One of the major tourist drawing cards across Africa is its wildlife. Whether you go to a national park, or a private reserve, it is all about the game. From South Africa to Botswana to Namibia in southern Africa, and the fabled lands of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa, everyone wants the African experience to capture memories for a lifetime and more.
The legendary lands of East Africa are surely spectacular, however the countries themselves, Kenya and Tanzania, are known for their security issues and very high costs. Add to that the large group nature of the game viewing experience and you have a racetrack type format of interlaced road and radio networks alerting everyone to a notable game viewing event. Sometimes this leads to a mob mentality and the overall experience suffers. I come from a hunting safari background and cherish the one on one experience that environment provides. Special memories shared by less than a handful of people, unique to their lives. If you go to East Africa expecting the personal experience you will probably be disappointed.
Southern Africa has a wider variety of parks and private reserves to better disperse the tourist experience. Some of the reserves have very limited accommodations and the price increases as the numbers of guests are reduced. This is in line with the old safari experience. South Africa has some wonderful and very large areas full of game. Kruger National Park and the greater surrounding area host many opportunities to get up close and personal to all species of Africa’s big game. Ditto Botswana in some of the very special camps in the Okavango region. Namibia is largely a dry desert environment with the sole exception of the Caprivi Strip, due to the major river systems there. Tourist lodges are scattered across the width of this east/west corridor. In central Namibia lies the crown jewel of private reserves, Erindi. This is a huge piece of land, eclipsing the size of many national parks. See http://www.erindi.com for all info regarding this “place of water”.
I am partial to this particular piece of Africa, as my wife and I spent nearly five hundred days here over a four to five year period. We had free run of the place with our own vehicle and were able to indulge our every whim in exploring a remaining expanse of Africa, largely untouched by man. All the internal fences were removed, except a “few” small enclaves to guard the airstrip, the boma, where introduced game and later captured game was held before release for quarantine purposes, and one three thousand acre area for protected breeding of endangered species.
The San people left many reminders of their use of this land, including many hidden places where today one can look upon etchings of animals and more over five thousand years old. At Erindi you can visit a San village and experience these wonderful people and their culture firsthand. Their impact on the land, etchings not withstanding, are a model for future conservation. They became a part of the land for millennia and remain so today in enclaves set aside for their use.
Today’s African tourist defy category. They come to see the wildlife and people, the unspoiled vistas, and most of all the freedom that comes from a diverse expansive landscape stretching to the horizon. They also come in all shapes and sizes, races and cultures, languages and customs. They are as diverse in their spectrum as the very land they visit. They are not at all accustomed to wildlife and the simultaneous wonder and danger they represent.
All of the big african animals are fast. Docile looking hippos are faster than can be believed. Crocodile are very fast in the short span they cover. They can snatch a baboon from ten feet away faster than a camera can capture the scene. Lions and leopards, just forget about it. You cannot get away.
Rhino are belligerent or docile, same for elephant. Their mood can change instantly and the results are horrifying. When you go keep in mind this is not a Disney film. These are wild, unpredictable animals. Go experience it for yourself, and most of all enjoy the experience wherever your travels take you!