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Natural Variation Safaris

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Natural Variation safaris will take you to breathtaking locations throughout Africa and the Asian sub-continent and specialises in exploration of areas of true wilderness. The philosophy of Natural Variation is to offer an extremely professional, knowledgeable and unique safari experience and we take great pride in accommodating clients who have a highly specific area of interest, wildlife documentary film makers and those looking to enhance their photographic skills or capture particular shots of animal behaviour.

For this reason we do not offer standard tour packages and instead pride ourselves in arranging highly specialised, tailor made safaris. We are extremely selective regarding the safari companies that we work with and our aim is to exceed all of our client’s expectations, both in terms of service and wildlife encounters. If you are interested in arranging a specific safari with one of our expert guides please contact us with your requirements. A passion for nature is what brings us all together and we strive to provide our guests with the most memorable encounters in the natural world that will surely last a lifetime.

Botswana – The desert oasis

This truly is a land of natural variation. From the dry, arid desert-like environment of the Kalahari to the magical oasis of the Okavango Delta, Botswana is an unforgettable safari destination. The dramatic contrast in environment throughout the land results in a vast array of African wildlife ranging from magnificent prides of lion in Moremi and the largest single concentration of elephant anywhere in the world in Chobe National Park. Explore the unique ecosystems by mokoro or Land Rover of one of Africa’s hidden jewels.

Chobe National Park This diverse park consists of lush floodplains, dense mahogany and teak woodlands and the 10878 km2 Savuti Marsh reputed for its annual migration of zebra and predators. An estimated 50,000 elephants inhabit the park, arguably the highest concentration in Africa and large prides of lion are known to prey on this largest of pachyderm. Rich riverine woodlands and lagoons are found in the Linyati Marsh located in the Northwest, which is considered a prime area for birdlife.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, puku, lion, wild dogs, Roan antelope, Sable antelope, red lechwe, sitatunga

Moremi Game Reserve Located on the eastern side of the Okavango Delta the reserve is a land of sharp contrasts and prominent geographical features including Chiefs Island, vast open savannahs and lagoons teaming with avian species. The 5000 km2 also include rich acacia forests, mopane woodland and significant areas of permanent water best explored in ebony or sausage-tree mokroro.

Wildlife highlights: Wild dogs, red lechwe, lion, buffalo, leopard

Okavango Delta The world’s largest inland delta is a result of seasonal flooding from the Okavango River, which drains rainfall from the Angola highlands into the Kalahari Desert. High temperatures within the delta cause rapid transpiration and evaporation that control the water table, which attracts animals from vast distances resulting in one of Africa’s greatest concentrations of wildlife. The Okavango’s vegetation largely comprises of Papyrus and reed rafts and this provides much needed cohesion for the sand and mud content of the river banks.

Wildlife highlights: Nile crocodile, hippopotamus, lechwe, elephant, buffalo, avifauna

Tuli Block This hardveld area consists of rocky outcrops and huge Nyala and yellow barked fever trees along the banks of the Motloutse and Limpopo rivers. Sheer basalt cliffs and deep gorges carved into the ancient granite rocks by seasonal rivers and springs structure this wild terrain, which is one of the best places in Southern Africa for ornithologists.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, antelope, cheetah, avifauna

Botswana
Canada

Canada – The great outdoors

The world’s second largest country contains epic natural landscapes including the incredible Canadian Rockies, Icefields, turquoise lakes and rich coniferous forests. The dramatic mountains give way to a rugged coastline with spectacular wildlife viewing throughout numerous biomes. The wealth of wildlife across this vast land ranges from polar bears and whales to cougars, moose and the magnificent Bald eagle. British Columbia is a stronghold for the grizzly bear, particularly in the hidden inlets, and its surrounding coastline a prime location to see gray, humpback and both resident and transient killer whales.

Banff National Park This is Canada’s oldest national park and encompasses 6,600 km2with numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, and alpine landscapes. Banff National Park extends eastward from the continental divide and includes the eastern slope of the Main Ranges and much of the Front Ranges of the Canadian Rockies. The park has 56 mammal species including Grizzly and black bears that inhabit the forested regions. Cougar, lynx, wolverine, weasels, northern river otter and wolves are the primary predatory mammals. Elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer are common in the valleys of the park. Wildlife highlights: Grizzly bear, black bear, elk

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve The Canadian national park reserve in British Columbia encompasses 511 km2 ocean. The park is characterized by rugged coasts and lush temperate rainforests, which are home to an extensive variety of wildlife both in the sea and on the land. Within the park's rainforests blacktail deer, cougar, marten, mink, Vancouver Island wolf, black bear, raccoon, and many more wild creatures thrive. The gray whale migration herd has now increased to more than 20,000 individuals and can be witnessed from mid-March to mid-April.Wildlife highlights: Gray whale, Orca, Black bear, Bald eagle

India – Hidden treasure of Hindustan

A country immersed in culture, history and tradition, India is justly proud of this dynamic fusion alongside her rich flora and fauna including the best locations in the world to see the magnificent Panthera tigris. Forts, palaces and temples are transversed by the Ganges and Jumna rivers in the north and here in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh you can journey through the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger in Kahna, Bandhavgarh and Ranthambhore National Parks. India’s unique natural heritage can also be best observed in the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve.

