Some of Southern Africa’s most famous destinations, including the Okavango Delta, South Luangwa National Park and the Kruger National Park, have dazzled safari lovers for decades, and have rightly earned their status as safari kingpins. Yet, if you like to challenge the status quo, prefer quieter, hard earned wildlife sightings and dream of experiencing truly untouched landscapes, then a Southern Africa safari off the beaten track is for you.
Ideal for veteran safari goers as well as fledglings with a sense of adventure, there are a range of practically unexplored remote locations in Southern Africa that not only produce exceptional game viewing, but will also take you back in time to experience and appreciate Mother Nature just as the earliest humans did. Whatsmore, many of these regions offer spectacular accommodation options that cater to all types of travelers. Read on to discover more about these captivating untouched destinations…
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The largest privately owned reserve in the country, Tswalu Private Game Reserve is located in a remote region of northern South Africa on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Besides its awe-inspiring scenery, the desert’s completely unique environment means that you’ll find a wide variety of distinct wildlife here, including the critically endangered pangolin and elusive aardvark. Whether on the vehicle, on horseback or on foot, a stay at Tswalu is all about experiencing the vast expanse of the Kalahari on your own terms and at your own pace.
Recommended lodge: Tswalu The Motse. The Motse at Tswalu is a secluded camp that will have you reconnecting with the richness of the earth. Comprising only nine “legae” (the Tswana word for small house), including three family legae, each one is carefully positioned to ensure utmost privacy and seclusion. With all buildings having been constructed with organic materials, Tswalu is an admirable example of eco-tourism.
Four hours drive from Cape Town, Sanbona Wildlife Reserve is a visually striking but rugged land steeped in history. With conservation and environmental sustainability at its core, this ever expanding arid reserve is a pioneer of returning a place to its former glory. Desert-adapted black rhinos have successfully been reintroduced here, and with such little light pollution due to its remoteness, the stargazing is second to none. Sanbona is a mindful safari experience, all about taking in and appreciating the unique and fragile Little Karoo surroundings, and when the sun sets beyond the Warmwaterberg Mountains, you achieve just that.
Recommended lodge: Dwyka Tented Lodge. Nestled in a unique horseshoe bend of a dry Karoo ravine, Dwyka Tented Lodge is one of the finest places where you can rest your head in the heart of pristine wilderness. In such a wide, unexplored area, the lodge’s nine exquisitely decorated luxury tents evoke a sense of pioneering adventure. They all feature an outdoor shower, private minibar and private deck with a heated plunge pool that can be enjoyed in the summer as well as winter.
The Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in southern Zimbabwe is a little-known jewel distinguishable by its imposing crimson cliffs, enormous baobab trees, unusual sandstone formations, mopane forests, and more than 100 rock art sites that date back at least 2000 years. Suitable for serious safari enthusiasts longing for a closer encounter with the bush, expect marvelous and intimate wildlife sightings that are bound to include African painted dogs as well as white and black rhinos.
Recommended lodge: Singita Pamushana Lodge. With only eight luxury suites, each with its own chic plunge pool, Singita Pamushana Lodge provides an extraordinary luxury safari experience and is the perfect base from which to explore this isolated paradise. Design inspired from the intricate stonework and towering dimensions of Great Zimbabwe, the charming lodge’s grand architecture has always been a distinctive feature of the property.
Recently awarded UNESCO Biosphere Network status, Zambia’s Kafue National Park is the country’s largest conservation area yet one of its best-kept secrets. Still largely unspoiled and unexplored, the national park is a perfect safari destination for those looking for quiet big game sightings with few to no other travelers in sight. Particularly special for its lush seasonal floodplains that attract large herds of herbivores (and with them, the apex predators), you can explore this wild oasis by 4×4 vehicle, guided bush walks, canoeing excursions and boat cruises.
Recommended lodge: Busanga Bush Camp. Busanga Bush Camp is located on a flourishing island in the heart of Kafue National Park’s famed Busanga Plains. An intimate refuge with only four tents positioned under shady fig trees, the camp is ideal for small groups or for a very private safari. A raised platform near the camp is a fantastic location to take in the wildlife-rich floodplain right in front of it, while the camp’s main, airy space is a favorite among guests, where stories of the day’s adventures can be exchanged.
Serving as a natural border between Botswana and Namibia, the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve is a private concession that boasts unspoiled grasslands, riverine woodland and flowing lagoons that make for stunning scenery. In contrast to its neighbors in the east, Chobe National Park, and the Okavango Delta in the south, Linyanti is still incredibly unexplored despite its high concentration of game. Due to its distant location, this protected wildlife haven is filled to the brim with wildlife and is utterly captivating regardless of which season you visit.
Recommended lodge: Linyanti Ebony. Built on elevated decking overlooking the Linyanti Marsh, Linyanti Ebony is a small, intimate tented camp. Only four tents makes this opulent lodge ideal for a more secluded and family orientated safari experience. In addition to the camp’s spectacular views of the Linyanti River, its green architecture provides a genuine, eco-conscious base from which to discover this compelling, remote wilderness.
One of the world’s largest salt pans, located in the heart of the barren savannah of north eastern Botswana, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans provide exceptional safari experiences. This region of the Kalahari Desert is so isolated, both light and sound pollution do not exist. Leopards lurk in the riverine forests while brown hyena are a particular viewing highlight. Forming part of the route of Southern Africa’s largest remaining zebra and wildebeest migration, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is a genuinely fascinating location, with uncharted terrain begging to be explored.
Recommended lodge: Jack’s Camp. One of Botswana’s top safari camps, Jack’s Camp boasts spectacular views across the open expanses and scenic palm islands of the boundless Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. The camp is built in a classical safari design and is home to a natural history museum filled with fascinating exhibits, as well as a gathering space with a pool table and bar. Thrilling quad bike rides and entertaining meerkat encounters are a few activities to look forward to during a stay at Jack’s.
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