By Amy Covington
Level 6 white water rafting. Check. Hang-gliding over the Himalayas. Yawn. Zip lining through the rainforest. So
Traditional vacations don't do it for you. If there isn't a small chance
you could lose a limb, you're just not interested. You've tried
almost everything and want something that will really get your
blood flowing. Ilana Stein of Wilderness
Safaris, a company specializing in privately hosted safaris and
memorable wildlife experiences in the most remote and pristine
areas in southern Africa, thinks she has the perfect vacation
for adrenaline junkies - a real African
Two Different Animals
You might think you could visit a wilderness park and get the
same experience as you would on a safari - and you want excitement,
not boring photo-ops with zebras. According to Stein, the two
have very few similarities.
"A real, wilderness safari experience is not bound
by two days or even three weeks," Stein said. "On
our safaris, the wilderness experience is combined with the
comfort of a five-star hotel to create a unique encounter with
the rapidly disappearing wild places of our planet. Imagine
lying at night in the snug safety of your bed, hearing the calls
of the wild and feeling the pulse of Africa just outside. Imagine
being able to choose between your en-suite shower inside and
your bathtub outside, with the bright African sun or the twinkling
Southern Cross shining down on you."
When you visit a wilderness park you're carted around in
a van, bus or Jeep along with other visitors. Usually the
conditions are hot and uncomfortable. You're there for a few
hours, possibly a day, and then the park closes and you drive
back to civilization. When you take a real safari vacation,
you're in the middle of the action for your entire trip. Wilderness
Safaris camps are designed to fit in with their surroundings,
so you don't feel like an awkward tourist invading something
"Our camps are designed to blend in completely with the surrounding
environment and individual location. Most camps are built
from natural materials, not bricks and tiles and are small
- three rooms in the smallest camp and the largest just 12. Such modest-sized
camps mean that we minimize impact on the area as well as provide superb,
Safaris camp sites are situated in unspoiled, private areas - so
that means public parks are generally out of the question,
so you won't drive down the road and find a Denny's or Wal-Mart. "This
ensures your experience is a private one. Currently the
custodian of over two million acres of pristine wildlife
and wilderness areas in southern Africa, Wilderness
Safaris actually owns very little of this land. Most of these reserves
are either 'safari concessions' or private reserves that are
leased from communities or governments on medium-term leases
with strict environmental guidelines."
Creepy, Crawlies ?
Okay, so you buy into the fact that wilderness parks and
wilderness safaris are different, but how does taking a safari
differ from other adventure travel? "'Adventure travel'
is defined by different types of activities of differing levels
of excitement," Stein explained. "Wilderness
Safaris, as an ecotourism company, combines activities that
are connected to the natural world with a 'bigger picture' of
the area visited and a sense of responsibility to the world's
wilderness areas, their wildlife and people."
When it comes to vacations, you are all about getting your
heart racing and, of course, coming home with exciting stories.
But one thing you're not too fond of is getting too grungy
- I mean, you climbed Mount Kilimanjaro but made sure to pack
5 Season EXO and a generous supply of Purell hand sanitizer.
You're not about to come home with bragging rights and a nasty
bacterial infection. Fortunately, Wilderness
Safaris has combined the best parts of "roughing it" with
"Our camps and services are safe, hygienic, authentic
and thoughtful of guests needs," said Stein. "To
ensure that our guests are absolutely satisfied and thrilled,
we host them in the best possible and most remote wilderness
and wildlife settings in small, intimate, comfortable camps
and lodges. The globally caring traveller will appreciate
our attempts at keeping our ecological footprint light and
will appreciate being able to share some of the most beautiful
wild places in southern Africa."
What to Know before You Go
Before you buy your ticket and head to the airport, Stein recommends a few tips to prepare for your wilderness vacation.
"The first rule of a safari is that you never know
what you're going to see," Stein said. "So
be prepared for anything and expect the unexpected!"
Aside from visas, tickets, passports, money and a great sense of adventure, Stein recommends the following list.
- Good quality sunglasses - preferably polarized. Tinted fashion glasses are not good in strong light.
- Sun hat
- Good walking shoes (running/tennis shoes are fine)
- Warm Anorak or Parka and scarf / gloves for the cold winter months (May to September)
- Light rain gear for summer months (late November to April)
- Camera equipment and plenty of film
- Malaria tablets (if applicable)
- Insect repellent e.g. Tabard, Rid, Jungle Juice, etc
- Waterproof/dustproof bags/cover for your cameras.
Is a Safari for You?
Basically it depends on your personal preference. "Not everyone
likes being in wide-open spaces, surrounded by nature in
its fullest abundance," said Stein. "Not everyone
likes quad biking through deserts, snorkeling with dolphins,
driving on open Land Rovers through the bushveld or drifting
on a mokoro (dug out canoe) through a channel in the Okavango Delta.
For some people this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for others,
it's something they need to do every year, to reconnect with the
unspoilt, pristine places of the world."
The best part of this is that you'll see things
you've never seen, do things you've never done,
the natural world as you never imagined you could.
Safaris for more information.