9 of the Most Unusual African Safari Experiences

An African safari is on most people’s bucket list – who doesn’t want to see the great migration of wildebeest in Tanzania or Kenya, come face-to-face with a gigantic mountain gorilla, or traverse the inland wetlands of the Okavango Delta? These are tantalisingly evocative experiences that live with you forever. However, for the safari lodges and camps competition is healthily competitive and keeping guests engaged outside of the typical daily 4×4 game drives and game walks is currently the focus for many safaris operators; appealing to the niche traveller in ever-more detail is the name of the game. Here are some of the more unusual activities you can enjoy alongside traditional safari activities.

Astronomy, South Africa

Leobo interior

Credit: dookphoto

Entrepreneur, Rory Sweet, has achieved something really rather remarkable at Leobo – a quirky 12,000 acre private reserve in the malaria-free Waterberg region of South Africa. Complementing the unique lodge, The Observatory, which includes an open-plan living area crowned with a hippo skeleton chandelier, is a variety of activities from hippo camping, quad-biking and cross country polaris drives. Particularly impressive – and unusual – is the two-storey tower which accommodates a library on the lower level with stairs up to a fully functional observatory with a 20 inch telescope which sits under a domed roof which opens up to the  night sky. There is no light pollution here and the opportunities for star gazing are endless. Guests can even dress up in special space suits for the full effect. Dr Phil Calcot, a local astronomer can be booked for expert tuition.

Mountain Biking, South Africa
Mountain biking
Also in the Waterberg region is the wonderful family-friendly lodge, Ant’s Nest, run by Ant & Tesser Baber who offer a host of activities to supplement  daily safari drives. The incredibly diverse terrain lends itself to mountain biking; for beginners who like to potter or, the technical cyclist looking for some extreme adventures. There is nothing quite like passing herds of game while peddling, it’s both peaceful and thrilling all at the same time. Routes vary from 5-20 km depending on experience.

Waterfall Jumping & River Tubing, Kenya
Waterfall jumping in Kenya
The Ewaso Narok river plays a big part in life for the Kenyan camp, Sosian, offering great fishing for the likes of yellowfish, tilapia, barbell and catfish. But there is a wilder side to this river, with its magnificent 10 metre-high waterfalls this is the place for an unforgettable adrenaline rush. If you are brave enough a guide will escort you to the waterfall’s ledge where you follow him off the precipice and into the refreshing waters of the deep pool below. If you fancy some more action, the guides at Sosian will get you into inflatable tubes and set you off tubing down the river. Safari doesn’t get more fun than this!

Polo & Cross-Country Jumping, Kenya
Polo in Kenya
The links between Kenya and Great Britain are very close and some of the old vestiges of the colonial era are still to be found in the country. One of the grandest examples of colonial architecture is Deloraine, a splendid house dating from the 1920s, and home of the Voorspuy family and their 60 horses. The farm is set on the lower slopes of an extinct volcano, on the western edge of the Great Rift Valley, and it is here that they offer some incredible mountain riding and cross-country jumping. And of course they also have a full-size polo pitch, which makes this a true equestrian heaven!

Bi-plane Adventures, Kenya
Bi Plane adventures in Kenya
Not everything on safari has to be land-based; you can take a balloon-ride over the Serengeti or Masai Mara, which is a highlight of any trip to East Africa but what about flying in the cockpit of a bi-plane over the majestic expanses of Kenya? Unique to the Lewa Wilderness Lodge, located in the centre of the country, you will be taken above the treetops and through gorges with pilot Will Craig in a vintage bi-plane. This is an incredibly thrilling way to see the beauty of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy with its herds of game and dramatic landscapes. You can’t get more unique than this.

Geological Safari, Namibia
San Rock Art in Namibia
In the north-west of Namibia sits the World Heritage Site of Twylfelfontein and its famous ancient San rock art. At Doro Nawas camp, guides show visitors the incredible geological phenomena that make this part of the world so intriguing, such as the Petrified Forest, Burnt Mountain and Organ Pipes. Even the landscape surrounding Doro Nawas camp reveals an incredible variety of geology detailing ancient chapters in Earth’s history. So when you are not out looking for desert elephants and lions you can spend your day on a rock safari.

Freshwater Snorkelling, Malawi
Freshwater snorkelling in Malawi
A fitting end to an African safari is to spend some relaxing time on a beach. But that doesn’t mean it has to be in the ocean! Nkwichi Lodge in Malawi is the perfect place to kick back after a Southern Africa safari. Located on the shores of freshwater Lake Malawi you’ll be able to snorkel through a world of brilliantly-coloured tropical fish, crystal-clear water and untouched beaches.

Freshwater Diving, Tanzania
Freshwater diving in Lupita
If you are on safari in Tanzania then the island of Lupita in Lake Tanganyika (the longest lake in the world) offers some good diving opportunities from its island lodge. The lake’s waters are clear and calm where the dive master (PADI-certified) will take you down to the underwater world which teems with hundreds of species of cichlids found nowhere else on earth.

The Thinking Man’s Safari, Kenya
Thinking Man Safari in Enasoit
Finally, if you have a particular interest that you find difficult to fit into a traditional safari holiday then Enasoit in northern Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau may be able to help. Here they have developed “The Thinking Man’s Safari” which aims to enrich your safari experience by adding an extra intellectual dimension to the usual activities on offer. Guests are given access to a rare selection of experts covering a broad range of topics relevant to the region. With a large array of specialist speakers, often leaders in their field, they can help you delve deeper into your topics of interest, such as wildlife, rock art, conservation, politics, social enterprise, history or anthropology, just name a few.


For ideas and advice on safari holidays in Africa, please contact Chris Evans on +44 (0)1242 787800.