7 Non-Tradition Safari Experiences You Should Try
The traditional African safari is an unforgettable experience but not a one-size-fits-all adventure. Typically, it includes luxurious lodges, thrilling wildlife viewing drives at dawn and dusk, and high tea moments with other tourists at the lodge’s lounge amidst the wilderness. Once you’ve experienced a safari, you’ll likely yearn to return to Africa, perhaps with a fresh perspective.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to tailor your safari experience and witness abundant wildlife in a non-traditional style. Explore alternatives to the conventional Land Cruiser by opting for a walking safari, horseback riding, or even trekking wild primates in Uganda’s tropical forests. This article highlights ten safaris with a unique twist you must try.
1. Gorilla trekking in Uganda or Rwanda
Expand your safari experience beyond just the big five! Nkuringo Safaris, a premium tour company, offers exceptional gorilla trekking tours in both Rwanda and Uganda. For the adventurous traveler, witnessing endangered mountain gorillas in the lush, dense jungle of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in southern Uganda is a must-do. Alternatively, you can head to Rwanda and observe these magnificent creatures on the volcanic slopes of the Virungas.
2. Walking with chimpanzee troops
Set off on a once-in-a-lifetime journey into the tropical, lush rainforests and walk with wild chimps on a chimpanzee trekking adventure. Spend a day observing the snobbish chimpanzee troops and stay in fine safari lodges with spectacular views. Uganda offers breathtaking chimpanzee trekking experiences in Kibale National Park, a great addition to the gorilla trek in Bwindi. Alternatively, you can see chimps in Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest after your gorilla trekking experience in Volcanoes National Park.
3. Follow the great migration in mobile tented camps.
Stay at tented migration camps that will transport you back to the pioneering safari days into the heart of the incredible biodiversity of Africa’s wilderness without sacrificing comfort and luxury. These luxurious mobile tented camps pack up and move to places they can offer their guest a front-row seat to Mother Nature’s greatest wildlife phenomenons – like the Great Wildebeest Migration.
Insider Tip: Stay at a tented mobile camp for at least three days to allow for two full days of wildlife viewing and exploring the area.
4. Walking safari to explore Africa’s wilderness on foot
If you love adventure and can’t imagine sitting in a safari vehicle for hours on end, then a walking safari might just be the perfect fit for you. Imagine walking with a Maasai Warrior in Mara and Serengeti or exploring Bwindi’s Impenetrable wilderness and its rural surroundings with Nkuringo Walking Safaris. As one of the pioneers of the walking safari, Nkuringo Walking Safaris offers a “week on the wild side” itinerary that allows you to track gorillas, chimps, and big savannah game on foot with the help of a knowledgeable guide. Not only will you take in the breathtaking sights of the bush, but you’ll also be able to burn off those extra calories you would have accumulated in a 4×4.
Insider Tip: Finish your journey with a walk to see gorillas on one of Nkuringo Walking Safaris’ gorilla tours, and spend at least three days in the mountains. You’ll enjoy exploring the rugged region on foot.
5. Water-based safari experience
Botswana’s Okavango Delta is arguably the most iconic water safari experience; you can hardly visit the area without hopping into one of these traditional boats and floating along the Delta channels. You’ll spot everything from lions and hippos to hyenas). If you’re visiting Tanzania, go with a more traditional water safari and drift through Selous Game Reserve by boat. Follow the river as it meanders through vast valleys and floodplains, spotting zebra, buffalo, crocodile, and even the famous Selous lion as you go. Uganda, whose main attraction is the trekking mountain gorillas, offers incredible water-based safari experiences in two main areas. A boat safari on Kazinga Channel in Queen Elizabeth National Park and Victoria Nile stretch in Murchison Falls National Park brings visitors close to herds of elephants, swarms of hippos, lion prides, a plethora of unique bird species, and more wild animals.
Insider Tip: The water safaris of Uganda’s Nile and Kazinga Channel combine well with gorilla treks in Bwindi, giving you the experience of both savannah and forest experiences.
6. Safari from the Sky
Experience the stunning beauty of the Serengeti in a truly unforgettable way with a hot-air balloon flight at sunrise. At the Four Seasons Safari Lodge in Tanzania, guests can embark on an approximately one-hour flight, soaring high above the sweeping plains and taking in breathtaking views of the wildlife and landscapes below. After the flight, enjoy a sumptuous Champagne breakfast in the heart of the bush, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the African wilderness. It’s the perfect way to cap off an unforgettable morning and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Insider Tip: Take advantage of the hotel’s Discovery Centre. It’s a combination museum and lecture hall where guests can learn about the Serengeti’s wildlife, people, and history.
7. Self-Drive Safari in Uganda
Travelers looking for an independent Uganda safari experience—but with a little help on hand—can try Road Trip’s self-drive safari in Uganda. Here’s how it works: Guests drive themselves in a Toyota Land Cruiser through the wilderness of southwestern Uganda to reach the Karatunga Camp in the Karamoja Region. A safari guide can accompany travelers in the vehicle to offer assistance if needed.
Insider Tip: Guests receive maps with different routes to reach their destination.