Reconnecting to Africa with Wilderness Safaris

Reconnecting to Africa with Wilderness Safaris

What is it about Africa that instantly calms you; immediately forces you to downshift into a more zen state of being? As I write this, I’m sitting on the waterfront at Wilderness’ King’s Pool Camp in the Okavango Delta, hearing nothing but the rustling wind, the sounds of birds and frogs, and watching the odd bird soar around in front of me. During certain times of year, dozens of elephants call this watering hole home, but for now, it’s green and lush, beautiful and peaceful, and, despite inconveniently battling a sinus infection that’s been hanging on a bit too long, I feel like I haven’t been in this thick sense of peace in a while. There are so few times that we sit and take in the little things: the flutter of leaves, the ripple patterns in the water, the sounds of nature. To be honest, it’s something I really only do here.

I’ve been deep in Africa think for the last month, booking some groups to East Africa while planning my own trips to Southern Africa. First, this brilliant experience with Wilderness Destinations and Virtuoso with a small group of travel advisors (five of us, to be exact), and next to South Africa with Scott and Kaia. I often wonder, can virtually a whole continent be your happy place?

Reconnecting to Africa

This marks my first visit to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Botswana, in particular, had long been on my wishlist as an African destination. Often hailed as the paragon of low-volume, high-impact tourism, their focus is on exclusivity and they’ve leaned into that approach unabashedly. One of the conservancies that we’ll be visiting is roughly the size of Sabi Sabi, which is home to 40+ lodges. By contrast, the conservancy in Botswana is home to just 4. The sheer wild land is remarkable and is easily noticeable as you fly from camp to camp. Nearly 80% of Botswana’s land is conservation land, consciously preserved through public and private initatives. The country is home to just 2.4 million people. Here, tourism has been a major force for good and for economic and social development. Wilderness, who I’m spending this 10-day trip with, has a huge impact focus that’s tantamount in their ethos. Their focuses on impact work and hospitality are equivalent, effectively using upscale tourism as a means to conservation.

We bring our daughter to South Africa in just a couple of weeks, her first trip to the continent, and the place where she’ll celebrate her 16 month ‘birthday’. People will often remind me that she, in fact, will not remember what we’re doing or where we’re going, which I’m totally aware of. I have no delusions that she’ll somehow remember being at high tea in Franschhoek or seeing animals in real life in Madikwe, but I do think those experiences – the ones with nature, with people, with culture, with language, and different cuisines – will shape who she ultimate becomes. And if she really is our kid, she’ll become an Africa lover as well.

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

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More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.