Africa Freak

LIVE Safari

Daily live safari broadcast from the African bush

Escape into nature with WildEarth any time of day and view an array of African animals – in real-time .

WildEarth offers award-winning live safari experiences .

These are broadcast directly from the African wilderness to your homes via the Internet or the 24/7 WildEarth channel.

Broadcasts are suitable for kids , adults , and families alike.

WildEarth has seasoned game rangers , safari vehicles , drones , balloons , rovers , and remote cams searching for all your favorite animals.

As the WildEarth safari live broadcast is in real-time, everything is completely unscripted and unpredictable .

This is reality TV as it should be – authentic and REAL.

Watch WildEarth Safari Live Now

WildEarth’s safari live brings you live safari broadcasts hosted by expert guides in Africa .

These broadcasts usually come to you from the Sabi Sands (Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa), Tswalu Kalahari , and even the Maasai Mara (south-western Kenya).

See More on WildEarth Safari Live YouTube

When the live stream is offline , you can still enjoy all the latest safari recordings below .

Or visit the official WildEarth YouTube channel  for even more interactive wildlife experiences .

NB : To choose past events in the video player, click on the playlist icon as shown in the screenshot below.

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WildEarth Safari Live Broadcast Schedule

Leopard on a dirt road at Djuma Private Game Reserve, South Africa

Wanting to watch WildEarth live today?

There are daily safaris taking place each day during sunrise and sunset .

Check out the broadcasting schedule.

WildEarth live sunrise safari

Start your day off with a WildEarth safari live stream.

Watch as the sun lights up the African savanna and the animals begin to go about their morning routines.

When: Monday to Sunday.

Central African Time (CAT) : 05:30 am – 08:30 am.

WildEarth live sunset safari

WildEarth sunset safari live broadcasts are a popular option, too.

Experience the African sunset and watch as some animals take their slumber while others come out to play.

Central African Time (CAT) : 15:30 pm – 19:30 pm.

See a WildEarth Safari Live Now

Screenshot of the WildEarth Channel

The African wilderness is one of the most beautiful places to explore.

For those wanting to interact with the many animals found here, you can watch a WildEarth live safari now on YouTube or on the following WildEarth channels .

Open your eyes for…

Big cats , elephants , hippos , plus many other mammals, birds and reptiles.

What did you spot today?

Feel free to comment below to share your latest wildlife sightings. 😉

Cheers and enjoy your virtual safari!

Bonus : For a truly magical experience, visit Africa and discover its wildlife live and in person. To do so, check out these incredible safari deals and start planning your next adventure.

==> More LIVE webcams

==> Best Wildlife Videos

==> Top Wildlife Photos

17 thoughts on “LIVE Safari”

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I’ve just found your streaming on You Tube. Didn’t think I’d ever be interested in elephants spraying behind their ears or drinking first, or why young bull calves start to walk at the rear and then, finally, declare their independence and peel off forever. But, there you go! I think the commentary is what makes it so interesting. So, thank you. I’m hooked.

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I noticed the Masai Mara park is not participating so much at all.

Any reason?

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Hi Jacques,

Safari Live is mainly active in the Masai Mara during the Great Wildebeest Migration. That being said, WildEarth recently decided to stop their broadcasts from the Mara – for now.

“We love the Mara and would have loved to make it a permanent feature in our broadcasts again. However, while our situation is slowly improving, we still need to be very prudent with our spending and the Mara is a very expensive location to operate from.”

More info here:

Hope this helps,

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How do you ask a question on the live safaris?

Great comment!

The best way to ask your questions is to do it via Twitter, using #SAFARILIVE.

Or you can chat on the safariLIVE stream on YouTube –

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Beautiful show!! Please continue with Kyle (Tswalu Kalahari) – he is just fantastic. Dylan (Tswalu Kalahari) the attention seeker, was so over the top and preferred being in front of the camera. Would love to see more of Phinda and Mala Mala.

Glad you enjoy it, Angela. 🙂 Feel free to send your feedback directly via:

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I absolutely love watching live from Djuma, Ngala, Kalahari, Maasai Mara, and Phinda. Love when we get to see from Maasai Mara. I watched big cat diary and follow the marsh pride and all the lion prides through the years. Thank you for all you do, it brings me so much joy.

That’s awesome, Jessica! Thanks for your kind words.

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What a fantastic program, thank you so much!

Glad you like it, Darnell! 🙂 The whole team at Safari Live is doing a fantastic job!

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What about Wild Dogs? Do you have some of them there?

African wild dogs do indeed live in the area where SafariLIVE operates. Though you will have to be very lucky to spot them: it’s an endangered species after all! Besides, wild dogs are always on the move in search of food.

Game viewing chances are higher in Sabi Sands where they have been seen on several occasions in the past 3 months.

Good luck and happy spotting! 😉

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Hello Michael,

If I wanted to make each of the guides a wood burnt picture of their favorite creature to display my appreciation for their devotion to their job. How would I go about that endeavor?

I would need all of their favorite animals except Tristan, he is the Leopard Hunter. The rest have not emphatically stated their precedence several times.

I can send you examples of what I have done if needed.

Keith Cooper

Great idea! 🙂

Best is to contact them directly. You can find all the details here:

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Hello all. Very few comments on cheetah.

' src=

Brent, I thought I was looking at James Statham!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Safari Guides

By jennifer m wood | dec 4, 2015.

Pieter Pretorius // Image courtesy Nat Geo WILD

Once the domain of thrill-seekers and Ernest Hemingway, safaris have officially gone mainstream. In 2014, African Business Magazine reported that Africa’s tourism industry is the world’s fastest-growing. At the heart of its safari industry are the guides who help wildlife-seeking adventurers experience the continent’s Big Five in their natural habitats, and occasionally remove a snake or baboon from their guest quarters. We talked to the team behind Nat Geo WILD’s Safari Live about the realities of life in the bush.


Though knowledge of the terrain in which a safari guide works—and the animals that call it home—are essential to the job, they're not the most important requirement. “I’ve come across many guides over time who have great knowledge of the bush, great passion for the bush, but they don’t like people,” admits Pieter Pretorius , safari guide and host of Nat Geo WILD’s Safari Live . “And that’s not a good start for a guide. Because in the end, the key part of guiding really is working with people … That’s really what a guide does, is enhance the experience for people when they go on safaris.”

“A friend of mine once said that it’s 10 percent of what you know and 90 percent of what you are that makes you a good field guide,” says Stefan Winterboer, a professional field guide and presenter for Nat Geo WILD’s Safari Live . “So you definitely have to have a love for people. Also, you’ve got to be a likeable person; you’ve got to be a bit of an entertainer, a bit of a rogue. But you also have to have an aptitude for picking up things in the natural world. So you’ve got to have a naturalist aptitude as well.”


“As far as getting a job, there are standards that need to be met before you’re allowed to practice as a guide,” Winterboer explains. “That registration is not too difficult to obtain. However, you progress according to the qualifications that are set by a nongovernmental agency, the Field Guides Association of South Africa, which is a section 21 company, meaning that it is registered as the industry’s voice at a governmental level. And they have a variety of different qualifications that you can get. And it’s knowledge matched with experience, matched with practical application of everything. And you can study for 15 years before you reach the top qualification.”


“Surprisingly, an in-depth knowledge of ecology and the fearlessness of a Zulu warrior are not prerequisites,” says professional field guide and Safari Live presenter James Hendry. “Ecologists often make poor guides because they bore their guests to tears. Guides who exude bravado terrify their already-fearful guests by getting too close to animals—and they terrify animals for the same reason. People skills and an ability to communicate are skills a guide needs. The rest can be learned from books and mentors.”


When asked about the most important characteristics a safari guide must have, professional field guide and  Safari Live presented Brent Leo-Smith says, “The main skill required is patience. Patience with people, patience with animals.”


“As wonderful as it is to be wearing all green and khaki, most animals see in black and white,” says Leo-Smith. “So generally you want to avoid wearing dark blacks and bright whites. Pretty much you can get away with almost every color apart from black or white.”


Like any itinerary-driven venture, safaris run on a very specific schedule. So it’s part of the safari guide’s job to wake guests up in the morning. “If the guide oversleeps, the guests oversleep,” says Pretorius. “We often don’t put alarm clocks in their rooms. Being a guide is really just being a host. As a guide, you’re the first person the guests hear from in the morning, and the last person they see in the evening."


“One of the most fascinating tasks I’ve ever had to complete was driving a trailer of diesel fuel for a generator through a big storm,” Pretorius recalls. “I mean, there were trees blown over and rivers flooded, and here we were driving through all of this in a safari vehicle towing a massive half-ton trailer of diesel. ... It was almost an hour’s drive under normal conditions. And we were driving in this seriously big thunderstorm. You could hardly see.”

