Clients can take a vow of silence and head for a true vacation, not only from the surroundings of daily life but from the sounds as well through a new concept in African immersion: Silent Safaris.
Expert Africa, a designer and operator of personalized tours to Southern Africa, offers an alluring tour that answers the call. Kalahari Safari of Silence was designed in response to a trend that travelers have voiced — to escape the noise of everyday life. “Botswana’s Kalahari is a vast and often silent wilderness. We believe that it’s an ideal place for those seeking solitude,” says Expert Africa’s Managing Director, Chris McIntyre.
The thirst for silence is seen in a rising demand for “retreats,” or places free of TV, Internet, computers, cell phones and other electronic devices, where luxury is the location. These can be “reading retreats,” or spiritual journeys; or trips into the wilderness, such as the Kalahari Safari of Silence. If clients are seeking what Virginia Woolf called “moments of being,” or intense sensations that stand apart from the “cottonwool of daily life,” this tour of a Southern Africa wonderland can certainly count toward filling the bill.
The northern Kalahari, an area of huge, flat saltpans were once the center of a great lake that dried up thousands of years ago, leaving behind some of the largest saltpans in the world. It’s a harsh, sparse landscape, but it offers isolation as complete as anywhere in Southern Africa, and a wealth of hidden treasures. The pans play a vital role in the area’s ecosystems; their geology is unique, their history is fascinating, and they’re incredibly photogenic.
In this place where silence is so complete in the vast, silvery-white Makgadikgadi Pans, it is said you can hear your own blood flowing. Occasionally, the pans host fleeting herds of Kalahari game, but essentially this is a wilderness. For most of the year, these great pans cover some 3,900 square miles of the Kalahari in a thin crust of salt. But of the January to March rains have been good, the grasses spring to life, and flamingos arrive as do huge migration of zebra and wildebeest.
“Although unpredictable, this is one of Africa’s great wildlife spectacles,” says McIntyre, an expert in these lands and author of more than a dozen guidebooks to Southern Africa.
KALAHARI SAFARI OF SILENCE
Rates for the 10-night safari that includes Botswana’s Nxai and Makgadikgadi pans as well as the Okavango Delta start at $5,183 per person, double.
Rates include inter-regional flights and transfers, starting in Maun and ending in Maun. All meals, non-premium drinks (including South African wine, beers and local spirits) and activities. All park fees.
4 nights Nxai Pan Camp, Nxai Pan
3 nights Kwara Camp, Okavango Delta
3 nights Camp Kalahari, Makgadikgadi Pans
Flights to and from Maun, Botswana
Any fine wines, champagnes and premium spirits