Abercrombie & Kent’s Africa Product Manager, Patrick Clementson, recently returned from Madagascar, and departs imminently for Southern Africa on his thirty-somethingth trip. Here are his personal tips and recommendations about the continent’s best-kept secrets, the lesser-known wildlife reserves and conservancies, and the very best places to see Africa’s iconic species.
As an aside, Pat says many operators in Africa are now discouraging the use of the term ‘Big Five’ on account of its hunting connotations, and there has been a real push on social media by various organisations and celebrities (including Ricky Gervais, who often uses the hashtag #endtrophyhunting on Twitter) to shame hunters who are still shooting African animals for ‘sport’. The preferred term now is “Africa’s Iconic Species” and, as pioneers of the first luxury photographic safaris in the 1960s, Abercrombie & Kent applauds this development.
THE BEST PLACES TO SEE AFRICA’S ICONIC SPECIES:
Kenya – Lewa Wildlife Conservancy: Rhino, Lion, Cheetah, Giraffe
“The Masai Mara will feature on everyone’s itinerary (as it should), but a fantastic reserve to combine with the Mara is the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, one of Africa’s conservation success stories. The conservancy, which was created in the 1990s, is home to all of Africa’s iconic species including both black and white rhino, cheetah and myriad other wildlife. The area is also one of the few places in Kenya where you can see the Northern Specialty Species: the reticulated giraffe, the Somali ostrich, the Beisa oryx, the gerenuk and the Grevy’s zebra.”
Zambia – South Luangwa National Park: Leopard, Hippo, Lion
“The South Luangwa is well known in the safari industry as having very high densities of leopard, and the fact night drives are allowed within the park vastly increases the chances of viewing these famously secretive cats. But the South Luangwa is not all about leopard, and also offers very high concentrations of many other species. It’s the place where walking safaris were first pioneered, and is also one of the best parks in which to see huge pods of hippo, especially during the height of the dry season when real estate in the ebbing South Luangwa River is at a premium.”
South Africa – Sabi Sand Reserve: Lion, Leopard, Rhino Elephant
“Adjacent to the world-famous Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sand Reserve offers excellent game viewing without the crowds – not to mention some of Africa’s most luxurious super camps and lodges. The reserve is renowned for its quality leopard sightings and also offers outstanding viewing of lion, rhino and, if you’re lucky, African wild dog.”
Selinda Reserve – Botswana: Lion, Cheetah, Wild Dog, Elephant
“This 136,000ha private reserve is one of the best places in Africa to see huge herds of elephant, big prides of lion and regular sightings of African wild dog. The area has been made famous by award-winning National Geographic filmmakers Dereck & Beverly Joubert who filmed several of their documentaries in the reserve.”
South Africa – Tswalu Kalahari Private Reserve: Meerkat, Pangolin (the most trafficked animal in the world and the Holy Grail of safari sightings)
“In addition to sighting some of the larger mammals, including lion, cheetah and rhino, this reserve is one of the best places in Africa to see (if you’re lucky) two of the rarest and most elusive animals: the pangolin and aardvark. It is also possible to spend time here with the curious meerkat.”
Botswana – Makgadikgadi Pans: Meerkat, Brown hyena
“While exploring the stunning landscape of huge salt pans (the remnants of an enormous super-lake), this is an excellent area to see some of Africa’s most elusive desert species, with highlights being brown hyena and mobs of meerkat which you can spend a whole morning watching as they duck in and out of their burrows. This is also home to Africa’s second largest mammal migration when zebra and blue wildebeest head to the area to feast on the sweet summer grasses.”
Zimbabwe – Hwange National Park: Elephant, Lion, Cheetah, Giraffe
“Home to some of the largest elephant populations in Africa, this is a great place to view the world’s largest land mammal – especially when a herd takes over one of the waterholes to wallow and play. It also delivers excellent lion and cheetah sightings as well as some of the most beautiful antelope species, including kudu, sable and roan.”
Tanzania: Mahale Mountains – Chimpanzee
“One of the best places in the world for close up viewing of wild chimpanzee, this park isn’t easy to get to but is well worth the effort. It’s located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika which means you can trek to see chimps in the morning and end your day gazing at the sun setting over the second deepest lake in the world.
“Of course, if travellers are first time visitors to Africa, there’s really nothing to compare to a classic safari in East Africa, ideally timed around the Great Migration, the greatest wildlife spectacle on Earth. Accommodation can be hard to come by during that period, but A&K has a unique safari adventure, The Great Migration Safari in Style’, which reveals all the drama of Africa on an exclusive luxury small group journey of no more than 18 guests, with a number of departures from June onwards. Prices start at $22,645 per person.
To book your A&K itinerary today or to enquire further please contact Abercrombie & Kent on 1300 590 317 or visit www.abercrombiekent.com.au
Abercrombie & Kent is the world’s leading luxury travel business. Founded as a luxury safari company in Africa in 1962, A&K has grown into a respected international travel company employing over 3000 staff in more than 100 countries. A&K organises private, tailored and escorted travel to every corner of the globe and has a wholly owned portfolio of cruise boats, luxury lodges, tented camps, hotels, and all-terrain vehicles. As part of its global commitment, A&K Australia brings a wealth of expertise, experience and attention to detail to any travel arrangements. Whether travelling solo, as a couple, with a family or in an escorted group, A&K is expert in providing luxury, experiential and memorable travel experiences. Abercrombie & Kent. Inspiring Experiences.