July 2, 2015 | Expert Africa
Having just left the Army after ten years of duty, Prince Harry flew to Africa recently to spend three months there focusing on wildlife conservation. If you share the prince’s passion, or are keen to understand it better, Expert Africa – the UK’s leading safari specialist – can help you plan your journey.
The 30-year-old prince has an enduring love of Africa and is committed to safeguarding its endangered species. He will travel to Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Botswana to work with conservation experts focusing on the battle to save elephants and rhinos. He’ll have direct contact with those working on the ground to protect wildlife and local communities across the four countries.
To experience these countries for yourself – and in particular to get much closer to the remaining populations of elephant and rhino – here are some suggested trips from Expert Africa:
With no natural predators, rhino were some of the most common larger animals in Africa when the first European explorers arrived. Estimates suggest a world rhino population of about 500,000 rhinos at the start of the 20th century; today there are around 29,000 in the wild.
Large-scale poaching of Africa’s black rhino reduced its population to about 65,000 individuals in 1970, and just 2,300 in 1993. Thanks to huge conservation efforts, numbers of black rhino have increased to around 5,000 but poaching has increased massively in the last couple of years, and there are again fears for the viability of the species. The north-west of Namibia is one of the black rhino’s real strongholds, and a floodlit waterhole in Etosha National Park is certainly the best place in Africa for seeing this usually secretive species.
By as early as 1895, the population of the southern white rhino was poached down to about 100 animals but thanks to conservation efforts this recovered to over 20,000 animals. An unprecedented rise in poaching in the last few years again threatens this species. The large, relatively docile white rhino is also often seen in Namibia’s Etosha National Park – a vast salt pan with dense herds of big game including lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black rhino, giraffe and zebra.
The 13-day Impala Self-drive Safari, focusing especially on Etosha, costs from £2,218 pp (two sharing) including flights from London, ten nights’ accommodation at charming camps / lodges (mixed board basis), and car hire throughout.
Addo Elephant Park, at the eastern end of South Africa’s Cape, is the obvious place to go: the African elephant exists in high densities here and the animals are generally very relaxed around vehicles, making it an excellent few days’ first safari experience. This hasn’t always been the case however; after centuries of hunting, only 11 elephant were left in the area when the park opened in 1931. Numbers have been built up gradually and today there are over 500 elephant here.
The six-day Addo Self-drive Safari, split between two camps in the park, is superb value costing from £1,138 pp (two sharing). This includes flights from London, three nights’ accommodation (room only), and car hire.
The Ngorongoro Crater is Noah’s Ark brought to life – a massive volcanic caldera (19km across by 600m deep) of grasslands, forests and a large soda lake. The volcanic soils here are rich in minerals, making the vegetation right and the game densities high – with some naturally confined by the caldera. The animals are used to safari vehicles, meaning encounters are up close and personal. Here lives East Africa’s best population of black rhino, often seen during the day in open grasslands. Breeding herds of elephant pass through the crater only rarely, but you’ll see a smattering of old bulls, including some of the biggest tuskers left alive in Africa today.
The eight-day Lovebird Guided Safari visits the Ngorongoro Crater plus the spectacular Serengeti and beautiful Lake Manyara national parks. The trip costs from £2,589 pp (two sharing) including flights from London, full board accommodation, activities, park fees, transfers, a superior-level guide and your own private 4WD vehicle.
There’s perhaps nowhere better to see elephant than in northern Botswana – especially beside the waterways towards the end of the dry season. Baines’ Camp, in the Okavango Delta, gives guests the opportunity to walk with a small group of habituated elephants.
Notable for its innovative construction, the camp has just five suites with thatched roofs and ‘solid’ walls made from recycled drinks cans and plaster containing elephant dung – unusual, eco-friendly and smarter than it sounds!
The eight-day Chacma Baboon Safari, split between Baines’ Camp and a second camp in the Moremi Reserve (another area of the Okavango), costs from £4,651 pp (two sharing) including flights from London, full board accommodation, activities, most drinks, laundry, transfers and park fees.
Speak to the knowledgeable team at Expert Africa on 020 8232 9777 (www.expertafrica.com). The specialist operator also covers Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Zambia and Zimbabwe.