Sunday Mail - Travel/Escape - - FRONT PAGE -

There is no doubt the main rea­son peo­ple visit Africa is to get up close to the na­tive wildlife. The Big Five – rhino, ele­phant, lion, leop­ard and buf­falo – is usu­ally at the top of the must-see list, and to see them, you must go on sa­fari.

Sa­fari Africa is gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the re­gion from Kenya, down the eastern seaboard to South Africa, tak­ing in the in­land coun­tries of Namibia, Botswana and Zim­babwe.

The Great Wilde­beest Mi­gra­tion in the Serengeti is a big draw­card, as thou­sands of an­i­mals jour­ney in search of bet­ter graz­ing ground and wa­ter. The move­ment also in­cludes large num­bers of ze­bra, im­pala and gazelle.

But an­i­mal ex­pe­ri­ences are not the only thing to do in this vast con­ti­nent, says Fiona Hay of 318Africa.

Learn­ing a lit­tle about the lo­cal tribes and cul­tures is also high on the list of must-have ex­pe­ri­ences, and the most pop­u­lar is the Ma­sai Mara in Kenya and Tan­za­nia.

“A lot of the lodges and prop­er­ties will have an ar­range­ment with lo­cal tribes who may pro­vide crops for the lodges and welcome their guests into their vil­lages to see how they live,” Hay says.

“But there are other lesser known tribes worth vis­it­ing as well, such as the Himba tribes of North Namibia and those in the river camps along the Zam­bezi River in Zam­bia.”

Another African at­trac­tion is the range of dif­fer­ent and beau­ti­ful nat­u­ral land­scapes, from the beau­ti­ful coastal beaches of Zanz­ibar, off Tan­za­nia, and along the Mozam­bique coast, the desert sand dunes of Namibia, and moun­tain peaks such as Kil­i­man­jaro in Tan­za­nia and Ta­ble Moun­tain in South Africa. mid-June to the end of Septem­ber in the sa­fari re­gions. Hay says this weather makes for the best wildlife view­ing.

“The dry weather means the an­i­mals are forced out to con­gre­gate around wa­ter holes and the low grass helps with an­i­mal spot­ting,” she says.

How­ever, this also means the cal­en­dar pe­riod will at­tract the big­gest crowds and get­ting into the smaller lodges may prove dif­fi­cult.

If you want your visit to co­in­cide with pre­mium great mi­gra­tion view­ing, Hay sug­gests the pe­riod from Fe­bru­ary is best, as this is when wildlife give birth and you can see the an­i­mals mov­ing with their young.

IN PLAIN SIGHT: Ele­phants with Mt Kil­i­man­jaro in the dis­tance. Pic­ture: iS­tock

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