3 Best Trips to See the Big Five

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africa-safari If lions and tigers and giraffes (oh my) sound like a part of your next vacation, then heading out on an African adventure tour could be the trip for you. If you are into wildlife, Africa is the place to go. Here you can see some of the world’s rarest and most impressive animals in their national habitats. The “Big Five” (nicknamed such for their difficulty in being hunted)—Lions, elephants, buffalo, rhinoceroses and leopards—are some of the rare African animals you may be lucky enough to spot when you head out to explore this huge, diverse and beautiful continent. From the amazing heights of Victoria Falls to the mountain gorillas of Uganda and the savannahs of Kenya, Africa is home to a world of spectacular sights for the adventure traveler. However, traveling in this huge continent, where many of the best destinations are remote and infrastructure poor, can be truly difficult all alone. Many of the roads require 4WD vehicles and are difficult to navigate. It’s also not the best idea to venture into a land of lions and crocodiles without someone who really knows what they are doing. So, if you are dying to see an elephant face to face or explore the jungles of the Ugandan rainforest with someone who knows where they’re going, an adventure tour could be the ideal way to see this amazing continent (and its amazing wildlife).

So, ok, I know what you are thinking. “A travel tour? Isn’t that what old people do?” The answer is no. The truth is travel tours have come a long way since the days of giant air-conditioned buses and old ladies. Today there are tours designed specifically for the independent, adventure traveler. That’s right—active, interesting and adventurous tours that allow travelers to explore and experience a foreign place. Want to camp out in Serengeti National Park (without being lunch for a lion)? Interested in canoeing in the Okavango Delta of Botswana and seeing hoards of pink flamingos and wallowing hippos? Then an African adventure tour is the best way to get out into the wild and up close and personal with some amazing wildlife.

The groups are also kept small, usually capping out at 16 people, so you won’t be traveling around with some awkwardly huge group of gawking tourists. Also, by using a combination of local and experienced guides, you’ll often see and experience MORE than you would on your own. If you want a better chance at spotting that lion or elephant, a tour is definitely the way to do so. The guides know where these animals like to hang out and will do their best to make sure you see the most. Also, because these tours have already been developed to showcase the best of the best, you’ll save yourself from countless hours of potentially pointless research trying to find out where to go and what to eat. Oh, and don’t worry, you definitely won’t be experiencing Africa from the window of some bus the entire time. These tours have you exploring the regions of Africa by going on game drives, bush walks, and canoeing the rivers.

Kenya Experience

This two-week tour which departs and ends in Nairobi will allow you to experience the captivating wildlife and charming tribespeople of Kenya. Take in the beauty of the Great Rift Valley Lakes, wander beneath the ancient canopy of the Kakamega rainforest and learn the ways of the Luo tribe. There might be long hours of traveling along dirt roads and simple accommodation every night, but this is definitely one adventure that will let you fully explore the country’s natural highlights while ensuring you get to meet the diverse communities that have lived here for thousands of years. You’ll also have a chance at spotting some big cats near a Masai village, see monkeys in the Kakamega Forest Reserve, take a photo of thousands of pink flamingos at Lake Nakaru and catch a glimpse of some hippos, giraffes and leopards at Lake Naviasha.

Best of Africa

If you really want to see and do it all during your African vacation, than this is the tour for you. Start with Kenya’s Lake Nakuru National Park then come face to face with mountain gorillas in Uganda. Experience the great variety of game parks and wildlife in Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia, as well as rainforests, deserts, savannah and wetlands. But there is a lot more to this tour – idyllic islands, the largest sand dunes in the world, awesome Victoria Falls, vast canyons and tranquil lakes. Finish your tour in Cape Town with its blend of cultures, foods and colors of the east and west, overlooked by Table Mountain. This is Africa at its best. Journeying into all of Africa’s best preserved and most beautiful natural areas will allow travelers not only to get up close and personal with some amazing wildlife, but also fully explore and appreciate all that this immense continent has to offer.

Chobe and Victoria Falls Camping Safari

If you are more limited time-wise or would like to squeeze a tour in as part of your larger travel plans, this is the perfect way to see some remote areas and experience wildlife with an expert. This four day tour which begins and ends in Livingston, will take travelers into Chobe National Park to camp out and spot some amazing wildlife. Starting with the roar of the Victoria Falls, adventurers will be awed by the spray rising up from the bottom of the gorge that can reach over 400 m above the waterfall. The surrounding basalt cliffs are covered in lush forests where a first glimpse of big game might be had. The tour then takes a slow cruise along the winding blue-green waters of the Zambezi, providing an opportunity to spot wildlife including hippos, elephants and all kinds of wonderful birds. Then the land safari kicks off at dawn in the Chobe, with game drives all over the grasslands, passing watery marshes pulsing with a profusion of animals. At night, experience the haunting sounds of the savannah before drifting off to sleep in a comfortable bush camp.

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