A fast-track around Africa
by Jessica Pook | 06 September 2017
As a new addition to the Selling Travel team I’m determined to absorb everything there is to know about the travel industry, hopefully gaining a broader knowledge of culture, customs and countries that I can pronounce!
I started my quest this week with the Kamageo Safari Media Show in Kensington – not quite Africa, but a lot closer then I’d ever been before. I was there to meet the company's team of enthusiastic experts, all bursting with stories of gorilla encounters and stunning lodges, tempting me ever closer to that one-way ticket to the Kalahari.
This Africa specialist marketing company represents Zambia, Malawi, Uganda, Swaziland and Botswana, as well as several lodges and camps, and the safari media show was my chance to be temporarily transported from soggy London to these exotic destinations.
Here's a run down of what I learnt:
It was here, in 1950s South Luangwa, that the concept of a ‘walking safari’ was created, which is why Zambia's guides are able to offer outstanding knowledge of their surroundings. Described as a way to ‘feel nature, not see it’, visitors are able to get up close and personal with wildlife, encountering plants, footprints and anything else that crawls, slithers or stomps past.
If it’s remote Africa you’re after, then a camp-to-camp safari offers an authentic, but luxurious touch to a trip. The nearest road to one of these camps is 10km away – and only accessible by foot. So as you’re sitting in the middle of the bush, clinking your third G&T with a fully-functioning toilet close by, do spare a thought for the person whose job it was to get it there!
As well as its successful conservation efforts, Lower Zambezi National Park has become the world’s first national park to achieve a carbon neutral status. BioCarbon’s project REDD+ is a project that helps farming communities in Zambia improve their livelihood, protect disappearing forests and create a sanctuary for globally threatened wildlife.
Known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’ the Malawians smiles are infectious – even through a slideshow! Lake Malawi is described as the world’s first freshwater national park and is home to up to 1,000 species of tropical fish – more species than all the lakes and rivers of Europe and North America put together!
You can’t talk about Uganda without talking about man’s closest relative and now you can get closer to the country's primates then ever, with the option to send an entire day with a chimpanzee family, accompanying Kibale Forest’s researchers as they undergo the process of habituation. Conservation of mountain gorillas in Uganda is also at an all time high, so it’s a great time for primate spotting.
Often overlooked on a visit to South Africa, next year this small country will host one hell of a celebration as King Mswati III marks his 50th birthday at the same time that Swaziland marks its 50th year of independence. The country has also been pioneering rhino conservation since the beasts were re-introduced in 1986, and as a result they have lost just three rhino in the last 24 years compared to three-four a day in other countries.
As of March 2018 a new camp, Dinaka will be introduced in the heart of the Kalahari. Part of the Ker & Downey Botswana collection, the camp is an exclusive private reserve hugging the northern edge of the central Kalahari Game Reserve, giving refuge to the Kalahari lion, springbok, giraffe, oryx and brown hyena. It is a safe haven for white and black rhino, of which there are currently five in the reserve, and guests contribute to the conservation of these animals through the cost of staying in the lodge.
Thorntree River Lodge is Livingstone’s latest luxury lodge on the banks of the Zambezi, just upstream of the falls in Zambia. This newly-opened lodge has 10 luxury suites each with a private plunge pool. From the lodge Victoria Falls is easily accessible as well as rhino trekking on foot and game drives.
Each month, Kamageo takes its Safari Show on the road to talk to the trade about its portfolio of African destinations and product. These half-day events - usually offered as both morning and afternoon options for maximum flexibility - are held in regional locations, with presentations and pre-arranged appointments. Click below to find one near you.
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