Specialist Africa tour operator Aardvark Safaris is inviting us to explore our wild side in 2021, as it reveals a trio of trends emerging from client enquiries – and they’ve certainly sparked our wanderlust. The operator is noting rising demand for large private houses to accommodate multi-generation holidays and groups of friends, along with off-grid wildlife holidays, and more philanthropic travel experiences.
It seems the longer we’re locked up, the more we hunger for a radical, rewarding travel experience.
“The current crisis and its enforced separation from family and friends has meant people are reassessing what is important,” says Aardvark Safaris’ co-owner Alice Gully. “Sustainable travel, aiding conservation efforts, and exceptional experiences are key factors in the safari holidays we are currently planning with our clients in anticipation of travel when it is safe to do so.’
We asked Aardvark to put forward some of their best safari tours…
Best off-grid safari holidays
So what constitutes an off-grid wildlife safari? How about a visit to unexplored North Luangwa, Zambia?
The North Luangwa National Park is hailed as one of Africa’s last true wilderness areas and guests staying at Takwela Camp have a rare opportunity to enjoy its isolation in near exclusivity. Set where Luangwa and Mwaleshi rivers meet, the camp is a lion, leopard, hippo and elephant hotspot, with wild dog and black rhino among the rarer species who sometimes make an appearance. Adventures begin at £480 per person per night.
Alternatively, how about a trek to Western Tanzania, and the parks of Katavi and Mahale? Chada Katavi is home to elephants and hippos, while the jungle-chic of Greystoke Mahale, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika (pictured above), is the perfect base to spot chimpanzees who live in the rainforest hills behind the lodge. A 7 day Mahale and Katavi trip is available through Aardvark Safaris from £6,565 per person.
Best private house safari tours
If you’re looking to rent a large private house, shortlist Cottar’s Bush Villa, Kenya. Overlooking the savannah plains in a 22,000-acre private concession in Kenya’s Masai Mara, it sleeps up to 12 in five en-suite bedrooms. Fully-staffed, the house boasts a spacious living room, dining room, an impressive viewing deck and swimming pool with instagrammable views over the plains.
Prices start at £637 per person, per night (based on a family of 6 adults and 4 children under 13).
Alternatively, take a look at Luangwa Safari House, Zambia. This private safari house is located on the edge of a lagoon frequented by impala and giraffes. It offers four en-suite bedrooms, a large sitting/dining area, swimming pool and viewing deck. The house comes with its own private guide and vehicle and safari activities are tailored to suit. Prices start at £455 per person, per night.
Best conservation safaris
For the more philanthropic, the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, in South Africa, is home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) and is a huge success in conservation circles. Particularly notable success stories include the reintroduction of endangered black and white rhino, and returning cheetah to the area for the first time since 1888. It’s just the place for a photo safari or two. Accommodation is offered across two lodges and three private villas.
Guests at Kwandwe contribute to the conservation and community projects simply by staying at the lodge. There’s even an opportunity to participate in Kwandwe’s rhino-darting and notching programme. Prices start at £560 per person per night.
Finally, and perennially popular, there’s the Gorilla Conservation and Habitat Restoration, in Rwanda.
The stunning Bisate Lodge in Rwanda (pictured top) combines gorilla gazing with a reforestation project that has seen the return of over 100 acres. It’s this combination of reforestation, community involvement and cultural experiences that elevate a stay at Bisate into something truly extraordinary. Prices start at £1,312 per person.
For more details about any of these trips, give our chums at Aardvark Safaris a call on 01980 849160, or visit them online. www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk