Why book an African Safari (Especially Now)? Read More

Cultural Activities on Safari

It’s the age-old question: how do you experience cultural activities on an African safari?

Because while the focus on safari is on wildlife, visitors are increasingly curious to see how their counterparts – kids, mums, dads, the older generation – live in extraordinary destinations like the Kalahari or the Serengeti, and how they maintain their traditions in a fast-changing world.

But how to do it in a way that delivers genuine, non-intrusive cultural experiences without resorting to stereotype? Or indeed exploitation?

Maasai dance

Learning the traditional Maasai ‘jumping dance’ – the adumu – part of a coming-of–age ceremony.

The answer isn’t easy but it’s a lot easier than several decades ago when cultural activities were limited to traditional dancing at dinner time. Several safari operators have seen the value in creating relationships with local communities, not only drawing their human resources from them but also incorporating their society and traditional activities into a safari itinerary.

Cultural activity on safari

Nature walks with local guides bring the details of the African landscape to the fore.

The result is a win-win for everyone. On the one side, local employment in tourism uplifts local communities and is generally accompanied by a drop in animal poaching. Village tours provide an income for local entrepreneurs – often women – and are usually linked to a local infrastructure project such as a school or clinic.

These tangible benefits make local communities more comfortable about opening up their doors – literally – to strangers and you’ll enjoy a far greater degree of authenticity than watching a costumed dance in a restaurant.

Infrastructure community project

Partnerships between local communities & safari lodges result in benefits for both.

And for you, the visitor, you have the chance to see how people really live in these destinations, and can enjoy an augmented safari experience.

Where to go for the most authentic cultural encounters? Well, you’ll generally need to get a little off the beaten track – and it doesn’t get more off the beaten track than the far north of Namibia where the Himba people live. A handful of lodges provide their guests with a chance to visit the Himba, famous for their red-painted skin, and walk in the desert with local guides.

Himba cultural activity in Namibia

Deep in the Namibian desert, a Himba woman becomes part of the local economy.

And if walking is your thing, then the Kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) is great hiking country – and who better to lead the way than someone who knows the area and its communities like the back of their hand? Try local dishes, learn a few local phrases, and a whole new world opens up.

Swazi people in Eswatini was Swaziland

Swazi men in song – this tiny African kingdom offers a unique hiking experience.

Indeed, walking with local guides is becoming popular in safari country. Lodges in Botswana’s remote Kalahari Desert encourage guests to go on nature walks with San guides who reveal the fascinating secrets of the natural landscape – which plants yield water, which provide arrow poisons, and how to stalk big game.

Walking with San people in Botswana Makgadikgadi

There’s far more to a Kalahari landscape than meets the eye when you walk with its inhabitants.

In fact, you don’t even have to go to places you’ve never heard of. Kenya’s Masai Mara, well-known for its wildebeest migration, has opportunities to meet the Maasai people in their traditional society rather than at the dinner table, and at Victoria Falls there’s a choice between the commercial side of cultural activities and something a bit more authentic.

You can even enjoy a taste of local culture in a stunning beach location: Lake Malawi is a destination where you can mix active water sports and lazy down-time with visits to projects that range from recycling centres to re-forestation programmes. This is a model adopted by several lodges across the region: authentic engagement with the local community in exchange for a financial contribution which is channelled back into their society.

Daily life on Malawi's Likoma Island

Holidays in Malawi are a good way to integrate the local community into your stay.

We’ve got great safari itineraries with authentic cultural activities and engagements with the local community: ask us about our Namibia adventure, from desert dunes to the land of the Himba, or a classic Botswana ‘desert and delta’ safari, offering an insight into ancient San culture.

If it’s a ‘bush and beach’ combination you have in mind, then you can combine wildlife watching in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park with a beachfront lodge on Lake Malawi and still have time to visit local community projects.

Hands-on Expertise

  • We’re based in Africa
  • Consultants Travel in Africa
  • Knowledgeable team
  • Expect great customer service

Accredited & Bonded

  • SATSA – Bonded Membership (2061)
  • Travel Save Compliant Certificate
  • Fully Independent & Owner Run
  • Travel Support from Start to Finish

Reviews

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)
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.

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)
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)
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
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 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)
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)
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)
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)