Bubble tours from Aardvark Safaris allow family and friends to experience life in the bush with minimal contact from strangers. Rose Dykins reports
Aardvark Safaris – a safari specialist that organises tailor-made holidays throughout South and East Africa and the Indian Ocean islands – has curated a series of “bubble safaris”.
Working with specific camps and tour operators in Kenya, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia, the company has compiled safari experiences that minimise transit time, and maximise moments spent in the wilderness.
As predicted by Globetrender in its Travel in the Age of Covid-19 report, Isolation Vacations are proving to be a popular trend during the pandemic. These itineraries for small groups from Aardvark Safaris are the kind of trips travellers are showing a preference for in a socially distanced world.
“Exclusive-use and bubble travel are among our guests’ current key requirements,” says Alice Gully, co-owner of Aardvark Safaris. “There has been a real shift in clients wishing to minimise internal connections and to limit time spent with others outside of their group.”In Kenya, the nine-night “Cottar’s Full Circle” safari provides a secluded way to experience the Masai Mara national reserve.
Priced at £5,725 per person, the itinerary traverses four camps – introducing guests to a range of different ecosystems, wildlife and Masai culture within the 15,000 sq km reserve.
The experience includes a Big Five safari and a stay at a private camp in the Loita Forest of the Lost Child – which holds spiritual significance for the Masai people – and a stay at Cottars 1920s Camp, which has a private conservation area.
Guests can learn about conservation work in the area, including a pangolin project and a vulture rehabilitation programme. They can also witness anti-poaching teams at work, including the only female ranger unit in the Masai Mara.
Throughout the trip, the same dedicated safari team is on hand – a private guide, spotter, waiter and room steward. This minimises guests’ exposure to new people (and therefore potential contamination).In Tanzania, a six-night Walk Camp to Camp itinerary minimises shared vehicle transfers. Led by Nomad Tanzania, the experience offers guests the chance to move between safari camps on a guided walking safari.
The route passes across the crater rim of Entamanu Ngorongoro towards the southern tip of the Serengeti plains. Those making the journey enjoy views out over Olduvai Gorge and the Gol Mountains.
In Botswana, the six-night African Horseback Safari, involves spending four-to-six hours in the saddle each day, exploring the wildlife of the Okcavango Delta.
It’s possible to arrange private riding safaris for eight to 12 guests – meaning visitors can book for their entire “bubble” if they prefer.
Costing £2,220 per person, the tour with African Horseback safaris is a thrilling ride alongside giraffe, zebra and antelope, both in water and on land.
Guests can also ride up close to buffalo and elephants, as horses are an expected part of the scenery. Much of the delta is unaccessible to vehicles, due to annual floods, which makes horses the ideal means of transport.
Guides are on hand to help guests navigate the changing terrain, and non-riders are also welcome, with a range of safari activities on offer.
In Namibia, the three-day Schoemans Flying safari involves exploring the country’s breathtaking Skeleton Coast by private plane.
Priced at £6,365 per person, the packages gives guests a birds-eye view of the otherworldly scenery – including the Sossusvlei dunes, the wild Skeleton Coast and Damaraland, home to rare wildlife that has adapted to desert living.
Swapping a safari jeep for a plane, the experience involves being flown with a pilot and guide, and touching down to explore remote shipwrecks, valley views and incredible flora and fauna.