Bandhavgarh National Park Bandhavgarh is Sanskrit for brother’s fort, given by Hindu Lord Rama to his brother Laksmana to keep watch over Lanka. The fort is thought to be over 2000 years old and presides over the 105km2 Tala range, rich in biodiversity and home to the highest density of tiger population in the world. The mixed deciduous forest on the hills transforms into vast areas of Sal forest on the lower slopes and valleys, which is home to over 37 species of mammal and 250 species of bird. Individual tigers such as Charger and Sita have been made famous here by National Geographic Society.

Wildlife highlights: Royal Bengal tiger, gaur, sambar, chital

Gir Forest National Park One of the most important protected areas in the entire Asian continent, Gir Forest National Park is the sole home of the pure Asiatic Lion. This magnificent carnivore once had a habitat that stretched from southwest Asia, northern Africa Europe. Now only 400 individuals remain in this 260km2 fully protected area consisting of dry scrub land and open deciduous forest. Gir includes 38 species of mammals including a significant population of the Indian leopard, around 300 species of bird, and 37 species of reptile, including the highest population of mugger crocodile in all of the protected areas of India. Wildlife highlights: Asiatic lion, mugger crocodile, leopard, avifauna

Kahna National Park Based in Madhya Pradesh this is the largest National Park in Central India and provided the inspiration to Kipling for the Jungle Book. It stretches an area of over 940km2 and is home to over 600 species of flowering plants. The lush sal and bamboo forests and grassy meadows provide the ideal habitat for a magnificent array of mammal, avian and reptile species. Wildlife highlights: Royal Bengal tiger, leopard, barasingha, gaur, sloth bear, chital

Ranthambhore National Park Situated in southeast Rajasthan the park lies on the edge of a plateau and consists of deciduous forests, gigantic banyan trees and several lakes surrounding the historic Ranthambhore fortress. This is one of the best places to see the majestic tiger, which can be found patrolling Padam Talao, largest of the lakes or resting in the sandstone Jogi Mahal. Several resident tigers including Macchli and Broken Tail have been the focus of BBC documentaries and helped raise awareness of poaching and human-tiger conflict. Wildlife highlights: Royal Bengal tiger, nilgai, sambar, chital, mugger crocodile

Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve Maharashtra’s oldest park covering an area of 623km2 including the Chimur Hills and Moharli and Kolsa ranges. The relatively undisturbed forest is not visited by many tourists and includes around 45 individual tigers along with a varied diversity of aquatic birdlife and raptors. The park is flanked by densely forested hills to the north and west, and the Tadoba Lake to the southwest. Wildlife highlights: Royal Bengal tiger, leopard, sloth bear, sambar, chital

India
Kenya

Kenya – Land of the great migration

The journey begins in a land of vast savannahs and rolling plains, an environment ideally suited to support outstanding concentrations of wildlife. Across the spectacular ecosystem of the Masai Mara, the annual migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra continue on their quest for fresh, nourishing grazing closely followed by their nemesis, the big cats. Across the equator to the north lies the scrub desert land of the Samburu tribe, which is blessed with excellent sightings of the elusive leopard. Kenya is a beautiful country that encompasses a spectacular blend of wildlife and rich tribal culture.

Amboseli National Park The 40,000 hectare ecosystem spreads across the Kenya-Tanzania border and supports a fantastic array of wildlife across dry-lake beds, water oasis and swamp land. On a clear day one can witness spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain on earth. The semi-arid vegetation supports huge herds of elephant and some of the biggest tuskers to be found in east Africa.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, lion, zebra, antelope

Lake Nakuru National Park The most diverse of the Rift Valley soda lakes and host to vast numbers of fuchsia pink flamingo attracted to the abundance of algae, which thrives in the warm shallow waters. The alkaline lake is also home to a further 400 resident bird species. Nakuru means “dust” in Masai and the lake recedes during the dry season and floods during the wet season. Open savannah areas and dense woodland surround the lake and act as a sanctuary to protect the endangered black rhino.

