Even though I have travelled extensively, my bucket list seems unending, and right at the top of it sits Africa – a continent I have been itching to spend more time in for years.
So far, my only steps on African soil have been taken in Morocco and Algeria, leaving many yet-unlived adventures in the south. I have long wanted to see the silhouette of elephants on grassy plains coloured honey by the sunset, swim and stroll on the enticing beaches of Zanzibar, and see the other big animals found nowhere else in the world.
One major hindrance for me is that I am usually a solo female traveller; sometimes able to convince friends to join me or coincide time off work, occasionally dragging a boyfriend who must learn to be patient with my love for taking photos, even hopping around for work – though sadly that has never taken me on safari. That is one reason travel in Africa has long eluded me, and which prompts a realisation: the perfect option for a land I want to explore, but feel a little uncertain about doing so alone, is a tour.
Writing on one of the rainiest Fridays ever witnessed in Amsterdam, where it is apparently technically still summer but residents have very clearly switched to their autumn wardrobes, my mind once again wonders to these fabled plains. So, I decided to take a look at my options for this dream getaway.
Tanzania was always on the top of my list – the Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and Lake Victoria can all be found there, so it was Tanzania I plugged in to the search feature on our trusty website. The two tours that stood out to me were Wildlife Express (22 days) and Ultimate African Adventure (39 days). I added both to my ‘backpack’ and checked out the comparison.
The comparison made it easy for me to see Wildlife Express was the winner. Not only is it considerably cheaper (which makes sense considering it is that much shorter), but it visits one additional country than Ultimate African Adventure, which hits Tanzania, Zambia, Uganda, Malawi and Kenya. Wildlife Express takes travellers to Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
After Tanzania, Botswana was easily my next favoured option, so that was a big pro in the Wildlife Express column, as was the fact that it visits Victoria Falls. If that were not enough, the itinerary offers an option to include Zanzibar.
Both tours include a tantalising selection of highlights, but the safari in the Serengeti, visit to Dar es Salaam, stopovers in swimming spots like Zanzibar and Lake Malawi, and other national parks such as South Luangwa and Mosi-oa-Tunya in Zambia and Chobe in Botswana (famously home to herds of elephants) that form part of the Wildlife Express itinerary sound like a pretty amazing combination that will tick off many bucket-list items.
And with that, I am sold.
Courtney Gahan is a serial expat, traveller and freelance writer who has bartered with Moroccan marketeers, seen the sun rise at Angkor Wat and elbowed her way through crowds on NYE in NYC