Gelada monkey


Tried and tested by the Atelier Africa team

At Atelier Africa, we’re all about sharing truly unforgettable African experiences with fellow adventurers from around the world. 

What better way to end the year than by starting to add incredible new travel experiences to your bucket list for 2023? 

Whether you’re craving the freedom of Africa’s wild, open spaces or hoping to encounter a new species of wildlife up close and personal – you’re bound to find something on our tried-and-test round-up…

1. Help with Chimp Habituation in Uganda

Follow in the footsteps of Jane Goodall by spending 4 or more hours tracking a family of wild chimpanzees in Kibale Forest and observing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

While gorillas tend to spend most of their time simply sitting and feeding, chimps are super entertaining to watch as they frolic around, climbing up and down trees and socialising and squabbling like the best of us.

In fact, did you know that we share approximately 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees?

Home to about 5 000 individual chimps, Uganda is a great place to visit your not-so-distant relatives and to contribute to their habituation – a process of slowly introducing chimps to humans so that they become more comfortable in our presence, while allowing the rangers to learn more about their behaviour. The most popular destination for tracking in Uganda is Kibale National Park, thanks to its high success rate for sightings.

For those wanting to track off the beaten path, the Kyambura Gorge in Queen Elizabeth National Park offers fewer guaranteed sightings, but incredible scenery and a quieter experience.

Chimpanzees in Uganda

2. Gaze up at Baobabs in Madagascar

While your first association with Madagascar is likely a combination of world-class beaches and lemurs, the highlight we can personally recommend is the majestic baobab trees.

Lining the dirt road linking Morondava and Belo Tsiribihina on the West Coast of Madagascar is the famous Avenue of Baobabs – dozens of centuries-old baobab trees creating a truly magical natural wonder.

Many of the ancient trees are over 800 years old, with giant trunks of over 150 feet. They are the last vestiges of what was once a rich forest, before the encroachment of modern civilization and the resulting massive deforestation in the area.

Thankfully, the remaining trees are now protected as a natural monument for generations to come to marvel at over the course of time.

Baobabs in Madagascar

3. Scuba Dive in Mozambique

One of the most spectacular scuba spots in the world is the Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique.

Just off the coast of Vilanculos, the Bazaruto Islands offer magical coral reefs complete with old ship wrecks for intrepid divers to explore. Diving in the protected Bazaruto National Park is superb, with crystal clear conditions (up to 30 metres visibility in the winter!) and not too many divers and boats in one area at any given time.

A wildlife enthusiast’s dream, these waters are home to abundant marine life – including dolphins, rays, turtles, reef sharks, Zambezi sharks, whale sharks, humpback whales, and even the endangered and mysterious dugong.

There are dozens of world-class dive spots to choose from, depending on your level of expertise and what you’re hoping to discover.

4. Safari in Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands Game Reserve is hands down one of our ultimate South African safari destinations.

Named after the Sabi and Sand Rivers that run through it, the 65 000 hectare reserve shares a border with the Kruger National Park, but offers a much more exclusive experience for those wanting to avoid the crowds.

Sabi proudly conserves the highest density of big game in South Africa, and although it shares an unfenced boundary with Kruger, the wildlife is well habituated – making for one-of-a-kind encounters…even with the area’s elusive leopard.

Other Big Five that can be spotted include lion, buffalo, elephant, and rhino. Add to this over 500 species of bird and an all-star lineup of five-star lodges, and you’ve got a truly bucket-list safari adventure.

Elephant at Sabi Sands

5. Cruise on the Chobe River

Botswana’s Chobe River is home to Africa’s greatest concentration of elephants during the dry season (between April and October).

Add to this large herds of buffalo, sable, and other herbivores plus spectacular birding, and it’s a veritable paradise for wildlife watching.

The best way to view the abundance of game is by boat, and we can’t recommend the Zambezi Queen more highly.

The floating hotel offers a unique Chobe river safari experience complete with luxury accommodation and uninterrupted views.

Think sunset tender boat cruises, drinks on the deck, delectable three-course meals with perfectly paired wine, and watching the passing landscape and myriad wildlife from the comfort of your bed!

Cruise on the Chobe River

6. Horse Ride in the Namib Desert

Imagine traversing the world’s oldest desert on your very own horseback adventure!