“The most bizarre thing I’ve probably been asked to do is jump into a flooded river to get a rope to the other side to attach it to a tree so that we could ferry supplies by rope and pulley to a group of tourists and rangers who were stuck on the other side,” Winterboer adds. “The only way to get this rope across was to jump into the river and swim it with a rope attached to me. Which, in hindsight, was the dumbest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”


As the “go-to person for your guests—from waking people at all hours of the night to dealing with medical emergencies like heart attacks, falls, broken arms, strokes, etc.—if something happens, you get a call and then you figure out a way to handle it,” says Winterboer. “You also have to be mechanically minded. In remote locations like this, if your vehicle breaks down, you have to know how to fix it. Or else you risk getting stuck.”


“Getting a distress call from your guests to remove either a snake or scorpion from their bedroom is a fairly common but surprising task,” admits Scott Dyson, a field guide and  Safari Live presenter. But creepy crawly things aren’t the only uninvited critters who’ve made their way into guests’ quarters on occasion. “When I worked at one of the luxury lodges a few years ago, I got called to a guest’s room to chase away the baboons,” says Leo-Smith.


One of the biggest misconceptions about safaris, according to Pretorius, “would be that it’s dangerous. It can be dangerous. But mostly, it’s a beautiful experience. It’s not a sort of dangerous or scary experience that you live through. It’s a beautiful experience that you are enriched by. Yes, there are lions and leopards and other predators that could eat you, but we are part of their habitat and they ignore us for the most part. And a good guide knows when to bring guests around animals and when to avoid potential bad situations. Reading animals’ behavior is key to succeeding in this role.”


“My favorite part of the job is seeing guests’ reactions when an awesome situation unfolds, or when they realize the beauty of the environment,” says Dyson. “I feed off the excitement of newcomers to the bush. It’s important to feed off their energy. We, as guides, tend to get complacent and get to see the same things every day. But by seeing guests’ reactions, it reminds us of how lucky we are to be working in a place like this.”


“Sometimes the animals don’t play along with your plan and sometimes you can have difficult people—especially if you have different groups on the same vehicle,” says Leo-Smith. “Actually managing the dynamics among different people is tricky. Sometimes you can have Americans, Germans, and British people all with very different outlooks on what we should be doing, and you try to make them all friends, basically. I’ve actually had guests try to physically punch each other on safari before, and my tracker and I had to separate them. The one thought the other was asking too many questions and monopolizing the guide’s time.”


“Don’t stress too much about the amount of bugs out here,” says Winterboer. “There are not that many. Some people don’t want to travel to Africa because they’re scared of getting malaria or being bitten by something or being infested by swarms and clouds of bugs. And while that can be true in some areas, it’s not true about most safari destinations. It’s not clouds and swarms of bugs here.”

“You do see some really entertaining people arrive with their bug-off clothing,” says Leo-Smith. “I don’t even think they make those things in Africa—these DEET-impregnated shirts and pants—they all come from the States. I think the strangest thing I’ve ever seen is actually a couple of guests from Hong Kong who wore these completely mirrored sun visors. They looked like RoboCop. It came down and covered the whole face.”


“You can spot tourists coming from the States a mile away,” Winterboer says. “They’re all wearing these quick-dry pants with the zip-off bottoms and the clothes that never fit them and the most bizarre variety of hats that I’ve ever seen in my life. When in reality, you could just wear next to anything.”


“We get very, very close to animals here in Africa,” Winterboer says. “And it sometimes overwhelms guests who are not used to the fact that all of a sudden, they could be sitting in an open vehicle a couple of feet away from something that could jump in and kill them, or bump the car over.”

“Guests are always surprised by the close proximity that we can get to animals without disrupting them, which is great because guests get much closer than they expected and often that excites them,” Dyson says. “One minute you can be driving, and the next you’re meters from a lion or a leopard. Your heart starts racing. It’s always great to watch the guests’ reactions.” Hendry adds: “Sitting 30 feet from a pride of lions or having a leopard go to sleep in the shade of your safari vehicle is a completely otherworldly experience.”


“Think carefully about what you want,” suggests Hendry. “Wildlife? Luxury? Scenery? Action? Remoteness? There are all sorts of options, from pampered luxury to hardcore camping safaris—each with its own benefit. You could come to a luxury South African lodge, eat Michelin-star food, have a massage after your morning and afternoon safari and then relax next to your own plunge pool with a spectacular view. You need as much physical fitness for this as you do to get out of bed! Alternatively, you could go on a walking safari in Zambia, camping and cooking on fire. It all depends on how much you want to be immersed in the wild and what your tastes are. In short, you can safari like an explorer of old or you can do it like a celebrity.”


“Obviously when you look at it from the outside, it’s a wonderful and romantic job, with sunrises and sunsets and lions and elephants all around you,” says Leo-Smith. “But there are also flat tires, broken oil sumps, radios that don’t work, staff that doesn’t arrive on time, bad roads, and bad weather. There are just problems sometimes with logistics and keeping it all up and running.”

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

A look at the Western Cape through the eyes of a nature lover

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Behind the scenes with the wildearth crew.

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Every month, more than a million people around the world have been clicking onto the WildEarth channels, desperate to experience the magic of the African bush. Curious to know what goes on behind the scenes, Narina Exelby hopped into a vehicle for a sunset drive with the WildEarth crew.

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Amera operator Sebastien Rombi and naturalist Tessa Woolgar, bringing the magic of the bush into living rooms across the globe.

It’s late afternoon – hot at the end of summer – and all across the Lowveld, safari vehicles are leaving camps, searching for surprises the bush might have in store. While many amble along, with guides and trackers leaning out to read the tracks, one – driven by &Beyond Ngala guide Tessa Woollgar – is moving with a sense of purpose. ‘We’re going to check on the wounded blonde Ross male,’ she says, shifting gear. ‘We spent time with him this morning; the viewers were very concerned.’

As well as a guide at Ngala, Tessa is a naturalist for WildEarth, a channel that livestreams game drives from five wildlife reserves around South Africa. Twice a day, unscripted three-hour drives are broadcast from the bush – and over the course of a month, more than one million viewers in 150 countries will watch from the comfort of their homes.

Earlier this morning, Tessa and camera operator Sebastien Rombi came across the injured lion during their sunrise broadcast. As Seb zoomed in on the gash on the lion’s forehead, sympathy flooded into the comments boxes of WildEarth’s YouTube and Facebook pages: ‘Ouch! Oh my – look at that wound! Poor boy. Oh my goodness! Claw or tooth puncture? Looks horrible!’ ‘There have been a lot of lionesses in the area,’ one viewer wrote, assessing the situation. ‘The fight could have been over a lioness.’

It’s easy for Tessa to find the lion – he’s exactly where she’d left him earlier, and as she sidles the vehicle closer she muses, ‘It’s incredible how loyal the viewers are. They love getting to know the animals, learning their behaviour and dynamics – and they form real attachments to the cats, especially.’

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The WildEarth cameras are always fixed and positioned just behind the naturalist – which gives the impression the viewer is in the vehicle on the game drive.

Tessa’s not on air yet. Via the earpieces they wear throughout the drive, Tessa and Seb have been informed by Jarrett Mukheibir, one of the show’s directors in the Johannesburg studio, that the current live segment is on a leopard at &Beyond Phinda. ‘We can’t hear what’s being broadcast, but the director keeps us informed with who’s live and what animal they’re with. When we go live, the director feeds me any relevant questions and comments from viewers so that I can respond in real time.’

It’s this interaction that viewers love; it makes them feel an integral part of the drive, and it’s helped to build a loyal and tight-knit online community. ‘When I go into WildEarth’s live chat there are specific people I’ll always have a conversation with,’ Jen Rast, a WildEarth follower from Australia, told me as we chatted – in person – over breakfast at &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp. ‘The connection that people have with each other is a big part of what we all love about the channel.’

‘This trip has been emotional and surreal,’ Jen said as hot croissants arrived from Ngala’s kitchen. ‘I’ll always cherish the moment I saw my first lion in real life. He was one of the Ross males, sitting there looking so regal; even his mane was blowing in the wind.’

The lion Jen mentioned is the brother of the injured one we’re watching now – and it was quite likely he who caused the gash on this lion’s forehead. Tessa positions the vehicle so that Seb can catch the best view of him, then watches the screen mounted on the passenger seat as Seb zooms in on the wound. ‘See how it’s starting to scab up around the edges? It’s looking better than it did this morning,’ she says, watching the same footage viewers would see if she were broadcasting live. ‘The viewers will be relieved.’

Seb holds a hand to his ear, listening to the voice in his earpiece. ‘Signal’s not going through,’ he says. The lion barely raises his head as Tessa repositions the vehicle; a few moments pass. Seb checks the WildEarth WhatsApp group. ‘They can’t hear us,’ he says. Seb reboots his equipment. Tessa repositions the vehicle again, then again. Still no signal.

