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Safari With a Twist

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Having recently returned from hiking in Patagonia, active adventures are really speaking to me at the moment. With that in mind, here are some unique safaris in Africa that give you a chance to get out of the vehicle and experience the area with amazing guides who make every minute an adventure!

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Gordon.

Kicheche Mara Walking Wilderness

Nothing beats the Mara for masses of wildlife and exploring this beautiful area on foot is a rare and wonderful privilege. My idea of perfection is a six day safari led by one of Kicheche's Silver KPSGA guides that begins at Kicheche Valley, a classic, intimate bush camp located in a beautiful, secluded valley on the Eastern side of the 120,000 acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy. After two days enjoying game drives in this game rich conservancy adjoining the Masai Mara, begin trekking across several beautiful valleys for a fly camping experience on the Western side of the Conservancy. Kicheche's fly camping experience is all about the fun of camping out under the stars, eating food prepared over a campfire and the priceless luxury of complete privacy. The following morning, continue your trek to Olare Motorogi Conservancy to spend two more nights at Kicheche Bush Camp. The camp is in a prime area to see the wildebeest migration and offers a real feeling of being in the wilderness, yet is comfortable. I love the professional and genuinely friendly service at the camp.

Photo courtesy Kicheche Bush Camp.

Sand River Selous

The Selous Game Reserve in Southern Tanzania has been referred to as "one of the last great wildernesses in Africa." Remote and uncrowded, it affords a very special, exclusive experience. It is a perfect place for families and experienced safari hands, offering a wide range of activities. Walking, birding, boating, fishing, picnics, fly camping and a visit to the hot springs are all part of the experience. The game viewing is not as prolific as the Serengeti, however expert guides ensure you have the best possible wildlife experience, and the Selous is so remote that when you do see elephants, lions and buffaloes, they are yours alone. In addition, unlike the majority of other parks and game reserves, this is a popular walking safari destination, which guarantees an altogether different wildlife experience.

The camp's five river-facing rooms are constructed out of stone, wood and thatch and the three hillside suites, set in the forest, offer large sitting rooms, plunge pools and views of the river. Bush breakfasts and al fresco dining are a good time to appreciate the simplicity of the natural surroundings, while being cared for by attentive staff.

Photo courtesy Sand River Selous.

Maasai Trails Ol Lasur River Trail

The Maasai are among the most intriguing, glamorous peoples one encounters in Africa. A hike with a team of Maasai moran (warriors) is something that few do... and those who have done it truly loved it. If you go, you will be pretty much living off the land, far from any roads or western civilization. In addition to a fabulous hiking experience in a gorgeous area, you will get to know and appreciate the wicked sense of humor and resilience of your Maasai guides and camp crew in a way that few are fortunate to experience.

One suggested hike starts at Jan's Camp in the Loita Hills, near the Masai Mara. The camp is set on a ridge facing the East and looking over the rolling hills of the Loita Naimina Enkyio forest, "the forest of the lost child." On your second day, your packed bag and supplies will be loaded onto donkeys and you will begin your walk over the Olongarua swamp, Empurputia village and parts of the forest. Stop for a picnic lunch before arriving at your setup camp. Enjoy drinks and dinner prepared for you over a campfire under the stars. The next morning, you will begin your descent to Ol Lasur waterfall. Cool off in the spray or splash around below the waterfall before climbing back up to have lunch overlooking the Great Rift Valley toward Lake Magadi. Finally, arrive back at camp for drinks and dinner by the river. Take a different trail through the Loita forest back to Jan's camp where you will overnight before departing the next day. It's a completely different way to experience the bush and makes a great addition to a more traditional safari.

Photo courtesy Maasai Trails.