Wildlife highlights: Lesser & greater flamingo, white & black rhino, leopard, Rothschild’s giraffe

Masai Mara National Reserve The Mara is the northern most section of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, which plays host to the great migration of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle in search of fresh pasture. The terrain is primarily open grassland dotted with the distinctive acacia trees, drainage lines, and the Sand, Talek and Mara Rivers. Game viewing is outstanding in the reserve with dense concentrations of herbivores, carnivores and avian species make the Mara the prime safari destination.

Wildlife highlights: Lion, cheetah, hyena, wildebeest, zebra, antelope, elephant, Masai giraffe, avifauna

Ol Pejeta Conservancy Situated on the equator between the foothills of the Aberdares and Mount Kenya, this 360km2 conservancy provides sanctuary for great apes, highly endangered black rhino and the critically endangered northern white rhino. Conservation of such species represents a major part of Sweetwaters mission and philosophy and specially constructed game corridors allow free movement of animals throughout the conservancy. Nocturnal mammals may also be witnessed in the excellent night drives conducted in the park.

Wildlife highlights: Rhino, chimpanzee, lion

Samburu National Park Located on the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro river, this 165km2 reserve consists of doum palm groves and thick riverine forests within an arid landscape. It was the location in which Elsa the lioness was raised by the Adamson’s and more recently made famous by Kamanuyak, a lioness which adopted oryx calves. The Koitogor and Ololokwe mountains stand proud amongst the thorn trees and grassland vegetation which support several species unique to the region and over 350 types of bird.

Wildlife highlights: Leopard, gerenuk, Grevy’s zebra, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, Nile crocodile, lion, elephant

Tsavo East National Park Semi-arid grassland and dry plains make up one of the oldest and largest parks in Kenya. The Athi and Tsavo rivers converge to form the Galana River which flows through Tsavo East and supports a rich biodiversity of flora and fauna. The high iron content of the soil results in a red hue encompassing the species that transverse this vast and incredibly wild terrain which includes the Lugard Falls and the Yatta Plateau, the world’s longest lava flow

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, cape buffalo, lion, rhino, zebra, avifauna

Namibia – The shifting sands of time

The true essence of Africa will be felt in this land of craggy mountain peaks, incredible canyons, and the blood-red Namib Desert where one can view the breathtaking dunes of Sossusvlei. As the sun rises the tallest dunes in the world can be seen in a flurry of changing colours where an ocean of sand meets an ocean of water. In land from the Skeleton Coast one can explore the pristine wilderness of Damaraland in search of the rare desert-adapted elephants of the region. Etosha National Park and the Caprivi Strip, in the far northwest offer captivating wildlife viewing opportunities.

Etosha National Park First established in 1907 the Etosha salt pan desert dominates the park and briefly fills with water in the summer, attracting pelicans and flamingo. In the dry season winds blow over the hyper saline conditions of the pan and carries minerals to the soil downwind. Animals concentrate around waterholes in these challenging conditions and such congregations offer exceptional opportunities to observe animal behaviour.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, black rhino, black-faced impala

Namib-Naukluft National Park The world’s oldest desert and the Naukluft mountain range form the largest game park in Africa. Fog from the Atlantic Ocean is the source of moisture which sustains the wildlife which inhabit this hyper-arid region. The winds which carry the fog are also responsible for the outstanding towering dunes of Sossusvlei, rich in oxidized iron and hence full of vibrant shades of rusty orange colour. These dunes are the tallest in the world and are in sharp contrast to this land of open spaces.

Wildlife highlights: Gemsbok, ostrich, reptiles, fog-basking beetles

Namibia
Nepal

Nepal – A Himalayan Journey

This landlocked kingdom is dominated by the abode of the Gods, the mighty Himalayas. Steeped in culture, Buddhist stupas and holy shrines, the Kathmandu Valley enables one to step back into another age. The snow fields and aquatic glaciers provide the life source of the Terai lowlands and the rich sal forests of the Royal Bardiya and Royal Chitwan National Parks. Both parks are an ornithologist’s paradise and here you can explore the low-lying jungles for the One Horned Rhinoceros and the elusive Royal Bengal Tiger.

Royal Bardiya National Park Located in the far-western region of Nepal this park covers an area of 968km2 and is the largest and most undisturbed area in the Terai. The rich riverine forest and tall elephant grass provide an outstanding habitat for one-horned rhinoceros and the best chance in Nepal to see the Royal Bengal tiger. It is also home to one of the last known herds of wild Asian elephant. The Gangetic dolphin and two species of crocodile reside in the Karnali river and complex network of waterways throughout the park.

