Would you like to experience Africa differently? Here are five unique safari experiences not to miss while on a holiday in Africa;
Mountain gorilla tracking experience
Of incredible wildlife experiences you should not miss when you visit Africa is mountain gorilla tracking. It is an amazing experience that allows travelers to visit gorillas in their natural habitat.
Found only in rain forests Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, mountain gorilla is the largest primate in the world, with a male silverback gorilla weighing up to 200 kg. Coming face to face with a peaceful gentle giant – the silverback gorilla is a life changing wildlife experience.
Gorillas live in tropical rainforests characterized by steep valleys, volcanoes and thick vegetation. Local expert guides take visitors on guided treks. Searching for gorillas is done by hiking on foot which makes gorilla tracking an authentic natural forest trekking experience.
Gorilla tracking can be done in Uganda’s Bwindi impenetrable forest and Mgahinga gorilla national park. For luxury traveler, Rwanda offers high end gorilla tracking safaris in the Volcanoes National Park.
Historically the main threats to gorillas were poaching, habitat loss, human infectious diseases and civil conflicts, causing a huge decline in their numbers.
Gorilla tourism is being promoted allowing tourists to visit gorillas in the wild which generates revenue that is used for funding conservation activities such as ranger monitoring to protect gorillas and their natural habitat.
Since 1996 gorilla population has increased. New gorilla census in 2018 estimated there are more than 1000 gorillas today. The IUCN changed their status from critically endangered to endangered species.
Though they are no longer critically endangered, they remain endangered due to main threats. Therefore gorilla tracking is a mechanism for conserving mountain gorillas for the future generations.
Chimpanzees share 98.7% of their DNA with humans, thus are the closest relatives to humans. Getting up close and personal with chimpanzees in the wild is a magical experience. Chimpanzees can be seen in Uganda and Tanzania. The largest population of 12 habituated chimpanzee groups in Africa is found Uganda’s Kibale forest national park and it is well known for chimpanzee trekking safaris.
In Tanzania, chimpanzees can be tracked in Gombe stream national park. This park is located on the shores of Lake Tanganyika thus chimp tracking in Gombe stream national park offers the option for boat rides, snorkeling, kayaking, and diving in the Africa’s deepest lake.
Experience the Big 5 safari
Big 5 African mammals include Lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, rhino, and leopard. They are the most sought after animals in Africa by many visitors on safari. The term big 5 was coined by European game hunters to describe the animals that are very difficult to hunt and kill in African during the 19th century. There are several destinations in Africa which are home to the big 5 African mammals for tourists to spot on safari. Kenya and Tanzania are popular big 5 safaris destinations due the large number of rhinos, lions, elephants in national parks like Masai-Mara wildlife reserve, Lake Nakuru national park, Serengeti national park, Nairobi national park, Ngorongoro crater conservation area.
Other countries like Uganda (well known for gorilla tracking) offer a chance to spot the rare tree climbing lions in Ishasha wilderness Queen Elizabeth national park. Elsewhere tree climbing lions are found in Lake Manyara national park Tanzania and in Kruger national park South Africa.
Wildebeest migration Kenya and Tanzania
The greatest wildlife spectacle on earth, the wildebeest migration features about 1.5 million wildebeest which move along with thousands of herbivores including 200000 Thompson’s gazelles, 18000 errands and 500000 zebras. These animals migrate to and from Masai-Mara wildlife reserve in Kenya and Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania. Wildebeest migration takes place all year round as the animals migrate in search for green grass while escaping drought conditions. It’s a never ending adventure to witness action of the events such as birthing and crossing the crocodile infested Mara and Grummeti rivers. As the animals move in large numbers, they are followed by predators including lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and its pretty spectacular to see the life and death struggle.
Traditional cultural experience
Safari in Africa isn’t about wildlife viewing. To have an authentic real African safari experience, you have to get on a cultural tour by vising indigenous local tribes. After game viewing in the morning or afternoon, visitors can opt for evening village walks that will allow meeting and interacting with local people.
There are several ways to have a traditional African cultural experience such as eating local food, attending a cultural ceremony, campfire local cultural dances, music, drama and storytelling, visiting a cultural museum, taking a city tour among others.
One of the most popular festivals not to miss is the Timkat Festival in Ethiopia that is attended by thousands of travelers.
Don’t only do game viewing if you really want to experience African culture. Book a safari with cultural tours and activities for a memorable visit to Africa.