Wildlife and safari holidays to Africa

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Mountain Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda by Tristan Smith

“I can honestly say that travelling to Rwanda and trekking to see gorillas was one of the most incredible experiences I will ever have. I had talked to numerous people that have visited Rwanda, and I could see the excitement in their eyes as they re-lived the moment they came face to face with these amazing primates so I could not wait to experience it for myself.

The trekking was not at all easy. The terrain is dense forest, with guides and trackers making paths with machetes as you walk. Just before we left, there was a thunderstorm and this made the ground very wet and muddy. There is also no guarantee how long it will take you to find the gorillas. It took a little over an hour before we saw our first glimpse of black fur. We were told we must not make any sudden movements, or get too close. If a gorilla was to charge at us, we had to stay still and look down. I have to say the thought of a 220 KG gorilla charging towards me did not exactly thrill me and I am not sure if I could have stayed still!

However we had a glorious hour observing these beautiful creatures. The children played in the trees whilst their mothers watched to make sure they were not getting into too much trouble. The men in the group sat and ate. It was brilliant to get a true insight into family life. As we were about to leave we turned and saw a gigantic silverback, sitting, eating and observing us. We were less than 10 m away. This experience really cannot be beaten.”

Balloon ride over the Masai Mara in Kenya by Julie Bye

“On a recent trip to Kenya I was given the opportunity to do a balloon ride over the Masai Mara. Often described as one of THE experiences you have to do in your lifetime, I felt extremely lucky and excited about the trip. I was picked up from my hotel at 5am and driven to the launch site. I met our pilot, Dan, and the other 11 people who would be sharing a balloon with me. We had a safety briefing and clambered in to the balloon basket.

I could feel the heat of the burner as we slowly began to rise. The sun was beginning to peep over the horizon and it was a perfect morning for a balloon ride. It was getting light and I gazed across the huge expanse of the plains below.

Initially I did not see any animals. Our pilot pointed out a couple of ostrich and we were lucky to see some lions, although they were tiny dots on the landscape. We travelled further and I could see a few zebra running away from the balloon. We would rise and fall as we continued across the vast landscape.

Then Dan pointed out a huge herd of wildebeest in the distance. Excitedly, we inquired if we would get closer and Dan just smiled and said that was where the wind was taking us. As we approached, I could not believe what I was seeing – the famous migration from the air! I saw hundreds of wildebeest who had arrived from Tanzania, seeking water at the Mara River. Although I did not see them crossing the river, like you would on documentaries, I was astounded by the number grazing below us. It was coming to the end of our hour and we began to descend slowly. Animals would scatter as we got closer. We were going to land surrounded by wildebeest, zebra and topis!

I took over 200 pictures and couldn’t believe what we had seen. Our champagne breakfast rounded off the perfect end to our adventure – a memory I would have for the rest of my life.”

Camping safari in Tanzania by Roy Myhill

“This trip was great for me because I am not a typical adventure travel customer. I just wanted to feel that I had really discovered a place and one of our Adventurer tours seemed the best way to do this – though I did not want it to be too strenuous! I was petrified about camping in Africa actually, having had some disastrous camping holidays in the UK in the past. The sound of animals roaming around outside after the light went, got the adrenaline flowing on my first night in the Serengeti but our guide was full of information and very reassuring so I slept soundly the second night and loved the whole experience! One felt so much closer to nature being in a tent and I’d definitely do it again (but not in the UK I’m afraid!).

The game drive in the Ngorongoro Crater was my absolute highlight – that place is surreal and words cannot describe how beautiful it is. We did see a kill and this was another side of nature which was incredible to witness. Tanzania is an amazing country for wildlife and scenery and the people are very friendly too. It felt good to support the local communities and bring much needed revenue to local suppliers as well. I’m proud to say that the Imaginative Traveller product offers great value and flexibility – with a high degree of expertise.”

Okavango Delta safari in Botswana – Julie Bye

“In the Okavango Delta it was viewing the wildlife from water level in our mokoros that really stands out for me. Mokoros are narrow dug-out canoes, mostly made of wood, that carry two people plus a ‘poler’ – and do occasionally leak! You have to lie down or prop yourself up with bags and it is a fabulously leisurely way to watch the animals along the riverbanks – or occasionally rising up from the water itself just in front of you! The guides were highly skilled both on the game walks and as polers so we definitely felt in safe hands even though they had no weapons to protect us from the animals!

One other funny element I remember from Botswana was the excellent traffic control – donkeys that see you coming and purposefully stand in the middle of the road!”

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