January 15

Top 8 Off-the-Beaten-Track Safaris in Africa

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January 15, 2022

If you consider yourself an adventurous spirit, these off-the-beaten-track safaris hand-picked by our Travel Experts are for you. 

Going off the beaten track means opening your eyes to those wild, uncrowded spaces that seem to be reserved just for you. As Travel Experts who have travelled far and wide, we love venturing off the beaten track to see where few others have gone before. 

And because we firmly believe that each African safari should be out-of-this-world extraordinary, we tailor-make each trip to suit your specific needs and wants. 

So, if you want to venture off the beaten track, here are just eight of our top must-do experiences for you…

1. Quad Biking Across Salt Pans in Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

The Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana are the largest salt pans globally. A hauntingly isolated, glittering landscape stretching as far as the eye can see, with a lone Baobab tree sprouting here and there, you'll feel like you're on an entirely different planet! 

Upon closer inspection, you'll see that it's not abandoned at all. With movement here and there showing signs of life, such as small reptiles, meerkat, plover, ostrich, and a zebra, wildebeest or even elephant passing through. 

Quad bikes driving across the Makgadikgadi salt pans

Exhilaration in what seems like the middle of nowhere

Adrenaline and Adventure 

During the dry season of the Makgadikgadi Pans, you can traverse the vast salt pans on a quad bike, feeling the wind in your hair, the rumble of the engine underneath you, and enjoying a unique safari experience. 

Watch the golden sun sink behind the horizon, meerkat scurrying past and treating you to their animated, adorable behaviour, 

Camps like the famous Jack's Camp in Makgadikgadi Pans offer many off-the-beaten-track safari experiences. 

Other Adventures You Can Experience

  • Bushman walks and cultural tours to give you a glimpse into their lives
  • Game drives and other safari experiences 
  • Meerkat Adventure where you get up close and personal with these playful creatures
  • Sleeping out under the stars
  • Horseback riding 
Quad bikes under the stars in Makgadikgadi Pans

Starry, starry night in Makgadikgadi Pans, image credit: Jack's Camp

2. Fly Camping in Nyerere National Park (Selous Game Reserve), Tanzania 

Nyerere National Park, formerly known as Selous Game Reserve, in Tanzania is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so uncrowded and undisturbed that it truly is off the beaten track. Not only does it have plenty of wildlife species to see, but the array of fauna and flora is something to behold. And as the largest national park in Tanzania, you can just imagine how much there is to see and explore!

Lodges such as Sand River Selous offer a unique adventure – fly camping in the middle of nowhere. Because the staff knows the reserve like a leopard knows its spots, they will guide you and keep you safe and comfortable throughout the experience. 

Three people on a walking safari at Sand Rivers Selous in Tanzania

Walking safari experience to your fly camp, image credit: Sand River Selous

Spend the Night Under The Stars

Have you ever heard of ‘Fly Camping’? Usually offered as part of a walking safari, you will follow an armed guide to a private camp set up for you in the middle of nowhere. 

Few people have truly ventured out into the belly of the wild. Fly Camping is a way to do so and the ultimate way to slow down and reconnect with Mother Nature. 

Take on the Tanzanian plains on foot for an immersive experience like nothing else. After you've meandered and explored the area from this perspective, you can end the night at a campout spot set up for you. With only the finest line drawn between you and the wild, the experience is stripped away to only the bare necessities (but more than enough to keep you comfortable!).

Clink a drink as the sun sets on the horizon, feast on good food, enjoy a warm outdoor bucket shower and retire to your comfortable bedroll before drifting off to a deep slumber with only the star-lit heavens and wildlife's night calls as company.

Sunset at a fly camp set up by Sand Rivers Selous in Tanzania

Watch the sun go down as you settle in for a night in the wild, image credit: Sand Rivers Selous

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here 

  • Animal tracking experiences
  • Plenty of safari activities
  • Boat excursions
  • Bird watching 
  • Fishing 

3. Primate Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda

Yes, there are more popular destinations to go gorilla trekking, like Rwanda. However, Uganda is an underrated destination and promises everything from chimpanzees to mountain gorillas to a host of other primates and wildlife. 

