Botswana is considered, by many, the top safari destination in Africa with incredible diversity of both wildlife and landscapes. Approximately 1/3 of all elephants that remain in Africa can be found in Botswana. Painted Wolf (also known as the African Wild Dog) are frequently seen. Large prides of lions and healthy leopard and cheetah populations await the safari traveler. Tens of thousands of zebra and wildebeest migrate to the Central Kalahari every December to March/April to take advantage of a greening landscape.
The unique and wildlife rich areas of Botswana include the Okavango Delta (A UNESCO World Heritage Site), Linyanti/Selinda/Kwando region, Moremi Game Reserve, Chobe National Park, Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Nxai Pan National Park (location of the famed, Baine’s Baobabs), and Makgadikgadi. With over a third of the country set aside for wildlife, Botswana should be at the top of your safari bucket list.
Botswana had banned hunting from 2014 to 2019 and the results for wildlife and conservation were noticeable. Areas that once were killing grounds for wildlife had recovered in the absence of the hunter’s rifle. Additionally, Botswana had a very aggressive anti-poaching strategy with well armed and trained rangers. Sadly, the new administration is lifting the hunting ban as well as scaling back its anti-poaching effectiveness. Poaching of elephants is increasing. We can only hope Botswana reconsiders their dangerous about face and return to what had become a model for the world in terms of conservation without killing.
Still, Botswana has become our favorite destination during what many in the industry refer to as the green season or secret season. It is a quieter time of year and if you want to learn more, click on the big red button below.
Click on the following link for detailed information on Botswana’s diverse wildlife areas. Botswana Tourism
Kenya is our preferred safari destination thanks to its historic stance against trophy hunting which dates back to the 1970’s. Even before the hunting ban, President Kenyatta (the father to current President Kenyatta) assigned 24 hour protection to a famous bull elephant called, Ahamed, to protect it from international hunters, specifically American hunters who were targeting the elephant for its massive tusks. Thanks to this courageous foresight, Kenya is one of the last places where you can see these giants with tusks nearly touching the ground. A sight that has become extinct in most places in large part to poaching and trophy hunting.
Kenya is the birthplace of the safari. “Safari” is the Swahili word for “journey”. The safari industry in its infant stages was dominated by trophy hunters, but that has changed dramatically. Photo tourism has taken over the safari world, but we still have a long way to go to ensure a Trophy Free Africa future for wildlife.
Kenya is home to the Masai Mara National Preserve; a haven for lion, leopard, and cheetah and the northern reaches of the wildebeest migration and the famed river crossings. This area gained international notoriety during the BBC’s highly successful wildlife series, “The Big Cat Diaries.” The majority of wildlife though, 70%, is found outside parks and preserves. Tribes such as the Maasai have teamed up with safari operators to set up conservancies to enhance wildlife protection further. The tribes receive an annual fee from the operator and a daily fee from each visitor. Where many of the parks and preserves can be quite crowded, the conservancies offer exceptional game viewing with a fraction of the visitation. In addition to the famous Mara Conservancies, the Laikipia conservancies are home to half of Kenya’s black rhino population.
Other exceptional safari experiences can be found in Tsavo, Amboseli, Chyulu Hills, Samburu, Meru, and the Aberdare Mountins. One of the great conservation organizations we support, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, has its home at the edge of Nairobi National Park. Kenya also has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a perfect place to end your safari.
Click on the following link for detailed information on Kenya’s incredible array of protected areas. Kenya Tourism
Tanzania is considered to be one of the top safari destinations in Africa with almost a quarter of the country set aside for conservation. It is home to Serengeti National Park, the great wildebeest migration (well over 1 million animals), Ngorongoro Crater, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. The wildebeest migration is one of the world’s last great spectacles of nature that is constantly on the move, traversing in a clockwise pattern. This pattern of movement allows for incredible wildlife viewing any time of the year. For those looking for a quieter experience, Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks offer exceptional camps and game viewing (with great opportunities for walking safaris and night game drives) and can easily be added on to an itinerary to include the Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater. This is often referred to as the Northern Circuit.
