Three Surprising Activities You Can Try on an African Safari

By Sarah Gold January 29, 2020

Even if you’ve never been on safari, you’re probably aware of the quintessential pursuits most safari itineraries include. Game drives to spot exquisite African wildlife species. Fascinating visits with local indigenous tribes. Lavish meals prepared on the braai and enjoyed in the boma of your safari lodge. Sunset cocktails out on the savannah, with pristine landscapes stretching for miles in every direction.

You might be surprised, however, to learn that other, lesser-known but equally enchanting activities—like snorkelling and mountain-biking—are available to safari travellers. Here are just a few of the unusual pastimes that Micato guests have special access to.

Three people horseback riding near zebra

Horseback Riding

Mount Kenya National Park and Laikipia Game Reserve, Kenya

Glorious Mount Kenya—Africa’s second-highest mountain, at more than 12,500 feet—is surrounded by more than 800 square miles of pristine, UNESCO World Heritage-protected nature. The forested slopes, home to high-altitude-adapted wildlife including elephant, eland, waterbuck, mongoose, and more than 130 different bird species, also offer some of the most dazzling views over the Kenyan countryside. Through its partner lodge, the Fairmont Mt. Kenya Safari Club (which keeps a well-trained stable of horses), Micato can arrange for guided horseback excursions through these remarkable environs—ranging from a single hour to half a day.

About two hours to the north is another exquisite horseback riding destination: The 6,500-foot-high plateau of the Laikipia Game Reserve, home to one of Kenya’s most diverse ecosystems. Along with the Big Five and other iconic East African creatures (like giraffes, hippos, cheetahs, and many antelope varieties), Laikipia’s sweeping grasslands and acacia scrub house some of Africa’s rarest endangered species—including Grevy’s zebra and wild painted dogs. Horseback riding through this wilderness provides a uniquely quiet, intimate game-viewing experience; and through Micato partner lodges like Lewa Safari Camp and Solio Lodge, you can enjoy full-day and even multi-day outings.


Lake Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Tanzania

The planet’s second-largest freshwater lake (bested only by Siberia’s Lake Baikal), the 418-mile-long Tanganyika spans four different African countries, including Burundi, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the majority of it lies in Tanzania, where its shoreline edges Mahale Mountains National Park (home to a thriving population of wild chimpanzees). Swimming in the pristine, crystal-clear waters of the lake is one of the most unexpectedly magical experiences you can have on safari; for even more enchantment, you can don a snorkel and spy some of the hundreds of colourful resident fish species—many of which are endemic here. While Micato can typically arrange for snorkeling equipment rental through one of its regional partner lodges (such as Greystoke Mahale), your best bet is to bring your own gear.

More than 600 miles to the east, off Tanzania’s northern coast, the shimmering beaches of Zanzibar offers an entirely different sort of snorkeling experience. Here, the warm cerulean waters of the Indian Ocean shelter vibrant coral reefs, where you’re likely to spy sea turtles, octopus, spotted rays, moray eels, and more than 200 species of technicolour tropical fish on your underwater safari. Micato partner lodges like Xanadu and Baraza can hook you up with equipment, guides, and boat rides to the best snorkeling spots (and even scuba-diving options, for those who are certified).

Three people biking near elephants

Mountain Biking

Loisaba Conservancy, Kenya, and Parc Nacional des Volcans, Rwanda

Along the northern edge of Kenya’s Laikipia plateau sits the 56,000-acre Loisaba Conservancy, a stunning expanse of rolling grasslands overlooked by the distant peak of Mount Kenya. Home to all the myriad species that inhabit the Laikipia (lions, rhino, elephants, hyenas, jackals, bat-eared foxes, and hundreds of others), the conservancy also encompasses a steep 6,000-foot escarpment, with a water hole at the bottom where wildlife converges. This bluff, and its surrounds, are great fun to fun to explore by mountain bike, and partner lodge Loisaba Lodo Springs lets you do just that with top-notch bikes and guides.

For a radically different sort of two-wheeled adventure, you can try mountain biking in the remote, steep, jungle-clad mountains of Rwanda’s Parc Nacional des Volcans. While biking is hardly the main draw for travellers here—that would be its extraordinary population of wild, rare mountain gorillas—the rugged and challenging terrain has attracted an increasing number of mountain bikers in recent years. Though the trails here are rough, they thread among jaw-dropping volcanic peaks, and thick rainforest teeming with birdlife. Micato partner lodge Sabyinyo Silverback Mountain Lodge—where staffers are serious biking enthusiasts and keep a small well-maintained fleet of bikes—will have you ready to roll.

To learn more about incorporating any of these exceptional activities in your Micato itinerary, contact one of our safari specialists today.

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