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Bucket List Africa – 15 Incredible Experiences

Table Mountain, Victoria Falls, gorilla trekking and the Serengeti Migration – if Africa doesn’t hold the record for most bucket-list destinations in one continent then it surely lays claim to the most spectacular and unique ones. We’ve compiled our Africa bucket list – in no particular order – below; check your list with ours and see if you agree!

1. DUGOUT ON THE DELTA

Sure, you can go on game drives and helicopter flights over Botswana’s Okavango Delta but not much beats the elemental experience of sitting just a few inches above the water on a traditional dugout canoe – a mokoro – complete with your own local guide. Propelled by ‘pole power’, you’ll explore shallow lagoons and twisting rivers illuminated by the flash of kingfishers and iridescent dragonflies; keep an eye out for the bigger animals too – aquatic antelope, giant monitor lizards and who knows, maybe an elephant or two.

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Elephant in Front of Waterhole in Madikwe

Exploring Botswana’s Okavango Delta by traditional mokoro is the best way to see its fascinating details.

2. TO THE END OF THE EARTH

A landscape littered with ghostly shipwrecks and animal bones, the Skeleton Coast in northern Namibia is a stark reminder that there are still places of deep wilderness left in the world. Hundreds of miles from anywhere, it’s a land of enormous skies and silence – apart from the booming surf and occasional contralto call of a jackal – as well as a place of reflection and contemplation. Fly in and explore it from one of the handful of lodges in the area – there’s surprisingly good wildlife to see and super-endemic birds to tick off.

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Bucket List Destination Skelelton Coast

Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is well-named – beached whales & wrecked ships in a ghostly quiet landscape.

3. DIVE WITH THE DARE-DEVILS

It’s not for everybody but if you are looking for the most outrageous swim on the planet then there’s no beating Devil’s Pool. Perched at the edge of Victoria Falls and with the Zambezi River roaring over on all sides, this natural bowl of calm water is accessible on a Livingstone Island tour (safe ground for those keeping their feet dry) and, once you have braved the jump in, lets you look over the rim of the falls and down into the abyss. It’s a fully guided tour with professionals all the way and can only be experienced from Zambia (but also booked a Zambia day trip from Zimbabwe).

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Devil's Pool at the Victoria Falls

Enjoying the most exclusive view at Victoria Falls – but Devil’s Pool is easier than it looks!

4. ROLLING THUNDER: THE MIGRATION

You know what a sound a galloping horse makes – imagine a million and a half of them. The Great Wildebeest Migration is one of nature’s true wonders – a reminder that in some places there are more wild animals than people and an opportunity to see some of the most dramatic wildlife interactions in Africa. The migration moves between Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara and involves several distinct chapters – the birthing season and the river-crossing season for example – but game viewing during the migration is always excellent and a great chance to see Africa’s biggest predators: big cats, hyenas, wild dogs and crocodiles.

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Great Migration in East Africa

With giant crocodiles lying in wait, the river-crossing season is the most dramatic chapter of the Great Migration.

5. DOWN, DOWN INTO THE CRATER

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic crater but there’s good news: the volcano is long extinct, and the crater floor is home to perhaps the most densely packed concentration of large African animals on the continent. There’s accommodation nearby as well as on the rim of the crater itself (you can imagine the views) and it’s worth spending a whole day in the crater on a drive with a local guide. Ngorongoro is home to the Big 5 as well as wetlands with hippos and flamingos and it’s easy to combine with the Serengeti too.

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Bucket List in East Africa

Choose the right accommodation & this could be the view from your bedroom at Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

6. RUMBLE IN THE JUNGLE

Weighing in at 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds), there’s no disputing the heavyweight title in the rainforests of Rwanda and Uganda. This is the last stronghold of Africa’s mountain gorillas and your chance to hike into the jungle, accompanied by guides and rangers, to find them. It’s a tough walk in tough conditions but the success rate of finding gorillas is over 90% and there are dry seasons to make it easier. Ultimately, your reward is not just a unique audience with a magnificent, hauntingly familiar animal but knowledge that your conservation-based visit ensures that they survive for future generations.

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Bucket List Gorilla Trekking in East Africa

Many travellers rate their time with a gorilla family as one of the most significant in their lives – it’s truly a unique opportunity.

7. GO GET THE BIG 5

Lion, elephant, rhino, leopard and buffalo – the most dangerous animals in the African bush and everyone wants to see them! Many reserves have the Big 5 but seeing them all on a safari is difficult unless you go to South Africa’s Sabi Sands Private Reserve. Adjoining the mighty Kruger Park, Sabi Sands – plus nearby Timbavati and Thornybush Private Reserves – are so packed with these classic heavyweights that you are just about guaranteed the Big 5. And since they are private reserves, your guide can drive off-road for great sightings and take you on spot-lit night drives and bush walks too.

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Sabi Sand Big 5 - Lion

Open-sided vehicles means everyone gets a great view of the Big 5 when on safari at the Kruger’s private reserves.