Wildlife highlights: One-horned rhinoceros, gharial, mugger, elephant, deer, Royal Bengal tiger

Royal Chitwan National Park This World Heritage Site is located in the subtropical inner terai lowlands of south-central Nepal and consists of vast expanses of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests. Sal trees cover 70% of the national park area with outstanding avifauna making this one of the prime locations in the world for bird watching. The habitat is also ideally suited to the Asian big cats although sightings of these magnificent animals are rare.

Wildlife highlights: One-horned rhinoceros, avifauna, leopard, mugger, gharial, Royal Bengal tiger

South Africa – The world in one country

One of the most beautiful and diverse countries on the African continent, South Africa is graced with some of the most spectacular wildlife encounters in the world. To the west of the Kruger National Park are some superb private game reserves which offer photographic opportunities which are second to none. The density of predators in this area is outstanding and the perennial rivers ensure an incredible diversity of wildlife all year round. Off the south coast where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, there is an abundant marine ecosystem where one can observe the Southern Right Whale and the apex oceanic predator, the Great White Shark.

Gansbaai Meaning “the bay of geese” this fishing village has attracted National Geographic Society film crews and researchers from around the world to study the Great White Shark. About 5 miles offshore is Dyer Island and Geyser Rock, the latter being home to around 60,000 Cape fur seals. The shallow channel between these two islands is referred to as ‘shark alley’ and is arguably the number one place in the world to witness these magnificent predators.

Wildlife highlights: Great white shark, southern right whale, Cape fur seal

Kruger National Park Part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, Kruger covers 19,000km2 and extends 220 miles from north to south. The Sabie, Olifants, Crocodile, Letaba, Luvuvhu and Limpopo rivers are the life source of the park which consists of a mosaic of knob-thorn, marula, mopane and red bush-willow veld. Due to this vast range of natural habitat the Kruger National Park supports more species of mammal than any other African game reserve and the Pafuri triangle in the north is a bird watchers paradise.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino, kudu, nyala, avifauna

Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve Sharing a 50km unfenced border with the Kruger National Park this private reserve is second to none in terms of wildlife encounters. Due to the high degree of habituation the reserve offers outstanding photographic opportunities, particularly of the elusive leopard. The valuable water source supplied by the Sabie and Sand rivers ensure that this diverse land sustains one of the highest concentrations of animal species to be found anywhere in Africa.

Wildlife highlights: Leopard, lion, rhino, elephant, buffalo, antelope, avifauna

Timbavati Game Reserve Located north of the Sabi Sands and on the western edge of Kruger the area is characterised by acacia, mopane, combretum and open woodland. The reserve is home to over 40 mammal species and over 360 species of bird and was made famous by McBride and the discovery of ‘the white lions of Timbavati’. The coat colouration was not a product of albinism but from a condition called leucism, a rare recessive gene condition.

Wildlife highlights: Lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard, rhino, antelope

SouthAfrica
SriLanka

Sri Lanka – The mysterious island

This is an island of diverse and stunning landscapes along with ancient cities, World Heritage Sites and the misty highlands of the hill country. Sri Lanka’s verdant jungle clad valleys support large numbers of wild elephant and over 400 species of bird. The Yala National Park in the southeast region of the country has one of the highest leopard densities in the world. South of Dondra one can witness the largest animal to exist on planet earth, the Blue Whale. This beautiful and scenically interesting island is a gem of Buddhist faith within the Indian Ocean.

Udawalawe National Park Plains dominate the topography of the park which is an important habitat for aquatic avifauna and the Sri Lankan elephant, attracted to the Udawalawe reservoir. Forests, grasslands and marshes are divided by tributaries of the Walawe river where it is thought there are approximately 250 permanently resident elephant.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, deer, avifauna

Dondra Point Between the months of December and April whales cross the southern tip of Sri Lanka migrating between the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. The continental shelf is narrowest to the south of Dondra Head where squid live in the submarine canyons and krill are found within the first 30 meters of depth. Sperm Whales dive in search of the former while Blue Whales feed on the latter providing a rich source of energy along the huge distances that these leviathans travel.

Wildlife highlights: Blue whale, sperm whale, spinner dolphins

Yala National Park Situated in the southeast region of the country the park covers 980km2 and covers a range of ecosystems including semi deciduous forests, grasslands, fresh water and marine wetlands, and sandy beaches. Yala has one of the highest densities of leopard in the world with an estimated 25 individuals inhabiting Block I. The leopard is also the top terrestrial predator in Sri Lanka and the park sustains vast numbers of their preferred prey species, the spotted deer or chital.

