When it comes to bucket list trips, chucking on an Akubra and checking out an African safari is definitely up there with our top must-dos.
But considering we won’t be doing much overseas travel in the near future (cheers COVID), wanderlust-seekers have been turning to virtual experiences to keep the travel bug at bay.
And while we’ve road tested many since corona hit, we’ve discovered our favourite one yet—and it's a whole lot cheaper than the original holiday you were planning.
Conservation-led luxury travel company &Beyond have just launched a range of special virtual safaris in an effort to help fund conservation initiatives at the reserves they manage, while keeping the dream of travel alive.
So how does it work? First, you’ll choose one of their six new virtual offerings—as newbies to wildlife reserves, we booked ourselves a seat on the classic virtual safari.
Before you begin your adventure you’ll fill out a questionnaire letting your guide know the animals you’re hoping to spot and any general questions you may have about the reserve and its residents.
Once you’re comfy on the couch (and we recommend making like the real deal and having a crisp G&T by your side), you’ll meet with your on the ground guide in South Africa via a private Zoom session, which you can either enjoy exclusively or you can send the link to five of your friends and family to join.
Over the course of an hour and a half, your guide will take you step-by-step through one of the latest WILDwatch Live episodes, taking the time to answer your questions while expertly interpreting the sightings along the way.
During our visit we covered some serious ground, first stopping by Tswalu Kalahari Reserve joining naturalist Dylan Smith where he excitedly spotted the notoriously difficult to find aardvark. Then we followed conservationist Lauren Arthur who took us deep into the bush where a pair of male giraffes were having their lunch, before scoring us a front-row seat to a herd of elephants swimming in a nearby waterhole.
And no legit safari is complete without spotting Simba. So we may or may not have let out a squeal when we spotted a pride of lions, including one of only three white lions left in the world.
The private safari experience will set you back $250 USD—10% of the fee goes towards Africa Foundation, while the remainder is split between funding essential habitat maintenance, sustainability and conservation initiatives at the reserves, as well as the &Beyond guides. So you can rest easy knowing that your hour and half 'trip' to Africa is also doing a whole lot of good.
To book yourself a seat or to check out &Beyond’s other epic virtual offerings, head here.
While you're at it, check out more virtual travel experiences here.
Image Credit: Brianna Reak