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A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

A male Impala hosts a bird on his back at Sabi Sands area private reserve near Kruger National Park South Africa. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Today’s guest post by Stuart Cooke of Northern Ireland hooked me with his first great reason to take an African safari: “Africa is Incredible.”

I couldn’t agree more. My first experience visiting the “Third World” was decades ago in Africa. I was traveling there for six weeks on assignment for a news service I worked for, and was supposed to be writing political stories.

I did manage to pound some out, but my heart wasn’t in it.

I quickly discovered that I wanted to see and experience as much of Kenya, Tanzania, and other countries as I could. So I rode trains to Lake Victoria and Zambia, flew to Zanzibar, feasted on Indian food in Nairobi, spent a few idyllic days on the Indian Ocean in Mombasa, visited the incomparable Victoria Falls — and, of course, went on safari to see big game.

Elephants and giraffes, lions and cheetahs, rhinos and Cape buffalo, ostriches and zebras, and much more — all out in the wild, mostly in the open. None of them had a good quote about African politics, but they left an indelible impression on me that has never dimmed over the years.

Safaris range from deluxe to basic, are found throughout East and Southern Africa — Kenya and Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia, Rwanda and South Africa, and other countries — and you can travel by van, ATV, boat, even by foot.

If you haven’t taken your own African safari, Stuart presents five reasons why you should add it to your bucket lists. I know I’m ready for another.

By Stuart Cooke

Africa Is Incredible

There’s really nowhere else on earth quite like Africa.

It’s a huge continent with so many varied cultures, customs, sights and wildlife to be explored. Africa is where the human race began and you really do get a sense of being one with nature when you arrive.

Most of the western world has only seen images of Africa on their TV screens — some good and some not so good — but there isn’t much that can prepare you for the sheer scale and natural beauty of the landscape and the different sights and sounds you will encounter.

Africa will expand your mind and probably change your preconceptions.

The Wildlife, Of Course

This seems like a pretty obvious point, but it shouldn’t be underestimated.

Elephant taking a dust bath in Namibia's Etosha National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Elephant taking a dust bath in Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

The whole point of going on safari is to see the most incredible animals on the planet in their natural environment.

In Western countries we’ve become so used to seeing these animals on our TV screens or in zoos that you may think, what’s the big deal? But viewing lions, elephants, rhinos, cheetahs and other animals in their natural habitat, going about their daily lives, is emotional and inspiring.

Sometimes a visit to your local zoo may you may leave you feeling a little deflated, knowing that the animals are captive and not living in their natural environments. With a safari the feeling is the opposite: You will come away feeling elated that you got to witness all the drama nature has to offer.

You’ll Make Life-Long Memories

Looking back at your holiday pics from previous years, you may find a common theme throughout them. Perhaps you’ll be at a beach or lying by a pool, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s essentially the same experience, only in different places.

With an African safari you will make memories that will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced — and you will most definitely have some unique and exciting pictures to take home with you.

You will also likely meet new people, experience new foods and generally take yourself out of your normal vacation mode.

Your Activities Are Planned For You

If you’re like most people, trying to plan activities for each day on vacation can be a chore.

Often this can lead to unnecessary stress as you end up looking for tours, queuing to get tickets for shows and events, and generally wasting precious holiday time planning and organizing.

Burchell Zebras, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

Burchell Zebras, Etosha National Park, Namibia. Photo by Dennis Cox/WorldViews

But when you’re on safari, all these details are taken care of for you. You know what the purpose of your journey is and what you will be spending most of your time doing.

You don’t need to worry about organizing the transport or logistics of the trip, since the safari guides will take care of all of this for you.

It’s Perfect For Special Occasions

When planning a trip for a special occasion such as an anniversary or honeymoon, it can be easy to go for the usual destinations like Paris, Rome, Venice or London.

But great as these places are, there is a special frisson about going on your first safari together in the heart of Africa.

And there are still plenty of opportunities to relax and treat yourselves while you’re there. Some safari packages include luxury accommodations and opportunities to enjoy spas or great restaurants along the way.

So it doesn’t have to all be about the animals. But chances are, it’s the animals — and Africa itself — you will never forget.

Author Bio: Stuart Cooke is from Uni Baggage, a door to door delivery service that has helped lots of safari goers send their luggage ahead to their destination.

Note to Readers: If you enjoyed the photography in this post, by award-winning travel photographer Dennis Cox, then have a look at his new collection of Safari Africa art posters, available in six varieties of prints as well as greeting cards. Dennis shot them at seven different national parks in Africa, including the Serengeti, Etosha, and Kruger.


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