Surely all safaris are wild? Well, yes, but to wildly varying degrees
The classic time-line of a safari goer is with a first trip to somewhere like the Maasai Mara or maybe the Kruger Park, namely as these places spring to mind in the first instance for most people when you say ‘safari’ or come up first on a google search. These are solid entry-level destinations as one is likely to see all of the charismatic mammals that one associates with safari, with ease.
After, or sometimes during these first safaris one becomes aware that there is a whole world of safari out there, with experiences that initially one may have not known even existed – canoe safaris, walking safaris, horseback safaris, etc.
When the safari bug is caught (which most people catch!) the intrigue of where the next safari should be kicks in. Research online and with agents and safari specialists abound, you realise you had no idea how wonderful the birds in Africa were, you learn what a wild dog is, and would love to try and see them next time…
Most importantly, you realise there are truly wild safari experiences out there. Yes, the tar roads of the Kruger made getting around easier but you were surprised to find them, and the 60 vehicles at the wildebeest crossing in the Mara was not what you were expecting at all (the TV programs don’t show the litter left-behind and the scars on the landscape of all these vehicles off-roading) and so you find yourself with online research, word-of-mouth, or are advised by your agent to look into other, wilder, wildlife destinations and countries.
Countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia come up. You realise the Victoria Falls, one of the seven wonders of the world is found on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia, how amazing it would be to see that! You hear that the wildlife in the national parks in these countries is just as outstanding as you saw on your first safari, but you learn that there are even some parks where you will hardly see another tourist! Really? You read more, ask more questions, and learn that in Zambia for example you can also do night-drives, so no rushing back to camp or to get to the park gate before the authorities fine you at sunset – wow, a chance to see a whole new spectrum of wildlife?!
Sold! You learn about a park called the Kafue in Zambia – as wild as it gets, a place where you will see more animals than people, you can see a whole suite of animals and birds that you didn’t even knew existed, you can safari by boat, or on foot, the camps are small and intimate (no large corporate lodges!), the friendly faces of the staff are striking, the terrain is stunning and varied – the experience is deep and immersive, you are part of nature, not merely an observer, you now know what the essence of true safari is.