I decided to do something a bit different today – encapsulate a few of my favourite moments, experiences, places and animals in Africa in an A to Z. Enjoy!
A – Aardwolf – how a creature so large can eat only ants I don’t know! I was lucky enough to see one near Sossusvlei, Namibia, several years ago.
B – Ballooning over the Masai Mara, watching the sun’s first rays hit the savannah
C – Chimpanzee tracking – a heart racing experience and a fascinating opportunity to learn more about these primate relatives of ours.
D – Damaraland, one of my favourite regions of Namibia, comprising desert elephants, arid mountain terrain, ancient rock art and unusual birdlife.
E – Elephant Orphanage, Nairobi – the work of Dame Daphne Sheldrick is humbling and inspiring.
F – Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands, one of the best destinations in the world for incredible food and wine. Go here for the ultimate indulgence.
G – The Great Migration; two million thundering hooves trampling the Serengeti and Masai Mara in search of fresh grazing – a true wildlife spectacle.
H – Hermanus – home to the best land-based whale watching in the world – something I’d love to see one day.
I – Indri – one of the largest lemur species in Madagascar.
J – Jinja, a charming small Ugandan town and home to some superb white water rafting on the first stretches of the River Nile.
K – Kenya, a magical country and probably the most misunderstood destination in Africa. I could go to Kenya every year for the rest of my life and never tire of it.
L – Laikipia Plateau in Kenya, a vast unending wilderness of dramatic landscapes, unusual animals and adventurous safaris on camel, horseback, on foot, mountain bike, river and vehicle.
M – Mahale Mountains in Western Tanzania, one of the most unique destinations; towering mountains, chimpanzees, sandy beaches and the continent’s deepest lake.
N – November, one of my favourite months in East Africa, Dramatic thunderstorms make for great photographic opportunities, the rain scares off other travellers so you can enjoy the wildlife to yourself – bliss!
O – Oudtshoorn, South Africa – a charming stop off on the Garden Route, filled with ostrich farms and the Cango Caves famed for their stalagmites and stalagtites.
P – Pangolin, one of the animals I most want to see (NB the more safaris you go on, the more obscure your wishlist of wildlife becomes)
Q – Quelea, a small bird that flies in flocks a thousand strong, making a beautiful whistling noise as their cloud-like formations spin and whirl across the sky – simply beautiful.
R – Rift Valley, filled with towering volcanoes, glittering salt lakes and thousands of flamingos – pure postcard perfection.
S – San bushmen, an inspiring and beautiful people who I have been honoured to spend time with.
T – Tonic – as in gin and tonic – one of my favourite safari traditions is the sundowner – what a beautiful way to pay homage to the day’s adventures than to stop, soak up the sunset and enjoy a cold G&T?
U – Under the stars. Fly-camping is the ultimate experience to get right out into nature and sleep under the African sky surrounded by all the nighttime sounds of the bush – I’ve longed to do this for years and am finally getting the chance in May – can’t wait.
V – Vervet monkeys – common as sparrows but I love these cheeky, charming creatures and could happily watch them scampering around an acacia tree for hours.
W – Walking safaris in the South Luangwa and Selous are amonst my best safari memories – from taking the time to notice the small things, to strolling into a herd of buffalo or an angry hippo.
X – Xigera concession in the Okavango Delta – an iconic concession offering superb birding, mokoro rides through the waterways and fantastic wildlife.
Y – Yum! Food on safari is one of the most surprising features for most first timers. I am a not-very-secret foodie, so the extravagant breakfasts, sumptuous lunches, afternoon tea and cake, sundowner bitings and a three course dinner make for an amazing day, almost regardless of any wildlife encounters I’ve had that day.
Z – Zebras, of which Grevy’s are by far the most superior and special – skinny stripes and big ears mean a big thumbs up from me!