South Africa and East Africa are being trumped by Africa’s emerging safari destinations.

Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia are sweeping up travellers’ interest, whose curiosity is expanding to destinations beyond the well-trodden safari hotspots.

Ryan Brown, Head of Marketing at Go2Africa, says the safari tour operator’s clients are venturing out to explore every corner of the wild frontiers across Africa. “They’re pushing the boundaries,” he says.

Navigating Namibia

Namibia Go2Africa has seen bookings double in the past year, with the newly opened Shipwreck Lodge in the Skeleton Coast Park already the most-booked Namibian property, despite only opening last year. This is followed in popularity by the Wilderness outposts in Sossusvlei, Kulala and Little Kulala.

‘Celebrity sightings’ are driving interest, with the newly opened Hoanib Valley Camp garnering interest owing to the rumour that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle would spend their honeymoon there. Diane Von Furstenberg and Barry Diller also drew attention to the destination, when they travelled with their family to Namibia over Christmas and New Year.

There have also been increased bookings at &Beyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, which is currently closed for a rebuild, and is due to reopen in October.

Zimbabwe and Zambia

Despite negative press for Zimbabwe, and sparse coverage around Zambia, both destinations have seen significant year-on-year growth. Aside from Victoria Falls, Go2Africa has identified the most-requested destinations in Zimbabwe as Somalisa Camp (African Bush Camps) in the Hwange National Park, followed by Singita Pamushana Lodge, and then The Hide, also in the Hwange National Park.

Mana Pools is seeing increased attention from Africa’s source markets, especially in the wake of the BBC’s ‘Dynasties’ and the ‘Wild Dogs You Can Walk With’. On the radar is African Bush Camps’ new Nyamatusi Lodges, set to open this year.

Zambia is gaining traction as a safari destination, which Esther Ruempol, Market Manager for the Benelux at Tourvest DMC, says “offers a number of unique special-interest tours, such as the bat migrations. However, some of the parks are seasonal, and price levels can be a constraint for some travellers”.

Go2Africa has seen bookings increase at Time & Tide’s Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park, Mfuwe Lodge in the South Luangwa National Park (famous for the elephants that walk through the lodge), and Shumba Camp in the Kafue National Park.