So, you’ve decided that watching Our Planet on Netflix – and listening to Sir David Attenborough’s intoxicatingly calm voice walk you through the natural progression of life – just isn’t going to cut it anymore. An elephant stampeding on your screen doesn’t give you the same rush of adrenaline it once did.
Leopards lazily enjoying their latest catch up a tree, would seem so much more realistic if you could see the chase that preceded the feast. Seeing the action unfold through a screen is no longer enough. You need the live-action remake. You’re ready for your first safari.
So keep your hands and feet in the vehicle at all times, and embark on the adventure of a lifetime with us, your designated tour guide…
Bucket list stay
Pamushana Lodge, Zimbabwe
Perched on a Lion King-esque stone, overlooking the shimmering expanse of the Malilangwe Dam is the fully inclusive Singita Pamushana Lodge.
Surrounded by wildlife, greenery and crisp blue skies that are all quintessentially African, this breathtaking African escape is an otherworldly connection to nature.
The lodge is built and designed with the rich tribal history of Zimbabwe in mind. With just 10 tents, this intimate escape ensures each guest receives the utmost care and privacy.
From daily game drives on the trail of the Big Five to fascinating bush walks and then sundowners on a boat, the options of activities are endless. But even the simplest of experiences, like sitting outside on a fresh dewy morning and watching as the African sun rises, feels like a box-ticking bucket list activity.
Singita’s passion for pioneering ecotourism means that as a traveller, you’re also contributing to the local efforts to protect the wildlife and those that look after it.
In Zimbabwe, Singita partners with a non-profit organisation, which focuses on harmonising biodiversity conservation and community development.
Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe Dam, Zimbabwe, from Dhs10,024 per person per night for a suite, prices vary dependent on availability, fully inclusive of food and house drinks. singita.com
Three more to try
&Beyond Tengile River Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa
On the serene banks of the Sand River, guests at this luxury lodge will count leopards, buffalo and elephants among their neighbours. There are just nine secluded suites at Tengile River Lodge, each offering picture-perfect river views, a private lap pool with a sunken lounge for prime wildlife watching, and an inviting tub for recovering from an exhilarating day exploring
Cleverly arranged overlooking a watering hole in the heart of a reserve that needs no introduction this Four Seasons safari lodge is a luxurious immersion into life on the wild side. Watch the wildlife below wake up as you drift across the savannah in a hot air balloon, spot the Big Five going about their business on an afternoon game drive, then sip a sundowner on your terrace while watching an elephant herd rehydrate right in front of you.
For scenes that are literally Out Of Africa (parts of the beloved 1980s movie were actually filmed here) book a stay at Angama. Perched on the edge of The Great Rift Valley, spacious tents are split between two camps: hilltop abodes that stretch across two kopjes on the edge of the escarpment, and classically African canvas tents dotted among the Masai Mara.
We sat down with Mike Mpuche, a field guide at Singita Pamushana in Zimbabwe. Asking him the most important questions.
What’s On: If you could be any animal for a day, what animal would you be?
Mike Mpuche: I would be an elephant. I think they are the king of the jungle, an intelligent herd animal; very good communicators; family-oriented with sophisticated family structures and you can observe them being kind to each other.
WO: How did you become a safari guide?
MM: I was born in Zimbabwe, on the shores of Lake Chivero National Park, where my Father used to work. I spent most of my school holidays with him at one of the first luxury safari lodges in Zimbabwe, so I went on many game drives as a youngster where I fell in love with the bush and the seed was planted. In my family of five boys and one girl, all my brothers are safari guides, and my sister is married to a guide. It runs in the family!
WO: What is the wildest thing you’ve ever seen on a game drive?
MM: A brown snake eagle teaching its juvenile how to hunt and kill a snake. It was fascinating to watch the parent teaching it how to attack the snake. Unfortunately, however, the snake was a black mamba which is one of the brown snake eagle’s only predators. Sadly, the young eagle suffered injuries, as did the snake. But only the snake made it out alive.
Top tips for your first safari
Keep quiet on game drives so that you don’t scare away the animals or distract your fellow riders.
Do not smoke on a game drive
Avoid using apps or sound bites that may sound like other wild animals.
Set realistic expectations. Some days you might see plenty of animals and other days less.
Be prepared to be around creepy crawlies – you are in the wild, after all.