November 21, 2017
An experience quite unlike any other in Africa is a 120 kilometre journey by quad bike across the Makagadikadi Pans. Throw caution to the wind, wrap your head Lawrence of Arabia style in a capacious scarf, ease the throttle forward and cruise across the vast lunar-like salt pans towards a horizon of infinite space. There is no traffic to crash into here – just the opportunity to lose yourself in a shimmering parched landscape, listen to stories of animal migration, visit meerkat hides, and seek the elusive brown hyena.
As dusk approaches a smudge on the horizon grows larger and Kubu Island beckons you on to one of the most whacky sleep-outs in this constantly evolving ecosystem – a granite extrusion filigreed with baobab trees which has been the mythical hideaway of the Kalahari bushmen for longer than anyone knows.
Back at base camp, more fascinating excursions unfold with expert guiding and the privilege of spending time with the Zu/ ’hoasi, one of the last hunter-gatherer peoples on earth. A five-night package costs from £2,770 per person.
For many Africans the elephant has been a scourge: in the 19th century the horrors of slavery were exacerbated by the ivory trade which involved slavers forcing their captives to carry tusks across swathes of the hinterland to the ports on the coast; and an elephant can trash the entire, hard-won crop of the villages of sub-Saharan Africa in a few hours. Fortunately, nowadays many people benefit from tourists coming to see the rapidly diminishing numbers of these extraordinary pachyderms.
Sometimes moving large numbers of elephants in wildlife areas is the key to balancing conservation with the needs of local communities. An historic translocation of some five hundred elephants to Nkhotakota Reserve in the centre of Malawi by African Parks, a not-for-profit organisation, has taken two years to accomplish – a remarkable feat and an expensive operation. I first visited this particular reserve in 2014 when the game was thin. This has changed and there is now an ecologically responsible lodge within the reserve where activities are focused on a “slow safari” experience: walking, canoeing and community visits.
Malawi is the oft-unsung hero of the safari scene and whilst the sheer number of game is not in the same league as other areas it has at least four top safari destinations which, coupled with the magical “lake of stars” providing a totally different sort of beach flop, make it a stand-alone destination in 2018.
Climbing one of the highest sand dunes in the world is a must-do activity in Namibia. The dawn light creates beautiful moving shadows and whilst the silky sand makes the climb a little arduous the view at the crest is exhilarating, and running down the slip face at full speed is just the best kiddie fun imaginable. At the bottom our guide will be ready to cook you a slap-up bush brunch.
The Sossuvlei area can be a little busy in the peak season, so we have a new, exclusive but not over luxurious tented camp on the vast private Neuhof Nature Reserve nearby. Twenty per cent of the revenue generated goes back into conservation on this desert-animal rich area.
The reserve is perfect for families and small groups; you can roam on special guided excursions which include magic moments in desert pools, star gazing, nocturnal photography sessions, stellar escapes and epic drives up to the plateau for incredible vistas over the Namib desert.
Hot air balloons and scenic flights are also available. Privately guided safaris across the vast landscapes of Namibia in specially modified land cruisers are one of my specialities.
If you are considering a safari next July/August now is the time to book. Please don’t wait until 2018. Availability in places like Namibia is already difficult!
For further information on African holidays please contact Miles on 020 7723 5858.
Photographic credits: Elephant relocation: Will Whitford, Dune jumping: Mike Myers
NB prices shown were current at the time of writing the newsletter and are not necessarily current now.
Please ask for an updated quote.
- Travel snippets from Miles
- A Sense of Place – THE INSIDE TRACK on Cape Town guiding
- A Sense of Place – Migrations of people and beasts: East Africa
- A Sense of Place – An era of revolution and global alliances
- A Sense of Place – A walk on the wild side
- A Sense of Place – The ghost ingredient is back
- A Sense of Place – Liuwa Plains and Kafue National Parks – Zambia
- A Sense of Place – Literati in the Pink City, the Capital of Rajasthan
- A Sense of Place – A Tamil town still connected to Europe, Art Deco architecture, and temple antiquity in Southern India.
- A Sense of Place – Dreamy aquamarine sea and stunning safari with the Makuleke people
- A Sense of Place – A trio of lovely ladies in Hyderabad
- A Sense of Place – Entamanu, the wishing tree and walking with the Hadza tribe.
- We get you to places that others don’t… St Helena, Gt Zimbabwe ruins and Papua new Guinea
- A Sense of Place – Walking in the hippie hills of the Himalayas
- A Sense of Place – The Okavango: the river that never finds the sea
- A Sense of Place – The Great Rift Valley, Laikipia, Samburu warriors and Maasai Olympics.
- A Sense of Place – Escape the world in the Namib Desert
- Africa is a massive continent: a collection of 55 countries
- A Sense of Place – Zambezi Watery Wilderness
- A Sense of Place – Burma: the road beyond Mandalay
- Lake Malawi – Would you rather pay for the advertising or the experience?
- From shoe-shine boy to tourist guide in Ethiopia
- A Sense of Place – Ladakh, the Himalayas
- Dhow sailing, Lions are back in Malawi, Self-drive in Namibia
- Sacred rivers and forts, India
- Piranhas, sting rays, caimans – and still people go into the River Negro!
- Kerala, Southern India – God’s own country
- South Africa: Crucible of the rainbow nation
- Madagascar: croissants and lemurs
- Argentina vs Africa on wildlife drama
- Uganda – Gorillas and Gardens
- Mozambique & Kenya: immigration official on holiday
- Mozambique: Gorongosa and reconciliation in the bush
- Zimbabwe is ready for Tourists again
- Serengeti ecosystem and unbeatable savannah
- Lamu: crab complaining
- Kenya: circumcision
- Zambia: Ellie rescue
- Africans: always smiling
- French sketch
- Kenya: the best hosts
- First visit to Africa 1986
- Namibia, Namib Rand, Skeleton Coast and the ultimate flying safari
- Elephant relocation, quad bike expedition and new Sossusvlei reserve
- Templed out in Tamil Nadu and elephant refuge in Jaipur
- Kenyan sanctuary and family run camp in Zambia
- Australia: Arkaba, Tasmania and Lord Howe Island
- Australia: in the outback and off the beaten track
- India: heavenly Himalayan hideaways, Botswana: fun safari for children and Argentina: hidden homestay in a mountain desert
- Limpopo retreat, Serengeti spectacle and adventure on the Zambezi
- Value for money in Kenya and the trail less travelled in Peru
- Lions in danger, free nights and a new coastal gem
- G and T on demand, hidden beach, micro-light and sleeping on a dam
- Off the beaten track