Traditionally, the quintessential African trip is all about a safari to Southern or East Africa. But for those seeking experiences other than wildlife, Ethiopia and Mali are two destinations that should certainly be considered. While both are somewhat less sophisticated with a more rudimentary tourism infrastructure, they offer exciting and fascinating travel options based around cultural and historical highlights that will not disappoint. (Note: Regrettably, due to political uncertainty and security concerns in the region, we are not running trips to Mali for the moment.)

Gabon and Congo are both tropical rain forest destinations that feature fantastic primate and other forest wildlife specials. Both also have incredible birding opportunities with great access to many of those difficult Central African forest species. Chad is a more recent addition to our list of destinations. With a trove of different mammal and bird species and vibrant cultural experiences, our prime destination here is one of Africa’s great conservation stories.


The revival of Zakouma National Park and its elephant herds in Chad is one of Africa’s great conservation success stories. And the credit for this goes to African Parks, who along with support from the Chadian government, manage the park and its ecotourism activities.

Situated south of the Sahara, this tract of scrubby Sudan-Guinea savannah, broken by a seasonal wetland, is a crucial component to the Greater Zakouma Ecosystem that covers almost 30 000sqkms. Highlights include over 50% of the continents remaining population of Kordofan giraffe, large herds of tiang, regional specials such as pale fox and Lelwel’s hartebeest, lion, and leopard as well as a variety of other predators and plains game species.

And the bird list is impressive as well. A host of endemics are complimented by some of Africa’s most incredible water bird sightings. Species such as pelican, spur-winged goose and crowned crane occur in huge flocks during the season, while there is always the chance of spotting a range of rare waders. Overlooking these floodplains that heave with birds is Camp Nomade, the rustic but delightful camp that becomes home during your stay. This destination should be a priority for those seeking wild and remote wilderness and, visiting Chad with us and African Parks makes you a central player in the ongoing success story of Zakouma.       


Ethiopia, a melting pot of numerous cultural and religious dynasties, and now one of the continents emerging powerhouses, is the perfect destination for those wanting to explore a country in all its facets.

While charter flights are possible, an extensive road trip is the best way to reach the ancient historical and religious sites of the north before venturing into the impressive highland regions and lake system of the Great Rift Valley that transects the country. Highlights include the ancient towns of Axum, Lalibela and Gonder, and the incredible collection of rock-hewn churches. For those in search of wildlife, the gelada baboons and Ethiopian wolves are in the Bale and Simien Mountains, while the country’s impressive list of birding endemics and specials are spread throughout. And in the far south, the Omo Valley is a remarkable off-the-beaten track destination offering a rare insight into the lives of traditional communities


While it is true that this Central African country is best suited to the more hardened traveller, Gabon nonetheless offers a host of exciting wildlife and wilderness experiences. The highlights include the full variety of forest species, lowland gorillas, buffalo, elephant, and chimps especially, which are all best seen within the huge rainforest systems of Loango, Ivindo and Lopé National Parks. And Loango has the added attraction of whale-watching during the summer months.

Others may choose the historical and cultural appeal of São Tomé, a short flight into the Atlantic Ocean from Libreville, or the stunning beaches of Bom Bom on the island of Principe. And wherever you go, the birding is prolific with a host of endemics and specials.

Those in search of the less-trodden destinations will certainly not be disappointed, but all visitors need to know that Gabon does not have a well-established tourism infrastructure.

Mali, the continents seventh largest country, is centrally located within the region of West Africa, and it embraces two of Africa’s most distinctive and alluring geographical features, the Sahara Desert, and the Niger River. It also offers some stunning arid scenery, a host of fascinating people and their cultures, and an ancient history that has spanned three of the region’s most powerful empires.

Besides the desert and river options, highlights include the impressive Djenné Mosque, the world’s largest mud structure, the Dogon people, and the ancient Taureg city of Timbuctou. These are all best experienced by doing a cross-county road trip before reaching the vastness of the great Sahara Desert. While Mali has little to offer in the way of wildlife, it has an impressive birding list with many regional specials. 

The Republic of Congo is a fantastic central African rainforest destination offering all the most exciting wildlife attractions unique to these ecosystems. Because of the infrastructure and terrain, safaris are mostly offered on fixed departure schedules and they focus on the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the remote west-central regions of the country.

Highlights include viewing western lowland gorillas, which occur here at the highest densities in Africa, and forest buffalo and elephant when they come to feed and drink in the bai’s. Afternoon boat and canoe trips up and down the numerous river systems that weave their way across these impressive forests are the best way to explore the wetland habitats, and for the birders, there are a host of endemic and special species to go after. The camps we use here are of the highest quality.