Safari: What to know before you go
1st December 2018
People often talk about ‘The Big Five’, but there are far more than 5 reasons to go on safari holiday. Our local partners know the right footsteps to follow, so as well as supporting local businesses, you’ve got the best chance of seeing the world’s most incredible animals in their natural habitats.
There’s a safari out there for every type of traveller. Whatever you choose, you’ll never forget watching in awe as wildebeests thunder through the savannah, elephants and buffaloes splash playfully in watering holes, and big cats prowl under skies that flicker with constellations.
If you're looking for something to get you in the mood before you set off on your travels to Zimbabwe, we've gathered a list of our favourite books to inspire you.
'When a Crocodile Eats the Sun' by Peter Godwin
A moving memoir of a dutiful and loving son who was born in Zimbabwe but chooses to live his adult life in New York City, returning to the land of his birth frequently to visit his elderly parents. On each trip he describes the dramatic changes that Zimbabwe is undergoing, and discovers a long hidden secret his parents have been concealing from him.
'The Grass Is Singing' by Doris Lessing
A cast of believable and complex characters populate this riveting and agonising tale of racism and psychological intrigue against a backdrop of the daily lives of those who live and work on a dysfunctional Zimbabwean farm, suffocating in the heat of Africa and the weight of the apartheid.
'The Stone Virgins' by Yvonne Vera
Using factual events as a framework for her novel, one of the most celebrated African writers conjures up an accurate portrait of the sacrifice and divisions caused by the violence and brutality of Zimbabwe’s post-independence civil unrest. A haunting book which tells the tale of this bloodstained era from the perspective of two sisters.
With its bountiful wildlife, stunning landscapes and fascinating culture, there's no shortage of things to do in Botswana. For further inspiration take a look at the trip ideas put together by our trusted local experts, but in the meantime here are some of the highlights.
Go on a desert safari
The Botswana Kalahari is the home of wide-open plains and epic skies which echo with the roar of the elusive black-maned Kalahari lion. While you are looking for them you could also encounter zebras, giraffes, gemsboks, blue wildebeests, red hartebeests and possibly even leopards. The sheer number of animals that survive in this harsh terrain is remarkable, and if it's a true wilderness safari experience you are looking for, you've found it. Birding is also a great option in this arid region of Botswana.
Cruise the Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa. During the July and August floods the wetland's triple in size as the rains from far away are carried by river to the head of the delta before fanning out across the landscape. This creates a maze of waterways that draw animals from miles around bringing life and colour to the desert. Take a mokoro canoe safari or explore on foot with a guide and discover the ever-changing waterscape, alive with huge numbers of creatures great and small, including an abundance of elephant, hippo and birds.
Learn from the native Bushmen
The San Bushmen are one of Africa’s oldest tribes, with remarkable resourcefulness that allows them to eke out a living from arid, desert terrain. Go tracking with modern Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert to learn secrets that sustained their tribe for thousands of years. Learn about the traditional hunting methods, edible plants, creating fire and hear stories of the bush, the animals and the people who have coexisted here for a millennia. The ancient wisdom is inspiring and humbling to learn.
While there are many well-known things to do in South Africa, what about the lesser-known highlights? Our local experts have shared some of their top tips for where to go and what to do if you fancy a bit of an alternative South African adventure.
Marvel at the West Coast's flower power
The spring flowers of South Africa’s Northern Cape and West Coast really are a sight to behold. After the winter rains, the usually dry and dusty land explodes into carpets of colour that have to be seen to be believed. Purple, orange, yellow, blue, white and red all mix together with brilliant, clashing abandon. The flower season starts in the Northern Cape and Namaqualand in late July / early August and peaks in late August, depending on the weather. Speak to our local experts if you would like your trip to coincide with these spectacular blooms!
The Klein "Little" Karoo
This lesser-known area of South Africa is a beautiful expanse of sparsely populated, semi-desert the size of Germany. A scattering of pretty towns and farms are surrounded by wild, empty lands and crowned with a spectacular starry sky at night. Desert landscapes seem to attract creative minds, and the Klein Karoo is a cultural haven of galleries, independent bookshops and quirky encounters. Every town you stop in has its own identity and a unique buzz.
Sample the Cape Malay Cuisine
An unexpected but memorable genre of food in South Africa is the sweet, subtly spiced Cape Malay cuisine, perfect when sampled in the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town, its historical home. A legacy of the Malaysian slave trade, Cape Malay cuisine brings the sparkling flavours of Asia to the table. The secret is in the complex spicing, which creates a unique blend of flavours you shouldn’t miss.
South Africans are an outdoorsy crowd, and adrenaline-charged escapades can be easily arranged. Ever fancied bungee jumping, abseiling or surfing? Well now’s your chance – and what a setting for it. Equally, if beautiful views are quite enough of a thrill for you, then South Africa has plenty of more gentle ways to appreciate its great outdoors.
Tanzania is a fascinating country. But did you know any of our top three facts about it?
"The holiday sounded good on paper but was way beyond our expectations!"
Sarah (UK) in South Africa
"We had a fantastic holiday, and I would be more than happy to use TravelLocal again."
Neil (UK) in South Africa
"This was the best experience ever. The safari adventure is something everyone must do."
Ibrahim (Kuwait) in Tanzania