Africa is a massive continent. Covering an area of more than 30 million square kilometres (nearly 12 million square miles), and 25% larger than the whole of North America, it is the second largest continent on earth. To put it another way, the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii) would fit into the area of Africa more than three times.
With size comes amazing diversity:
Diversity of people: The San hunter-gatherers of southern Africa. The Maasai herders of East Africa. The nomadic Himba of Namibia. The Tswana of Botswana. Nelson Mandela’s Xhosa in South Africa. The artistic Dogon of West Africa. The Hadzabe, Samburu, and Kikuyu of East Africa. The Zulus, Swazis, Tsonga, Ndebele, and Shona of southern Africa. There may be as many as 3,000 tribes in more than 140 different main ethnic groups, each with their own unique culture and traditions.
Diversity of landscapes: The beautiful white, sandy tropical beaches all along the eastern coastline from Cape Town to Mombasa. The mountains of East Africa, including Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, the Virungas, the Simien Mountains, and the beautiful Rwenzoris. The arid desert areas of the Kalahari and the Sahara. The tropical rainforests of central Africa. The great lakes of the Great Rift Valley. The unique fynbos vegetation of the southern tip of Africa and, of course, the great savannah landscapes of East Africa.
Diversity of wildlife: Nowhere else on earth can so many different species of truly extraordinary wildlife—from giraffes and zebras to lions and cheetahs, from bushbabies and baboons to elephants and rhinos, from cute little meerkats and mongooses to the great apes, chimpanzees, and gorillas—be seen with such ease as in Africa.
It is this amazing diversity that we share with you on Zegrahm’s African adventures, a diversity that can only be truly observed by traveling by land, air, water, or on foot.
Zegrahm gives you the opportunity to view Africa’s abundant wildlife in close-up, intimate situations that give you a true insight into wildlife behavior and the amazing natural interactions that take place in the wilderness. There are few places on earth where wild animals living their natural way of life is so easily accessible and observable.
It is possible to watch and photograph predators such as lion, leopard, African wild dog, and cheetah on the hunt; massive herds of elephant and buffalo interacting with one another as they come down to drink; huge herds of tens of thousands of zebra and wildebeest on their migration; spotted hyenas and their cubs at the den; vultures scrambling for the remains of predator kills; great varieties of spectacular birdlife; small nocturnal animals such as porcupines, genets, civets, bushbabies, and wild cats on night drives; and, of course, numerous baby animals from hilarious warthog piglets to beautiful lion and leopard cubs.
Most of our safaris are conducted in open game drive vehicles that allow relatively unrestricted, all-round views allowing for fantastic photography. The vehicles are driven by local guides who have an intimate knowledge of the areas in which they operate and who have a very good idea of the general whereabouts of the wildlife that we are looking for. Although there is usually seating for nine people on the back of each vehicle, Zegrahm restricts the number of passengers to no more than six to give each person space and comfort.
When I help design Zegrahm’s wildlife itineraries, we look first and foremost for the best wilderness areas with the greatest abundance of wildlife, but perhaps more importantly, we also look for small intimate camps which have exclusive traversing rights on vast areas of wilderness. This means that we share the area with only a small handful of other visitors. The advantage of this is that there are always a limited number of vehicles at each sighting, usually no more than three, which means that the impact on the animals being viewed is minimal. It also means that we have all the time in the world to spend with the animals that we find, with little or no pressure to move along. By avoiding crowds, we are able to maintain the integrity of the wilderness experience.
Accommodation on these safaris is usually in comfortable to luxurious low-carbon-footprint tented camps, which allow you to listen to the wilderness as you go to sleep each night. There is nothing more thrilling than to hear a lion roaring or hyenas whooping in the vicinity of camp as you drift off to sleep in the safety of your tented room.
Plus, we don’t believe in one-night-stands! Apart from overnighting at the first and last destinations in our itineraries, we always make sure that you have a minimum of two nights, but usually three, at each of the camps that we visit and make sure that each of the camps is different from the next so that you experience the diversity of wildlife and habitats in each of the countries visited.
Unlike ship trips where one often has a single excursion into an area to see the wildlife before lifting anchor and moving onto the next place, land trips allow you to have a minimum of four excursions into the wilderness at each of the camps that we visit, mostly by vehicle, but on foot and by boat as well—giving visitors a chance to get to know the area and the wildlife intimately.
Africa has an abundance of natural resources, including massive mineral deposits which have the potential to be mined, but its most sustainable resources are its wildlife and natural landscapes, which can provide jobs and foreign income for the rest of time if it is managed correctly. If done in a sustainable way, tourism can generate great benefits to help improve life in rural communities and to preserve wildlife and wilderness. This double benefit is a good reason why it is so important for us to encourage more people to visit African national parks and protected areas. With sensitive tourism development that encompasses a low-impact/high-cost tourism model, which happens in many of the areas that Zegrahm visits, we can ensure a long-term future for the wildlife, the wilderness, and the people living in these areas. On top of it all, visitors to Africa can enjoy amazing, life-changing experiences.
In addition to the pure economic benefits of eco-tourism, many of the safari camps that we work with have developed strong relationships with local communities and some of the tourism income goes into trust funds for schools and clinics in the nearby rural villages.
So, apart from simply having an amazing experience, there are many other fundamental reasons for travelers to keep visiting Africa and experiencing its phenomenal diversity.