The more remote areas of Tanzania, Katavi, Ruaha and the Selous, are beautiful but we do not currently offer safaris here due to several reasons. First and foremost, we have had difficulty finding a safari operator who satisfies our criteria of supporting a Trophy Free Africa. Secondly, the trophy hunting industry appears to be well entrenched around the parks and inside the reserves. Lastly, the recent history of the Tanzania government has oversaw a gross mismanagement of these areas, especially the Selous, a World Heritage Site, where the government is currently building a damn that will forever change the Selous.
Widespread poaching over the last three decades has wiped out almost the entire 100,000+ herd of elephant within the Selous. Trophy hunting in the southern and western regions of the country is directly responsible for the huge decrease in the lion population since the 1990’s. Though the Tanzania government, pro-hunting groups, and photo safari operators will tout the “large” population of lions found in these areas, the fact remains the future of lions is being put in a more precarious position by trophy hunting since lions are already threatened with habitat loss, disease, poaching, and retaliatory killing.
Click on the following link for detailed information on Tanzania and its national parks. Tanzania Tourism
With a third of the country set aside for conservation, Zambia’s wildlife viewing is just as remarkable as the more popular safari countries. Zambia has been a well-kept secret for quite some time, but the secret is out. Zambia is a prime safari destination.
The pristine Luangwa Valley, consisting of South Luangwa and North Luangwa National Parks, has one of the densest populations of big game animals in all of Africa. Safari operators here offer small, intimate, and remote camps that further enhance your connection with nature. The other top game viewing parks are Kafue (the size of New Jersey) and Lower Zambezi with its stunning views and incredible game viewing. Liuwa Plains is also an incredible story of rebirth and is home to the 2nd largest wildebeest migration in Africa. Zambia is the birthplace of the walking safari and if you are keen on experiencing the bush on foot, there is no place better than in the valley of the leopard; South Luangwa National Park.
Our concern with Zambia is many safari operators surprisingly remain quiet in regards to trophy hunting even when there was clear evidence to shut it down in 2013. Hunting was prohibited because too many lions, leopards, and other wildlife were being killed. Trophy hunting has been reinstated and the hunting industry appears to have a strong influence in Zambia. We are watching things closely, but rest assured we are doing what we can to let Zambia know trophy hunting is an outdated method of conservation.
That being said, we are extremely happy to offer several great safari operators to our clients who yearn for the perfect safari away from the crowds while immersed in some of the most pristine areas left in the world. These companies share our conservation ethic for a Trophy Free Africa. Booking a Zambia safari with our partners will go a long way towards convincing the Zambian government and other safari operators a non-hunting future for wildlife is the only way forward!
Click on the following link for detailed information on Zambia’s national parks. Zambia Tourism
Zimbabwe is new to our list of safari destinations. The country historically has catered to the hunting industry, but we see hope for an increase in non-hunting tourism. Mana Pools, Hwange, and Matusadona National Parks are the top safari destinations in Zimbabwe. Victoria Falls is a wonder of the natural world most travelers include as part of their safari experience.
Our safari partners in Zimbabwe are leaders in the non-hunting tourism sector. We see a bright future for wildlife, especially around Mana Pools where a hunting concession has been obtained by Great Plains Conservation. This large concession will now be trophy free thanks to Great Plains’ leadership and dedication.
Click here for more detailed information about Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Tourism
Rwanda and Uganda
A gorilla trek is considered one of the most incredible, emotional, and memorable wildlife experiences in the world. Exceptional, intimate opportunities to see mountain gorillas are found in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Once located, you will have an hour to spend with these incredible primates in close proximity. Our intellectual curiosity is equally reciprocated by our wild cousins who share nearly 98% of their DNA with us.
Gorillas are not just the only attraction in Uganda or Rwanda. Our other incredible wild cousin, the chimpanzee, can be found during treks in the beautiful forests of Uganda’s Kibale National Park and Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park. Red-tailed monkeys, blue monkeys, black and white colobus moneys, golden monkeys, and l’Hoest’s monkeys are some of the other unique and fascinating primates one can see during a safari to either country.
Uganda (The Pearl of Africa) and Rwanda have also greatly improved their other natural areas for those looking for the “traditional” safari animals and experience. Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park and Rwanda’s Akagera National Park are just two great examples.
Click here for detailed information on Rwanda’s parks. Rwanda Tourism
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