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Wild at heart

A monkey has stolen your shoes. They are good shoes. In the past 10 days alone they’ve pushed off a dive into a 110m-high gorge that hummed to the tune of the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, found grip on a boat while playful elephants spat water at each other in Botswana, and had their soles made salty by the red dirt of the bush in South Africa’s Timbavati reserve. That was when you stopped to sip drinks after an evening searching by off-road Jeep for a majestic leopard, which you found in the crook of a tree, tail flicking in the wind, lips parted in languorous yawns, sabre-like teeth licked clean.

This is 10 days and three countries with very different approaches to the wildlife experience, a grand tour through different habitats, attitudes and ecologies – perhaps the safari of a lifetime. Just remember to bring the right shoes!

You’ll head into places like Timbavati, Kruger National Park and Umlani Bushcamp, whose bar overlooks a watering hole where, in the course of three days, buffalo set up camp and wallow in the mud while zebras flit about in the grassy shade. Giraffes bend their mineshaft-length necks to drink, flicking their heads up before ramping blood pressure causes them to expire.

Each night ends with sundowner drinks, terrific colours fading to black in the enormous sky before an enormous moon rises at astonishing speed. Gin and tonics are irresistible – there is a little colonial in all of you.

And all of this is available care of Imaginative Traveller. The Colours of Africa tour starts at €2,305 per person, including 10 nights’ accommodation in hotels, a guest house, and lodges; an upgrade, where available, to a tree house in Timbavati; most meals; transport; game activities; most entrance fees; and the services of a tour leader and driver, ImaginativeTraveller.

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