‘Getting signal out here is not an exact science – we had a great connection right here this morning,’ shrugs Gabon-born Seb, who has filmed around Africa for 10 years for the likes of National Geographic , and who’s worked for WildEarth for five years. ‘We tend to have better signal in the winter. The dense bush in the summer really hampers our connection – even though we have four connections to two service providers.’

Finding a signal isn’t the only technical challenge while broadcasting from the bush. The gear works hard – six hours a day, out in the elements – and then there are the spiders that lay eggs in the wiring; elephants that dig up the cables at the popular Dam Cam webcam; monkeys that pull wires down.

The wounded lion would make an excellent segment but, Tessa and Seb agree, they’ve been here long enough. ‘We need to contribute to the show,’ Seb shrugs. ‘It’s time to move on.’

Can they not just film this lion now, send it to the studio when they find signal and slip it into the broadcast? ‘Definitely not,’ Tessa feigns horror at my suggestion. ‘There’s always something special to see in the bush, whether it’s a golden orb spider in the early morning light, or a bird of prey, or an elephant with her calf. Every broadcast we do is live and completely wild – and that’s the magic of it.’

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What’s next for WildEarth?

A vision of WildEarth founders Emily and Graham Wallington has always been to connect people with nature and instill the importance of nature worldover. With their combined experience in TV and the internet (Emily produced wildlife documentaries for BBC and Graham set up Africam) and the help of partner and shareholder Peter Braat, the couple has created a channel that, since 2006, has succeeded in doing just that… but it hasn’t always been easy.

‘When we started out, traditional TV broadcasters told us our content was too boring – but that has changed now,’ says Emily. ‘People really enjoy this kind of escape. We have so much feedback from people on how the broadcasts help them to stay present, how it helps with stress.’

Discussions are now underway for WildEarth to be shown on TV channels in the Middle East, Finland and France (with safaris dubbed into French in real time). ‘We’ve also started the Explorers Programme,’ says Emily. ‘With this, viewers sign up to become a WildEarth Explorer and get various benefits, including live fireside chats with the guides and opportunities to win prizes from our partner locations.’

Faces you might know

Tristan Dicks, Naturalist Known for his passion for leopards, Tristan has been presenting on WildEarth for four years. ‘I’m generally a very quiet and shy person, so initially I was petrified of doing live presenter guiding,’ he admits. ‘Luckily those fears have dissipated, and having the opportunity to explore the wilderness and share it with a greater, like-minded community is incredibly rewarding.’

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Trishala Naidu, Naturalist Trishala – who says she’s a ‘super nerd who’s super curious’ – moved from Durban to Melbourne when she was 12 but returned to South Africa ‘because I had always been in love with the country and its natural environment. Science and understanding the natural world has always bought me such joy – and working on WildEarth has shown me how my knowledge and curiosity can enrich other peoples’ lives.’

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B’kay Uhuru, Camera Operator Since he joined the WildEarth team two years ago, B’kay says, ‘my love for nature has grown and grown, to a point where people tell me that I’ve changed. My perspective on life has changed, and I have learnt the importance of nature and the role it plays in our life; how it balances itself, and how animals interact with each other.’

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What the fans say

Beverly Williams, Lebanon, Oregon, USA I have severe anxiety and depression, as well as a brain tumour, and watching WildEarth has helped me relax so I can sleep. It also helps with my depression and I have fewer seizures. It’s given me a bonding opportunity with the animals; watching them grow and move on with their lives gives me a purpose to continue my life and not give up.

Jen Rast, Melbourne, Australia WildEarth has really helped me understand more about biodiversity and the role each living thing plays.

Jackie Boshoff, Centurion, Pretoria The first thing I do every morning is turn on the TVto watch the sunrise drive, and I watch again in the afternoon while I’m preparing supper. It kept me entertained during Lockdown – I’m fascinated by the Djuma Clan and I love the dynamics and family trees of the leopards of Djuma and surroundings.

Steven Chinhoi, Kariba, Zimbabwe My whole family is hooked on WildEarth. I’m a safari guide so I never get tired of watching wildlife and I really appreciate how they feature experts on different subjects, for example grasses.

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Everything you need to know about going on safari in Africa with renowned expert Marlon du Toit

Brian Kelly

Embarking on an African safari is undoubtedly one of the most memorable travel experiences to be had.

I've now been on several, and the connection you feel with nature is simply indescribable. Some of my greatest travel experiences ever have come from safaris, and I regularly purchase various pieces of art and other mementos to take home with me after a safari .

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter .

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Throughout the last year of border closings and stay-home orders, I realized just how much I love safaris and it made me all the more excited to begin planning one for sooner rather than later, now that borders are opening back up and traveling internationally is becoming less of a hurdle.

I recently had the privilege of sitting down to chat with Marlon du Toit, an expert on all things pertaining to African safaris and a well-known wildlife photographer .

Du Toit grew up in a small town in the middle of Kruger National Park in South Africa and his father owned a small safari company, so animals and living among wildlife are inherent in his DNA. He grew up around wild animals including warthogs, impalas, elephants, hippopotamus, lions and more. In fact, as Marlon explains, it was commonplace for cricket games in his town to be interrupted by lions and elephants, and his neighbors even were woken up at 4 a.m. to a pride of lions congregated right outside their front gate.

We covered a lot in our discussion, from tips for first-time safari-goers to photography tips to the critical impact tourism has on sustainability and animal wellbeing.

If you don't follow du Toit on Instagram already, I highly suggest you do so -- you won't regret it! You can catch our full Instagram Live conversation here , but I'm also going to highlight some of the most important considerations to be mindful of while planning a safari, whether it's your first experience or you return regularly, and how safaris are critical to not only local economies and workers who are employed by the many reserves and camps but also to maintaining the wellbeing of the local animal populations.

Here's what you need to know:

Mythbusting: Safaris are dangerous

For many in the early stages of planning a safari, one of the principal concerns is safety. There's a perception that being so close to animals in their natural habitat is reckless and could lead to bodily harm or even death.

Yes, you'll get very close to the animals, looking many of them directly in the eyes. However, as du Toit explains, these animals have grown accustomed to safari vehicles operating in their territory, and they don't kill or attack humans left and right.

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Being up close and personal with the animals is part of the unforgettable experience of a safari, and entering their natural habitat without altering their behavior truly makes it feel like you're living in a National Geographic documentary.

Advice for planning your first safari

When planning your first safari, you'll likely want to travel to a destination that not only offers a wide variety of animals to see, but also an established infrastructure of lodges and reserves which make the logistics of this kind of trip so much easier.

Du Toit notes two countries in particular -- South Africa and Kenya -- that are relatively easy to get to and have well-established national parks and private reserves that offer a first-time safari traveler everything they'd need to have a memorable vacation.

In South Africa, many safari destinations can be reached with one easy flight from Johannesburg, which itself is reachable easily from North America . And the country offers a bit of everything, from Kruger National Park to high-end private reserves like Singita and Sabi Sands that are well-equipped to meet the needs and expectations of someone traveling on a safari for the first time.

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Kenya is also relatively easy to reach from most of the world, and its capital of Nairobi is just about an hour away from the world-famous Maasai Mara where you can witness the Great Migration taking place -- typically during the months of July and August. And it's close to other countries like Uganda and Rwanda where you can partake in other unforgettable experiences like trekking with gorillas.

When's the best time to go on a safari?

Generally, it's best to plan a safari for the dry season. In South Africa , this typically means from July through October.

When it's rainy, animals have more land to spread out over, since water's far easier to come by. However, when water isn't as plentiful during the dry season, all sorts of animals are forced to converge around the same water holes, allowing travelers to see a far greater variety of animals.

Are there different kinds of safaris?

Yes, there are a wide range of experiences one can have on a safari vacation.

Besides the traditional game drive, there are night drives, walking safaris, water-based safaris and much more.

As du Toit explained during our conversation, night drives (something I have yet to do) are uniquely special because after the evening sundowner (an incredible experience in and of itself), you can observe animals doing things you'd never see during the day. Lions, for example, don't do a ton during the day. But at night, lions become more active, meaning you can possibly even follow them as they hunt for zebras or giraffes.

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Walking safaris, born primarily in Zimbabwe and Zambia and found mostly in private reserves, are a way to connect to nature in a way you never thought was possible before. In some reserves, the entire, multiple-day safari is on foot -- allowing one to focus on their place in nature and find their balance with it.

There are also plenty of aerial safari experiences, like hot air balloon rides or even climbing sand dunes on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia to observe animals in the morning as they cast long shadows on the white sand. Or, you can experience a safari from the water in a place like the Okavango Delta in Botswana, where you see wildlife from a canoe-like boat and where the delta's water lilies are practically at eye-level.

A safari I'm particularly interested in going on is at the Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. These are four large pools, located on the banks of the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls. Here, according to du Toit, about 99% of the safari is on foot. You begin with a drive in the morning and then leave the vehicle behind and follow an animal -- or group of animals -- on foot for the rest of the day.

