September 18, 2020

A Safari of a different stripe


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Galapagos-Safari3IMAGE: Galapagos Safari3

By Jessica Festa From The Financialist

When most people hear the word “safari,” they envision piling into a jeep in Africa in search of the “Big Five”—elephants, lions, leopards, Cape buffalo, and rhinos. But from Australia to Sweden, a number of travel companies are reimagining the safari with trips that focus on less celebrated animals (think poisonous snakes and bats), require participants to hike instead of ride along passively in a 4×4, and take place well outside the savannah in deciduous forests, rainforests, and tropical islands.

Walking Safaris, Australia

Hippocrates himself said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” If he was right, the Arkaba Station’s walking safari should leave participants at the pinnacle of good health. During the four-day Arkaba Walk, which takes place in a 60,000-acre private wildlife conservancy in the Outback’s Flinders Ranges, a guide explains the geology and history of the landscape to groups of up to 10 hikers, while keeping a

look out for the likes of emu, wallaroos, kangaroos and koalas. At the end of each long day of walking, trekkers enjoy a three-course meal with plenty of Australian wine. The price for a four-day, three-night walking safari is $1,940 per person.

Arkaba Walk

Bat Safaris, Zambia

The best-known animal migration in the world is probably Great Migration, when thousands of wildebeest make their annual march across the Serengeti. But if you want to catch the largest migration, you need to venture into a remote part of the Kasanka National Park from October through December, where you will see up to 10 million enormous fruit bats blanket the sky at sunset, eager to feast on the wild fruits ripening on local trees. On the Robin Pope Safaris bat trip, guests stay at the rustic Wasa Camp in a traditional African rondavel with a private veranda – perfect for viewing hippo, puku and local birds while sipping a glass of South African wine. The intimate seven-night trip – expeditions are capped at six people — starts at $4,500.


Safaris in…Sweden?

Sweden may be known for its meatballs, modular furniture and beautiful locals, but the country also has a wild side. Well, wild for Scandinavia, anyway. On an evening Beaver Safari with Wild Sweden, travelers take a boat ride at sunset on a beaver-filled lake followed by a dinner made with local ingredients (although no beaver meat). The excursion costs a mere $192, but you’ve also got to get to Sweden. Those looking for something more Jack London than Henry David Thoreau can opt for the three-night Bergslagen Wildlife Experience, where they search for moose, wolves, bears, lynx and owls. The price for this tour is about $1,069 per adult.

beaver safari via Wild Sweden

Snake Safari, India

On a snake safari in India, travelers follow a bona-fide cobra-whisperer – yes, you read that right – through the Western Ghats, a mountain range and rainforest area in West India, in search of the king cobra, the world’s most legendary snake. Those brave enough to book this rainforest safari with Steppes Discovery will learn all about the local folklore surrounding the famous hooded snake, as well as the medicinal uses for its venom, which is strong enough to fell an elephant 750 times the weight of the cobra. Adventurers also enjoy a night walk in the Madras Crocodile Bank, a captive breeding site and reptile research facility, where they’ll hopefully see crocs fight over territory — and maybe even engage in a little…breeding. The 10-day trip costs $3,511 per person.

India Snake Safari

Galapagos Tented Wildlife Safari, Galapagos Islands

Not all safaris take place in dense forest and lush jungle. Galapagos Safari Camp, South America’s first luxury tented safari camp, pairs guests with a naturalist guide to explore Santa Cruz Island by car, foot, bike, yacht and kayak. Days are spent journeying to uninhabited islands and searching for giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea turtles, marine iguanas, fur seals, hawks, penguins and more. The camp is located on a 55-hectare organic farm surrounded by the National Park Tortoise Reserve. After a day channeling Darwin, guests can dine on farm-to-fork meals, cozy up with a glass of wine by the fireplace, take a dip in the infinity pool or simply take in a view of the Pacific Ocean from their private balconies. Prices range from $3,075 per person for a five-day/five-night safari to $4,515 for an excursion of seven days and six nights.

Galapagos Safari2

The reptilian wildlife of Santa Cruz Island doesn’t look anything like what you’d see on a traditional African safari. Photo courtesy of Galapagos Safari Camp.

Photos courtesy of Arkaba Station, Robin Pope Safaris, Wild Sweden, Steppes Discovery and Galapagos Safari Camp.

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