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Essential Safari Guide: Safari Spotlight

Scott Goetz

KER & DOWNEY
The Texas-based outfitter Ker & Downey has been crafting safaris for more than 40 years, and its specialists have a particularly keen ability to uncover private, unheard-of experiences that reveal the true spirit of a destination. More standard perks for clients include room upgrades and complimentary spa services.

Ultimate Africa: Primate Tour and Migration Combo • One of Ker & Downey’s newest itineraries, this 21-day trip offers an in-depth look at some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife. The primate-focused part of the journey includes stays in the new Lango and Ngaga camps (pictured here) in the Republic of the Congo for lowland gorilla encounters; a visit to Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest Lodge to find chimpanzees and colobus monkeys; a stop at Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park for trekking with mountain gorillas; and a trip to Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania to view chimpanzees. Another stop in Tanzania, the brand-new Singita Mara River Tented Camp, offers one of the best places to view the Great Migration. The trip includes an optional ending on Desroches Island in the Seychelles. 800.423.4236, www.kerdowney.com

MICATO SAFARIS
The Kenyans Felix and Jane Pinto founded Micato Safaris in 1966 with the mandate of treating guests like family. The travel outfitter’s practice of connecting travelers with prominent local residents yields genuine insider access, while its custom of giving daily gifts—mementos that reflect the local cultures and activities—provides safari-goers with a deeper connection to each destination.

Ultimate Southern Africa Adventure • Micato’s Ultimate Southern Africa Adventure safari is a high-action excursion that ranges through Namibia and South Africa over the course of 14 days. Activities include 4x4 drives through Namibia’s magnificent Sossusvlei Desert and Etosha National Park; a visit to a Himba settlement; a hot-air-balloon safari; adventures in and around Cape Town, including a hike of Table Mountain, a kayak trip with penguins, and a bike ride through the Cape Winelands; game drives at Tswalu Kalahari Reserve to see black rhinoceroses and Kalahari black-maned lions; and a round at the Legend Golf & Safari Resort, which features the world’s highest and longest par-3 hole: At 1,400 feet, the mountaintop tee box is accessible only by helicopter. 800.642.2861, www.micato.com

EXPLORE AFRICA
The Colorado-based safari aficionado Cherri Briggs—who has homes in Botswana and Zambia—scours the African continent six months a year to find the best places for both luxury and authenticity. She founded Explore Africa in 1992 and has since led such trips as an adventure through Sudan with National Geographic journalists and the first descent down Mozambique’s Lugenda River.

Ultimate African Family Adventure • Explore Africa designed this interactive four-week journey for adventurous families, whose educational opportunities along the way include lessons in the basics of traditional canoeing and tracking animals with master guides in Botswana. In Kenya, families learn how to make spears, bows and arrows, and jewelry; play traditional games; identify traditional bush medicines; and help Samburu people herd cattle. A week in Zambia connects guests with local communities and provides opportunities to plant gardens and improve medical clinics. Individual segments of the trip can be booked à la carte. 888.596.6377, www.exploreafrica.net

JOURNEYS BY DESIGN
This Brighton, england–based niche travel company was founded in 1999 by Will Jones, who spent the first 25 years of his life living in six African countries—including eight years in Ethiopia, where he built the country’s first tented camp. Journeys by Design consultants will travel to clients’ homes anywhere in the world to design personalized itineraries.

Under the Skin Collection • This 20-day trip is designed for travelers who have been to Africa and wish to return for a more in-depth adventure. It begins with a stay at Sirikoi Lodge in northern Kenya, where a helicopter safari through the highlands and desert pairs with game drives on Il Ngwesi community lands, home to about 20 Maasai families. Other highlights include gorilla trekking through Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable Forest near Clouds Mountain Gorilla Lodge; walking safaris from Beho Beho lodge in Tanzania’s Selous Game Reserve; and a respite at Mnemba Island, off the coast of Zanzibar. 315.955.6842, www.journeysbydesign.com

UNCHARTED AFRICA SAFARI CO.
Widely regarded as Africa’s top safari guide, Ralph Bousfield is a co-owner of Uncharted Africa Safari Co., which operates such lodges as Jack’s Camp in Botswana (built in honor of Ralph’s late father, Jack, who was a pioneer of the photographic safari). Uncharted is not a safari outfitter, but the guiding services of Bousfield, who coproduced the 16-part Discovery Channel series Uncharted Africa, can be booked by any of the outfitters listed in this story.

Uncharted Africa Royal Rig • Bousfield’s 10-day mobile excursion begins with travel by Gulfstream jet from Johannesburg, South Africa, to Maun, Botswana, for five nights of rolling through the Okavango Delta aboard the Royal Rig—a safari camp on wheels conceived for a prominent client. The group also explores the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans (the Switzerland-sized remnant of an ancient lake) by helicopter while staying for five nights at Jack’s Camp. A day with the Ju’/hoansi Bushmen is included. +27.11.447.1605, www.unchartedafrica.com

ABERCROMBIE & KENT
Geoffrey Kent, who with his parents founded Abercrombie & Kent in Kenya in 1962, brings experience, innovation, and passion to one of the world’s oldest travel companies. The now-global outfitter built its reputation by being the first to bring city-level comforts and amenities to remote destinations in Africa.

Botswana: Romance Under the Stars • A romantic journey ideal for newlyweds, this 12-night trip visits a circuit of Abercrombie & Kent–managed Sanctuary Retreats, including Sanctuary Baines’ Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero in the country’s Chobe National Park—home to one of the largest concentrations of elephants in Africa. 888.611.4711, www.abercrombiekent.com

This article was originally published in the February 2013 issue of Robb Report. Click here to read more articles from this issue.

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