Wildlife highlights: Leopard, elephant, sloth bear, avifauna

Tanzania – True wilderness in wild Africa

The endless plains of the Serengeti dotted with acacia trees and rocky kopjes, can only be described as a magnificent natural splendour. Bountiful herds of herbivores face the task of crossing the Grumeti River where crocodiles await in ambush. The deep basin of the Ngorongoro Crater is home to over 30,000 animals in the world’s largest intact caldera. Further south are the more remote reserves of Selous and Ruaha. The privileged few who visit this semi-arid landscape can witness spectacular herds of elephant and large prides of lion, as well as sable and roan antelope in an environment that is still unspoiled and untouched.

Ngorongoro Conservation Area This UNESCO World Heritage Site contains the magnificent volcanic caldera, the Ngorongoro crater, home to vast numbers of ungulates and a high density of mammalian predators. The crater is covered largely by grassland and small wooded areas of euphorbia and acacia trees. The concentration of lion is one of the greatest on the continent, however the natural enclosure of the crater has resulted in significant inbreeding of this population and resulted in many genetic problems and limitations in new bloodlines as migratory male lions are expelled by the larger crater lions.

Wildlife highlights: Lion, black rhino, elephant, hippopotamus, wildebeest

Ruaha National Park The Great Ruaha River flows along the south eastern margin of the park and is famous for its large population of elephants, numbering approximately 10,000. Its dramatic scenery includes rolling hills, large open plains, and groves of skeletal baobabs. The area has relatively few visitors but this spectacular land is home to some of the largest prides of lion in East Africa. Ruaha is also a birdwatchers paradise with an estimated 475 species of avifauna.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, lion, buffalo, avifauna, sable antelope, roan antelope

Selous Game Reserve This vast land of true wilderness and undisturbed nature has no permanent human habitation and is one of the largest faunal reserves in the world. The Selous was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 1982 and covers a total area of 55,000km2. The numbers of game in Selous are outstanding with very little habituation to human presence thus adding to the wild nature of the area. The habitat includes grassland, acacia savannah, wetlands and extensive Miombo woodlands.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, wild dogs, hippopotamus, buffalo, Nile crocodile

Serengeti National Park Widely regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa due to the sheer density of predators and prey. Between December to April 15,000km2 of grassland plains and savannah form the backdrop to the annual migration of 1.5 million brindled wildebeest and 250,000 zebra. In May the migration moves across the black cotton soil of the Western corridor toward the Grumeti river, home to enormous Nile crocodiles, before heading toward the Masai Mara in July.

Wildlife highlights: Lion, leopard, cheetah, wildebeest, zebra, elephant, black rhino, buffalo, antelope, avifauna

Tarangire National Park The Tarangire river which crosses the park is the only source of water for wild animals during the dry season and meanders though a terrain of acacia woodland and huge baobab trees. During the dry months animals concentrate along the valley of the river and over 500 species of birds can be identified. The park is also known for its tree climbing African pythons and large number of elephants which frequently display warning signs and aggressive behaviour.

Wildlife highlights: Elephant, kudu, buffalo, pythons, avifauna

Tanzania
Zambia

Zambia – Discovering the real Africa

One of the most pristine and unspoiled wilderness areas of the continent, Zambia offers some of the best game viewing in Africa and has in the South Luangwa National Park the best place in the world to see the elusive leopard. Zambia is renowned for its superb walking safaris in an ecosystem with an abundance of game so that one can truly experience the African wilderness. The Luangwa river provides a patchwork of oxbow lakes and lagoons supporting impressive pods of hippo and large herds of elephant and buffalo. The country is also home to the most spectacular waterfall in the world, Mosi-au-Tunya.

North Luangwa National Park This is a very remote tract of land covering 4500km2 in a prime location of wild and untouched land. The vegetation ranges from mopane woodland, acacia thicket, red mahogany and leadwood trees. The area is home to massive herds of buffalo and large prides of lion, and is a prime location for conducting walking safaris. In 2003 black rhino were re-introduced to the park.

Wildlife highlights: Buffalo, lion, Cookson’s wildebeest, puku

South Luangwa National Park This world renowned wildlife haven supports an abundance of wildlife between the Muchinga Escarpment and Luangwa river. The park is dominated by Miombo woodlands savannahs, large patches of grassland, Mopane trees, and flood plains. The vast array of ecosystems supports a wide variety of fauna across a 9000km2 area with excellent opportunities to see leopard and observe the elusive predators’ nocturnal behaviour. Bird watching is superb in the valley, particularly along the river and oxbow lagoons.

Wildlife highlights: Leopard, hippopotamus, Nile crocodile, elephant, wild dog, lion, kudu, Thornicroft’s giraffe, puku, avifauna