A New Kind of Safari – On Water
Asafari (or game drive) is one of the most popular items on a tourist’s checklist when they visit Africa, and for good reason. Who wouldn’t enjoy the exhilaration of seeing wild animals in their natural habitat and the simplicity of soaking up the sounds and smells of the bush, as the wind rushes through your hair?
But unless you’re extremely passionate about the bush, going on yet another landbased safari may not be at the top of your bucket list right now. Which is why you need to consider something a little bit different – a river safari.
A river safari isn’t about canoeing alongside crocodiles and making camp each night on the sandbank with only a tin kettle and some coffee to keep you company (although you could do it that way if you’re so inclined). No, most river safaris include luxurious amenities, sumptuous food, hugely knowledgeable guides, and the chance to experience Africa in a more personal and peaceful way. Here’s what makes them unique:
Excellent Game Viewing
If you’re doing a land-based safari, you’ve probably ventured down to a watering hole many a time. Water is essential to sustaining life, and its oasis of greenery amid the dry bush attracts high concentrations of wildlife looking to quench their thirst. For you as a river safari game viewer, that means incredible, up-close-and-personal sightings. See newborn impala take their first shaky steps into the world, witness wildebeest and zebra drinking from the river, and also keep an eye out for predators. Predator sightings are more frequent near the water, so you may have a better chance of seeing lions, rare packs of wild dogs and elusive leopards.
A Unique Perspective
Watching game from the water instead of land gives you unique (and often much closer up) views of the game congregating there. Being so close to the animals as they drink also makes for fantastic photographic opportunities, as you’ve got the water keeping them in place and you’ll have more than enough time to soak up the experience or snap that perfect photo.
During the dry winter months when the inland watering holes dry up, vast numbers of animals descend on the river to drink. If you’re on a river safari, this means a front row
seat for game viewing. You’ll also be much more likely to see year-round riverine wildlife like crocodiles and hippos.
Elephants love water and can often be seen swimming and frolicking in the river – sometimes in huge breeding herds. On a river safari, you’re in the perfect position to see elephants of all ages, whether it’s newborns taking their first dip or older males asserting their dominance over each other.
There’s something about being around water that instantly relaxes you. A river safari where you float down the river on your houseboat (or “tender boat” if you’re on a day expedition) with the engine turned off makes for an extremely tranquil game-viewing experience, as you listen to the water lap against the boat, with only the calls of wildlife as your soundtrack.
Float Into Relaxation Station
A traditional land safari typically means a very early start, as you head off on game drives before the sun rises for the best chance of spotting game. On a river safari, you’ll enjoy a later start, as animals come down to the water only after sunrise. If you’re truly looking to relax and recharge while you’re in the bush, then this is the way to do it.
Because a river safari is relatively unusual, there’s minimal congestion on the river compared with a land-based safari, where you could be surrounded by a dozen other vehicles trying to spot a lion’s tail as it disappears into the bushes. This makes it that much more exclusive and personal. Companies like the Zambezi Queen Collection offer incredible houseboat safaris, with only a small number of guests per boat, making it intimate and familiar. The entire boat can also be booked exclusively, giving you your own private villa on the water. A bonus when travelling with the Zambezi Queen Collection is the Green Season Special Offers, offering discounted rates over certain travel periods.
There Are Plenty More Fish in the… River
If you’re on a mighty river such as the Chobe in Botswana, it means worldclass fishing opportunities right on your doorstep. Depending on when you go, you can try your hand at catching tiger fish, bream, African pike, tilapia, catfish or upper Zambezi yellow fish from the comfort of your water-based accommodation.
While spotting big game is undoubtedly the highlight of going on safari, birdwatching in the bush is an added bonus – or, if you’re a twitcher, the main reason for going. Being on a river safari means you’re close to the diverse bird species that live on and near rivers – and during the wet season huge migrations mean the bird populations increase even further.
Oh the Places You Should Go
Luckily we have some excellent river safari options right on our doorstep, with the Chobe region in Botswana and Namibia just a short flight from South Africa. It is also a stone’s throw from Victoria Falls, making it an ideal combination. The Chobe region is an incredible destination all 12 months of the year, an ever-changing experience of wide, dramatic skies, vivid colours and unforgettable game viewing. The Zambezi Queen is a five-star, 42-m long houseboat with 14 luxurious suites offering unobstructed views of the Chobe River and landscape beyond – and is an incredible way to experience this region. Wake up to the sight of elephants drinking from the river, or the sound of a hyena calling into the wild.
Unlike a land-based lodge, the Zambezi Queen navigates 25 km of the Chobe River, allowing you to explore different vantage points and enjoy unparalleled sighting opportunities. The banks of the Chobe National Park are home to one of the densest populations of elephant on the African continent – estimated at approximately 120,000. The national park is also home to a large number of buffalo, leopard and lion, along with a variety of antelope and abundant birdlife.
If you’re looking for your next min-blowing, memory-making, heart-warning holiday, I think you just found it. For more info, visit www.zqcollection.com.