After a long period with very limited travel options, many of us are excited at the thought of planning an adventure or taking a unique holiday off the beaten track. Caroline Underhill, Global Marketing Director spoke to Nico Heath, Director and Co-founder at bespoke luxury tour operator Lightfoot Travel, to understand the timeless appeal of Africa.
Nico Heath has an inherent connection with Africa. His mother was born in Durban and, although he spent his childhood in the UK, the family explored Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania on many occasions. Nico then moved to Namibia to join a conservation project, before working as Assistant Manager at Borana Lodge in Kenya, a boutique property overlooking Mount Kenya and the stunning Lewa Plains. Here he developed a profound understanding of the place, people, animals and culture, and the passion to want to share it with others. His ambition was realised in establishing Lightfoot Travel with his co-founders, offering bespoke experiences for clients.
Today, Nico’s unparalleled knowledge of the most outstanding lodges, movement of wildlife, game drives and spots for safari sundowners means he can offer some of the best suggestions if you’re eager to take in Africa’s highlights.
Incredible nature and endless savannah, captivating wildlife, rich culture, luxurious safari camps and that legendary sunset sky: nowhere on Earth compares to Africa. Whether you’re an intrepid traveller looking for adventure, a family of animal-loving explorers, or honeymooners searching for a romantic trip-with-a-twist, Africa will steal your heart.
Best for big cats
A 65,000-hectare South African reserve that shares a border with the renowned Kruger National Park, Sabi Sands is fantastic for leopard and lion sightings, with the elusive cheetah making the odd appearance too. South Africa’s luxury wildlife lodges are amongst the best in the world and offer the chance to observe at close quarters the age-old relationship between predators and their prey.
Best for migration
One of the greatest wonders of the world, Africa’s Great Migration sees close to two million wildebeest and upwards of 700,000 gazelles and zebras cross Kenya’s Masai Mara and Tanzania’s Serengeti in search of food. The best time to view this once-in-a-lifetime event is typically in July and August as the wildebeest cross the Mara River into Kenya in spectacular numbers. If you really want to get up close to the action, you can opt to stay with a mobile migration camp that follows the course of the animals on their journey.
Best for luxury
Luxury with a light footprint and exclusivity defines the high-end Botswana safari experience. Start your journey on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, spending your days walking with San trackers on the hunt for meerkats, zebras and wildebeest. Continue to the Okavango Delta and travel through the waterways in a traditional-style dugout canoe or discover the richness of the area from horseback or a hot-air balloon. Spend your last few days hiking and canoeing on the Selinda Adventure Trail while searching for cheetahs, lions, leopards and other animals. You’ll have the wilderness to yourself here.
“A safari has always been a special sort of holiday. Even the greatest experts don’t know what you will see in the never-ending theatre of wildlife. It’s a chance to see a world unchanged by human affairs, as animals go about their business no matter the headlines.
It’s also such a rewarding trip to take; just by coming along you are a philanthropist. The better safari properties all give back to conservation and communities and play a major role in protecting some of the world’s most pristine and valuable wild spaces.”
~ Peter Allison, Safari Guide and Author
Best for walking
The home of the walking safari, Zambia provides a unique way to experience wildlife. Smell, hear and feel the bush around you as you set out on foot through the Luangwa Valley, which lies at the end of the Great Rift Valley. The Luangwa River runs through the park forming oxbow lagoons, which support huge concentrations of wildlife and is the place to see big game on foot. The safari guides here are some of the best in Southern Africa and are only too happy to share their incredible knowledge. This area is particularly attractive to bird waters, with over 450 recorded species such as cranes, flycatchers, woodpeckers, storks and carmine bee eaters.
Best for remoteness
A trip to Namibia is an otherworldly experience. The expansive Namib Desert – the world’s oldest – runs the length of Namibia’s coastline. As inhospitable as it is beautiful, it’s one of the wildest places on Earth. Nowhere is the hostile nature of the desert more apparent than on the Skeleton Coast. This treacherous stretch is a graveyard for rusty shipwrecks, which lay half buried by the dunes. The jewel in Namibia’s wildlife crown is Etosha National Park, one of the world’s most elite wildlife reserves. Here, abundant wildlife congregates around waterholes while game drives promise thrilling encounters. The human side of Namibia is equally as interesting with the Himba tribe being one of the last true semi-nomadic tribes in Africa.
Lightfoot Travel specialises in tailor-made holidays and, with offices around the world, can help you plan an adventure from any location. Please feel free to contact Matt Vlemmiks at email@example.com quoting The Fry Group.