Apart from game drives, what other activities can one include while on Safari vacation? A good number of visitors to the various African safari destinations design their itinerary around the safari vehicle game drive. Usually, 3 game drives are offered daily; at the first light of dawn, then you return to the lodge or camp for your breakfast. Then, according to your location, you may drive out again to visit the hippo pools etc and come back to the lodge for lunch. Later in the afternoon, you take another drive looking for the prides of lions or follow the wildebeest herds. But there is much more to the African vacation than game drives.
Activities On African Safari Vacations
Granted, the classic game drives routine can still be fulfilling, especially to the first-time safari enthusiast. But there are frills and and things to do that can make your visit to Africa even more memorable.
1. Horse-back and Camel Safaris
Ride horses across the African savannah and plains, tracking herds of elephants and galloping alongside giraffes, and zebra. Or enjoy the easy and comfortable gait of the camel, as you savour the big game and bird life. Usually, qualified and experienced local guides will be share with lead you as they share their knowledge of the African wilderness. You can enjoy these kinds of adventures in many conservancies and reserves spread across the African continent. Grumeti Singita in Tanzania offers unforgettable horse-back safaris, like wise some camps in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. In Kenya, look for camel riding and horse-back safaris, in Laikipia – Lewa area and Chyulu Hills.
2. Take a Walking Safari
You leave the open-side safari vehicle behind and in the escort of armed guards and knowledgeable local guides take a walking safari. Track animals on foot, unsure of what awaits around the next turn – buffalo, giraffe or even lion. You get the true thrill of the African bush and learn about the smallest details of the bush life and the traditional uses of the different plants to the African people. Because of the element of risk on this kind of activity, it is not offered by all camps, find out from your safari operator if this activity is available for your itinerary.
3. Elephant Back Safaris
Most people know that it is possible to tame the Indian elephants and employ in circus and riding. The African elephant is however considered wild and dangerous. Elephants who have been orphaned either by poaching or culling, and then rescued and raised by humans tend to be tame and friendly.
Elephant ride safaris are offered in southern Africa safari destinations, namely South Africa, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Generally, each ride will take about an hour and will include an orientation talk by the elephant master on elephant behaviour before the ride. After the ride, there are refreshments. Guests mount and dismount from a specially built platform level with the elephant’s back.
4. Helicopter Rides
Adventurous and thrill seeking vacationists and photographers will enjoy helicopter rides. Scenic helicopter rides over the breath-taking landscapes, like the majestic Victoria falls or the volcanic outcrops of Mt Kenya and Kilimanjaro, will leave anybody spell-bound. The rides can are often operated using small helicopters that a small number of passengers, 2-5 persons. They are safe, comfortable and may offer headsets that allow passengers to chat amongst themselves or listen to music. Helicopter rides are available in many places including Victoria Falls, Laikipia plains in Kenya, various locations in South Africa
5. Take The Classic Bush Breakfast
Early in the morning, with the rising dawn, take the usual early morning game drive, wreathed in the morning mist. And as the sun rises over the horizon, you find yourself at a scenic destination where a sumptuous breakfast will have been laid out by a team of chefs from the lodge or camp, just waiting for your orders.
6. The Sundowner Experience
As the sun descends to the west, you set out on a dusk cool safari, viewing wild animals as they venture out to feed in the cool air. You arrive at a panoramic viewpoint where cocktails are served as you watch the sun go to sleep. It is an experience hard to forget.
7. The Campfire Bush Dinner
Instead of dining in the lodge or camp restaurant, you can choose to enjoy thrill of dining in the African bush. The bush dinners are set around a blazing barbecue and crackling campfire. An exotic buffet is set out in the light of the flickering hurricane lamps.
8. Hot Air Balloon Flight
The adventure begins just before dawn, when the flames from the balloon’s burners light up the darkness as the crews inflate the machine. You board, ascend and drift serenely over the great herds. As the dawn breaks over the horizon, throwing the sun’s sharp rays and shadows across the land, the drama of wildlife on the African plains unfolds below you, with giraffe and elephants casting curious glances your way and the birds swooping past. Upon descend, you celebrate with a Champaign to mark a thrilling, spectacular morning.
9. Visit An Authentic Local Village
Africa is the home to the fascinating people made up of different tribes with different cultures. While on your safari, you have the opportunity to learn fast-hand about these ancient cultures. Visit a remote village in the African bush and learn the tribal social system, customs and traditions. You may include a visit to a local school and interact with children, some who could have walked kilometres to reach the school in the morning and will walk the same distance back come evening.
10. Night Game Drives
Animal experts say that more than 30% of all the fascinating wild animals are predominantly active during the night. A night game drive allows you the opportunity to look for the animals that you are not likely to see during the day as they hide from the African sun and heat. You may even be lucky to spot a hunting leopard.
It may not be possible to include all the activities in your program. It will mostly depend on the destination you have chosen and whether the safari activity you are interested in is available and offered there.
It is important to note that not all lodges and camps are able to organize these activities. For example, only lodges located within private conservation areas (as opposed to the game reserve) are allowed to conduct night game drives. Your tour operator will be able to provide the guideline according to your wishes.