Photo Courtesy of Orient-ExpressWith one show airing for fifteen years, and another in its sixth season, American Zookeeper Jack Hanna is well loved by animals and people alike. His series Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild recently made an appearance in Africa, and Orient-Express Safaris wants others less fortunate than the world-traveler to relive the episodes through an 11-day journey into the “Heart of Africa with Jack Hanna.” The excursion allows wildlife-enthusiasts and thrill-seekers the opportunity to venture into the African wilderness without sacrificing the everyday luxuries of Western civilization.
Guests arrive first in Johannesburg, and are greeted with private transportation to their hotel, The Westcliff, which overlooks the Zoological Gardens. They are provided with a welcome dinner, where they will meet their future Safari guide. The next morning, a full English breakfast is provided in anticipation for the exciting journey ahead.
The safari itself commences in Botswana at Eagle Island Camp, located on the island of Xaxaba, which sustains over 1,100 Okavango Delta species of animal, fish and plants. This three-day part of the trip also sends guests on game drives to view Africa’s Big Five (the African elephant, rhino, leopard, lion, and the Cape buffalo) from a safe distance. After watching all of those animals fight for survival, you may need a drink, and for that there is the Fish Eagle Bar with the Xaxaba Lagoon sprawled out before you. Your stay in Eagle Island also gives the opportunity to take an open-aired helicopter flight for spotting and photographing Africa’s diverse wildlife. If you take the trip from April through October, you can also view game from a mokoro (canoe) to get a whole new perspective on the land and its inhabitants.
The adventure continues at Khwai River Lodge, which borders a Leadwood and fig tree forest on the Moremi Wildlife Reserve. The three days spent at this lodge will again feature a number of game drives, including night-time excursions, with either spotlights or night vision goggles to assist you in making nocturnal animal sightings. If searching the dark African night for carnivorous Big Cats has you a bit tense, the lodge contains a spa, and is happy to bring their massage or body wrap services straight to your tent.
Closing your expedition is a three-day stay in the legendary Mount Nelson Hotel, located in the heart of Cape Town. The diversity of the city's available activities border on overwhelming; who would have thought that the same region that allows you to view wild lions would also provide you the opportunity to swim with penguins? That small joy, among many others awaits visitors to South Africa’s most populous city. Package prices start at $9,450 per person, including the continental airfare and accommodations.