Camping conjures up many different images for different people – memories of scout and guide camps as a youth or perhaps family camping trips.
Budget camping involves travelling with all your camp equipment, your guide and possibly a cook in your vehicle with you. Once you get to camp everyone helps cook and set up. This is economical and fun, but does mean that you spend valuable time in the evening organising your camp and food when you could be out on game drives. These services typically use the less expensive shared or public campsites, but exclusive camps’, or campsites with shower and toilet facilities outside the parks, can also be booked and used. Beds are usually mattresses on the floor of a small tent.
Fly camping involves setting up small, temporary camps for a night under the stars, more often than not in a remote part of the bush. Fly camps are the ideal end to a day’s walking safari or game drive, with many unexpected comforts – a canvas washbasin with hot water, fresh towels, hurricane lamps and delicious food cooked on the fire. At night, the sensation of sleeping in a light or just under a mosquito net, as the moon shines down and the noises of the African night begin, is the highlight of any safari holiday.
Imagine feather pillows, soft towels, gin and tonic on the rocks and four course gourmet meals in a candlelit dining tent as far from civilisation as you can get. This is what luxury camping is all about. The tents are roomy and comfortable, with a veranda in front and a bathroom with hot-water shower, washbasin and toilet directly behind the tent. The luxury tents have a bedside table, gas or solar lamps, chairs and a wardrobe for your clothing. A deep freeze will supply your drinks with ice and keep specialty food items fresh. Laundry is done daily. A large staff will ensure that your meals are gourmet and all your needs in camp are met. Luxury camps are often situated so that you can enjoy the same area for several days.
Lightweight Luxury Camping
Like the luxury camps, tents will have metal or wood-frame beds, standing headroom, a veranda and small en-suite toilets and hot showers. However, the tents will be smaller and may be the traditional A’ shape with a central ridge pole. The camps are fully staffed and meals will be three course affairs served by a waiter in a lantern lit mess tent, or on a table under the stars. Pick-up trucks, rather than lorries often move these camps, so they don’t have luxuries such as a deep freeze. There will usually be wine, beer and soda on ice in camp. Lightweight camps like this can be moved overnight and offer an amazing degree of comfort while maintaining the flexibility of a lighter camp.
To walk through the African bush is to experience Africa close-up. Smells are suddenly subtle and varied and every sound has significance.
Birds and butterflies are individuals, noticed and studied, not simply rushed past in the race for the bigger game. And when the larger animals appear, they are met at eye level, standing on the same earth. Safety is not an issue – armed, experienced guides and game rangers accompany all walks. Your camp is packed up and transported to the next location by different methods: pick-up truck, porters or donkeys. The camping style tends to be lightweight and extremely mobile. You will walk for several days, travelling like nomads across the African bush often miles from any roads or tracks.
Bird Watching Safari
The wild expanses of East and Southern Africa are paradise for birders.
While there is plenty to occupy the keen or amateur birdwatching fanatic from the moment you touch down, there are also plenty of opportunities to spend time with some seriously impressive guides.
Some guides have developed bird knowledge as a special interest, some have become so familiar with the common bird guide books that they literally name the page with each bird sighting… It certainly saves time leafing through indexes! It is wonderful and worthwhile to have someone to share your enthusiasm with.
The many habitats of East Africa provide dream birdwatching locations, and a dauntingly long list of endemic species that you simply have to travel to find.
Balloon safaris in Tanzania are a romantic and evocative way of experiencing the wilderness of East Africa, as you gracefully and silently fly over the plains teeming with herds of wild life in the early morning.
Typically, a ballon safari begins between 6 am and lasts for around 1-2 hours, during which you will likely see the magnificent wildlife below over several square kilometres of the game park. Ballon safaris are held regularly only in the Serengeti and take off from designated sites (in the Seronera area) where the disturbance to animals is kept to a minimum. Your safari vehicle drops you off at the take off site and picks you up from your landing site. The safari is followed by a champagne breakfast in the bush, a fitting end to your memorable flight in the wild.Maximum in a balloon.
Night Game Drives
The bush is a completely different world at night which is what makes night drives so special. Manyara National Park is currently the only national park that allows this activity, an exciting once in a lifetime experience.