Should I take photos or live in the moment?

I was really curious for du Toit's take on the question of photography. He's a wildlife photographer after all, but I was curious if he thought first-time safari travelers should focus on the experience rather than concerning themselves with getting the perfect shot.

Du Toit, though, is in favor of photography, even on your first safari. He points out that today's technology makes it so easy to take photos, and if you decided to leave your camera at home, there will certainly be moments where you wish you hadn't.

Even if you're not an experienced photographer, you can rent cameras in many camera shops or even at some (not many) reserves. And some lodges even have their own photo studios where you can work with a member of staff to edit and even print off your photos, so you can travel home with your memories.

If you're going to buy a camera before embarking on a safari, du Toit recommends finding a mirrorless one -- they're the future of photography. They're lightweight and hardly make any noise, and ideal combination for a safari.

No matter what, have your phone with you. The camera technology found in today's smartphones is so strong and they make it incredibly easy to use. One tip from du Toit, though: Don't ever zoom.

The impact of safaris on the local economy and sustainability

Perhaps the most important thing I discussed with du Toit was the impact safaris have on the economies of many African nations as well as the positive effect they have on the sustainability and wellbeing of animals.

He explained that a total shutdown of tourism was quite possibly the worst-case scenario for the many areas in which safaris and reserves operate.

The lack of tourists occupying -- and spending money at -- the numerous safari lodges and reserves creates a situation where the properties are forced to lay off workers, leaving them without a salary and perhaps worse down the line -- without food. And then, many of these hungry former workers are desperate and turn to subsistence poaching to survive, which has disastrous effects on the ecosystem and exacerbates the already acute problems of criminal poaching and animal depopulation.

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As this cycle continues, it becomes progressively harder for a given locality to break the chain, and groups dedicated to maintaining the wellbeing of animals are strained further.

All this is to say that these countries need tourists to return. Even if you don't feel it's right for your family right now, consider booking a trip further in the future. For those concerned about traveling amid COVID-19 , du Toit made a great point: Safari vacations are quite possibly the best types of trips to take if you want to remain distant from others. You arrive at the airport, are picked up by staff from the reserve and then driven to your destination where it's entirely possible you won't even encounter other guests.

And if it's the logistics you're concerned about, plenty of airlines -- particularly ones like Qatar Airways -- fly into many safari destinations in Africa regularly, so there's still more than enough opportunities to fly there in comfort and even some style.

Du Toit said it best: "Africa is ready and waiting."

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Get The Thrill Of A Safari Without Ever Leaving Home

Nick Visser

Senior Reporter, HuffPost

A WildEarth guide and cameraman film Karula, a female leopard, in the Djuma Game Reserve near Kruger National Park.

More than 8,000 miles from New York City, a team of a few dozen goes on safari every day, films everything they encounter and broadcasts the results live on the internet. The three-hour show starts at 5 a.m. local time near South Africa's Kruger National Park -- 10 p.m. eastern -- and is repeated again in the afternoon.

One morning, viewers may spot a leopard sleeping in a marula tree , paws dangling over either side of a branch. A few minutes later, that same leopard may chow on an early breakfast, gulping down the ribcage of an impala she hoisted up to keep away from hyenas .

For the evening drive, that leopard may be gone, replaced by a herd of elephants, a termite mound or a southern masked weaver building its nest. Whatever the team at WildEarth stumble on that day, viewers see in realtime alongside commentary from experienced safari guides.

Karula enjoys the remains of an impala, which she hoisted up into a tree.

The team, led by married couple Graham and Emily Wallington, has filmed from the Djuma Game Reserve , about 300 miles northeast of Johannesburg, for years. The reserve shares a border with Kruger -- South Africa's most famous national park -- and nearly all of the animals associated with a safari are there, including the Big Five .

The plan to broadcast live content began with a camera screwed into a tree above a watering hole in 1998 that would take a still image every 30 seconds or so. That camera, now in full video, still operates nearly two decades later -- albeit in a different tree after one was downed by a storm, another an elephant. The first live safari was broadcast in 2007 and has been running ever since.

Two guides venture out twice daily in Land Rovers outfitted with a camera rig on the back. Another is out often on foot for a bush walk. Antennas strapped to the back of the vehicles (or a cameraman, if it's a walk) transmit the signal back to a control room on site or in Johannesburg, where it's fed directly online with no more than a few seconds' delay.

Bush walks offer viewers a unique experience from the ground, but guides can find themselves in dangerous situations. Some carry rifles in case of emergency.

About a thousand viewers are tuned in at any time -- many diehard fans watch daily -- and anyone can ask questions via Twitter in real time . How many spots does a leopard have? Do elephants get wrinklier over time? Tweet the control room and within minutes the guides will turn towards the camera and answer for you, using years of guiding experience, to explain that those spots are actually rosettes and that it depends on the cat.

As with any live broadcast things can go wrong -- and they do. If it's cloudy, the antennas may not be able to broadcast their signal and the feed will cut out. Microphones can stop transmitting and if it rains too strongly (which it seldom does as South Africa's in a hardcore drought ), no safari. But the team expertly navigates many of these issues on the fly, and a guide on a bush walk can chat entertainingly for an hour about the different moths they stumble across should a vehicle get a thorn in a tire.

All of this prep culminates the day after Thanksgiving, when WildEarth broadcasts its video feed directly to American homes on Nat Geo WILD, the exclusively animal cable affiliate of the magazine. This is the second year Graham and Emily Wallington's crew will host its show for an audience of millions -- and it can get exciting.

Last year, the cameras captured the birth of a wildebeest. Another broadcast saw a pack of wild dogs killing a pregnant impala in an extremely graphic, but very primal encounter that few had seen live.

These are wild animals and there really is no telling what will or won't happen, or what. Big cats are elusive and a favored tree can be far from the reach of a Land Rover. But for those unable to venture to South Africa, the experience provides viewers with the real thrill of a game drive, where animals roam in their native habitats.

Graham Wallington said the live broadcasts provide a step above the reality shown on a nature documentary, where lions perform a half dozen kills in a few minutes. We all love to see the burst of action, but WildEarth's reality is a little more real -- and a pride may laze about for 20 hours a day, with the only action being a big male rolling onto his back in the sun.

Even the team of experienced guides can't guarantee what'll happen, a very grounded fear for a crew ramping up for just its second cable broadcast.

But in the bush, something's always worth watching.

Safari Live will air on Nat Geo WILD throughout Big Cat Week , with primetime shows airing from 11 p.m. to midnight Friday to Sunday. Three-hour daytime drives (dusk in South Africa) will air at 9 a.m. eastern from Saturday through Dec. 4. You can tune in online , or on Nat Geo WILD .

Editor's note: The writer of this post traveled to South Africa as a guest of National Geographic.

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How A ‘Wildlife Soap Opera’ Hopes To Change The Face Of Conservation

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I sat staring, my jaw hanging open. No more than 10 feet from me, Xongila, an adolescent female leopard, was practicing pouncing on a lifeless impala. The prey was still fully intact — its fur gleaming, its black eyes open, and its mouth gently pulled back. It was clear that this was a fresh kill, hunted just hours earlier.

Xongila paced away a few feet, then turned her head and stared at the carcass. She moved slowly towards her prey a second time — back arched, shoulder blades protruding. With a swift move, she was on top of the impala, biting directly into its neck. I glanced around our jeep at the other passengers — Angeli Gabriel, writer and host with National Geographic and Alex Goetz and Justin Grubb, winners of the company’s “Wild to Inspire” film contest . Everyone wore the same expression: “I can’t believe I’m watching this right now.” We all cringed in unison as bones cracked like hard candy under Xongila’s bite.

James Hendry, our NatGeo WILD safari guide , explained that Xongila was practicing important hunting skills, which would be essential once she was on her own. Her mother, Karula, was known by the NatGeo team as an excellent caregiver, having successfully raised 10 cubs (a huge feat in the big cat world). She sat nearby, unfazed by her daughter’s mischief. Karula kept nodding off as the young leopard went back and forth between her mother and the impala carcass. The two cats were up on a hill, out in plain sight and our view of them couldn’t have been clearer.

Watching this play out, I was struck by how similar the scene was to a mother and child relationship in the human world. Child playing with a toy at a safe distance, mother napping nearby while keeping an eye on the child. At one point Xongila accidentally bit down on her mother’s tail, and Karula barred her teeth and hissed with irritation.

This scene was one of many during my four days on location with NatGeo WILD’s safariLIVE that helped me truly understand what co-founder, Emily Wallington, had tried to explain upon my arrival at the private reserve. As we rumbled along a dusty road, I asked her how this new series would push conservation efforts. The show, the first of its kind, will take viewers on a live safari and give them a chance to get up close and personal with wildlife without ever leaving the comforts of their living rooms.

