Each African country offers a unique experience. Generally the safari hotspots are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and Zambia in southern Africa and Kenya and Tanzania in eastern Africa.
The wildlife and scenery varies significantly across each country. The large open grasslands of Kenya and Tanzania’s wildlife areas boast huge herds of zebra, wildebeest and predators including lion and cheetah. Both countries are famous for the wildebeest and zebra migration – the annual procession of over 1.5 million wildebeest – which makes these countries a must-visit for many safari-goers.
To the south, Southern Africa has fewer large grasslands and more savanna woodland, which makes game viewing a little more challenging in the leafy “green season”. Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a magical areas of crystal clear waterways and islands in the heart of the Kalahari Desert. It is home to an incredible variety of birdlife, countless species of impala and plentiful predators including African wild dog and leopard. Namibia is famed for its desert scenery with a dramatic and desolate coastline and some of the highest sand dunes in the world. It is home to unique species such as the brown hyena, oryx and desert-adapted black rhino.
The cost varies substantially depending on a number of factors including: the time of year you visit, the standard of accommodation you wish to stay in, how long you intend to travel for and how often you are traveling from place to place.
There are a number of different options to consider when flying to Africa. But in particular there are two hubs:
Southern Africa – Major airlines including British Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Emirates fly into the South African capital of Johannesburg. From here, South African Airways fly directly to many popular safari-going countries including Botswana and Zimbabwe.
East Africa – There are a number of airlines that fly into East Africa. Emirates and Etihad Airways are the two major Middle-Eastern airlines that fly into the Kenyan capital of Nairobi. Qatar Airways also fly directly to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro International Airport.
When staying at a lodge in the bush it’s important to remember that most lodges are in remote areas and therefore Wi-Fi access will be either non-existent or very limited. However times are changing and Wi-Fi access is becoming more common.
This will highly depend on the time of year you travel. When on safari it is always important to wear lighter colours in layers. Evenings and early mornings can sometimes get very chilly, whilst in summer the temperature can rise above 40 degrees in a number of countries. Long sleeve, light khaki is the ideal safari clothing, for maximum protection from both the sun and bugs. For more information please call us or check out our weather chart here.
Our philosophy has always been that moving less is to see more. The benefit to flying is that you spend less time traveling and more time out on safari. However, driving also has its benefits, as you can see more of the local way of life, the infrastructure within the country and the changing landscapes. Major roads can be in good condition depending on the country. However rural roads and roads within national parks can be rough and often dusty.
A concession is a designated privately owned and managed area which offers a more exclusive safari experience. Usually these concessions are unfenced and share boundaries with national parks so the game is free to move through both areas. The benefit of staying in a lodge or camp within a concession is that there will be fewer vehicles competing for prime game-viewing sightings, and foot safaris, off-road and night game viewing is permitted. In a national park, this is not allowed.
Accommodating families with children is becoming considerably easier in Africa. In the last 20 years there has been a rise in the number of family-friendly rooms offered at many top-end lodges across Africa. Some lodges have a minimum age requirement (usually around 8 years old) or may require families to book a private vehicle. If parents are worried about other issues such as Malaria, there are plenty of Malaria-free game reserves – particularly within South Africa
The only mandated vaccination is Yellow Fever for anyone visiting a country within the tropics. However we highly recommend that all travellers are up to date with their vaccinations for other diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and meningitis. Other considerations are the influenza vaccination and the rabies vaccine if you are likely to be handling animals. Malaria is present in most African countries and it is important to take precautions such as using mosquito repellent, long-sleeved clothing and a malarial prophylactic. The coronavirus vaccination is now available in many countries and is recommended before travel. As we are not doctors we direct all our clients to visit their doctor or a dedicated travellers vaccination centre for the most up to date advice and information. Remember that many vaccinations are best given 2 to 3 weeks before departure.
The beauty of the famous east-African wildebeest and zebra migration is that it’s year round. The herds migrate across the plains of Tanzania’s famous Serengeti National Park following the rains in search of fresh grass before crossing into Kenya’s Masai Mara. The map below shows historically where the wildebeest and zebra are at certain times of the year.
Yes, the East African countries of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have some of the best wildlife parks on the continent where it is possible to see four of the Big 5 – lion, buffalo, elephant and leopard. The fifth member of the Big 5 is the rhinoceros which is now highly endangered due to poaching and habitat loss. Both black and white rhino can be seen in certain national parks and conservation areas, like the Ngorongoro Crater and parts of the Serengeti in Tanzania, or Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya.
The Tanzanian island of Zanzibar is a popular destination to visit after an east African safari. Its beautiful beaches are the perfect way to finish a trip whilst historic Stone Town offers a fascinating insight into the islands history. There are regular flights from multiple major and minor cities within Kenya and Tanzania making it easy to get to.
