It's time to slow down in 2018 - here are five of the best off-grid safari experiences on offer.
1. Across the Serengeti on foot
If you like the idea of full immersion in one of the world’s greatest wildlife areas, then few other places can compete with the Serengeti. While most people experience the extraordinary wildlife this park has to offer from a vehicle, only a tiny number have the privilege of striking out for a multi-day walking safari, far from the nearest roads. Lead by a highly experienced naturalist guide and accompanied by an armed ranger, these walks are driven by the natural rhythm of the day. Up at sunrise, walking in the cool of the day and sleeping under the stars at night. Think watching elephant from the shade of a tamarind tree, creeping up unseen and unheard on herds of animals, drinks around a camp fire, delicious freshly cooked meals and the sounds of the wild by night. Read more about Serengeti light tented camps in the Serengeti.
When to go – To those who know it properly, the Serengeti is a 12-month season. April, November and May are low season, but to us they’re among the best times to travel as you avoid the crowds.
2. Sleep under the stars in Tiger country
We’ve long been proponents of fly-camping as a wonderful way to step outside your everyday reality for a night or two. Only now though are such experiences becoming available in India’s wildlife areas. One of the best examples is on the outskirts of Pench where guests can sleep on lantern-studded platforms under a blanket of stars wrapped in a cacophony of jungle sounds. This small eco-camp centred round an ancient banyan tree is is painstakingly constructed from reclaimed timber sourced from yards all over India.
Jamtara Wilderness Camp is the only one located on the Jamtara Gate side of Pench national park so all game drives are in an area far from the majority of visitors. Expect highly knowledgeable guides here with a chance of encountering jungle cat, leopard, wild dog, and if you are lucky, a tiger. Early in 2017 one tigress bore her seventh litter. Officials at the national park believe that she might be the only tigress in the world to give birth to 26 cubs in the wild.
When to go – For wildlife Pench is best visited in the dry season between November and April.
3. Madagascar's slow road to Whales heaven
Only a handful of visitors each year travel Madagascar’s east coast by road. This is for a good reason; the road here is a single track, potholed and broken by dozens of river crossings. Many of these are crossed by ferries, some by simple bamboo platforms, some by rudimentary wooden bridges and some by wading. But for those happy to put up with basic accommodation and a “flexible” approach to timing – and who relish the idea of seeing Madagascar beyond the tourist gaze, this is a rare treat. Travel in whale season (July to mid-September) and you’ll encounter the hundreds of humpback whales that migrate to the Bay of Antongil to breed and give birth. The road follows the coast and whales are frequently spotted along the way. But the jewel in the crown for this trip is the remarkable Masoala Peninsula – Madagascar’s largest unspoilt rainforest, home to endemic lemurs and birdlife that reaches all the way to the sandy shores of the Indian Ocean. If you’re considering going to Madagascar, even if the RN5 may not be for you, our advice would be to make Masoala the main focus of your trip.
When to go – July to mid-September is the best time to see the whales.
4. Travelling Morocco’s Atlas Mountains with a private camp
Since the dawn of civilisation people have travelled the valleys and passes of Morocco’s High Atlas Mountains with tented camps carried on the backs of animals. Today, there are few changes to the traditional equipment and many of the paths we follow are unchanged for generations. Our walks are all tailor-made and run for anything for two to ten nights or more. Trains of mules carry the tents while our experienced muleteers set up camp for us. Food is strictly Moroccan fayre and eaten either en-plein air or – at night when the temperature drops – in our brocade dining tent. Walks begin in the verdant valleys watered by centuries old irrigation systems and gradually climb up to the wilder summits where few other travellers are encountered. We have two camps – a lightweight tented camp which combines comfortable beds with elegant A-frame tents for maximum mobility and a more elaborate Caidale Camp with large walk-in tents and a large dining tent. Either way, a few days spent travelling in these parts is a wonderful way to go off-grid for a few days.
When to go: April/ May to October
5. Southern Tanzania for families with a private tented camp
The greatest luxury on a family safari is flexibility – the freedom to game drive as much or as little as everyone wants, to lounge around camp without bothering - or being bothered by - other guests, and the freedom to plan meals to suit the family. And there’s nowhere better to experience this than in a private tented camp. While this might sound like a lavish extravagance, these small tented camps are designed to give you all the things you most value on safari – an excellent guide, the top wildlife locations, lots of fresh food and cold drinks, but none of the “bling” you really don’t want to be paying for. Above all these camps are aimed at getting right to the heart of the matter and giving you a first-class experience of Southern Tanzania’s remarkable national parks – The Selous Game reserve, the Udzungwa Mountains and Ruaha National Park.
When to go – between June and October Southern Tanzania has wildlife as good as anywhere in Africa.
Posted by: Alex