“The idea is really to get people to fall in love with these animals,” Wallington told me. “There’s a story in these animals’ day-to-day lives. A story that will lead you to feel invested in them. That’s our method of conservation….rather than to talk about poachers or to recite facts.”

A safari soap opera? At first, I wasn’t totally convinced. But as I sat and watched Xongila play with her kill, as the sky behind her slowly darkened, I understood exactly what Wallington meant. We ended up tracking Karula and her two cubs for three days and I found myself thinking about them each night as I settled in my room at the Djuma Game Reserve’s Vuyatela Lodge . I wondered if Karula had reunited with her son, Hosana, after they lost each other when a pride of lions moved into their territory. Had Xongila eaten the impala yet, or was it up in the tree somewhere? What if another animal got to it first?

Just as Wallington predicted, I’d grown deeply invested in the well-being of these animals. The producer of the show, Geraldine Kent echoed the sentiment when she told me, “You can’t protect something you don’t understand.” By allowing us to follow along, the NatGeo team offered up an immersive glimpse into the complexities of the animal kingdom. We had time to notice and appreciate how similar these species were to us, how difficult it is to survive, and how intricate their world truly is.

After a mesmerizing afternoon with Xongila and Karula, I was completely satisfied. If I’d gone home that night, I would have told my family and friends that it had been the best safari of my entire life (I’d spent a semester abroad in South Africa in my early 20s and had visited Kruger National Park ). Little did I know, the leopard encounter was just the beginning of four days of slack jawed, “Is this really happening?”-type encounters.

The following morning, at 5am sharp, we set out in our trusty jeep “Rusty” to see what the new day might bring. Perhaps we’d see a zebra or giraffe. Maybe a tortoise or the infamous “go-away” bird. As we bounced down the rocky road, sleepy and bundled against the cold morning breeze, a voice crackled through the radio.

“James, come in. We found the Nkuhuma Pride. They are feasting on a buffalo just east of you.”

The energy in the jeep shifted. Alex and Justin scrambled to set up their cameras, Angeli fumbled with her phone to open Snapchat, and I started scanning the horizon—I wanted to be the first to glimpse the pride. We drove through shrubs, knocking down saplings like a charging elephant, then skidded to a stop in a clearing. In the distance, we spotted two adult females and five cubs huddled around a giant buffalo. As we drew closer, I saw that the abdomen of the massive beast was completely hollowed out and the lions were busy tearing meat off the spine. The females grunted and moaned as they fought over the best parts, while their cubs wrestled and played nearby, their bellies full.

We noticed that one of the females seemed distracted — agitated even — looking off into the distance. We followed her gaze, but couldn’t spot anything. Hendry explained that there must be something we were missing. Sure enough, the pride suddenly started to run away, leaving the kill, while the cubs fought to keep up.

As we raced after the pack, Hendry radioed to the other NatGeo WILD jeep, which was filming live, “Two cubs are missing, they may still be with the kill.” The lioness would periodically stop and turn back, looking for the cubs that she’d left behind. Just as concerned, we also kept our heads on a swivel, anxiously waiting for the missing cubs to catch up. It was getting late and we were expected back at camp, so eventually we had to leave the pack, not knowing if the cubs made it to safety.

That evening, hunched over a feast of pork ribs and mashed potatoes, the crew discussed what may have happened. “A group of anti-poachers must have gotten too close.” Hendry turned to us when he noticed our puzzled looks. “Lions are terrified of humans on foot. As long as we’re in the jeep, we don’t pose a threat, but the second we are standing upright, they want nothing to do with us.”

That seemed to be the only reasonable explanation at the time. It was later reported over the radio that the two cubs had made it back to the pride, safely — our crew let out a collective sigh of relief.

As Emily Wallington explained, it’s stories like these that keep fans hooked on NatGeo WILD week after week. During their SafariLIVE drives, airing online twice daily, the audience is even more involved — asking questions which are answered live during the show. Recognizing that the younger generation is truly the future of conservation, Wallington also launched a “school drive” program, dedicated specifically to grade school students. During these drives, only students can ask questions (via Skype), while the rest of the viewers listen in. I rode along on one such drive, and we spotted a leopard tortoise that poked his head out curiously to take a peek at us. The students were thrilled by this small interaction.

“Jacob wants to know how long a tortoise can live” Jamie Paterson, a Natgeo WILD SafariLIVE guide announced. Jamie then answered the question and went on to discuss predators, the speed at which tortoises move, and how to distiguish a tortoise from a turtle.

Viewers of SafariLIVE not only learn to love these animals, but also understand what it means to live in harmony with them. The tortoise was not touched or picked up because, as Jamie told students, “When scared, a tortoise will urinate, and this can cause dehydration out in the heat of the African sun!” During our evening drives, guides were careful not to shine the flashlight directly at a prey animals, because it would compromise their vision and make them more vulnerable to predators.

On the flip side, when a lion pride was hit with a very rare disease among wild animals — white muscle disease — the crew, while heart-broken, did not intervene as they watched two cubs become paralyzed and die. Some viewers begged the crew to do something, as this disease can be treated, but the guides understand that ultimately human engagement in these situations doesn’t benefit animals in the wild. It’s clear that the guides are setting a standard for how humans should interact with wildlife and the audience is internalizing this message.

On our last day at the reserve, I woke up antsy. I still hadn’t seen elephants. I’ve always loved elephants for their high intelligence and how they seem imposing yet gentle. Plus, who could forget The Jungle Patrol led by Colonel Hathi in Disney’s The Jungle Book ? As a child, I was sold when little Hathi Jr. plead with his dad to let Mowgli join their herd. But as with any wildlife experience, Safari LIVE makes no guarantees about what you’ll see. That is really the magic of it all — the suspense of not knowing.

We packed into the jeep that now felt as familiar as the family van, and sped off. Soon we stopped by a lake to see hippos. We waited in silence with our binoculars pressed against our eyes. Nothing. A bird sat on a log and took a sip. The water rippled. Someone in the jeep yawned. Hendry started the engine. We drove on, all eyes squinting in different directions, hoping to catch one last glimpse of these beautiful animals in their natural habitat before the trip ended. An hour later, it seemed as if the animals had agreed, “Show’s over. You’ve seen enough.”

I sat back in my seat, deciding to enjoy the warm breeze and the sounds of the plain….

I sprang up to see one single elephant munching away on a leafy tree just a few feet from us. Soon, we saw others appear, one by one, as if on cue. Hendry explained that this was a herd of adolescent males who were trying out their independence, like any teen would, by wandering off on their own.

At first, they didn’t notice us at all. Hendry explained that the smell of the engine masks the human scent, and because we were not standing upright, the animals felt safe. But with the engine off, a gust of wind blew our scent towards the elephant nearest us, and he suddenly looked over and saw us for the first time. He stopped chewing and moved in closer, flaring his ears and stomping his feet. Then took another step in our direction. We kept looking at Hendry nervously, expecting him to start the engine, but he didn’t move. The elephant stomped once again and a tense moment passed between us as we all waited to see what would happen next. Finally, he lost interest and went back to a bush to continue feeding.

“ That is the most nervous I’ve been on this trip !” Alex Goetz, who was sitting closest to the elephant, said.

Hendry responded, “If this was an adult male, we would have been gone a long time ago. But this is an adolescent trying out his scare tactics. I knew he wouldn’t actually attack.” We were all glad he was right.

After a truly wild week, I reluctantly left the sanctuary with a newfound appreciation for the difficult, beautiful, infinitely complex, and deeply enthralling lives of animals in the wild. As James Hendry put it, “Contact with wild animals opens a channel for me as a human through which I can touch the wilderness…” after four days with their crew, I understood precisely what he meant.

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Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Wildlife Safari Locations And More

Our detailed Step-by-Step Guide to the Best Wildlife Safari Locations will help you embark on the adventure of a lifetime tailored to your preferred safari experience. 

Witness mighty herds stampeding across expansive savannas where survival unfolds daily. Spot an elusive leopard camouflaged in a tree, ever observant for prey as you explore lush rainforests. Wander through untamed landscapes guided by ancient elephant matriarchs to watering holes where life is sustained. Encounter playful baboon troops calling through the trees. 

Feel the cool shade of acacia trees as the hot African sun beams over boundless grasslands, and discover the thrill of quietly tracking herds of elephants through dense brush. Find insider information on optimal wildlife safari destinations across Africa to learn why this is a truly unforgettable journey into the heart of nature.

Choosing the Best Safari Location

Factors like budget, location, and personal preferences should guide your safari destination selection. 

Popular countries like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Tanzania each offer unique wildlife and landscapes. Less discovered safari spots, even in popular safari countries, can provide you with an off-the-beaten-path experience. 

Carefully weigh whether you want to join a group tour or private safari to match your needs.