Known as 'the Pearl of Africa', Uganda is one of our continent's best-kept secrets. It's a wildlife wonderland with a range of landscapes from rivers, lakes, forested slopes, jungles, and snow-capped mountains.

The remarkable Bwindi Impenetrable Forest landscapes

Space and serenity awaits at Bwindi Impenetrable Forest

Gorillas (and More) Trekking 

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is 33,100ha of steep rainforest slopes and is home to half of the mountain gorilla population still left in existence on our planet. It's a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of this and its range of biodiversity.

There's much to see as well, from other primates such as chimpanzee, olive baboon, the L'Hoest monkey, and more. Birders will be delighted to try and spot as many of the bird species flitting through the treetops as they can during their trip.

However, you can also combine a gorilla trekking adventure with a safari at the Queen Elizabeth National Park, where you can see its renowned tree-climbing lions! 

A baby gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Park

Meet the eyes of some of human's closest relatives

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Game drives
  • Walks 
  • Bird watching 
  • Cultural tours 

4. Cultural Beach Escape in Réunion, Indian Ocean Islands

Located in the western part of the Indian Ocean, around 420 miles or 680km east of Madagascar, Réunion is a remote and off-the-beaten-track island destination.  Although it’s an island paradise, it offers so much more than pristine white beaches and crystal clear oceans. 

Sunset on the island of Reunion

Magical sunsets await at Réunion, image credit: Vicente Villamón

Medley of Culture, Relaxation and Adventure 

Because of the island's history, you can expect a delightful mix of cultural influences, most notably French, Portuguese. African, Asian, and Malay. St. Gilles town is known for its art, culture, nightlife, and shopping experiences. Another must is Saint-Paul Market, where you can shop local fruit, crafts, and other treasures. 

You can stroll without a care on the island as no dangerous or venomous animals live here! However, there is still plenty of animals to see, such as land turtles, geckos, lizards and other reptiles. The birdlife is also out of this world here! 

Reunion island mountains and waterfalls

Chasing waterfalls in Réunion's mountains, ,image credit: Thomas McGowan

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Visit an active volcano (Piton de la Fournaise)
  • Hike the many peaks
  • Go snorkelling 

5. Walking Safari in South Luangwa, Zambia 

If there's a destination for a walking safari, it's Zambia. A walking safari is a very different safari experience offering a unique perspective and helping you notice the smaller details you might've missed otherwise. 

You can also reach places that would be impossible with a car, and without a whirring car engine, you get to soak up the serenity and sounds of the African bush.

Group of people on a walking safari sitting down to watch wildlife

Get up-close and personal to wildlife on a walking safari, image credit: Puku Ridge

Birthplace of the Walking Safari 

When going on a walking safari, you will follow your armed guide in a single file. And you'll do so in complete silence! This truly makes a walking safari the most immersive safari experience out there. 

The beauty of a walking safari is that you never know what you will see next. It forces you to slow down and appreciate everything, from the flash of blue as the Kingfisher swoops low over the river to the dung beetle crossing your footpath.  

In South Luangwa National Park, you can choose between a multi-day mobile walking safari where you sleep out in tented camps set up for you at specific points. Or, if you prefer something short and sweet, you can go on shorter day bush walks. If you want to read more about Zambia and what to expect, read this blog of one of our Travel Experts’ recent trips.

¿Qué tal un safari de aventuras a pie? 2021

Walking safaris are a unique way to see the bush, image credit: Puku Ridge

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Trip to see Victoria Falls 
  • Fishing 
  • Canoeing 
  • Bird watching 

6. Self-drive Road Trip Through Namibia

If you’re longing for the open road and remote landscapes in one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, then a Namibia self-drive adventure is for you. 

Considered not only one of the most scenic road trips but also one of the safest, there's so much to see and do for the whole family. 

The open road in Namibia

The ultimate road trip awaits in Namibia, image credit: Peggy Bzinkiewicz

Space and Solitude

Damaraland is a must on your journey, with desert-adapted wildlife like rhino, lion, and elephant calling this desolate desert home.

