Namibia Under Canvas Safari

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Travel with one of Namibia’s most reputable and well-known naturalist guides.
  • Visit the world renowned AfriCat Foundation and learn more about conservation initiatives involving Africa’s large cats.
  • Sleep under canvas in the tree tops overlooking one of the most productive waterholes on the Onguma Private Game Reserve.
  • Memorable and exciting guided game drives within the renowned Etosha National Park, from the vantage point of a specially modified, air conditioned 4×4 with pop tops.
  • Explore the Damaraland region whilst staying at the exclusive-use //Huab Under Canvas.
  • Search for desert adapted elephant in ephemeral river systems.
  • Track for the endangered black rhino in conjunction with Save the Rhino Trust.
  • Visit and explore Namibia’s central coastal region with canyons, dunes and lagoons.
  • Explore the private Namib Tsaris Conservancy on exploratory nature drives and guided walks whilst staying in the exclusive-use Sossus Under Canvas.
  • Climb some of the world’s highest free-standing sand dunes at Sossusvlei and enjoy a magic box picnic in the Namib Naukluft Park afterwards.
  • Enjoy spectacular star gazing of the Milky Way on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.
  • Enjoy refreshing moments in desert pools on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy.

Review the full itinerary here


Borana’s Lengishu House

Borana has always been a special place; a truly family-oriented conservancy, adjacent to the world-renowned Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, that offers outstanding wildlife experiences as well as opportunities to explore a breathtaking landscape through a variety of activities. Borana also offers a range of exclusive-use safari homes and villas, and the newest is Lengishu House.

 


Lengishu_Fact_Sheet

When to book what?

One common question we hear is “How far in advance should I start booking my safari?”, so we put together our recommendations for when different types of travelers should book different destinations and experiences.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are great safaris to be had all year round, but there are certainly areas and activities that are more seasonal than others. Most camps and lodges work on a tiered basis with Peak or High season rates, Green or Low season rates and Shoulder season rates in between.
Peak/High season generally indicates the “best” time of year to visit a certain area due to migratory patterns, the height of grass and density of bush, and the availability of water, but it also coincides with the highest rates, the biggest crowds and the most competition for space at camps and lodges in the best locations.
Green, Low and Shoulder season refers to times of year when less people are traveling, maybe there’s the possibility of short afternoon showers, or the wildlife is more dispersed, but the rates tend to be 20-30% lower, there’s less crowds, better availability and the wildlife and scenery are still spectacular.
Some of our favorite off-peak season destinations are:
  • Kenya in February and March
  • The Serengeti,Tanzania in November
  • Hwange, Zimbabwe from November-April
  • Botswana and Namibia in May
The other thing to keep in mind is the size of your group. With couples, we usually have a bit more flexibility, but, with small groups, more lead time is always helpful especially if family units are important.
  • For Peak or High Season at Premier in-demand camps, availability is extremely limited, and we recommend booking 12-18 months in advance to have the most flexibility, the widest selection and the best luck lining up space. Destinations in Botswana, Tanzania and Namibia are either very popular or have a very low density of camps, so space fills up fast.
  • For Small Groups of Friends and Families, 9-12 months gives us a good window to line up a diverse range of activities, accommodations and landscapes. Safaris in Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe tend to offer great value for families and groups, but the camps are small, and family units are few and far between.
  • If you have a narrow travel window or if you’re interested in specific areas or hands-on conservation activities, 9-12+ months gives us time lock in priority space and secure any necessary permits.
  • Booking 6-9 months in advance is usually enough lead time to find good combinations without having to make too many compromises. Often times, connectivity is key: direct flights are limited, the routing dictates the order of camps, and with 6-9 months out there’s room to navigate the availability and find top notch options.
  • For travel within 3-6 months, there’s lots of possibilities as long as you keep an open mind. We’re probably not going to find space at the most popular camps in the most popular areas during the most popular season with a short lead time, but we can always find high-quality experiences. We also find that planning a last minute safari around limited availability can result in unique itineraries with a bit of surprise.
  • With less than 3 months in advance of travel, we’d call that a spontaneous safari, and we’d take advantage of last minute specials or focus on off-season destinations. This might not be the best fit for a first-time or once-in-a-lifetime safari, but, if a window opens up and Africa is calling, there’s always somewhere spectacular to visit and people on the ground who’ll be glad to see you!
Whether you’re ready to start planning now or if there’s a safari out there on the horizon, get in touch to start exploring the options and charting a path to the perfect safari for you.