Australian Nationals require a visa to enter Kenya. A single entry visa is US$51, an East African Tourist Visa (multiple entry visa) is US$101 and a Transit Visa is US$21 per person. Visas can be applied for online prior to travel.
Yes, you do need a Yellow Fever vaccine when visiting Kenya. You do not require a vaccine for Tanzania although we do recommend it. When traveling into any African country from a region known for yellow fever you are required to show proof of vaccination.
Malaria is present across East Africa, including in the wildlife parks. Anti-malarial medication is highly recommended, however please consult your doctor or a Travellers Vaccination Centre for up-to-date advice. It is also recommended that you protect yourself by wearing long sleeves and long pants during the evenings and early mornings. Light colours are also preferable as insects are attracted to dark colours like black and navy.
There isn’t necessarily a ‘best’ route to climb the famous mountain. Each route is unique, differing in terrain and have their own benefits. The Machame Route (6 days) is considering to be the most popular, which means more climbers. The Lemosho Route (7 days) is incredibly scenic and the route leads to the western side of the Shira Plateau. Crossing the plateau is said to be one of the most stunning walks in Africa. It comes down to what you feel comfortable doing, whether that’s a more challenging, shorter route, a beautiful scenic hike, or a route that will have fewer trekkers. With our expertise, we can assist you to make the decision that best suits you.
Gorilla trekking can take place at any time of year but April/May and November are the wetter season. Be aware however that rain occurs all year round. For general game viewing safaris, the best time to go is during the dry season (between June and September).
Both countries offer the chance to enjoy excellent gorilla encounters and both can be easily combinable with an east African safari. Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is only two hours from the capital Kigali, and the country has many more habituated gorilla families than Uganda. However, permit prices for Rwanda are significantly higher than Uganda, which must also come into consideration.
The price of a single permit varies between destinations. In Uganda, the price for a permit currently sits at USD $700 per person. In Rwanda the price for a single gorilla permit is currently USD $1500. For further information on gorilla permits and visiting the gorillas in Rwanda or Uganda, please contact us on 1300 363 302.
A gorilla trek may take as little as half an hour or up to 6 hours depending on where the gorilla family might be located. These are wild animals which are always on the move looking for food. Once found, a maximum of one hour can be spent with them.
The gorillas live in dense mountainous forest so you will need to be prepared to walk through thick undergrowth and up muddy slopes. Altitude must also be taken into consideration, as treks generally occur at an altitude of between 2,400-3,000 metres above sea-level. You may be walking from anywhere between 30 minutes and 6 hours through a variety of vegetation and undulating terrain before you see the gorillas.
The gorillas live in very dense, mountainous forest and visitors wishing to see the gorillas should prepare for muddy and wet conditions. Therefore a rain jacket is a must. Due to the undulating landscape layers are also highly recommended. The thick forest undergrowth means that long trousers are very useful in order to protect your legs against shrubs and branches. A waterproof bag, or outer shell is important for keeping your camera and other electricals dry.
Like all wildlife, it is never possible to 100% guarantee sightings of mountain gorillas but at this stage we have not had any guests who were disappointed. To ensure visitors are given the very best chance of seeing the gorillas, trackers set off just before dawn to locate the different gorilla families and then radio their GPS location to the park headquarters. Each visitor is then allocated a gorilla family to track.
Tipping is customary for pretty much all services in Egypt. A tip of 10-15% is expected at cafes and restaurants and smaller change is acceptable for food purchases from street vendors and markets. It is also a good idea to tip local guides and drivers USD 2-4 per day.
Drinking tap water isn’t recommended in Egypt. Avoid drinks with ice and to peel fruit before eating it as these are often rinsed with tap water. To avoid buying bottled water bring a reusable water bottle and refill it with filtered water.
Egypt is considered a safe country in Africa to travel to. The northern Sinai Peninsula should be avoided however the main tourist sights such as the Pyramids, Abu Simbel, Luxor, Philae are still all considered safe.
Fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina or Santiago in Chile and then take an internal flight to the port of Ushuaia at the southern tip of Argentina. Board your ship to crossing the Drake Passage which takes around 2 days. Flying to Antarctica out of Punta Arenas in Chile is also an option, landing at King George Island on the Peninsula.
Antarctica is a a vast wilderness with breathtaking waterways, icebergs and coastline. There is a huge diversity of birdlife including Gentoo, Chinstrap and Adelie Penguins, Storm Petrels, Skuas and Terns. You are also likely to see bigger mammals like Weddell, Crabeater, Leopard Seals, Elephants Seals and Orcas as well as Humpbacks and Minke Whales.
