Answering the Call of the Wild: The Top African Safaris
If sitting in a Jeep or a minivan doesn't exactly satisfy your adventure craving, forget about a conventional safari and consider a classic bush safari that puts you in the driver's seaton an elephant or a camel. Imagine viewing the wilds of Botswana atop a regal pachyderm or traveling through the Kenyan countryside by camel convey.
There are many advantages to a nonmotorized safari. First, traveling with animals allows you to venture into untracked bush. It also allows you to get closer to animals in the wild, including elusive species.
Second, many seasoned travelers feel that the more leisurely the pace of an animal safari is better suited to the African milieu than a motorized trip.
Third, the higher perch afforded by your camel or elephant mount frankly offers a better vantage point for viewing animals in the field.
In the southwestern part of Botswana's Okavango Delta, Elephant Back Safaris conduct a unique program from its Abu Camp on the banks of the Nxabega River.
Thirteen well-trained elephants mounted with comfortable riding platforms each carry two guests on day-long excursions into the wild. Every evening you return to the comfort of a deluxe tent camp. The six-day elephant safari costs $6,500 per person.
The program is directed by noted wildlife conservationist Randall Moore, a leading force in the preservation of African elephant habitats. Animal welfare is also a high priority: All of the elephants used in the EBS program were orphans. They were shipped to the United States for training, then returned to Africa.
In recognition of its conservation efforts, EBS was awarded a 15-year lease on 500,000 acres of some of Africa's most pristine land.
EBS also offers daytime and nighttime wildlife expeditions with transport provided by four-wheel-drive vehicles. The company also runs a trip through the Okavango Delta in dugout canoes.
For more info about this and other EBS programs, contact Esplanade Tours (581 Boyston St., Boston, MA 02116. 800.426.5492). In Africa, contact Elephant Back Safaris (Private Bag 333, Maun, Botswana. 01126.766.1260).
A less-costlybut equally exoticalternative safari is a camel expedition. SafariCentre International (800.223.6046. www.safaricentre.com) runs a six-day Samburu Camel Safari in Kenya, accompanied by Masai handlers.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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