kenya masai mara

aerial zanzibar tanzania

New Flights + Better Connections = More Possibilities

A big part of planning a perfect safari is thinking through the logistics of international and regional flight connections. We’re excited to see a number of international carriers introducing non-stop flights from the US to hubs in Africa: South African, EthiopianDelta and Kenya Airways all now have direct flights, and there are more routes on the horizon.

We’re also seeing lower fares and improved connections for regional flights within Africa, so it’s getting easier to pair destinations in East and Southern Africa. This overall improvement in efficiency means it’s less expensive and more straightforward to get into our favorite safari destinations and move between them in comfort.

For instance, you can now fly from the Masai Mara to Entebbe and connect directly into Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and there are daily flights between the Serengeti and Kigali which means travelers no longer have to pass through Nairobi or Arusha for their gorilla trekking extensions.

In Southern Africa, there are now nonstop flights between Vic Falls and Cape Town and the Kruger area, and there’s better connecting bush flights throughout Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia. We’re also excited to see more options for private charters and helicopter excursions which can be a great experience for families and small groups of friends.

Overall, the logistics of moving around Africa’s great parks and conservancies are always changing, and we’re looking forward to finding the best fit for your safari. Get in touch.

Four Extraordinary Lodges

For this edition of our “Personal Picks”, we’re thinking outside-the-box to share four breathtaking lodges in unique, lesser-known parks and reserves that offer an excellent overall guest experience. 

Magashi  – Amalinda  – Mashatu –  Shipwreck

These areas don’t make it on many bucket lists, but they offer a superb safari with an uncrowded, exclusive feel at a great value.

Amalinda Lodge – Matobo Hills – Zimbabwe

Each of these lodges promises personal service, a wide variety of activities and a solid 4-night stay so you can really settle in and appreciate their distinctive settings. They pair nicely with more well-known safari destinations, and all four would make a great extension or centerpiece for a longer itinerary.

Magashi – Akagera National Park – Rwanda

Magashi is the newest camp in the Wilderness Safaris family located in the northeastern corner of Akagera National Park in Rwanda. This camp is opening on the 1st of December, and it is the result of many years of public/private partnership and local collaboration.
We see it as an excellent example of what’s on the horizon for new destinations where governments, communities, conservation and tourism work together to rehabilitate a wilderness area. Pair this with gorilla trekking experiences from the stunning Bisate Lodge.

Amalinda – Matobo Hills National Park – Zimbabwe

Amalinda is a stunning lodge built into the granite wilderness outside of Zimbabwe’s Matobo Hills National Park. It is a wild and historic place full of rocks and rhinos. Through decades of hardship and instability, this family owned and operated lodge has sustained a commitment to this unique place.
There is a huge variety of activities, from hiking and biking to tracking rhinos on foot and exploring pre-historic rock art, and the area is known for its sense of tranquility, rejuvenation and spirituality. This pairs with other destinations in Zimbabwe and South Africa, and there’s a great combo with Mashatu!

Mashatu – Tuli Block – Botswana

Mashatu is also a family owned and operated lodge located in a truly singular landscape where Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa meet, and it is unlike any of them with grand baobabs, spectacular vistas and a host of rare and unusual wildlife.
It’s perfect for multi-generational families with a variety of accommodation options from lightweight fly-camping to tented camps and a luxury lodge, and there’s a huge variety of activities including horseback riding, walking, biking and elephant toe-nail photography from a waterhole hide! Mashatu works well with other destinations in Botswana and South Africa, and there’s a great combo with Amalinda.