Dating back at least 55 million years, the Namib is a place of striking contrasts – from rolling red dunes to gravel plains and soft sea sand.

‘Namib’ means ‘an area where there is nothing’ in the local Nama language, and it’s perfect for adventurers looking to experience the freedom of Africa’s wide open spaces.

Don’t be fooled, though – the desert is far from lifeless, with a spectacular amount of desert wildlife. Incredible animals that have managed to survive here include desert-adapted elephant, rhino, lion, cheetah, wild horses, and the dik dik – the smallest antelope in Namibia.

While we wouldn’t recommend trying to mount a wild Namib horse, you can book a horse riding safari that allows you to take in the breathtaking scenery from atop a (domesticated!) steed.

Suitable for intermediate to advanced riders, a horseback safari is a truly unique way to experience the best of the Namib – at one with the elements as you experience the wildness and freedom of the stretching desert landscape.

Horse Ride in the Namib Desert

7. Experience African Luxury in Rwanda

You probably don’t immediately associate Rwanda with luxury, and that’s where this lush green country will surprise!

No bucket list would be complete without seeing the largest living primate in its natural habitat, and we can’t recommend tracking habituated silverback gorillas from the supreme comfort of an incredible base like the unique andBeyond Wilderness Bisate more highly.

The lodge is dramatically situated at the heart of an amphitheatre formed by eroded volcano cones in Volcanoes National Park.

The Park is located in the far northwest of Rwanda and offers a rich tapestry of montane ecosystems, including a breathtaking evergreen and bamboo forest, open grassland, swamp, and heath.

The six conically shaped thatched forest villas of Bisate are tucked into the lush forest setting, with spacious verandas opening out onto magnificent views of the surrounding peaks. Their traditional shapes are in line with Rwandan culture, while the sumptuous interiors maximise comfort and warmth while making the most of the views.

There are 12 habituated gorilla families (or troops) living in the park – each consisting of at least one majestic silverback along with several females and youngsters.

Expert trackers lead small groups of visitors through the bamboo-covered slopes to spend some precious time with the gentle giants – sometimes just a few feet away.

andBeyond Wilderness Bisate

8. Sleep in Africa’s Highest Lodge in Ethiopia

Imagine waking up at an altitude of 3 300 metres, and gazing out over the most breathtaking mountain landscapes of a world-class national park…

This could be your reality at the one-of-a-kind Simien Lodge – the highest lodge in Africa, located in the heart of Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park.

Situated just inside the park entrance, it’s perfect for those wanting to experience the very best of the scenery and wildlife of the Simien Mountains, without having to trek too far through the park.

Think dramatic mountain peaks, World Heritage scenery, gelada baboons, Abyssinia wolf, and bearded vultures.

Simien Mountains

9. Witness The Great Migration in Kenya or in Tanzania

A once-in-a-lifetime experience, if ever there was one!

Wildlife and nature enthusiasts will know this as the migration of over a million mammals across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

The age-old path is followed by thousands of wildebeest and other animals in search of grazing and water.

After calving season near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, the journey takes its travellers through the Serengeti, up and around clockwise toward the Masai Mara in Kenya.

It is here that we have been blessed to bear witness to one of nature’s greatest spectacles, and we could not recommend it more highly for those wanting to experience the circle of life in full force.

The Great Migration in Kenya

10. Kayak on the Zambezi in Zambia

The Zambezi River, which means ‘Great River’ in the local Tonga dialect, is Africa’s fourth largest river and crosses, or forms, the boundaries of six different countries – Angola, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

From its source in north-west Zambia to the Indian Ocean, the river ranges an extraordinary 2 700 km and flows through the world-renowned Victoria Falls.

It is this 80km section of the river (the upper Zambezi) where tour operators organise once-in-a-life-time kayaking trips, both from the Zimbabwe and Zambian banks of the river. Serene and peaceful, this strip of the river also contains many islands and attracts numerous species of wildlife to its crystal clear waters and sandy beaches.

For true thrill seekers, a short distance down the river, even closer to Victoria Falls, one can whitewater raft through the 24 wild rapids that range from a Grade III to Grade V. What a rush!

Kayak on the Zambezi

Ready to book your 2023 bucket-list African adventure? Let’s get you started!