Safaris don’t have to be all about trundling through the bush in a 4×4, binoculars-a-bouncing and cameras-a-flashing. In fact, a safari doesn’t even have to be in a vehicle. Welcome to the active safari in Africa, the best way to get your heart pumping, and to explore some of the wildest corners of the continent. Quad bike the dunes of Namibia, cycle through the Winelands of South Africa (you might have to limit the tastings on that one…) or paddle your way along the Zambezi, past harrumphing hippo and king-size crocs. Nope, definitely no dull moments on an active safari, that’s for sure….
1. Quad biking in Swakopmund
If you’re looking for a properly active safari or just a little stretch of the legs, then you’ll probably find an activity to satisfy you in Namibia, with choices ranging from sand-boarding to sea kayaking to dune-climbing. Somewhere in between (and one of our favourites) is quad biking across the glorious red sand dunes in Swakopmund – don your helmet, rev that engine and the desert really is your oyster.
2. Hike and cycle the mountains of the Cape Winelands
The combination of wine tasting and ‘active’ safari might not spring to mind immediately – but why not?! Rent a bicycle and peddle your way around the pretty valleys of the Cape Winelands, or lace up your boots and hike through the Mont Rochelle Reserve for some of the best views in South Africa. After all, those vineyards make an excellent stop when the going gets thirsty…
3. Walking safari on Chief’s Island
As active safaris go, Botswana is a pretty good choice, with miles of mokoro-ready waterways and good riding safari potential too. But to really get that heart rate going, it’s hard to beat a walking safari on Chief’s Island, stalking through the long grass with only your guide and tracker standing between you and some of the planet’s most spectacular predators…
Gunns Camp was the first camp to offer walking safaris on the exquisite Chief’s Island, and it’s still one of the best. Add it to an itinerary like Deserts, Deltas and Waterfalls or The Pride of Botswana for an active safari, Botswana style.
4. Summit Mount Kilimanjaro
There’s active safaris and then there’s really active safaris and this one probably falls into the latter category. Climbing Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted, but the reward when you reach the top and watch the sun breaking over the never-ending horizon, is worth every pulled muscle and frozen toe.
5. Zambezi white-water rafting, Victoria Falls
If it’s adrenaline, adventure and heart-stopping escapades that you’re yearning for, then look no further than Victoria Falls, King of the active safari. Top of the list after micro lighting and gorge-swinging is white-water rafting down the mighty Zambezi River. Watch out for the rapid affectionately known as ‘the Gnashing Jaws of Death’ and you’ll be just fine…
White-water rafting can be organised from just about any lodge in Victoria Falls, so have fun playing around and adding them to your trip. Some of our favourites are Gorges Lodge and Ilala Lodge, both of which could be added to the A Spotlight in Zimbabwe itinerary.
6. Fly camping in Tarangire
They say variety is the spice of life, so go for the hottest of chilies and add a night in a fly camp in the wilds of Tarangire to your safari. The active safari part comes in the form of walking, and you’ll head out to your new home on foot, arriving just before the sun sets for a campfire-cooked dinner and a night under the stars. Active AND adventurous – just how we like it.
7. Canoeing on the Lower Zambezi River
It might not look like it from this list, but an active safari can also be a relaxing experience – really! Try a canoe safari along the Lower Zambezi at sunset and glide past giant lily pads, watch elephant splashing in the shallows, and buffalo crossing to the tiny islands in the middle of the river. Bliss.