Where to go on safari to avoid the crowds for an experience that’s wholly your own. By Haley Beham
Nothing kills the safari vibe faster than coming upon an incredible animal sighting only to discover 20 other safari vehicles lined up to see the same spectacle. What’s worse is when the great multitude of vehicles frighten off the animals! Your once-in-a-lifetime safari doesn’t have to be everyone else’s once-in-a-lifetime safari.
The classic safari destination is quickly making its mark with vast, untouched wilderness where animals roam freely between unfenced game reserves and concessions. Couple that with its low-volume tourism model and you have all the makings for an icon-status safari destination. Get lost in a quiet corner of the world at Linyanti Expeditions, located on the western boundary of Chobe National Park. With only six tents, the camp offers a return to the simplicity of expedition-style camping and solitude in the bush. Likewise, Dinaka, in the northern Central Kalahari Game Reserve, gives a breathtaking sense of isolation, especially on its raised decks overlooking the vast expanse of the reserve.
Hosting just a fraction of the tourists its neighboring countries see, Zambia offers a wildly authentic safari. The wildlife in South Luangwa National Park, in particular, is flourishing due to the country’s fierce conservation practices. Head to Kakuli, where time and space to explore the South Luangwa is the true luxury. And for even more exclusivity in the bush, travel between January 20 and April 4 to take advantage of their “Secret Season". It is one of the only bush camps open in Zambia during the green season when the Luangwa River is high, which means you’ll spend the days seeking out wildlife on foot or on boating safaris.
The guides in Zimbabwe are some of the most qualified in Africa due to their rigorous training and testing procedures. At the forefront of your experience in Zimbabwe, you’ll notice personal attention and detail to be a top priority, especially at Sapi Explorer’s Camp in the amazing wildlife sanctuary of the Sapi Reserve. With only five explorer-style tents and over 832,000 acres of reserve, coupled with the neighboring Mana Pools National Park to traverse, you’ll find exciting animal encounters — not hordes of people — are front and center. The remote wilderness area lends itself to exploring on foot, game drives, and boating or canoeing on the Zambezi River.
South Africa is a wildly popular safari destination for its diversity of landscapes and abundant wildlife. While it’s a top choice for many safari-goers, you can still experience a private safari here from the comforts of Singita Boulders Lodge and its sister property, the “Grand Dame” Singita Ebony Lodge. Since 1993, Singita has made protecting large tracts of wilderness and wildlife populations a priority, and it has paid off. On their 111,000-acre reserve, you’ll find high concentrations of big game and frequent leopard sightings. For a safari that ticks off more elusive animals and desert-adapted species, head to the private game reserve of Tswalu Kalahari. The land isn’t shared with any other lodges, so you’ll have a private and personalized safari experience, spending as much time as you desire at sightings ... without 20 other vehicles vying for a view.
Remote and plentiful wildlife, a vast, rugged wilderness to explore, and the lowest population density on earth — as a safari destination, Namibia is otherworldly. Explore the raw, natural beauty of Kaokoland — one of the most remote regions in Southern Africa — from the eight-chalet Serra Cafema Camp. Sit on the banks of the Kunene River, considered a precious resource by local inhabitants, in one of the driest deserts in the world. If a safari without any other guests is your desire, Camp Sossus in the Neuhof Nature Reserve, 30 minutes from Sossusvlei, is available purely as an exclusive-use camp. You can expect to see a variety of wildlife like zebra, kudu, giraffe, cheetah, leopard, and hyena on your private safari here.
Pro Tip: “Don’t forget to put your camera down while on safari and be present. Take the time to enjoy the wildlife, listen for the sounds of the bush, and take a deep breath of the fresh air while absorbing the surrounding landscapes right in front of you." – Ken Hermer, Designer