Top Wildlife Safari Destinations In Africa

Iconic African safari destinations like Kruger National Park, Serengeti National Park allows amazing wildlife sightings and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is an immersion into stunning jungle. The Okavango Delta and Maasai Mara host the Great Migration of wildebeest and zebra. See endangered species in Kenya’s Ol Pejeta or rare black rhinos in South Luangwa National Park. Discover which national parks match your interests.

7 Best Wildlife Safari Locations to Consider

Here are seven popular safari parks or reserves to consider, and why you should visit them on your safari tour:

1. Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

The Maasai Mara is renowned for its exceptional populations of lion, leopard, cheetah, and large herds of elephant and buffalo. It is the northern extension of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and is famous for the annual wildebeest migration, considered one of the natural wonders of the world. The reserve's vast grasslands and savannas also provide some of the most dramatic game viewing in Africa.

2. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Serengeti National Park is celebrated for its vast open grasslands and a high concentration of wildlife, including the Big Five. It hosts the spectacular annual Great Migration of millions of wildebeest and zebras. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered one of the most celebrated wilderness areas in the world, offering unparalleled safari experiences.

3. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

South Luangwa National Park is known for its walking safaris and high standards of guiding, providing an immersive wilderness experience. The park boasts a high density of leopards and offers thrilling night drives. Its riverine scenery is home to large populations of elephants, lions, and buffaloes, making it one of Africa's top safari destinations.

4. Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa

The Greater Kruger National Park encompasses the Kruger National Park and numerous private reserves, offering a vast wildlife territory without fencing between the areas. It is known for excellent Big Five sightings and a wide variety of other wildlife. The park's private reserves provide exclusive safari experiences with off-road driving and night game drives.

5. Okavango Delta, Botswana

The Okavango Delta is a unique inland delta known for its stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. The delta's seasonal flooding creates a lush animal habitat, offering both land and water-based safari activities such as mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to a variety of species, including elephants, hippos, and lions.

6. Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya

Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a leader in conservation and the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa. It offers a rare opportunity to see chimpanzees in the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The Conservancy also provides a sanctuary for the two remaining northern white rhinos and a variety of other wildlife, including the Big Five.

7. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park, Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park is a prime location for mountain gorilla trekking, with half of the world's population of mountain gorillas residing within its boundaries. The park's dense forests also host a variety of other primates, birds, and butterflies. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its biodiversity and the critical role it plays in the conservation of endangered species.

7 Off-the-Beaten-Path Locations to Consider

Here are seven off-the-beaten-path safari parks or reserves to consider and reasons why each one is worth visiting on safari:

1. Mkomazi National Park, Tanzania 

This park is a hidden gem in northern Tanzania, often overlooked by safari-goers. It offers a sense of solitude with the chance to do game drives without encountering other vehicles. Mkomazi is also home to the Mkomazi Black Rhino Sanctuary, making it a prime location for glimpsing rhinos in the wild.

2. Katavi National Park, Tanzania

Katavi is known for its remote and uncrowded experience, providing exceptional wildlife viewing. During the dry season, you can witness large herds of buffalo and elephants, as well as impressive lion prides and concentrations of hippos

3. North Luangwa National Park, Zambia  

North Luangwa Park offers a wild and remote safari experience similar to the more famous South Luangwa but with fewer tourists. It's known for walking safaris and high-quality guides. It’s also the only park in Zambia with a population of black rhinos.

4. Majete Wildlife Reserve, Malawi

Once a poached-out reserve, Majete has been transformed into a thriving conservation area with all the Big Five present. It's now one of Africa's most exclusive safari destinations, offering a truly intimate wildlife experience.

5. Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana 

One of the world's largest game reserves is also one of the least visited. The Central Kalahari Game Reserve offers a unique desert safari experience. You can see black-maned Kalahari lions, cheetahs, and various antelope species in a starkly beautiful desert setting.

6. Kidepo Valley National Park, Uganda

Kidepo is praised for its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, including species not found in any other Ugandan parks, including the greater eland, aardwolf, and caracal. It's remote and less visited by tourists, providing a more exclusive safari experience.

7. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa & Botswana 

Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is known for its red sand dunes and dry riverbeds, offering a different kind of safari landscape. It's a haven for predators like the famous black-maned lions and is also great for birdwatching.

What to Consider When Choosing Your Location

By taking the following factors into account, you can make an informed decision when choosing the best safari location for your safari:

Type of Experience: Consider how you wish to experience your safari, whether it's a stand-alone safari, a combination of water and land experiences, or an overland adventure.

Location and View: Pay attention to the location of the lodge and the views it offers. The proximity to wildlife-rich areas and the type of natural views you want to experience are crucial factors to consider.

Season and Migration Patterns: Identify the season and migration patterns, as they can significantly impact the quality of game viewing.

Amenities and Activities: Consider the amenities and activities offered, such as game drives, bush walks, boat rides, and other experiences that align with your interests.

Budget and Level of Independence: Establish a budget and choose the level of independence you desire during the safari. This includes considering the size of the safari, transit times, and the location of your lodging.

Wildlife and Landscapes: Determine which animals are a must-see for you and what type of landscapes you are most interested in, whether it's dramatic mountains, rolling grasslands, thick jungle, or coastline.

Quality of Staff and Guides: The quality of staff, including rangers, trackers, and lodge personnel, can significantly influence your safari experience. It's important to consider the expertise and friendliness of the staff.

Some of the details you should consider when researching your safari tour may be out of reach. Working with an experienced company like Born Free Safaris can bring your dream trip to life with local knowledge and over 50 years of experience. 

Planning Your Safari

Advance planning ensures a smooth safari experience. Book 6-12 months out with a reputable tour operator. Reserve your spot up to 18 months in advance if you want to see the Great Migration in the Serengeti or the Maasai Mara. 

Budget for park fees, accommodations, flights, and activities. Obtain needed visas and vaccinations. Schedule your visit during peak animal viewing seasons, avoiding the rainiest months. Determine if you want a self-guided or group safari tour. Prepare gear and research destination details.

When to go on a safari

While historical patterns once offered clear guidance, recent years have seen significant shifts in wildlife movement thanks to climate change.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all safari seasons. Instead, the ideal time depends on your priorities and desired wildlife experiences. Craving iconic encounters with the Great Migration? Seeking diverse resident game without the crowds? 

While June to October remains the traditional peak season for the Great Migration, herds may move earlier or disperse differently. For the latest updates, consult expert advisors who can tailor your itinerary to maximize your chances of witnessing this awe-inspiring event. Beyond the Great Migration, Africa boasts incredible year-round wildlife viewing opportunities. 

Dry season - May - October

Sparse vegetation makes spotting animals easier, and predators are more active. However, expect cooler temperatures and fewer waterholes, impacting animal distribution.

Wet season - November - April

Lush landscapes and vibrant birdlife emerge, but game viewing can be trickier due to thicker vegetation and scattered animals.

Ultimately, the best time for your safari is the one that aligns with your schedule and interests. Find a more detailed breakdown on the best time to visit specific safari destinations with Born Free Safaris’ guide on When to Travel . We can help you craft a personalized itinerary that optimizes your wildlife encounters, avoids peak crowds, and caters to your specific preferences. 

How long to stay

To truly experience the wonders of Africa, your safari trip should ideally span between 10 to 14 days. Balance Africa's diverse ecosystems without feeling overwhelmed. 

The vast landscapes and the time it takes to travel between parks and reserves mean that each destination requires a minimum stay of 2-3 days to truly appreciate its unique wildlife and scenery. This approach not only maximizes wildlife viewing opportunities but also provides you with a deeper understanding of each area's ecological and cultural significance.

Budgeting and cost considerations

When planning an African safari, it's important to carefully consider the associated costs. A realistic safari budget can break down the costs based on per person, per night to include meals, internal airfare, and most activities, as well as the different levels of accommodations  on safari. 

Fixed logistical costs such as national park fees, community fees, conservation fees, and regional flights can significantly impact your overall budget To make the most of your experience and allow for a deeper exploration of each location, carefully evaluate your expectations, preferences, travel style, and preferred experiences to better plan and budget for your immersive safari experience. 

Packing Essentials & What to Expect

Pack versatile, neutral-colored clothing you can layer for early morning game drives. Bring a hat, sun protection, binoculars, and a high-zoom camera. Waterproof gear and insect repellent are essential. 

Clothing and gear recommendations

For a comfortable safari experience, wear neutral colors like khaki, green, and tan to blend with the environment and avoid startling wildlife. Dress in layers to adapt to changing temperatures, with a warm layer for chilly mornings and evenings. Choose clothing made from non-synthetic materials like cotton for comfort, and pack lightweight options to meet luggage restrictions on charter flights. A wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with polarized lenses, and sturdy footwear are essential for sun protection and navigating the terrain.

