Philip Briggs, one of Africa’s most prolific travellers and writers, picks the best of the best and offers some practical advice to help you plan your perfect southern Africa itinerary. SOUTH AFRICA Of all the countries in the region, South Africa is perhaps one of the least widely thought of as a safari destination, thanks to a host of other premier attractions ranging from cosmopolitan Cape Town and the nearby Winelands to the fine beaches of the Garden Route and lofty peaks of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg. Yet South Africa boasts some quite superb wildlife viewing destinations, offering a far greater ecological diversity than some of its neighbours. Its public reserves are particularly well suited to budget DIY safaris, while an ever-growing collection of luxurious private reserves offers concentrated Big Five viewing at the top end of the price range. A good network of surfaced roads and domestic flights allows for flexible itinerary planning, but the flagship Kruger Park and associ..

Keith Betton, Chairman of the African Bird Club, uses his expertise to help you find the best bird guides available for your next safari. Birds of Western Africa Christopher Helm Publishers, £29.99 With Nik Borrow’s detailed illustrations, Ron Demey’s descriptions of 1282 species and almost 1100 maps, this book is excellent. A paperback version, which features less text but all the illustrations, is available and much more useful in the field. In addition there are specific cut-down versions for Ghana (including Togo), Senegal and The Gambia. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania
 Christopher Helm Publishers, £29.99 Dale Zimmerman, Don Turner and David Pearson joined forces with artists Ian Willis and Douglas Pratt to produce this mighty tome. It describes and illustrates 1114 species including many from Uganda and Ethiopia. The original hardcover weighs in at 2kg, so go for the soft cover version! Field Guide to Birds of East Africa
 Christopher Helm Publishers, £35 Covering Kenya,..

Keith Betton, Chairman of the African Bird Club, uses his expertise to help you find the best bird guides available for your next safari. Birds of Western Africa Christopher Helm Publishers, £29.99 With Nik Borrow’s detailed illustrations, Ron Demey’s descriptions of 1282 species and almost 1100 maps, this book is excellent. A paperback version, which features less text but all the illustrations, is available and much more useful in the field. In addition there are specific cut-down versions for Ghana (including Togo), Senegal and The Gambia. Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania
 Christopher Helm Publishers, £29.99 Dale Zimmerman, Don Turner and David Pearson joined forces with artists Ian Willis and Douglas Pratt to produce this mighty tome. It describes and illustrates 1114 species including many from Uganda and Ethiopia. The original hardcover weighs in at 2kg, so go for the soft cover version! Field Guide to Birds of East Africa
 Christopher Helm Publishers, £35 Covering Kenya,..

Sarah Duff rediscovers her sense of adventure as she travels to Kenya to discover more about life as a child in Mama Kerry School and the difficulties of living in Hilton Dump There’s nothing that comes close to the emotions inspired by travel in Kenya. Strolling through the centre of Nakuru at midday, eyes ahead and worries behind, greeted by smiles and waves. Crouching in the red hot dust of the Mama Kerry School playground, holding a toddler who is taking a much needed nap. Driving through the Rift Valley on the other side of sundown, gazing at the stars, thinking about everything and nothing. I left Dublin airport on 11 March 2016 with a group of fellow students, on a mission to change the world. I didn’t know what to expect. We were all overwhelmed by the adventure in front of us and the world that was opening up around us. After a long and eventful journey, we stepped out of Nairobi airport into the light. The heat lingered upon our skin, and our eyes were met by scenery so ext..

When did you first travel to Africa? In 2004 – when we took the children to South Africa and spent a few days in Cape Town, followed by a game reserve, then three days at Rorke’s Drift. My husband was born in Zambia, previously Northern Rhodesia, and he was very keen that the family should experience it for themselves. Besides, we brought up our children on a diet of David Attenborough documentaries so a visit was inevitable. When did you realise that you wanted to be an artist? I started painting late in life, about 10 years ago as a sort of ‘therapy’ for myself as we had a sick child and I needed to find something creative in which I could lose myself for a few hours each week. I joined an adult education art class and was given lots of encouragement by my teacher. I hadn’t painted at school so didn’t know how I would get on or if there was any talent lying dormant! The feedback from friends and connections in the industry was very positive so I held my first exhibition in 2012 and ..

