When it comes to embarking on an African adventure, most travellers think of the most well-known, iconic destinations like the Serengeti in Tanzania, Sabi Sands in South Africa or perhaps the Maasai Mara in Kenya. However, there are also some hidden gems that offer unique experiences for intrepid explorers hoping for something just that little bit different.
In this blog post, we will shed light on three slightly unusual safari destinations that will most definitely take you off the beaten path and into the heart of wildest Africa.
Kidepo National Park, Uganda
Located in the remote northeastern corner of Uganda, Kidepo National Park remains relatively untouched by mass tourism. Its isolation has allowed the park’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse wildlife to positively thrive.
Kidepo is a hidden gem that boasts expansive savannahs, rugged mountains, and lush valleys, creating a picturesque setting for wildlife enthusiasts. Home to an impressive array of animals, including lions, cheetahs, elephants and giraffes. The park’s birdlife is equally remarkable, with over 475 species recorded, making it a haven for birdwatchers. You can easily combine a safari in Kidepo with gorilla trekking, to make the trip that much more extraordinary — more about that on Gorilla Trekking: Where, when and how.
As you gaze upon the starlit skies from your luxury accommodation, you’ll understand why Kidepo is often referred to as “the true African wilderness.”
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
While Hwange National Park is one of the larger parks in Africa, it remains less visited compared to its more famous counterparts. This presents an opportunity for travellers seeking an authentic safari experience away from the crowds. Located in northwestern Zimbabwe, Hwange is a land of diverse habitats, ranging from grasslands to mopane woodlands, providing a haven for an abundance of wildlife.
Hwange is renowned for its sizable elephant population, offering a chance to witness these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Additionally, the park is home to an array of predators, such as lions, leopards, and African wild dogs, making for thrilling game drives and raw encounters with nature.
A handpicked favourite of ours is the Bomani Tented Lodge, a mere 15-minute drive from a private gate into Hwange National Park. Bomani Lodge overlooks the Bomani Pan and features a spectacular viewing platform that pictures and words simply can’t do justice to!
For more info about The Best of Zimbabwe, why not check out our sample 12-day itinerary exploring not just Hwange, but Mana Pools, Victoria Falls and Lake Kariba.
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
When picturing a safari, most people conjure up visions of lush green landscapes or the rolling savannah. However, the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana couldn’t be more different.
This vast saltpan system transforms into an otherworldly spectacle during the wet season, attracting a wide variety of migratory birds and wildlife. What about the dry season you might be wondering? Well, that is actually when the true magic happens.
As the pans dry up, unique activities like quad biking and guided walks on the pans’ crusty surface become possible. A visit to the habituated meerkat colonies not too far from camp is a must-do!
The lunar-like scenery creates an unforgettable backdrop for stargazing, and with little light pollution, the night skies come alive with stars.
An absolute must-stay destination is the San Camp, which boasts six elegant white tents that dot the shore of the enormous sparkling salt pan. When you’re not marveling at the view, you’ll be enjoying the delicious, fresh and original menus they are renowned for. A feast for the eyes and palette indeed!
To see what this stop-off can be combined with, check out our Best of Botswana sample itinerary. It covers ten days of unbridled adventuring through the Pans as well as the Okavango Delta — famed for wild dogs, and a healthy lion population and experience the surrounds on foot, by boat and from the vehicle during day and night game drives.
Stepping off the well-trodden path can lead to awe-inspiring discoveries and unforgettable moments. Kidepo National Park, Hwange National Park, and the Makgadikgadi Pans are three indelible safari gems that offer a chance to connect with nature, immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of Africa, and fill the pages of your travel journal.
Planning a safari in an unfamiliar destination might appear overwhelming, but our small and knowledgeable team ensure you will embark on the journey of a lifetime without any logistical concerns. All of our trips are highly personalized, with expert guidance from our team who offer many years of on-the-ground experience. We would love to help you embrace the spirit of adventure, and share some of Africa’s most coveted secrets.