Camera and photography tips

When packing camera gear for a safari, prioritize a good zoom lens to capture wildlife from a distance. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a telephoto lens of at least 200mm is recommended for quality images. Bring extra batteries and memory cards, as charging facilities may be limited. For steadiness, consider a monopod or beanbag to support your camera during vehicle-based game drives. Lastly, a dustproof bag will help protect your equipment from the elements.

Other essential items to pack

In addition to clothing and camera gear, pack a daypack for carrying essentials during game drives. Include a reusable water bottle, binoculars for wildlife viewing, and a travel-sized power strip for charging multiple devices. Remember to bring enough prescribed medication for the entire trip, and consider packing a journal to document your experiences. Avoid single-use plastic bags, as they are banned in several East African countries.

Safety precautions and guidelines

Safety on safari is paramount. Always follow the instructions of your guide, especially during walking safaris or encounters with wildlife. Stay inside the vehicle unless told otherwise, as animals are accustomed to the shape and smell of vehicles, not humans. At the lodge, keep your distance from wild animals and do not feed them. Ensure you have the necessary vaccinations and bring mosquito repellent to protect against malaria.

Etiquette and cultural considerations

Respect local customs and dress codes, especially in rural areas or when visiting villages. Ask for permission before taking photos of people. Learn a few words in the local language as a sign of respect, and be mindful of your environmental impact by minimizing waste and conserving water. Tipping is customary for guides and lodge staff, so inquire about the appropriate amount.

Spotting Wildlife

The migration in Kenya and Tanzania, from July–October, delivers epic wildebeest and zebra sightings. Visiting waterholes in the early morning improves your chance of witnessing predators. Top sightings also occur in Botswana’s Okavango year-round. See gorillas in Rwanda or chimps in Uganda.

Tips for spotting and identifying different animals

To spot and identify different animals while in the wild, it's essential to develop a keen eye for patterns and movements. Your guides can give you advice on how to familiarize yourself with the tracks and signs of wildlife, as they can lead you to animal hotspots and provide insights into their behaviors.

When scanning for wildlife, observe carefully and be alert for subtle changes in the environment, such as shapes that are "out of place" or colors that contrast with the surroundings. Use senses other than sight; listen for footsteps or animal calls, and pay attention to patterns on the water's surface, which can indicate underwater movement.

Learn to look for clues like tracks, droppings, or nests, and stay quiet to avoid startling animals. Binoculars are invaluable for observing animals from a safe distance. When you have questions, a field guide can help you identify the species you encounter.

Best times of day and locations for wildlife sightings

The best times and locations for epic wildlife sightings depend on the type of animals you hope to see and your personal preferences. 

Outside of the migration, visiting the Okavango Delta in Botswana promises exceptional year-round game viewing on both land and water safaris. Other ideal times include the dry season when wildlife gathers near water sources. 

The early morning hours tend to provide prime game viewing as nocturnal animals finish hunting while diurnal ones wake and start roaming. Considering the destination, season and daily timing can greatly improve your chances of wildlife sightings. Conduct thorough research to determine the best times and places to fulfill your safari dreams.

Responsible wildlife viewing practices

Embark on your safari adventure with respect for both wildlife and their habitat. When observing animals in their natural settings, be sure to keep a safe distance and minimize noise or disruption to their routines. 

By following responsible viewing practices - staying in designated areas, keeping voices down, and not leaving trash behind - you can help preserve pristine ecosystems and behavioral patterns for the future.

Minimize disruption

  • Maintain a safe distance as designated by your guide or regulations.
  • Avoid loud noises, sudden movements, and using flash photography.
  • Respect breeding grounds and nesting sites, giving animals space for essential behaviors.
  • Stay on designated paths and avoid off-road driving to minimize habitat damage.

Be an ethical observer

  • Never feed, touch, or tease wild animals. This disrupts their natural behavior and can be harmful.
  • Choose tour operators committed to animal welfare and conservation efforts.
  • Avoid venues offering unnatural interactions like riding or posing with animals, as they often involve unethical practices.
  • Speak to your guide if you witness any concerning behavior towards wildlife.

Leave no trace

  • Pack out all your trash, including biodegradable items, to protect the environment.
  • Avoid using single-use plastics and opt for reusable options.
  • Be mindful of water usage and respect local resources.

By following these practices, you can ensure your safari experience is enriching for both you and the wildlife you encounter, contributing to their conservation and long-term well-being

Other Attractions to Consider

Beyond spectacular wildlife sightings, Africa offers boundless opportunities to immerse yourself in vibrant cultures, sample flavorful cuisines, conquer rugged landscapes, and contribute to impactful conservation efforts.

 From the soaring Table Mountain of Cape Town to the thundering Victoria Falls; the spice islands of Zanzibar to the rainforests of Rwanda; the wildlife sanctuaries of Namibia to the remote villages of Ethiopia—a broad range of adventures await. Venture off the traditional safari trail to interact with local communities, support sustainability initiatives, challenge your limits on treks, and return home with a profound appreciation for this diverse continent.

  • Cape Town: Hike iconic Table Mountain for breathtaking panoramas, explore vibrant neighborhoods like Bo-Kaap, and discover culinary gems at the V&A Waterfront. Unwind on pristine beaches or delve into Robben Island's poignant history.
  • Victoria Falls: Witness the awe-inspiring Victoria Falls, the world's largest waterfall, from various angles: take a scenic helicopter flight, embark on a white-water rafting adventure, or cruise along the Zambezi River for a close-up encounter with the spray and rainbows.
  • Island and Marine Encounters: Unwind on Zanzibar's spice-scented beaches, snorkel alongside vibrant coral reefs in Mozambique, or kayak through Namibia's Skeleton Coast, spotting marine life like dolphins and seals. Immerse yourself in the unique island cultures and pristine coastal landscapes.
  • Trekking Adventures: Ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak, for a challenging yet rewarding experience with breathtaking landscapes. Hike through Rwanda's lush rainforests in search of endangered mountain gorillas, or conquer Lesotho's Maluti Mountains for stunning vistas.
  • Culinary Experiences: Embark on a culinary journey through vibrant food markets in Ethiopia, savoring flavorful stews and injera flatbreads. In South Africa, sample regional specialties like braai , a typical barbecue, and bobotie , a classic casserole dish, or indulge in fresh seafood platters in Mozambique.
  • Connect with Conservation: Volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia, contributing to elephant conservation. Track chimpanzees in Uganda's rainforests, supporting research and habitat protection. Learn about traditional land management practices in Kenya, empowering local communities and preserving ecosystems.
  • Cultural Immersion: Witness the ancient traditions of the Maasai people in Kenya or Tanzania, learning about their nomadic lifestyle, intricate beadwork, and warrior dances. Immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythms and rituals of the Zulu people in South Africa, or trek to remote Ethiopian villages to experience unique coffee ceremonies and community life.

Start Your Africa Wildlife Safari Planning

After reviewing the step-by-step guide to the premier wildlife safari locations across Africa, you have the key insights to begin designing your own unforgettable journey. 

Whether your dreams involve photographing majestic elephants in the Okavango Delta or trekking the Virunga ranges to sit among mountain gorillas, this guide lights the way to transform those dreams into reality. 

Speak to a Born Free Safaris travel expert to bring your tailor-made African adventure to life. The power is yours to Design Your Journey that awakens your senses and connects you to the natural world.

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AMD unveils Ryzen AI 300 CPUs for Copilot+ laptops

Ryzen 9000 chips for desktops are also on the way..

Microsoft's Copilot+ initiative for super-charged AI PCs is becoming more of a reality at Computex 2024. Today, AMD announced its next major chip platforms, Ryzen AI 300 for notebooks and Ryzen 9000 for desktops, which respectively target beefier laptop AI performance and fast gaming on desktops. Notably, Ryzen AI 300 chips feature a revamped neural processing unit (NPU) with 50 TOPS (tera operations per second) of AI performance, more than three times AMD's previous laptop hardware. The new desktop processors, meanwhile, are reportedly 16 percent faster than their predecessors when it comes to overall performance.

The key takeaway from these announcements is that Qualcomm is no longer the only company able to gloat about fast AI hardware for Copilot+ PCs. That initiative, which Microsoft unveiled a few weeks ago , sets a new baseline specification standard for AI PCs. Copilot+ PCs require an NPU with at least 40 TOPS of AI performance, 16GB of RAM and 256GB SSDs to qualify as Copilot+ notebooks. Microsoft also tied together long battery life with the initiative, but it's unclear if the Ryzen AI 300 chips will be able to touch the reported twenty-plus hours from Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon processors. (We're also expecting Intel to respond with more details about its Lunar Lake Copilot+ chips later today at Computex.)

