African Safari Company Goes Off Beaten Track For Wildlife, Culture, Multi-Sport Adventures Encompassing Bush and Beach
African Safari Company's Director of Sales & Marketing Julia Nesbitt offers this sampling of often-overlooked African destinations and lodges carefully vetted by their team of experts.
Mashatu Game Reservesits
Botswana's Mashatu Game Reservesits at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe rivers in the ecologically diverse Northern Tuli Game Reserve in southeastern Botswana. The reserve defines the Africa of vast, open space with star-filled skies, a quiet so loud it thrums with life, and unexpected adventures with horseback and cycling safaris, walks in the wild and visits to archaeological and San rock art sites. There are just two camps to choose from in this open wilderness: the luxury of Mashatu Main Camp or the rustic appeal of Mashatu Tent Camp.
This destination is easily included in South African and Northern Botswana safari itineraries.
Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve
South Africa's Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve on the semi-arid Northern Cape is the country's largest private game reserve and it's also the most exclusive, with only 30 guests at a time to discover what may well be South Africa's last great wilderness. This region has diverse cultures of frontier history and brave missionaries and boasts countless challenges for adrenaline junkies, hikers, mountain bikers, horseback riders and 4×4 adventurers. Explosive displays of wild flowers occur from late July to November and are fantastic when viewed by hot air balloon. Walks to ancient archaeological sites reveal rock carvings created by the Bushmen up to 380,000 years ago. The diversity of habitat (and climate) has resulted in an extremely diverse animal population "“ a surprise to many given the perception of the desolate Kalahari. The Motse is the only lodge on the reserve with just eight suites; however small groups have the opportunity to stay at the Oppenheimer family's personal home, Tarkuni.
Tswalu combines perfectly with any other luxury destination in Southern Africa and is accessed by private place from Johannesburg or Cape Town.
Katavi National Park
Western Tanzania's Katavi National Park is the heart of a large and rich wildlife area so remote that only about 300 foreign visitors experience it annually. The immense floodplains are host to wide variety of mammals and birds while the crisscrossing seasonal rivers become crammed with hippos and crocodiles as the water recedes in the dry season. This is perfect walking territory and is best explored on a safari which includes fly camping under the African stars. ASC's favorite camp is Chada Katavi with just six East African safari tents on the edge of the Chada Plain. Katavi is accessed by light air on twice weekly scheduled flights and is best combined with other East African destinations.
Sadaani National Park
Tanzania's Sadaani National Park combines bush with beach and then some at this little-known park in the center of the historic triangle of Bagamoyo, Pangani and Zanzibar. The coastal climate is hot and humid, fostering marine and mainland biodiversity. About 30 species of larger mammals are present as well as numerous reptiles and birds. Besides many species of fish, Green turtles, Humpback whales (nyangumi) and dolphins (pomboo) also occur in the ocean, just steps from Saadani Safari Lodge. Activities include game drives, river safaris, walking, beach picnics, birding, snorkeling and visits to the local villages.
Saadani is accessed by light air from Dares Salaam and combines well with any East Africa safari. Saadani Safari Lodge has six eco-friendly suites offering views of the Indian Ocean in front and African bush behind.
Meru National Park
Kenya's Meru National Park is most famous as the home of Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness of "Born Free". The park has enormous diversity of habitat and wildlife, from cool forests at 3,400 feet to the west, dropping down to 1,000 foot semi-desert plains with giant baobab and commiphora trees. It has 13 clear spring-fed rivers lined with palms and riverine forest and home to basking hippo. This is lion and elephant country, but also Meru has many rare species including caracal, the beautiful Lesser Kudu, aardwolf, and over 400 species of birds. The park also has an 84-square-mile rhino sanctuary housing over 60 black and white rhino. The area is so large that finding the rhino can still be a game driving challenge.
The park is best accessed by light aircraft. Elsa's Kopje is the place to stay, nestled into the hillside and overlooking vast plains. Accommodations are open-fronted cottages, unique in design and with an elegant safari style. This lodge is in ASC's Best of Kenya Safari.