, an award-winning, adventure tour operator that goes off the beaten path for immersive travel experiences. Long distance hiking in the Alps, snorkeling around remote Pacific islands, and chatting with Buddhist monks at hilltop monasteries are some of the experiences Boundless Journeys offers on over 35 small-group itineraries. Their journeys bring active, culturally curious travelers together to share authentic experiences away from tourist crowds. Prior to starting Boundless Journeys, Matt worked as a tour manager for many years and a rafting guide before that.

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  1. I always wanted to have some experience with wildlife’s but i never had a chance to get their. This is now in my list where i am planning for next trip.

  2. I have been on some beautiful hot air balloon rides but have to agree in Africa they are just mind blowing. Being in the air and seeing elephants and other wildlife over vast stunning landscapes. That’s a moment you don’t forget and that’s what travelling is all about. I just try paddling I don’t seem to venture out on boats much and feel I am missing out. Thanks for the ideas for my next travels.

  3. My personal hunch is that star-gazing is going to be one of the growth areas of the future. Designated “Dark Skies” areas will become increasingly precious. As our urban areas sprawl and sprawl, light pollution wil continue to hinder our views of the skies. We our losing what was once a natural every night experience, clouds permitting. To be honest my main memory of my last visit to Africa was a “Dark Skies” Experience. The Southern Hemisphere night sky is an unforgettable collection of constellations, the Milky Way and shooting stars. Oh – and satellites.

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