Top Travel Destinations for 2015: Safaris

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"In terms of conservation, every visitor counts." – Ryan Hilton, Virtuoso travel advisor

South Africa

Save the Rhinos.

A Micato safari suite.
Micato's elephant-back safari.

By Aaron Gulley
Poachers are rapidly and silently culling South Africa’s rhino population. “There were 1,020 rhinos killed in the country last year,” notes Virtuoso advisor and former safari guide Ryan Hilton of Sarasota, Florida. “That’s all the more reason to go now. In terms of conservation, every visitor counts. You’re making it tougher for the poachers just by being present in the bush.”

Go: Wildlife lovers on Micato Safaris’ 12-day trip get front-seat viewing of rhinos, as well as 40 or 50 other species, at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve, which borders Kruger National Park. But it’s the elephant-back safaris at private Shambala Game Reserve that will make the biggest impression.
Pack this: “You’ll need a 300 mm lens or longer to capture beautiful wildlife portraits of the big cats in their own environment,” Hilton says. “You can often rent good glass at camera shops for a lot less than it would cost to buy it.”
Ebola Conerns?
Some context: With the Ebola virus dominating news cycles last year, some travelers may be anxious about visiting Africa. But only six countries – all in West Africa – out of 55 on the continent were affected by the 2014 outbreak, and there were zero cases in any of the safari nations. In fact, London, Paris, and Madrid are closer to the outbreak than Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa.

Top 10 Travel Destinations for 2015:
  1. Europe for Less: The Balkans
  2. Honeymoons: French Polynesia or Maldives
  3. Culture: Milan
  4. Safari: South Africa (You are here!)
  5. The Emerging Destination: Myanmar
  6. City Escape: Paris
  7. Supernatural Nature: The Galapgos
  8. Family Travel: Costa Rica
  9. Close to Home: Napa Valley
  10. Adventure Travel: New Zealand
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, January 2015.

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Get a front-seat viewing of up to 50 wildlife species.