Shipwreck – Skeleton Coast – Namibia

Shipwreck is one of the most remote and far-flung luxury destinations in the world, and it’s an example of a bold statement in architectural design and conservation impact. This dramatic lodge was designed to match the stark, intense beauty of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, with its extreme environment and fascinating history.
The experience at Shipwreck is all about sand dunes, whale bones and wildflowers, discovering shocks of improbable life, and visiting a place very few people have ever been. Shipwreck is on the edge of the world, and it pairs well with other destinations on a dedicated Namibia itinerary.

There’s plenty more places we love that few people have heard of. Get in touch to learn more about these lodges and how to build your perfect safari itinerary.

Serendipity

On Location in Kenya with Parts Unknown

In March 2018, Kili McGowan, Next Adventure’s Managing Director, accompanied the Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown crew during their time on Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. This is her story and photos from that experience.

In the yellow WACO biplane over Lewa

In the yellow WACO biplane over Lewa


 

It was a rainy day.

Surprisingly, the day I met Anthony Bourdain – on safari – was fraught with an unseasonal rain storm that lasted for three months after a 5-year drought. The flooding was so bad in Nairobi it made headlines briefly in the US. We were sitting inside by a fire in the cozy main living room of Lewa Wilderness, a family-owned safari lodge on Lewa Conservancy.

You might say it was when I really met him, because in truth, I’d been introduced to Anthony the day before, just prior to the rain starting. It was arrival day for the shoot and while chatting with my dear friend Kamau Bell who had just arrived from the noise of Nairobi, Anthony walked right up and said hello as if it was just any other day for him. Easy, comfortable and casual…humble, and unlike any other celebrity encounter I’d had before.

A legacy

Anthony and Kamau were at Lewa to shoot what we now know to be one of the final episodes of Parts Unknown, the famous travel series that invites people to see the world through the lens of Anthony and his exceptional crew. Of course, Anthony had been to Africa countless times, but now the seasoned traveler “was dying to see how Kamau handles the heat, the spice, the crowds, the overwhelming rush of a whole new world”.

They started in Nairobi looking for examples of community empowerment and uplifting aspects of Kenya’s pride, politics and creativity. Naturally, they wanted a safari to match this perspective, and they were looking for a story at the intersection of tourism, conservation and local Kenyan engagement.

This perspective – one of hope, creativity and resilience – was a perfect match with one of our beloved destinations, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Northern Kenya. Established in 1995 by the Craig family, Lewa was originally a cattle ranch that has since grown to be one of the most successful rhino conservation projects in the world while also providing medical services to nearly 50,000 people.

northern rangelands trust lgoAs a conservation model, this patchwork of ranches has inspired the Northern Rangelands Trust which includes 35 community conservancies and 18 ethnic groups spread over 42,000 sq. kms. of Kenya’s wild northern frontier. Lewa is an epicenter of conversations about land and wildlife management, anti-poaching strategies, and secure, sustainable development. Lewa embodies a radical innovation of Kenya’s most foundational structures, and the lesson from Lewa is clear: to protect wildlife, you have to build clinics, support schools and empower local communities.

Uncovering the Story

We knew Anthony and his crew would find what they needed at Lewa. It just so happened that at the time of their visit, presidential politics were extremely precarious, and tensions were also growing in Kenya because of a 5-year drought the country had been experiencing. Managing and monitoring the needs of the communities as well as those of the animals and the sometimes constricting laws that surround land and water usage created desperate situations that were complex and palpable. Although a complex and sensitive issue, we knew that Parts Unknown was interested in capturing some of this story, and certainly how it was impacting the nation overall.

Travel – and the unforgettable gems that result from it – can be tricky. The ‘magical’ moments that travelers seek can be elusive in spite of the best laid plans. Our first sundowner shot with Anthony and Kamau, for example, was enshrouded in streaky grey clouds, but, rather than hang onto that disappointment, we proceeded with our schedule…capturing intimate audio from Anthony that perhaps today carries a bit of comfort that he knew his life was well-lived.