Exploring the coastline of Antarctica by Zodiac, Kayak or on foot is the best way to get up close to nature and wildlife and have an incredible experience. Camping on the ice is another activity offered by many cruising companies however it is always weather dependant. The ‘coolest’ thing to do in Antarctica is taking the ‘Polar Plunge’ and jumping into the freezing ocean. If you’re lucky however, you might be close enough to some hot springs to jump in afterwards to thaw out.
Visiting a a science research station is can be a memorable experience as you learn about what life is like in Antarctica and what work can be conducted there.
For the more adventurous explorers, Scuba diving, running a marathon or even climbing the tallest mountain in Antarctica ‘ Mount Vinson’ is one to tick off the bucket list.
Canada has an excellent rail network that is led by Via Rail, who operate intercity passenger rail services across the country. The service spans across 8 Canadian provinces linking major cities including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montréal. Via Rail operate a number of overnight or multi-day departures that offers a unique way to see the country. For travellers that love to relax and watch the changing scenery go by, Canadian Rail journeys are one of the best ways to experience this vast open country.
World renowned Rocky Mountaineer is another major rail operator. Their luxurious trains operate almost exclusively in British Columbia, exploring the stunning Rocky Mountains. Their rail service runs from Vancouver to numerous towns including Jasper, Lake Louise and Banff.
Rocky Mountaineer operate tours seasonally between April and early-October. Any time between these months is a good time to travel, however certain months offer other benefits. May is a popular time as both prices and crowds and are little lower than the peak months of June, July, August and September. Early October is also worth considering if you wish to combine a rail journey with polar bear viewing in Churchill, Manitoba. Bear viewing here is at its best during October and November.
Rocky Mountaineer operate tours seasonally between April and early-October. This is because tours are run during the day to take full advantage of daylight hours, so you don’t miss any of the breathtaking scenery. This means you can appreciate the benefits of luxury Canadian rail travel but still enjoy the comforts of hotel accommodation overnight.
Both Silver Leaf and Gold Leaf offer excellent service, food, beverages and of course scenery. The major difference between the two is space and exclusivity. Gold Leaf offers seating in glass-domed cars that give unparalleled views of the Rocky Mountains. The car is also bi-level and features a lower level dining room and an outdoor viewing platform.
Via Rail is an independent Crown corporation of Canada. In 1977, the federal government created VIA Rail Canada with an exclusive mission to organise and provide all intercity passenger train services in Canada to reduce costs and improve service. Via Rail operates between major Canadian cities including Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montréal.
Rocky Mountaineer is a British Columbia based, family owned business established in 1990. The company has grown substantially over the last 30 years to become the largest privately owned luxury tourist train company in the world. Their goals still remains the same as it did when they first started out: to provide the most spectacular and unforgettable travel experiences in the world.
October is known as the ‘great last fall feast’ for grizzly bears. With spawned-out salmon pushed down to the river mouth, grizzly bears are lured out by easier fishing. With expansive viewing of the great outdoors, from the warmth and comfort of Rocky Mountaineer, those who travel to the Canadian Rockies in October may be able to see a grizzly bear before they go down for their winter sleep.
Both options are excellent and offer different benefits. Canada’s excellent rail system allows you to move easily between cities or towns within the Rockies and gives you the freedom to relax. If you enjoy overnight rail travel there are also a number of options available, such as Via Rail’s The Canadian, which connects Vancouver and Toronto.
Self-driving in Canada is also a viable option, with many car rental stores located across the country. Self-driving gives you the freedom and flexibility to leave when you want, travel where you want and stop and look at fascinating scenery or historic sites as you go. Canada’s road system is also excellent, and a self-drive through the Canadian Rockies is easily combined with a rail tour aboard Rocky Mountaineer.
Two of the best places to see the otherworldly Northern Lights are the pristine wildernesses surrounding Yukon’s capital Whitehorse and the remote Northwest Territories settlement of Yellowknife. Within these areas, remote backcountry lodges far from town lights provide some of the best places on earth to see the Aurora Borealis.
Remote Blachford Lake Lodge, a 25 minute flight from Yellowknife and located under the Aurora Oval is one of the best locations in the world to see the lights. Aside from its location, there are only 10 rooms at this property making it a truly exclusive experience.
The winter months is the best time to see the lights, but it does vary between locations:
Yellowknife – The best time to see the lights in Yellowknife is from mid-August to the end of September, as well as from late-November to mid-April. October and the first few weeks of November are not the best times to see the lights due to weather, during this time of year it can be notoriously cloudy.
Whitehorse – Between August and early April is the best time to see the northern lights in the Yukon.
We strongly suggest a minimum of 3 nights at any of our lodges. This is for a number of reasons. Firstly because some are very remote and it takes time and effort to reach them; secondly because weather plays a part when seeing the lights and staying an extra night or two gives yourself more opportunities to see them; and thirdly because there is more to see and do than just the magic of aurora!