8. SAIL OVER A RED OCEAN

A hot air balloon flight above Namibia’s Sossusvlei transports you to a different world. Below you is a great rolling ocean of red sand with dunes rearing up like titanic waves a thousand feet (300 metres) into the air. It’s a pre-dawn start but worth the early alarm call: you’ll be sailing through cool air as the sun comes up and paints the Namib Desert purple, peach and orange. Keep your eyes on the ground too – you may spot the elegant lines of a rapier-horned gemsbok antelope or the desert’s mysterious ‘fairy rings’. A champagne breakfast is served after landing.

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Ballooning over Sossusvlei

You only appreciate the scale & beauty of the Namib Desert from 1000 feet up.

9. YOU, THE WILDERNESS & CHAMPAGNE

A scenic helicopter flight over Botswana’s Okavango Delta is a popular activity but why not go one step further? Travellers to the Okavango can now take helicopter tours to some of Botswana’s most fascinating and culturally important destinations, places that are usually too inaccessible to experience. With your local guide you can visit a remote village as a guest or marvel at the rock art of the Tsodilo Hills, featuring some of the finest indigenous paintings in the region. And if you feel like celebrating something, your pilot will land somewhere suitably picturesque and produce chilled French champagne – cheers!

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Botswana Helicopter Experience in the Delta

Celebrate in style in Botswana: a helicopter adventure with a gourmet picnic & a drop of cold bubbly.

10. PADDLE THE ZAMBEZI

Africa’s fourth largest river is the best one for wildlife. Slung low in a two-person canoe and led by an armed professional guide, you drift down the Zambezi River while watching Africa’s big game at – and in – the water in front of you. Elephants, hippos, crocodiles – it’s a thrilling, elemental experience and you can choose between day trips and multi-night adventures, weaving game drives and bush walks into the itinerary too. Do it from Zambia’s Lower Zambezi National Park or Zimbabwe’s legendary Mana Pools.

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Chongwe Safari in Lower Zambezi

Game viewing by canoe on the Zambezi takes you deep into the experience – with a professional guide by your side.

11. COLD WATER, WHITE SHARK

The coastal waters near Cape Town in South Africa are some of the most biologically diverse in the world. Cold, rich and usually crystal-clear, they attract migrating whales and dolphins but their most infamous residents are sharks, including the Great White but also bronze whalers and ragged-tooth sharks too. You can take the plunge in a submerged cage for a face-off with them but you can also keep the sun on your back and watch the sharks from the comfort of the boat.

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Safari Online's Bucketlist in Africa

There are several shark species you could see off Cape Town’s coast but nothing beats a Great White sighting.

12. LEOPARDS & LUANGWA

Truly magnificent in appearance, the leopard is Africa’s most sought after sighting but perhaps the most difficult: these are shy, solitary, elusive creatures and masters of camouflage. But night time is their time and a spot-lit night drive in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is your chance to see the master of the night on the move, hunting and patrolling. It’s also a time for animals that you may not have seen before: nocturnal porcupines, bush-babies, wild cats and eagle-owls. Returning to your lodge you’ll find a cheery campfire and a cold drink to toast the sightings.

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Leopards in South Luangwa

A spotlight illuminates a Luangwa leopard as it prepares to go hunting – there aren’t many places you can go on night drives but this is one.

13. ELEPHANTS GALORE!

You can see elephants in lots of different places across Africa but you’ll never see them like you will at Botswana’s Chobe River in September and October. It’s the end of the dry season and it’s hot but the reward is a unique wildlife spectacle: thousands upon thousands of elephants at the river’s edge, joined by massed herds of buffalo, zebra and antelope. It’s a good time for predators too, and the birdwatching ranks as some of the best in Africa. Go on a morning game drive to catch big cats on the prowl and book a boat cruise for the afternoon for great elephant sightings.

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Experience Elephants in Chobe

Botswana’s Chobe River attracts Africa’s biggest concentration of elephants in the late dry season plus thousands of other thirsty animals.

14. CATCH A TIGER

We confess to a little bias here: Walter, co-owner of Safari Online, is a keen angler and the tiger fish is Africa’s ultimate sporting fish – it fights like its sharp-toothed namesake – and the best place to catch one is the Zambezi River. There’s year-round tiger fishing on Zimbabwe’s Upper Zambezi – you can also catch good-eating bream and tilapia – and wildlife to see as you drift from spot to spot. And if you just want the experience, then there’s catch-and-release fishing too.

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Experience Tiger Fishing in Zambia

This Zambezi tiger fish put up a good fight & its reward was to be released back into the river, ensuring a sustainable population.

15. ONE MOUNTAIN, TWO OCEANS

Standing a thousand metres (3300 feet) above Cape Town, Table Mountain offers superlative views of South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ but turn around and you’ll see two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, stretching away before you. The famously revolving cable car makes an easy up and down Table Mountain but why not earn the view with a hike up? There’s a direct and popular hiking route to the top but a local guide knows better ways up and you’ll have peace of mind and a greater experience.

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Experience Cape Town's Table Mountain

Enjoying classic views of Cape Town & Lion’s Head from the top of Table Mountain – next stop Cape Point & the ‘end of Africa’!

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Reviews

It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)
Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Neena
Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)
Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)