Where Africa Gets Real

Written by  Lisa Loverro

AFRICA Zim
From vast savannah plains to snow-dusted mountains, Southern Africa is a place to explore many different landscapes. Its people are just as diverse, and new experiences are offered around every corner. The countries of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana are specifically gaining in popularity every year, making a visit to these three countries a perfect combination for a trip of a lifetime.

Zimbabwe
The latest statistics released by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority show that Zimbabwe received 2.1 million tourists in 2016, up from 2.06 million in the previous year, and earned the country $890 million.
One of the places not to miss when traveling to Zimbabwe is Mana Pools National Park. It’s the only park known for wildlife visibility alongside the river with large populations of elephants, hippos and crocs. Here, the Wilderness Safaris Company owns Ruckomechi Camp, (www.wilderness-safaris.com) situated on a large private concession in the heart of the Zambezi Valley’s Mana Pools National Park. The camp caters to westerners, making it ideal for those clients who have never before been on safari.  For more information visit www.zimbabwetourism.net

Zambia
In Zambia, wild parks with open camps built along wildlife trails make you feel like you have discovered the real Africa. Within Zambia, Kafue National Park is roughly the size of Belgium and feels about as far away from modern civilization as you can get. Kafue is also the best place to see leopards in southern Africa. In recent years, the park has seen well-managed growth in the number of safari camps and lodges that operate in and around the park. This new interest has brought with it more visitors and investment to the area, notably in infrastructure, with a number of well-graded roads and airstrips. Within the park, the intimate Busanga Bush Camp (www.wilderness-safaris.com) is hidden on a lush tree-island of sycamore fig trees in the heart of the Busanga Plains. Busanga Bush Camp accommodates just eight guests in four well-appointed tents.
Also in Zambia, Victoria Falls is one of the most popular attractions. Best to visit during the drier months of the year when the water levels are at their lowest, between mid-August and mid-January which allows guests to take the plunge into Devil’s Pool, a natural swimming hole located at the top of the falls. One of our favorite lodges here is the Royal Chundu (www.royalchundu.com), located about 45 minutes from the falls and away from the hectic tourist town of Livingstone. Located along the banks of the Zambezi River, the Royal Chundu lies between Victoria Falls and Chobe National Park, offering the perfect balance of adventure, nature and African ambience. Consisting of two separate types of accommodations, Island Lodge and River Lodge, both lie directly on the Zambezi River. For more information visit www.zambiatourism.com

Botswana
With a full 38 percent of its total land area devoted to national parks, travel through many parts of the country has the feeling of moving through nature’s wonderland. The New York Times places Botswana as one of the most desirable place to visit in 2017.
In the heart of the 440,000-acre Khwai Private Reserve, a new camp just opened in May of 2017. Sable Alley (www.naturalselection.travel) is a new, comfortable bush camp set in the Khwai Private Reserve, bordering both the Moremi Game Reserve and Chobe National Park in northern Botswana. It is an innovative community-based joint venture partnership that adjoins with the world famous Okavango Delta eco-system. The camp’s twelve tents are elevated onto raised decks, with an uninterrupted view of the lagoon, and include en suite bathrooms, private verandas and private, indoor & outdoor showers. For more information visit www.botswanatourism.us

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