4 Great Options For an African Safari
by Craig Boddington (From Petersen's Hunting Magazine Dec. 2012 - Jan. 2013)
At Safari Club International’s annual convention, I’ve taken part in a panel seminar on “the first safari.” It’s a wonderful thing to see. The room is always completely full of folks in some stage of planning their first African hunt. I envy them. The first African safari is a truly life-changing event that can never be recaptured…although many of us spend much of our lives trying to regain that level of magic and excitement.
Most all the people in the room have made the decision to take the plunge. Even so, I know that some of them, and many of you, are intimidated by the concept of going all the way to Africa to hunt. This is understandable, and there’s usually no shortage of bad stuff in the press on African crime and politics.
So, is Africa safe? Africa, like many large American cities, may not be a place where unescorted tourists should run around at will. I think Africa is very safe—when conducted with a reputable outfitter who will shepherd you through your adventure.
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Just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have offered up Mozambique as a first safari option, but Africa can change…»
Then South West Africa, Namibia was a very quiet and little-known backwater when I first hunted there in 1979. Today,…»
South Africa has the largest hunting industry on the African continent and hosts possibly 40 percent of the entire continent’s…»
At Safari Club International’s annual convention, I’ve taken part in a panel seminar on “the first safari.” It’s a wonderful…»
Due to the huge losses of game on “reallocated” private lands, Zimbabwe is no longer a primary destination for a…»
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South Africa has the largest hunting industry on the African continent and hosts possibly 40 percent of the entire continent’s hunting safaris. Although South Africa offers the entire Big Five, the majority of South African safaris are for plains game. In fact, with the possible exceptions of leopard and rhino, I don’t recommend South Africa for dangerous game. It’s a supply-and-demand business, permits are too limited, and prices for buffalo are high. But South Africa is a great plains game destination.
The actual game list varies somewhat by province, but greater kudu are available almost everywhere. Gemsbok and nyala are key species, and, depending on the area, local specialties include bushbuck, Vaal rhebok, bontebok, oribi, and more. Outfitters are generally reliable, provided you use due diligence in making your choice. The norm is a fairly modest daily rate plus trophy fees for game taken, so safari costs are pretty much managed by your trigger finger. Alternatively, many outfitters offer inclusive “packages” for a set number of days and certain animals and, if these fit your preferences, can be a great way to go. [Read More]
Then South West Africa, Namibia was a very quiet and little-known backwater when I first hunted there in 1979. Today, this country hosts Africa’s second-largest hunting industry, and I believe it now holds ten times the game than when I first hunted there. Conditions are generally the same as South Africa: modest daily rate plus trophy fees for game taken, with packages often available. On the plus side, the average property is larger than South Africa, and game fences, though rapidly proliferating, are not yet endemic.
On the downside, well, there really isn’t one. Namibia is generally an arid country and does not have the extensive species list of South Africa. On the other hand, game ranching has similarly moved things around, and in any case, on a first safari, what does it matter whether the game list is 12 or 20 species deep? You aren’t going to get them all on the first trip anyway. One salient point: Although Namibia also has a very competitive safari industry, a basic plains game safari there is generally a little bit more costly than South Africa. [Read More]
Just a few years ago, I wouldn’t have offered up Mozambique as a first safari option, but Africa can change quickly…and Mozambique’s game has proven marvelously resilient. Her long civil war was extremely hard on wildlife—some areas are still recovering, and some never will—but areas that were opened up in the late ’80s and early ’90s, as hostilities were winding down, have now been nurtured and protected for more than 20 years, and the game has responded.
Mozambique is not the manicured game ranches you might see in Namibia or South Africa. It’s tough country where you’ll work for every opportunity— but it’s the real Africa and, with the possible exception of Zimbabwe’s large conservancies, offers the best opportunity for a buffalo and plains game safari at affordable prices. The buffalo count in and around the Marromeu Reserve near the Zambezi mouth is now 20,000 and growing, one of the greatest concentrations of buffalo on the continent. Buffalo are also coming back nicely along the Zambezi and in the far north. Hunting concessions are huge, quotas are reasonable, and trophy fees are very acceptable. [Read More]
Due to the huge losses of game on “reallocated” private lands, Zimbabwe is no longer a primary destination for a plains game safari, and options for a buffalo-plus-plains game safari are much more limited. However, buffalo hunting remains excellent in the designated safari areas and some of the forestry reserves and communal lands on the periphery of the country.
Many of these areas, such as the great Zambezi Valley, never were
particularly good plains game country. But they are still wild Africa—areas where buffalo roam—and there are certainly pockets of good plains game. A buffalo/kudu combination is very possible, and there are zebra, waterbuck, sable, bushbuck, lots of impala, and other species.
However, in many of the better areas the buffalo quota is likely to far exceed that of any other species except impala. This means that a Zimbabwe safari is becoming ever more specialized, and on many short buffalo safaris the available bag is limited to buffalo, impala, and perhaps hyena and grysbok. [Read More]