For most travellers, an African safari is all about wildlife viewing. But there is way more to the ‘Dark Continent’ than just catching a glimpse of the ‘Big Five’ for those that are prepared to look according to Michael McCall.
And it’s a claim he is well-positioned to make as Director of Sales, Australia, New Zealand & Asia for luxury travel operator and safari expert, Sanctuary Retreats. Over two decades the company has established a well-deserved reputation for creating inspirational travel experiences in some of the most remote, exclusive and exotic destinations on earth.
“There’s no doubt that Africa’s wildlife is the biggest show in town – and rightly so,” says McCall. “But staying ahead of the game is something we really pride ourselves on, and we are constantly on the look-out for new activities and unique experiences for our guests outside the traditional safari experience.”
McCall has selected his top five favourites non-safari experiences (in no particular order). Read on for your next travel inspiration.
1. Cooking at Sanctuary Swala, Tanzania
According to McCall one of the most popular activities at Sanctuary Swala Camp is its Bush Dinner Experience where guests are treated to a traditional East African meal in the middle of the Tarangire bush. “We find that many of our guests have never done anything quite like this before and really enjoy themselves trying out local delicacies. Our chef shows them how to make dishes from local ingredients like maize, beans and spinach, using a traditional Jika senefu stove. And once the meal is ready, one of our staff will also instruct them how to eat dishes – local style”.
2. Nature walk at Sanctuary Olonana, Kenya
Also high on McCall’s list is a walk with the camp naturalist at the award-winning Sanctuary Olonana Camp and a chance to learn about plants, trees and insects and their use in the daily lives of the Maasai tribe. He’ll also share his intimate knowledge about the surrounding environment and how many of the trees and plants can be used for medicinal purposes. Guests are also encouraged to plant a tree, leaving a positive mark in Africa.
3. Star gazing in Serengeti at Sanctuary Kusini, Tanzania
Most visitors come to Africa looking for the wildlife and the beauty, yet one of the most spectacular sights of all is hardly ever mentioned – the African night sky, offering some of the best star gazing in the world. One of McCall’s favourite past times? Settling into luxurious blankets and cushions around the campfire at Sanctuary Kusini exploring the beauty of an African night sky.
4. Batwa tribe experience at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Uganda
In the Bwindi Impenetrable Forrest, guests have a unique opportunity to meet the local Batwa tribe and learn about their way of life, including a traditional hunting and gathering demonstration, a musical performance and a visit by the local ‘goddess’. Says McCall, “The Batwa tribe are the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa and speak largely the same language as the Hutu and Tutsi groups of Rwanda. Like most of the tribes in Africa, they have moved from place to place and are now found mainly in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern portions of the DRC.”
5. Bathe under the stars at Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, Botswana
Last on McCall’s list, a star-lit bath at Sanctuary Baines Camp is had to go past for the archetypal romantic experience. Says McCall, “This is the ultimate in safari chic. The camp is built on raised platforms high above the Boro River amid a grove of trees bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. The private star bath allows you to enjoy an open-air bubble bath under the stars, as you soak in style. Truly unforgettable.”
For more information about Sanctuary Retreats, please visit: www.sanctuaryretreats.com