African Safari: Combination of Luxury, Culture, and History

2/09/2011 10:59:00 AM ·

Africa is one of the most culturally rich continents in the world, what with its extensive history, numerous tribes and dying languages, and the landscapes filled with wild elephants and giraffes jousting.

One of the most fascinating aspects for me, of course, is the archaeological history of Africa left behind by our ancestors and their predecessors. I’ve never experienced it first hand, but one of my professors has while on a Kenya safari.

He and his wife stayed in a special camp on a private game reserve owned by the local tribal community. Not only was he able to to visit the smaller surrounding islands like Lamu, but the view of Mount Kilimanjaro from his open air luxury suite was more than mesmerizing.

Although you’ll be staying in luxury, you can’t help but contemplate how evolution has changed the plants, animals, and human life in the area. Close to 6 million year ago the Millennium man, or Orrorin tuganensis , was roaming around Tugen Hills, and you can have the chance to actually walk on or drive by the same ground he (may have walked on).

It wasn’t enough to experience all that Kenya had to offer, so my professor and his wife headed out for a Tanzania safari. This safari was a bit different, as they had a private guide and vehicle to take them anywhere they wanted to go at their own pace. First stop, the Ngorongoro Crater. In case you didn't know, the Ngorongoro Crater is a remnant of a volcano, which once stood higher than Kilimanjaro. The center was blown out and now extends over the Serengeti close to 10 miles. Across the crater can be seen thousands of animals including wildebeests, zebras, and on the forested Western corridor you'll find the huge Grumeti crocodiles.

After their safari, they retreated to the Sand River Selous, which is situated on a wide curve of the mighty Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve. Built on stilts with creative thatching to shelter you and one side open to view the grasslands, there's no better way to exerince this part of Africa.

The biggest attraction for my professor was the Laetoli footprints dated to about 3.6 million years ago and discovered by Mary Leakey. The footprints have captured a moment in time when Australopithecus afarensis walked though some volcanic ash, leaving preserved footprints that exist even now. You guessed it, my professor is an archaeologist who did research in Africa for his dissertation.

His last stop was a botswana safari. He was especially interested in visiting the  Linyanti Reserve, which spans 250,000 acres of land and is home to thousands of elephants and predators. He and his wife stayed at the Linyanti Bush Camp in the Chove Enclave area. The Chobe Enclave is home to more than its share of predators – lion, leopard and packs of elusive wild dog.

Fortunate for me, I was able to read about his experiences in some journal articles from school, so I was , in a way, in the heart of the African Bush in my head.

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