Seventeen f—ing years. As soon as the cameras turn off and the crew will be sitting around, we’ll be having a cocktail, I f— pinch myself. I cannot f— believe that I get to do this.

As luck would have it, magic did manage to find us the next day. In an almost prophetic way, there was a sighting of a male and female lion together on a hilltop where they’ve been spotted before…except this time, they almost immediately sauntered down the hill and walked directly toward our vehicle with Tony and Kamau following behind. After that fortuitous sighting, we continued on to Il Ngwesi Community Ranch for a celebratory lunch that was simple and profound. And then, it happened.

An Unexpected Gift

Coming from a direction that even the Maasai elders didn’t expect was an unlikely storm in an atypical month. Kenyans generally experience the ‘short rains’ in December, and the ‘long rains’ in April and May which is when the bulk of the precipitation happens, but this was March 2nd. The direction, the timing and the dramatic ending of Kenya’s drought was electrifying the country…in that very moment. And, it was captured by and with Anthony Bourdain. The entire community, the crew, even Kamau…everyone…was dancing in celebration of the unexpected gift.

This is how I ended up in front of a fire with the sound of raindrops on the roof, chatting with Anthony. Not surprisingly, we talked about travel. I was curious if there was a destination he found most surprising, and he told me about Iran…he said the people were kind, welcoming and embracing. We talked about respecting cultures and how when someone you just met offers you something to eat, you absolutely eat it. For Anthony, the first and final frontier was a culture’s food, and, to have an authentic adventure, one must be completely immersed in it.

That visit, now documented in one of his final episodes, will certainly be held as one of my most treasured memories. The rain we had was certainly symbolic of how his visit brought so many gifts to this hopeful place; from his company around that fire to the light that this episode will bring to Lewa and the surrounding communities and certainly to the ongoing story of Kenya’s beauty and resilience.

Learn more about visiting Lewa

Special thanks to Dawn Shalhoup at www.prpotion.com for helping tell this story.

A Great Mana Pools Baobab

A New Zimbabwe Safari Circuit

In the 1990s, Zimbabwe was booming. It was a sought-after destination, and Next Adventure was one of the few photographic safari experts to specialize in travel to Zimbabwe.

Over the past couple of decades, Zimbabwe tourism has struggled, but there is optimism in the air. Three of the most influential safari operators are opening new camps in the Zambezi valley. Vic Falls town is humming again with lots of new lodges and development, and more travelers are opting for a full Zimbabwe Safari Circuit.

Zimbabwe is a country of remarkable diversity with a variety of excellent wildlife viewing regions. There’s boating and walking safaris, archeological touring, ground-breaking conservation work, one of the seven woders of the world and some of the best naturalist guides on the continent.

We’re excited to be working on a wonderful itinerary for a family of four that includes Zimbabwe’s iconic destinations as well as stops in the lesser known areas in the south.

We love how this itinerary unfolds. We start off with the stunning beauty and adventure of the Zambezi Valley and the predator rich pans of Hwange National Park, then there’s a mid-point stop to explore Vic Falls before continuing to the granite wilderness of Matopos and a fascinating World Heritage site, the Great Zimbabwe Ruins.

The circuit ends in the Gonarezhou area which ties together all the themes that make for a great safari: community-based conservation, cultural experiences, and a wide range of activities in a truly breathtaking wilderness setting.

1 night in Johannesburg on arrival at The Intercontinental
3 nights in Mana Pools at Zambezi Expeditions or Little Ruckomechi Camp
3 nights in Hwange National Park at Somalisa Camp or Davison’s Camp
2 nights in Victoria Falls at Victoria Falls Hotel or Old Drift Lodge
3 nights in Matopos at Amalinda Lodge
1 nights in Masvingo to tour the Great Zimbabwe Monutment
3 nights in Gonarezhou National Park at Chilo Gorge or Singita Pamushana

Here’s a google map to see how their trip is coming together: