The appeal of an African safari is undoubtedly related to seeing iconic animals in the wild such elephants, lions, giraffes and zebras but there are so many more wonderful creatures to marvel at on land and in the sky. In the end, a safari is rarely about ticking off a list of animals but more about immersing yourself in a complete different environment that will fill your soul and mind in a way you may have never experienced before.

This is the memories you will take home, hardly believing that it was indeed real. You’ll look at your photos and will be able to tell the details of every moment you captured, almost smelling and hearing the sounds of the bush, recalling how your heartbeat accelerated and your breathing stopped for a moment, how your heart melt or your eyes illuminated at some of the spectacular sightings unexpectedly unfolding before you.

Safaris are often coupled with other non game drive activities, and here again, there is a vast choice of experiences. I tried to compile a few of them but of course this list isn’t exhaustive and I encourage you to contact me for more inspiration.

Star Gazing in a Tree House

Where: There are many locations where this is available but not all lodges offer the experience!

Good to know: This is a perfect honeymoon treat.

Don’t be scared, leopard and lions don’t climb into your bed but should you feel worried, there is always a communication system between you and the lodge. This experience can usually be 1 night our of your entire stay at the lodge. But you need to book in advance i.e at the same time as you safari.

Sunset Cruise

Where: Zambezi river in Zimbabwe or Zambia, Chobe river or Okavango Delta in Botswana are wonderful experiences. Also consider lakes such as Lake Malawi, Lake Victoria and Kazinga channel in Uganda, Lake Taganyika in Tanzania, Lake Naivasha in Kenya but there are more!

Good to know: When this activity is offered by a lodge, you can book it directly with them but it is otherwise advisable to book in advance. Seeing wildlife in water is from a boat is a complete different experience than on land!

Travel in time on a luxurious train

Where: Enjoy a romantic dinner on the Livingstone Royal Express or Bushtracks Express with sunset drinks over the bridge of Victoria Falls.

For a few days on board, the Blue train or Rovos train offer a luxurious experience through the bush covering different destinations including South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Good to knowAll trains are not recommended for children under 12 as there are no children meals nor facilities or entertainment.

Breakfast with Giraffes

Where: At Giraffe Manor in Blixen suburb near Nairobi.

Good to know: Plan this unique experience as early as a year in advance for the best chance to have a room. Note that The Manor has 2 family rooms.

Gorilla (and chimpanzee) trekking

Where: The most popular destination to see Mountain gorillas in their natural habitat is in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. In the same country, they can also be seen in Mgahinga National park, which is home to 1 habituated family. In Rwanda, you can trek at the Volcanoes National park.
Chimpanzees can also be seen in both Uganda and Rwanda as part of the same itinerary as the Mountain gorillas. They can also be found in other African countries but less commonly offered by operators.

Good to know: 14 years old is the is an age limit for the gorilla trekking and 12 years old for chimpanzee trekking.
Gorilla trekking permit costs $750 in Uganda and $1500 in Rwanda.

The Great migration

Where: June to October in Tanzania and Kenya . There is also a less know migration yet Africa’s 2nd largest wildebeest migration occurring in Zambia, which is at its very best in November in Liuwa ideally combined with Kasanka for the annual bat migration.

Good to know: While the exact location of the wildebeest is impossible to predict, there is a recurrent pattern observed the year. A good way of putting all the chances to see it on your side is to go with mobile camping, that moves along with the millions of wildebeest.
Book well in advance as this is a very popular experience.

Hot Air Balloon

Where: June to October in Tanzania and Kenya during the great migration. Okavango Delta in Botswana, Sossusvlei in Namibia, Kafue National Park in Zambia, Victoria Falls in Zambia/Zimbabwe, Tarangire National Park in Tanzania, various locations in South Africa.

Good to know: In Kenya or Tanzania, this unique experience starts at sunrise after being picked up from your lodge at 5.00am and lasts about 3 hours. Upon landing, you will be served a bush breakfast with a glass of bubbly. Children must be 7 years old or older.

Mountain climbing

Where: There are many mountains to climb in Africa and of course, the most famous one is Mount Kilimanjaro, which offer different routes. Volanoes and Mount Elon in Uganda, Mount Kenya in Kenya, Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, Mount Meru in Tanzania, The Drakensberg in South Africa are also to consider.

Good to know: While you do not need to be an expert climber, it is always a good idea to prepare your fitness level before at least 6 months before the climb. Combine with a safari and/or beach for a variety of experiences in one holiday.

Wine tasting on the Wine Tram hop-on hop-off in South Africa

Where: South Africa is home to some of the best wines in the World. You may go wine tasting in Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl,which you can visit for a day or stay near the vineyards for a few. The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley with picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300 year history while on a leisurely journey through rolling vineyards in this open-sided tram.

Good to know: You can be picked up at your hotel in Cape Town, enjoy the experience at your own pace and be back at your hotel in the evening.

These ideas will hopefully inspire you to visit this wonderful continent whatever the purpose of your holiday is. Don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss any of them and more!