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  • Writer's pictureJeff Stivers

Classic Africa Adventures for the First-Time Safari Traveler

Updated: Apr 1

Outlier Journeys Africa Expert Jeff Stivers has been traveling through and designing travel to Southern and Eastern Africa for nearly two decades. He knows which parks, private reserves, lodges and remote camps work well for first-time travelers to the continent, factoring in variables like time of year, budget, traveler needs, and particular interests, like photography or birding. And has created four inspirational trips that will get you hooked on Africa and keep you returning time and again.


"I'm calling these our Classic Adventures" says Jeff. "They have stood the test of time, never failing to leave travelers with a sense of wonder and awe, and incorporate some of the most highly sought-after safari locations in Eastern and Southern Africa. The travel we design is highly customized to the individual and we work directly with a wide variety of camps and lodges, but in my experience these safaris, and these ideally located properties in particular, will tick all of the boxes for those on their first adventure to Africa. First of many, I can almost guarantee!"

 


While the Great Migration is not a singular event, but the continuous clockwise movement of grazing herds of wildebeest and zebra, chasing the rains and fresh grass across the Serengeti (Tanzania) and Mara (Kenya) ecosystem, we love this Tanzania itinerary for a few reasons. First, we use the seasonal and mobile bush camps of conservationist Alex Walker, strategically positioned to give guests a front-row seat to the "Greatest Show on Earth" while also avoiding the busiest areas of the Serengeti. These are true bush camps that put you close to nature. They are supremely comfortable but are best suited for travelers who prioritize exceptional guiding and tracking over more luxurious camp embellishments. The emphasis on less-crowded locations continues with Entamanu Ngorongoro Camp, a small collection of well-appointed canvas tents on the remote western rim of the Ngorongoro Crater. You'll have unrivaled panoramic views of the crater floor and its abundant wildlife and opportunities to track game on foot with Maasai guides. Finally, you finish at the richly diverse Tarangire National Park, located in the Northern corner of Tanzania and known for massive herds of elephants that migrate here during the dry season.


Who is it for? Travelers who want a wild and immersive Great Migration experience, to stay under canvas in intimate, remote and ecologically-sensitive camps and for those who want to experience a diversity of ecosystems up close, on longer game drives between locations. Recommended for adults or families with older children. Tanzania also pairs well with primate tracking in Rwanda or Uganda. While this is an excellent safari from May-October, in Serengeti, the migration is on the northern plains from late July to September, with the classic big river crossings. Starts from $15,500 per person based on two travelers.


 


Explore the remote wilds of the Kenyan bush in private game reserves, maximizing your time and enhancing your safari experience by flying from camp to camp to gain a broader understanding of this vast country and its diverse wildlife. This is the best way to have an intimate wildlife experience without all of the traffic of the National Parks. Fill your days with game drives, walking safaris, cultural experiences, and retire to hand-selected boutique lodges and camps with the best service and atmosphere in East Africa.


Explore the northern corner of the Laikipia region to search for the unique arid-adapted species of Northern Kenya including gerenuk, greater kudu, reticulated giraffe, and grevy’s zebra in the lands of the Samburu people at the stunning Saruni Lodge. Finish this exquisite itinerary in the private reserves of Ngare Sero adjoining the famed Maasai Mara, exploring the national reserve as well as the private Mara North Conservancy which is known for excellent big cat sightings. Whether sleeping under thatch, canvas, or the African stars, these eight nights are sure to be some of the most memorable you’ll experience.


Who is it for? Adults who want to explore the diversity of Kenya aided by small, privately chartered aircraft, or groups of friends or families who want to take over these intimate camps for exclusive use. Starts from $10,800 per person based on two travelers.


 


It's hard to top the value to be had in South Africa right now. This luxury safari utilizes exceptional boutique properties in each location while dipping into South Africa's highlights + Victoria Falls in Zambia. Discover Cape Town's natural beauty, rich history, and diverse cultures with three days of privately guided exploration, tailored to your preferences. Then head to the Cape Winelands and the charming Franschhoek Valley for two days of sipping and savoring the finest South African varietals. With Le Quartier Francais as your home, you'll want at least one day to do nothing at this special property and we've already built that in! For your safari experience, head to the world-famous Sabi Sands Private Reserve in the Greater Southern Kruger where you can spot the Big Five, sometimes all in one day! As an alternative, we also love Tanda Tula in the Timbavati for travelers who want to work just a little bit harder for sightings. Continue your safari in Zambia, along the Zambezi River at the wonderful, family-owned Mukwa River Lodge, just 20 minutes from Victoria Falls. Elephants routinely come to the river in front of camp to drink and you're in a great spot to explore both the Zimbabwe and Zambia sides of "The Smoke that Thunders."


Who is it for? This is a great itinerary for honeymoon travelers or couples who want to mix wine & cuisine with a classic, private, and supremely comfortable safari experience. Starts from $14,425 per person based on two travelers.


 

This 10-day journey goes deep on some of the top highlights in the region and is perfect for the first-time traveler to Southern Africa with less than two weeks to explore. Cape Town, the culturally diverse, quaint-yet-modern city is the perfect starting point. Here you overcome the long flight while taking in an incredible gondola ride to the top of Table Mountain, enjoy a local Malay cooking class, walk the seaside wharf and sample some of the finest wines in the world. Next, it's on to Botswana's Okavango Delta, one of the most pristine African wildlife ecosystems, for a safari of a lifetime. Three full days on safari, waking up with the birds and tracking elephants and lions through the payarus islands of the delta is straight out of National Geographic. The journey ends at Victoria Falls, a magical ending to a "best of the best" adventure in Southern Africa. Along the way, you'll be supporting local wildlife and environmental conservation efforts as well as Bana Ba Letsatsi (Children of the Sun), established in 2004 to support Northern Botswana’s orphaned, at-risk and vulnerable children with nutrition, clothing, education, counseling, sports, arts and music activities.


Who is it for: Travelers who want variety, quality and free time on their own. Ample time in Cape Town, some of the finest wildlife-viewing on the continent in the Okavango Delta and free time to explore Victoria Falls. Starts from $8,500 per person based on two travelers.


 

Start Planning Now! While some of the more classic trips and locations tend to book out far in advance (ideal time to begin planning is 18-12 months in advance of travel), Jeff knows of several excellent options that can still get you to Africa in 2024. Fill our our Design My Trip form and Jeff will be in touch to start planning the perfect safari for you!



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