One of the hardest things about choosing a safari destination is simply wading through the huge amount of choice you get given. Literally hundreds of lodges and camps spread all over the continent, from desert to mountaintop and everything in between.
Yet every now and then a really special place pops up on one’s radar, somewhere that immediately gets you thinking about a return visit.
We’ve picked three that we’ve come across on our own travels that we simply cannot recommend strongly enough…
Kicheche Valley Camp
There are few safari camps out there that give you an overwhelming feeling of “Yes!” when you walk onto the deck for the first time. Kicheche Valley Camp is one of them.
Tucked discreetly between two acacia-covered hills in the Naboisho Conservancy of the eastern Maasai Mara in Kenya, the camp has a wonderful simplicity to it that instantly draws you into a slower pace of life. Zebras graze within metres of your tent, lions (of which there are plenty in the area) roar in the distance at night, and the camp staff’s warm smiles and enthusiasm for their work are clearly genuine.
Kicheche have a number of offerings in the area (Bush, Mara and Valley Camp), but Valley has to be our favourite; the intangibles there make it evident that nothing is forced, everything is done at your pace, the food is excellent, the drinks are cold, the accommodation makes you feel like are part of the environment instead of excluded from it – whilst still being incredibly comfortable – the guides are excellent, and of course, the wildlife viewing is utterly spectacular.
For those looking for a wildlife destination in East Africa that ticks all the boxes, but most importantly the one about feeling at home, look no further than Kicheche Value Camp.
Neighbour to some of the biggest name lodges in the South African safari industry, Notten’s has been quietly in operation since the 1980s, conducting Big 5 safaris with their own special brand of charm and hospitality.
As part of the Sabi Sand Reserve, Notten’s boasts just as high a density of big game as any other lodge in the area, with a particularly high number of leopards and lions calling the area home. The Sabi Sands is in fact home to the densest population of leopards yet recorded in Africa.
Notten’s has a family feel to it; it is family run and many of its staff have their own families living and working there. This is reflected in the warm welcome that everyone receives, and the level of repeat business that Notten’s can boast (among the highest in the greater reserve) is testament to this fact.
Whilst other destinations close by might be better known, it is Notten’s that will have us going back time and time again.
When the Okavango Delta, a world-heritage site and one of the most sought-after safari destinations in Africa is only two hour’s drive away, it’s hard to compete.
Yet Nxai Pan offers a completely different type of safari experience, a highly concentrated one that is difficult to find anywhere else on the continent.
Set in the vastness of the greater Kalahari Desert, the pan itself – and accompanying pans to the south – offer an incredible open reprieve from the surrounding scrubland.
Short grass plains and salt pans stretch as far as the eye can see, presenting incredible game viewing opportunities.
Water is everything here, and with only one or two permanent water sources in the dry season, incredible concentrations of wildlife – most notably elephants – are to be found coming to slake their thirst each day.
Nxai Pan is a unique ecosystem that will leave you in awe at its scale. Baobabs dot the area, and a trip to this part of the world would not be complete without a day trip to the world famous Baines’ Baobabs just to the south.
Although open year round, the game-viewing at Nxai Pan tends to be seasonal in response to water availability, so be sure to connect with one of our travel consultants to find out about the best time to visit.
And with the Okavango just a short safari stone’s throw away, this reserve offers the perfect place to incorporate into the wider Botswana safari circuit…