African Journeys of Discovery
There are roads in Africa that lead to places that are more than just destinations. These are the places that have the same allure now as they did when explorers first discovered them, and to this day beg to be rediscovered and experienced by modern-day adventurers. WITNESS AN EPIC RUN IN THE SERENGETI
Around 1.5 million wildebeest migrate across the plains of East Africa every year, making the Serengeti Migration one of the 10 Natural Travel Wonders of the World and a bucket-list safari experience.
No specific time of year is ideal for seeing this natural spectacle, as the migration continues throughout the year – it just depends which part of the migration you would most like to see. The herds of wildebeest, interspersed with zebra, stay on the short-grass plains in the southern part of Tanzania from January to March, and calf births can be seen during a short window in mid-February. The herd then gradually spreads out as the rains end in May, and their migration begins as they head north-west towards the Grumeti River. They typically linger in this area until June before moving north to arrive on the Kenyan border in late July and August. They remain there for the rest of the dry season. As the short rains begin in November, the wildebeest once again start to move south and arrive back on the plains in December.
Expert Africa can assist with booking tours and accommodation along the entire route of the migration, where visitors can also expect to see zebras, cheetahs, elephants, giraffe, assorted antelope, hippos, a multitude of bird species and of course – well-known and feared among wildebeest – crocodiles. Visit www.expertafrica.com for more info.
PLUNGE OVER THE EDGE IN ZIMBABWE
Known to locals as “The Smoke that Thunders”, Victoria Falls is one of the most spectacular natural sights in the world. The falls – a UNESCO World Heritage site – are located along the boundary of Zambia and Zimbabwe where the Zambezi River falls 128 m to create the largest curtain of falling water in the world. The falls are 1.7 km wide and almost 550 million litres of water cascade over them every minute. As a result, the spray is visible from up to 30 km away, and visitors can hear the thrilling rumble of the falls long before they reach them.
The town of Victoria Falls offers many expeditions focused around this incredible natural wonder. You can don a raincoat and explore the waterfall’s lush and beautiful surrounds, or you can take a canoe trip on the river upstream from the falls, which is a relatively placid expanse of water, home to hippos and crocodiles. For the more adventurous, the Victoria Falls bungee
jump is among the highest commercial jumps in the world. Alternatively, you can fly a micro-light aircraft over the falls, or go white-water rafting in the Batoka Gorge below them, braving the most thrilling commercially runnable rapids in the world.
SEARCH FOR DESERT GOLD IN THE KALAHARI
Under the endless sands of the Kalahari lies a hidden treasure – the Kalahari truffle. Known as desert gold, Kalahari truffles are not to be confused with their European cousins, which are far denser and more flavoured. The desert variety are naturally occurring and cannot be grown or cultivated. They are named after the Kalahari region where they were first discovered by European settlers.
Many describe the taste of these truffles as being similar to a Porcini mushroom. They are very nutritious, and extremely high in protein. The truffles appear erratically, about once every four years, between April and May, depending on rainfall. The truffle season is brief, lasting only until the first frost.
A truffle safari can be quite an adventure, as they grow beneath the ground, hidden by sand and long grass, and only betray their presence by a small crack on the surface. If you are lucky enough to find some, though, there are many delicious recipes for truffle-infused dishes.
Head to Upington and its surrounds to search for these nuggets of gold. Tswalu Kalahari (www.tswalu.com) is easily the most luxurious of the accommodation options on offer.
JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH IN TANZANIA
Once a gigantic volcano, the Ngorongoro Crater in Northern Tanzania is the largest intact caldera in the world, and shelters one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on earth. This literal Garden of Eden is noted as one of the 10 Natural Travel Wonders of the World and is the ideal destination for avid game spotters.
An estimated 25,000 large mammals are resident in this bowl of plenty, including large herds of wildebeest, endangered black rhino, and lions. Nomadic cheetah move in and out of the area and leopard are often encountered in the Lerai Forest. Both golden and black-backed jackal are abundant, while normally shy and nocturnal serval are frequently spotted during daylight hours. Vast numbers of buffalo, zebra and Thomson’s gazelle also occur. When the grasses are short in winter, it is easy to spot even small predators such as caracal.
The Lerai Forest, the permanent marshes on the crater floor, and the highland meadows provide the best sightings of elephant in the crater area. The dense forests on the slopes and rim of the crater provide shelter for them, as they pass silently through the forest depths. In a triumph of conservation efforts, buffalo, which were once completely absent from the crater floor, have returned in large numbers. The saline waters of Lake Magadi attract both the lesser and the greater flamingo, with flocks of several thousand forming when the lake is low. Other bird species on the crater floor include ostrich and Kori bustard, the world’s heaviest flying bird.
Beautiful andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge sits right on the edge of the crater, offering unbeatable views over Ngorongoro. Visit www.andbeyond.com for more information.
Wildebeest Migration - Serengeti
Victoria Falls - Zimbabwe
Ngorongoro Crater - Tanzania
Kalahari Desert - South Africa