Niamh Sacramento introduces us to one of Africa’s lesser-known animals as she follows the trail of wild dogs from the Niassa Reserve in Mozambique to a den in Botswana Safari jeeps of excited humans often fixate on the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, lion, rhino and leopard), usually unaware of the term’s hunting origins. No one forgets the first time they see grazing giraffe, wandering warthogs (increased popularity thanks to Disney), graceful gazelle, humphing hippos and the zany-patterned zebras. Initially, I was happy to witness a tick-list of animals, only later becoming interested in less popular wildlife. At the start of this trip, I wasn’t even entirely sure what a ‘wild dog’ was. This changed after a visit to Niassa Reserve in northern Mozambique. With poor road access and limited facilities for tourists interested in photographic safaris (as opposed to hunting), Niassa is a rarely visited wilderness. Exploring in the dense bush, we found the animals skittish around cars and sa..

Maria Airey talked to wildlife artist Julie Oriet to find out about her life, work and inspiration Tell me about your childhood Growing up in rural Montana, I had a fabulous childhood. We were surrounded by open farmland and ranches, which meant lots of open space and beautiful views. My days were filled with playing in fields and the creek that ran through the front yard. I’ve always loved animals; I even tried to make pets of the neighbours’ livestock. As we grew, we fished, camped and backpacked, enjoying the best that Montana had to offer. Trips to Yellowstone National Park had a huge impact on my future artwork and me. When did you first start painting? I always drew a lot when I was young and through the years started painting for small local art festivals. Art became a full time profession for me about 25 years ago. Why has wildlife been the focus of your art? I have always had a huge love of animals. As a child, I played with them instead of dolls. My love of Africa started ..

Phil Clisby continues his African odyssey. It’s June 1993, and he is making his way around Zimbabwe, from the Eastern Highlands to the Victoria Falls We’re standing at the side of the road, thumbs in the air, seeking a ride out of Harare towards the Bvumba Mountains, which lie on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. Lorna and I plan to stay at the late author Doris Lessing’s place, now a guesthouse. We’d heard about it through some fellow travellers, Martin and Julia, who are going to manage the property for a couple of months for Lessing’s nephew, Trevor. Our first ‘lift’ is on foot, when a kind-hearted lady informs us we are standing on the wrong road and leads us to the right one. We start again. Our luck is quickly in, as a truck takes us within 40km of Mutare, the main city in eastern Zim. A farmer then picks us up and drops us at the Bvumba turn-off. Unbelievably, he knows our hometown in the UK well, having been stationed just down the road when he was in the army. It’s a small wo..

Reflections on life on safari, from Safari for Real guide and author Lex Hes One of the first questions many people ask when thinking about visiting southern Africa on safari is: “when is the best time to visit?” The general answer to this question from most travel agents is that the best time to visit is towards the end of the dry season. There are a number of reasons for this: visibility can be better, because most of the deciduous trees haven’t yet grown back their leaves and the grass is still be short and dry; most of the waterholes have dried up and there are greater concentrations of animals around the more permanent ones; there is little or no chance of rain which could interfere with your daily activities, and there are very few insects around. The dry and dusty environment and the large herds of animals combine to make classic African scenes. But a visit to Africa in the wet season opens up a whole new world of beauty and diversity which you don’t get in the dry season. ..

Recently knighted for his work in conservation and responsible for building some of Kenya’s most iconic camps and lodges, Stefano Cheli, CEO of Cheli & Peacock Safaris, is a leading personality in the East African tourism industry. Travel Africa caught up with him to find out about community initiatives, the Land & Life Foundation, and his childhood in Kenya What was it like growing up in Kenya? I feel very fortunate to have enjoyed a childhood in Kenya; for families wanting to introduce their children to Africa, we recommend a trip from around the age of nine. You have built a number of camps and lodges including Elsa’s Kopje, Tortilis Camp, Kitich Camp and, most recently, Loisaba Tented Camp. Which one was your biggest challenge? Elsa’s Kopje because every room is designed differently and the lodge needed to blend into the landscape, incorporating surrounding trees and rocks. It was also difficult transporting the materials, as the men needed to carry them on their shoulders from t..
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