African safari adventure holidays: 10 countries for non-traditional safaris

Jan 10, 2014 BY Paul McWilliams

Everyone knows that Africa is home to the world’s best safari adventures, with countries like South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya having some huge dedicated parks, tourism infrastructure and incredible wildlife. However, you might not know about some of the more unconventional, action packed African safari adventure holidays that this mighty continent can offer.

African safari adventure holidays flickr image by geographyalltheway.com

Often involving self drive, walking, kayaking, camel trekking and even cycling, you’ll find some equally astonishing wildlife and scenery on non-traditional safaris in Africa. So, if you love the thought of true African safari adventure holidays in places you might not have considered before, keep reading for a run down of the top ten.

Egypt

There are very few places on the earth that are covered by mountainous desert but that’s what you’ll find on the Sinai peninsula in Egypt. Trek into the heart of this hostile environment on the back of a camel, on foot or in a rugged and battered jeep. This is a true Bedouin safari, where you can even spend time hanging out with the tribes themselves.

You’ll need to be accompanied by specialist local survival experts to make it on this safari. It’s tough but rewarding and the silence of the desert canyons is simply stunning. Its biblical connections make this an even more mysterious and incredible place.

Morocco

This part of northern Africa might be very different to the sub-Saharan plains traditionally associated with safaris but that doesn’t make them any less spectacular.

Explore exotic towns and cities, like Marrakech and then head out into the vast sandscape of the desert in a camel train and drink in the vast horizons of the towering dunes. This might not be anywhere near lion country but the fact that any animals can live here at all makes it remarkable to see. You’ll encounter local people who live and thrive in these punishing conditions too, which is equally astonishing.

African safari adventure holidays flickr image by Matthew H.

Mauritania

The Sahel desert might be dwarfed by its neighbor, the Sahara, but it is still colossal. Mauritania is one of the lesser known countries in Africa, which makes it a perfect destination for any one looking for African safari adventure holidays off the beaten track.

The huge landscapes are only matched by the temperatures, which regularly exceed 40 degrees. This is a safari that is not for the fainthearted but incredibly fascinating for those that brave it. You might not find any big game here but at the water holes that act as sanctuaries in this brutal landscape you’ll find some of the world’s best water fowl.

Senegal

This west African country straddles the border between the arid northern part of the continent and the green equatorial part. Which makes it an incredible safari destination. The reserve of Bandia is home to some of Africa’s largest mammals and great birdlife.

You’ll experience a magical landscape of huge baobabs, green canopies and open plains. Rent a 4×4 and head south along the coast towards the lush green Atlantic Coast.

African safari adventure holidays flickr image

The Gambia

This long, thin country follows the river, penetrating into the heart of Senegal, so it’s a good idea to combine the two on your African safari adventure holidays. The bird safari camp at MacCarthy Island, Janjanbureh, is a great place for bird lovers to spot some truly exotic specimens.

Guinea-Bissau

This relatively small African country is located on the very western edge of the continent. It’s currently one of Africa’s least visitied countries, with a tiny tourism industry that is very much in its infancy. However, that does mean anyone willing to risk it is almost guaranteed to have an extraordinary time on safari.

It is home to Africa’s only archipelago, the Bijagos, which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and at the Orango Isands National Park around 80 kilometres off the coast you’ll be able to spot rare saltwater hippos and crocodiles. However, you’ll need a guide as getting around by yourself is very tough.

Liberia

Moving down deep into the equatorial region of Africa the landscape changes completely, as do the safari experiences. Rainforest stretch out as far as the eye can see. Hike through thick, teeming jungle to majestic waterfalls and the stunning Nimba Mountains.

With the help of a local guide you’ll discover villages where you’ll be warmly welcomed and jungle trails that echo with the sounds of wildlife. Elephants, Diana monkeys and many others call this verdant country home.

African safari adventure holidays Wikimedia image by USAID

Ghana

About the same size as the UK, Ghana is often considered one of the best countries for an introduction to Africa. It may not have the traditional safari infrastructure of Kenya or wildlife of South Africa but it’s a manageable, relatively safe and endlessly interesting country to explore.

Spectacular birdlife, wonderful snorkeling opportunities and the chance to spot humpback whales make this is an African safari with a difference. But then that’s what you’re here for right?

Equatorial Guinea

If you’re looking for the perfect green safari then this is the place for you. There are a number of luxury resorts and lodges to stay in but you might prefer to have a more rough and ready self drive adventure through the country. Hire your own personal guide and head off into the rainforest to discover a magical world rarely seen by outside eyes. You’ll need a tough vehicle but even then a lot of the ground can only be covered on foot.

The ape and monkey life is very rich here, with gorillas found in good numbers. You can even see  hippo lounging in the rich rivers of the forest.

African safari adventure holidays flickr image by Phillipe Teuwen

Somalia

It’s best to stay away from Mogadishu but Somalia does provide the opportunity for special African safari adventure holidays. However, you do need to be very careful, with the waters along the coast being full of pirates.

Getting there is tricky, with many airlines not flying there directly, and be prepared to pay the odd bribe getting around. Somalia safaris are more about surviving the human dangers and using your head than spotting many animals. This is a dangerous country which to foreign office does not include on its safe list so it is a safari adventure taken to the extreme.

Africa is such a huge and varied continent that virtually every country offers something completely different. The word safari drives from a Swahili word meaning ‘long journey’, and by traveling across any of the above countries and regions that is exactly what you will find.

The true essence of safari is in the journey itself. Of course, experiencing the majesty of nature up close is an incredible feeling but overcoming obstacles and doing what you need to do to get there is as much a part of the experience.

Somalia Safari Wikimedia Commons image by Gary

So, if you’re really looking for African safari adventure holidays with a difference, then why not try out one of the above? There are plenty of companies offering tours of all or at least part of the above, or you might simply have to find your own way – but either way it is sure to be an adventure.

 
Accra, Africa, Asia, Bandia, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, India, Liberia (Country), Marrakech, Mauritania, Morocco, Sahara Desert, Senegal, Somalia, Sub Saharan Africa
Kayaking, Safari, Walking
Camel Trekking, Desert, Diana Monkey, Elephant, Gorillas, UNESCO (World Heritage Site)
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