Africa’s vast national parks are wondrous places to experience animals in the wild. Visitors flock from around the world to search for the African wildlife and are often equally impressed by the abundance of the flora and fauna on offer. Private concessions bordering these national parks are a long-standing phenomenon that attracts travellers for various reasons.
At Elephant’s Eye, Hwange we share a fenceless border with Hwange National Park and are lucky to have the best of both worlds: close proximity to the park and its wildlife, and the ability to offer a wider range of exclusive bush experiences on our concession such as night game drives, safari walks, and open-air Boma dinners. If our guides hear about an exciting kill, a rare wildlife sighting, or a large group of Painted Dogs on the move they can quickly round up the guests, hop in the safari vehicle and take guests to it in minutes. What’s even better is that they don’t need to share this with any other onlookers, it’s a totally exclusive experience. Guests can sit for as long as they wish to observe the animals at their leisure, with no pressure to move on and give other visitors a chance – as is a custom in national parks.
Concessions are designated areas for wildlife owned by private individuals, as opposed to owned by and cared for by the government – like national parks. On a concession, the owners are allowed to make their own rules (within limits), these rules usually pertain to off-road driving and “open hours”. A concession is usually home to one or two small lodges or luxury safari camps. Guests staying at these lodges will have exclusive access to thousands of hectares of wilderness. Game viewing in a concession is a decidedly less crowded affair than a popular national park during the high season. There is also no long line to get into the park in the morning and then out again in the evening. And if the spoor of the animals leads to a point further off the road, game rangers in conservancies are able to go off the tracks and give guests a closer look.
To further elaborate on the exclusive experiences available at the lodge, guests can experience the bush on their own two feet on a guided safari walk, which comes with the added thrill of being slightly more exposed than when in a safari vehicle, while still being protected by their experienced (and armed) guide. They might also see and notice things they wouldn’t have the comfort of their car. Night game drives allow guests to see the bush in a completely different light, it’s when the nocturnal animals come out and guests could spot new wildlife such as the rare pangolin, or even some thrilling kills – lions and leopards are nocturnal after all.
Another wonderful safari experience that can only take place on a conservancy is dining under the stars at a Boma dinner or a special temporary set up in the bush. Some lodges even have star beds, where guests can sleep under the open skies with only a mosquito net between them and the wildlife. Some star beds are even located close to a waterhole, like The Eye at Elephant’s Eye Hwange, which allows for some beautiful game viewing experiences in the early morning – right from the comfort of a warm bed.
Concessions also increase the surface area for wildlife conservation, extending the animals’ habitat beyond the national park but still with a dedicated focus on protecting them. As you can see there are many benefits to staying on a concession, especially for guests looking for a more exclusive experience. When you are planning your African safari, why not consider our concession?