To spend several paragraphs stating the obvious would be as uneventful as the 2020 safari year. The unexpected nature of the last 10 months has at least held similarity to that of an unpredictable morning game drive we have all missed so much. How many of those early morning starts, grass-dew sunrises and lengthy Gorilla or Leopard tracking sessions we would have had if it weren’t for our current global conundrum.
It is hard to believe that our year began on the tropical shores of Sri Lanka followed by an epic green season safari in Tanzania and then by a Covid suppressed safari in Chad that saw us get the last plane out of the country.
☝️ The last air travel experiences before the world went bonkers ...
The good news is that there is actually some good news. Africa in all its resiliency and stubbornness, has managed the pandemic well and we can celebrate the opening of her borders across the continent by dusting off our cameras and binoculars very soon.
Before we go there, 2020 has also given us time to reflect deeply with many new valuable life lessons learnt. We can certainly look back on how fortunate we have been for the experiences we have already created on African soil and the potential of many more in the future. I have felt a greater sense of commitment to continue designing and creating deeper journeys that can and do have such an impact on our wellbeing. 2020 has also given us irreversible time with the ones closest to us and engrained the value of family and the small things that matter most.
Ruth, Ira and I have spent the last year in Botswana and over the course of scattered lockdowns, withdrawals from travelling Africa and watching the most incredible flood arrive in the delta; we have taken advantage of the Okavango, a safe place that has provided us with deep gratitude in a pure and healthy wilderness isolation.
☝️ The Okavango as our garden has been a refuge both mentally and physically
As the New Year draws nearer, the possibility of climbing back onto a Boeing, the reality of falling asleep in a tent in Africa and being in a healthy kind of isolation in Nature, brings excitement to our lives as we draw nearer to a safari reality.
Looking forward, there is a lot to be excited for in familiar and new habitats. 2021 will be a carbon copy of the 2020 safari season with a few new and very exhilarating expeditions on the calendar and it has been wonderful to see the calendar booking up fast.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC:
I’ll be returning on at least 3 different occasions to this once best kept secret. How Dzanga Bai remained off the radar for so long is astonishing but the good news is that one of the top African Elephant and Gorilla tracking destinations will be open soon in April next year when we return to immerse in the rainforest spectacle at Sangha Lodge on the muddy banks of the great Sangha River. Nowhere else can you see the massive Bongo antelope so easily, guaranteed gatherings of Forest Elephants often numbering over 100 and some of the best Lowland Gorilla trekking. This emerging destination is fast climbing the ladder of everyone’s safari list, unsurprisingly!
Having missed the Covid caused cancellation of our 2020 Gabon recce, we plan to go ahead with the itinerary in August next year. For long, Gabon has been on the radar and it has not been surprising to see the momentum this country has gained over the last 2 years from the watchful tourism industry eye. The groundwork is still being implemented but in the not so distant future this extremely diverse country WILL rank on top of your list of go-to destinations. Imagine being surrounded by legendary congregations of Mandrills, the largest primate associations on the planet, trekking Lowland Gorillas while peering out onto the Atlantic followed by an afternoon watching Humpback Whales breaching, some of the best whale watching anywhere in the world. If going to a new country is not exciting enough, every traveler to Gabon in the next few years will hopefully be the nucleus stock of guests in a country with unequal tourism and conservation opportunity.
REPUBLIC OF CONGO:
On a deeper Congo journey, I’ll return to what National Geographic termed ‘The Last Place on Earth’. Noubale Ndoki remains the wildest place I have ever visited and a destination not short on adjectives. I’ll be returning on a special tailored safari where we have been granted access to visit the few sites in this park that offer the very best Lowland Gorilla trekking, unique and hard to reach bais frequented by Gorillas and Sitatunga and a deep wilderness hard to find anywhere else on our small planet. As part of this greater Congo experience, Ill be visiting Odzala for the first time to experience firsthand the incredible work carried out by African Parks in Congo’s ‘pioneering ‘park. The Republic of Congo is a safe, friendly and overwhelmingly exciting country to visit.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO:
For those who have heard it from me personally, it is true. Ill never stray from my opinion of this place. From the easiest and best Mountain Gorilla trekking to summiting the lava filled Nyiragongo, experiencing firsthand the colossal conservation work that Virunga carries out, I am yet to experience a more powerful destination. Virunga is a experience combination in one package, a destination that WILL change the way you see and plan travel in the future.
After returning from my third safari to Sangha Lodge in the Central African Republic, we’ll crawl out of the rainforest and onto the riparian savannas of Ruaha. Keeping with adventure tradition, we’ll be enjoying this already remote wilderness on foot and by vehicle, sleeping under the stars swapping the night audio from rainforest species to more familiar sounds of Lions and Nightjars. I look forward to seeing a new area of Tanzania, a firm favorite Savanna safari country of mine. On top of all of this, it is the number 1 place on in the world to experience Chimpanzees at the 'out-of-this-world' Greystoke Mahale camp.
Green season safaris can bring a plethora of new experiences to the table, but the dry season is always a favorite generally for the right reasons. One place however that stands apart from this common thread is the vast intact tracts of Kalahari wilderness that few visit in Botswana. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve is revered for the remoteness and post rain herds of Kalahari species followed by dark maned Lions. Its one of the largest protected areas on Earth and exploring this unique region is always best done very slowly, searching and scanning for typical, exclusive rewards of the Kalahari.
For those that I have had the privilege to experience this diverse continent with over the years, thank you. I look forward to many more with familiar guests and with new friends made on deep discoveries in the last remaining wild spaces left on our continent.
PLEASE EMAIL ME DIRECTLY FOR UPCOMING SAFARIS AND TO PERSONALLY ENGAGE TAILORING YOUR LONG AWAITED RETURN TO AFRICA.
I am here, energized and rejuvenated!
Thank you, Asante Sana ...