An African safari adventure is the dream of a lifetime for many. There is something about the majestic, wide-open landscapes, the limitless horizons, experiencing the wildlife in their own habitat, which captures the imagination and changes your perspective on life. Names like Serengeti and Maasai Mara, conjure up visions of vast herds of animals on the great migration over the plains, punctuated by statuesque or twisted thorn trees and dramatic skies.
One of the most authentic ways to experience African safari travel, is to stay in a luxury tented camp, where only a layer of canvas separates you from the rhythms of the wild. Looking out at a densely starred night sky and hearing the distant calls of a lion, or the frog-like grunting of gnus as they pass through the camp, gives you the thrill of being at one with the environment. In a luxury tented camp, you can enjoy the closeness to nature without having to rough it. Hot water, showers, comfortable beds and fantastic meals under the stars are produced with seeming ease on a hillside camp overlooking a vast plain, or in the shade of jackalberry trees with a grandstand view of a water hole.
Some luxury tented camps offer a nostalgic re-creation of the early days of safari, setting tables with silver and fine crystal, providing brass lamps and wash basins and impeccable service. You could imagine yourself as an early explorer discovering these landscapes for the first time, as you switch off all electronic gadgets, zone out from the 21st century, just listen to the sounds of the natural world and relax. Other camps create a modern safari vernacular, with sleek design combined with natural materials and a dash of opulence to pamper your senses.
From a conservation point of view, these tented camps leave a very light footprint and in some cases can be moved on to another site every month or so, following the animal migrations, without leaving any lasting trace. Other camps are semi-permanent, staying in one place all season, but they share the same advantage – a tented camp can be set up where no permanent building is permitted, allowing you to be where the animals are, to stay in the middle of the wilderness that would otherwise be inaccessible from the luxury lodges in situ at the edges of many reserves.
Seek out the safari specialists if you are considering African safari travel to a luxury tented camp. It takes a lot of organization to produce this level of seamless comfort and service out in the wilds of Africa, and the excellence of the guides is another important factor in an enjoyable safari experience.
After all, if you are living a lifetime’s dream, you want more than just rushed game drives, ticking off a trainspotter’s list of animals sighted, more than just a camera full of digital snaps – you want to feel the true spirit of the land, immerse yourself in the magic of this ancient continent and come away with new understanding both of Africa and of yourself.
Article by Kit Heathcock