December 11, 2012
For most of us, Africa is about the hunting, but it is a shame to travel all the way around the world and not experience some of the other things the continent offers. If you take the time, you will find Africa has some fantastic things to do outside of the hunt, and, with the economy the way it is, many of the non-hunting experiences are extremely affordable. Here are our top five trips for travel in Africa to tack on to a safari.
Photograph Like a Pro
Regardless of what country you hunt, there is probably a National Park nearby worth seeing. While visiting one after a great hunting experience is as anti-climactic as driving through Yellowstone after spending a week actually elk hunting in the Grand Tetons, it is still worth doing just for the photo opportunities. Be sure to check out Kruger National Park
or lesser known Pilanesberg National Park
in South Africa. In Namibia, a few days at Etosha Pan
will yield enough National Geographic- style photos to fill an album, and you will have the fun of seeing photographers' jaws drop when you tell them you actually shot a bigger gemsbok last week.
Track Through Africa
Possibly the coolest trip in all of Africa, and the best way to turn back the clock to the early days of African safari travel, is booking a trip on the Rovos Rail train
. We checked out the leg from Victoria Falls (board at the New Stanley hotel with red carpet and champagne treatment) to Pretoria, South Africa. It was three days of hardwood-paneled, opulent private-car luxury, complete with an en suite bathroom and claw-foot tub. Rovos Rail also
offers the ultimate trip: Cape Town to Cairo using a combination of historic train and vintage, chartered aircraft as well as the immensely popular wingshooting train trips where hunters can experience the best wingshooting and sightseeing the world has to offer.
After hunting Namibia, unwind for a few days following the hunt at the seaside town of Swakopmund, where historic German architecture meets Jimmy Buffett beach bars, with a lot of activities thrown in for good measure. Stay at the classy and comfortable Villa Margherita
, where you can rent a room or the entire Villa Tulipano house
(if you have a large group) and strike out on day trips from there. Lie on the beach, sandboard the dunes, take an ATV or Rover excursion into the Namib Desert, or skydive as the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean. Be sure to catch dinner at least one night on the Jetty, and don't forget to enjoy a cold one at the beach bar to the south while listening to the waves crash.
Wonders of the World
No matter where you hunt in Africa, it is worth hopping a short flight to stand where David Livingstone once stood and peered at Africa's most impressive spectacle — Victoria Falls
. The place abounds with lodging, both on the Zimbabwe and Zambia side of the Zambezi River, but stay at the Stanley Safari Lodge
in Zambia for the ideal combination of view, seclusion, and safari-style, five star comfort. The falls can be seen from above, but it is quite the experience to hike to the bottom and check out the basin where millions of gallons of water pound down. Spend one day pitching flies with the guys at Angle Zambia
for tiger fish. It will probably be the only time you catch fish with shark-like teeth and worry about foul hooking an elephant or hippo at the same time!
Drink and Dine
A trip to Africa is not complete without a stop in Cape Town. Most outfitters can set you up with a local guide for one- to multi-day excursions, but the adventurous can simply rent a car and set out on their own. Pick any hotel on the V&A waterfront to call home. Be sure to dine and listen to live music one night at Brio 1893
. From downtown Cape Town, wine country is only 45 minutes away. Stellenbosch has a lot to offer, but our favorite town to shop and stroll is Franschhoek. Stop at the Rickety Bridge Winery
for a tasting, and while there grab lunch on the veranda. Be sure to pack a fly rod, as great trout fishing can be had in the various streams and ponds in the region and is often free for the asking.