Travel a bit further to the ship graveyard and one of the only places where the desert meets the ocean, Skeleton Coast. 

Make a final stop in Etosha National Park, where you can see four of the Big 5, as well as plenty of other wildlife and bird species. 

An elephant herd roams Damaraland

Elephants roam freely in Damaraland

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Quad biking across the dunes in Skeleton Coast
  • Safari activities and bird watching along your journey 
  • Ancient San rock painting tour in Damaraland
  • Visit the many fascinating geological formations like Spitzkoppe, Brandberg and Vingerklip in Damaraland

7. Watersports and Hiking in the Wild Coast in South Africa

The Wild Coast in South Africa's Eastern Cape is often overlooked as a holiday destination. As the name indicates, it's a wild and remote wilderness – picture pristine coastline bordered by towering cliffs and green rolling hills. 

If you want to enjoy adventure and relaxation in one of South Africa's most beautiful and uncrowded beach destinations, then the Wild Coast is a must for you. 

The famous hole in the wall at Coffee Bay in the Wild Coast, Eastern Cape

The famous Hole in the Wall at Coffee Bay

Oh Baby, It's a Wild World

This part of South Africa has incredible weather that's mild year-round. The warm Indian Ocean offers plenty of activities such as surfing and snorkelling. And the rivers snaking through valleys also offer canoeing, SUP, boat trips, and more. 

If you prefer to stay dry, you can go on guided hikes for the best vantage point of this truly wild piece of paradise. 

Cows lying on the beach in the Wild Coast of South Africa's eastern cape

Cows lounging on the beach is a common sight on the Wild Coast

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Cultural tours
  • Horseback riding 
  • Visit the Nelson Mandela Museum
  • Photographic experiences

8. Elephant and Photo Safaris in Mana Pools, Zimbabwe  

"Mana Pools" comes from the Shona language, meaning "four". It earned this name because of the four oxbow pools formed over thousands of years. 

This remote reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has Zimbabwe's highest concentration of elephant, buffalo, crocodile, and hippo. Located in northern Zimbabwe, it has access to the lower Zambezi River, which floods during the rainy season, creating large lakes that lure the animals. 

Aerial view of Mana Pools in Zimbabwe

Aerial view of Mana Pools, image credit: Ruckomechi Camp

Elephants Defying Gravity 

Mana Pools is known for its high density of elephants. However, there's something else about these elephants that make them unique! 

When the bush is sparse during the dry season, they perform a little trick by defying gravity and lifting their heavy bodies onto their back legs to reach the top of the trees for food. It's something extraordinary to see! 

Photography enthusiasts will be shutter-happy here as the light varies drastically throughout the day, creating a memorable backdrop for each photo. In the morning, you can expect glorious yellows and rich reds. As the sun moves into the afternoon, it filters through the tree canopies, creating a kind of fragmented, prismatic effect that looks surreal. As the sun goes down, a blue hue settles over the landscapes. 

Famous Mana Pool elephant stands on his hind legs to reach food in the trees

The gravity-defying elephants in Mana Pools

Other Adventures You Can Experience Here

  • Canoe safari
  • Walking safari 
  • Birdwatching 
  • Tiger fishing 
  • River cruises

Leave Your Off-the-Beaten-Track Safaris in Our Hands

As much as you love heading off to remote destinations, you must book with the very best operator to avoid any unpleasant surprises. 

At Rhino Africa, we know our continent like an elephant knows its trunk. Our Travel Experts have travelled far and wide and have all the insight to tailor-make your ultimate off-the-beaten-track safari in Africa. And as we were voted World's Leading Safari Company 2021, we can confidently say that we're the best!

It's time for Africa! Reach out to us, and let's start planning

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About the author 

Tania de Kock

Tania has always been an avid reader, which ultimately led to her life-long dream of becoming a best-selling author. She loves travelling, super spicy food, South African wine, and cats! When she's not reading with a glass of wine, you can find her at the nearest beach or camping, running or hiking in the mountains.

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