Insider Tips for Traveling in Africa

Jimmy Nelson

Where to stay and how to explore all the continent has to offer

The Room to Book

Segera Retreat, in Kenya’s Laikipia, to bring sleeping in the bush to new heights. The lodge, owned by Jochen Zeitz, just debuted the nearly 20-foot-by-20-foot, two-story Nay Palad Bird Nest. Made from farmed wood and actual tree branches, it has beds inside and outside, a bathroom with solar-heated water, and a 360-degree-view terrace where guests can have a picnic-style dinner and fall asleep under the sparkling African sky while lions roar in the distance. Room from $1,150; segera.com.


Courtesy Roar Africa

The Tour to Take

A Zimbabwean who now splits her time between New York City and Cape Town, Deborah Calmeyer is the founder of tour operator Roar Africa, which launched in 2006 and specializes in southern and East Africa. “To truly know Africa and be able to share it the way I do comes from generations steeped in history,” Calmeyer says. “I am sharing Africa from its roots—a culmination of over 300 years of my family living here and traversing this land.” Her ability to match clients to travel experiences is enhanced by her insider knowledge and contacts. Roar Africa has arranged private tours of the Zeitz MOCAA, organized dinners with South Africa’s president, and trekked a piano into the Serengeti—the company even got a South African commercial flight to park alongside a Roar Africa charter aircraft to make transferring to an onward flight to Botswana easier for its clients. “Everything is bespoke. Not once in 11 years have we done two itineraries the same,” she says. “Paradise is personal.” roarafrica.com.


Courtesy Great Plains Conservation

The Safari to Embark On

Game drives: Been there, done that? Try a safari by boat, foot, and air instead. Also in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, on Great Plains Conservation’s Selinda Reserve, is the Selinda Adventure Trail. For four days, a guide leads travelers in 18-foot canoes through the Selinda Spillway water channels, stopping to see animal activity (elephants, buffalo, African wild dogs) along the banks, followed by treks inland. “The trail has a unique combination of canoeing, walking, time with native Bugakwe guides, and easy helicopter access,” says Will Jones, founder of U.K.-based tour operator Journeys by Design. From $750; journeysbydesign.com.


Courtesy ;C. Culbert

The Best Way to Track Gorillas

Volcanoes National Park, in Rwanda’s Virunga Mountains, is probably the best place in Africa to track mountain gorillas—480 of them live here (around half the world’s population). And now there’s a luxury camp for travelers. Bisate Lodge, which opened in June from Wilderness Safaris, has six thatched villas and a strong sustainability focus: The company is reforesting its land to enhance the great ape’s habitat. So far it has planted over 15,000 trees, which also provide shelter for birds and monkeys. Rooms from $1,100; wilderness-safaris.com.

 

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