So far, AMD's new laptop chips include two models: The 12-core Ryzen AI 9 HX 370, and the 10-core AI 9 365. As usual, we expect the company to fill out its lineup over the next year with mid-tier and lower-end offerings. Both Ryzen AI 9 chips reach at least 5GHz max boost speeds, and they also feature built-in RDNA 3.5 Radeon 890M and 880M graphics. According to AMD's benchmarks, the Ryzen AI 9 HX 370 is 98 percent faster than Apple's M3 chip in Blender, and it's 73 percent faster than Intel's Core Ultra 185H. (It's worth noting company tested its hardware with 32GB of RAM against Apple and Intel systems with 16GB of RAM, according to its testing footnotes.)

Powering both the Ryzen AI 300 and Ryzen 9000 chips is AMD's Zen 5 architecture, which is a "sweeping update" for the company, Senior Processor Technical Marketing Manager Donny Woligrosky said in a media briefing. He claims it offers better branch prediction (which helps with accuracy and latency), higher overall throughput and up to two times better instruction bandwidth. For regular users, that means you can expect Zen 5 systems to feel a bit more responsive and be better primed for handling large data loads.

While AMD's new AI chips are the star of the show, the company isn't leaving desktop users behind. The new Ryzen 9000 chips top out with the 16-core Ryzen 9 9950X, which edges close to the 6GHz dream with 5.7GHz boost speeds. It's a power-hungry beast though, requiring 170 watts, so more reasonable hardware nerds might want to opt for the Ryzen 9 9900X (120W TDP) or the eight-core Ryzen 7 9700X (65W). These new chips don't include NPUs like the Ryzen 8000G , but at this point, gamers and demanding PC users can make do with the raw computational power from desktop CPUs and powerful GPUs. (NVIDIA is also trying to power some AI features with its RTX GPUs , which eschews the need for a standalone NPU.)

Alongside these new desktop chips, AMD is also unveiling the X870E and X870 AM5 chipsets. They include the next-gen PC features you'd expect, including PCIe 5, USB4, WiFi 7 and DDR5. For its older AM4 hardware, AMD also unveiled the 16-core Ryzen 9 5900XT and eight-core Ryzen 7 5800XT, which can both hit 4.8GHz speeds.

We're still awaiting pricing details on AMD's new hardware, but the company says we can expect to see Ryzen AI 300 systems and Ryzen 9000 chips in July. Those new laptops include the ASUS ZenBook S 16 and Zephyrus G16, as well as the MSI Stealth A16 AI+.

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Each of the new movies and TV shows you can stream on Netflix this week

Glen Powell as Gary Johnson in Hit Man on Netflix

  • This week's top picks
  • Complete list

Leaving Netflix This Week

Pool parties, vacations and lazing about at home — that's what summer is for. And what better way to spend your summer than checking out all the latest content that's new on Netflix each week? It's officially June, and there's a whole swath of fresh goodies to check out, which we've lined out here for you. 

First, there's "Hit Man", starring Glen Powell as a a part-time member of the New Orleans Police Department who ends up posing as a fake hitman. He discovers he has a knack for posing as different people and ends up falling for a "client" after she hires him to kill her husband. Also new on Netflix this week is "How to Rob a Bank", which chronicles Seattle's most prolific robber and how he got away with ripping off 19 banks using methods from movies.  

There's more where that came from. Don't miss the complete day-by-day rundown of what's new on Netflix below.

New on Netflix this week: Top picks

'jo koy: live from brooklyn'.

Comedian Jo Koy returns with another standup special embracing his irreverent comedy. Among his unfiltered takes include diatribes on mumble rap, sending emojis to flirt, being called a zaddy, and how much energy vampires can stress you out. This raunchy special finds Koy at his prime as he performs in Brooklyn for a sold-out show in the historic King's Theater. 

Watch on Netflix starting June 4

'How to Rob a Bank'

This true crime documentary explores Scott Scurlock, the master of disguise and cinematic magic who pulled off 19 bank robberies in Seattle in the '90s. Nicknamed "Hollywood," police repeatedly tried and failed to nail Scurlock as he continued to pull off bigger heists, one after another, using tricks he had seen in blockbuster movies. The real-life game of cops and robbers unfolds in this Netflix exploration of Scurlock's crimes. 

Watch on Netflix starting June 5

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'Sweet Tooth' season 3

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Watch on Netflix starting June 6

Gary Johnson (Glen Powell) is a part-time worker for the New Orleans Police Department when he isn't working as a professor. He ends up stumbling into a job posing as an undercover hit man and discovers he's actually good at it as well as disguising himself as other people. When he falls in love with client Maddy (Adria Arjona), he's taken for a fool as it turns out Maddy has more in mind than having Gary do the dirty work of murdering her husband.

Watch on Netflix starting June 7

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Everything new on Netflix: June 3-9

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"Hitler and the Nazis: Evil on Trial" (Netflix Documentary) This gripping docuseries examines Adolf Hitler and the Nazis' rise, rule and reckoning from pre-WWII to the Holocaust to the Nuremberg trials.

"How to Rob a Bank" (Netflix Documentary) It’s 1990s Seattle and the world's best bank robber has it all: looks, charm, a sprawling treehouse hideout, and an uncanny ability to disappear using Hollywood-style makeup. But as law enforcement inches closer, his once-carefree life spirals into a suffocating trap, forcing him and his crew to risk it all in one final heist.

"Under Paris" (FR) (Netflix Film) Sophia, a brilliant scientist, comes to know that a large shark is swimming deep in the river. 

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Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.

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  1. Our African Safari Guide

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  2. A Good Safari Guide Can Make a Long Journey In the Wilds A Memorable

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  1. New faces on safariLIVE!

    With Tayla and Scott recently leaving our ranks, we've been busy scouring the land for bright, talented wildlife fanatics to join the team as presenters. And boy, did we strike gold! ... a guide on Safari Live. I am from Southern California, USA. I live within 2 miles of the original Disneyland in Anaheim. I am curious about the Shark papers ...

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    Oh Scott,your leaving Safari Live will be a great loss to its viewers. However, in appreciation of your wonderful guiding and educating one must wish you only the best as you begin a new phase on life's journey. Remember to pay a return visit if time allows. Everyone will look forward to that possibility. Your certainly have been a great ...

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  4. WildEarth Safari Live

    WildEarth live sunrise safari. Start your day off with a WildEarth safari live stream. Watch as the sun lights up the African savanna and the animals begin to go about their morning routines. When: Monday to Sunday. Central African Time (CAT): 05:30 am - 08:30 am.

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    The free online safari drives are live, twice daily from Africa. Our evening safari is from 9 AM EST - 12 PM (6 AM - 9 AM PST). The morning safari is 11 PM - 2 AM EST (8 PM - 11 PM PST).

  7. WildEarth

    WildEarth (founded in 2006 by Emily Wallington and Graham Wallington) is a British-South African broadcasting and conservation company primarily based at Djuma Game Reserve, part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve in South Africa, who focus on connecting people with African Wildlife.The company is best known for its live drives (formerly known as SafariLive during WildEarth's partnership with ...

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    It's late afternoon - hot at the end of summer - and all across the Lowveld, safari vehicles are leaving camps, searching for surprises the bush might have in store. While many amble along, with guides and trackers leaning out to read the tracks, one - driven by &Beyond Ngala guide Tessa Woollgar - is moving with a sense of purpose.

  10. Everything you need to know about going on safari in Africa

    Generally, it's best to plan a safari for the dry season. In South Africa, this typically means from July through October. When it's rainy, animals have more land to spread out over, since water's far easier to come by. However, when water isn't as plentiful during the dry season, all sorts of animals are forced to converge around the same ...

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    Some great people are leaving WildEarth. In the coming weeks, 12 people will be leaving WildEarth. Guides Sydney and Pat, and cameramen Senzo and Craig will be among those. These departures follow from changes we are required to make 'under the hood' to ensure WildEarth will continue to be able to bring you great LIVE wildlife experiences.

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  19. Channel

    The WildEarth Channel. Leave your hectic everyday life behind and escape into nature with us - any time of day. Connect with the animals and the natural environment in far and wild places and feel like you are really there. Interact with our experts in real time. Neither they nor you can predict what will happen next - expect the unexpected!

  20. 13 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When on An African Safari

    Don't wear perfume. Before leaving for your morning or afternoon drive, avoid using any strong deodorant or perfume. Strong and unusual smells are more likely to make the animals nervous, which reduces your chances of spotting them. In rare worst case scenarios, it can even make them more aggressive. With that said, for the sake of the people ...

  21. AMD unveils Ryzen AI 300 CPUs for Copilot+ laptops

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    Everything new on Netflix: June 3-9. "Little Baby Bum: Music Time" season 2 (GB) (Netflix Family) Class is back in session at the magical Music Time preschool, where friends Mia, Max, Maple, Ahan ...

  24. TimeTable

    You can watch your favourite shows at the following times: Programme CAT GMT CET ET PT; Sunrise Safari LIVE: 05:30 - 08:30: 03:30 - 06:30