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Ten Unique Experiences with Sanctuary Retreats

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At Sanctuary Retreats we are committed to being innovators, pushing the boundaries and being the creators of the most inspirational travel experiences to the most remote, exclusive and exotic destinations on Earth. This brings the culture and traditions of local people and the natural beauty of our amazing locations alive for our guests.

Our local guides are constantly on the look-out for new activities and unique experiences for our guests and we have selected ten of our favourites (in no particular order):

1. Tracking lions on the beach at Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, Tanzania

From right outside the suites, wildlife spotting can occur on foot. You can pad barefooted directly from your veranda onto the beach for a gentle stroll or to watch the fisherman bringing in their prawn nets. What makes Saadani's beach unique however is the various footprints you can find imprinted in the sand. There is nowhere else in the world where can you walk on a beach following the footprints of lions. 

Footprints on Saadani beach

Footprints on Saadani beach

2. Exploring the Zambezi by canoe at Sussi & Chuma, Zambia

Take a walk on the wild side and track wildlife on foot. This is an experience of a life-time. Learn more about the hidden agenda of this dwindling species from our professional guides. Alternatively, explore channels and rapids on the mighty Zambezi River on inflatable canoes with our professional guides and have close encounters with some of the big five. Bring your cameras, so you do not miss out. Dry bags are provided.

Zambezi River

Zambezi River 

3. Bush skills safari at Sanctuary Baines' Camp, Botswana

Learn how to survive in the wild with Sanctuary Baines' Camp bush skills experience:

Poling a mokoro: A mokoro is a local dug-out canoe commonly used in the Okavango Delta. It is propelled through the shallow waters of the delta by standing in the stern and pushing with a pole, in the same manner as punting.

Fishing: Guides teach guests how to make traditional spears for fishing and how to catch fish in the delta using a rod.               

Tracking: Guests can also learn how to track an animal on foot. Guides teach the intricacies of tracking game and how to identify different animal tracks.          

Edible plants: Guides teach guests how to identify and find edible plants, just in case they ever need this very useful bush skill (seasonal).

There is also instruction on making rope out of natural materials, plus finding water out in the bush.

Guides at Baines' Camp

Guides at Baines' Camp

4. Cooking at Sanctuary Swala, Tanzania

A popular activity at Sanctuary Swala Camp is our chef experience. We find that our guests have never done anything quite like this before and really enjoy the experience as it is fun, interactive and guests get to try the local delicacies. Our chef will show you how to make dishes from local ingredients such as maize, beans and spinach, using a special stove called "Jika senefu". Once the meal is completed one of our staff members will show you how to eat the dish local style - 1. Wash hands with warm water, 2. Dish up the food, 3. Eat with hands. Utensils are available but most guests get involved and do the same. When in Rome….

Dining at Sanctuary Swala

Dining at Sanctuary Swala

5. Visit Tujia boatmen in China on The Yangzi Explorer

We take our guests to visit the Shennong Stream on one of the shore excursions on the Yangtze River cruise. Crystalline waters, verdant forests and stunning riverine gorges provide an incredible backdrop for an experience aboard sampans (wooden long-boats) rowed by expert Tujia boatmen. It's also interesting to see the Tujia boatmen are still wearing traditional handmade sandals to work on the boats. Why not try one on yourself?

 Tujia boatmen

Tujia boatmen 

6. Sin Kyun village visit in Myanmar

Sanctuary Retreats has recently begun sponsoring Sin Kyun, a small remote village just north of Mandalay. It has a population of just under 1,000 inhabitants and specialises in farming and hat making. Our guests visit the village and will be able to witness first-hand the way of life in this unspoilt location seldom viewed by outsiders. Following the village Chief's request for a library and a house for an English teacher, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy donated the money necessary to begin this new partnership.

Sin Kyun village

Sin Kyun school

7. Batwa tribe experience at Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Lodge, Uganda

Take a forest walk and meet the local Batwa tribe. Learn about their way of life, including a hunting and gathering demonstration, a music performance, a visit by the 'goddess', The 'Twa' tribe who are also known as the Batwa are the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region of Central Africa. They speak the same language as the Hutu and Tutsi groups of Rwanda. Like most of the tribes in Africa, they have moved from place to place and are now found in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and eastern portions of the DRC.

Batwa tribe

Batwa tribe

8. Bathe under the stars at Sanctuary Baines' Camp, Botswana 

The ultimate in safari chic, Sanctuary Baines' Camp is built on raised platforms high above the Boro River in amidst a grove of trees bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana. The private star bath allows you to enjoy an open-air bubble bath under the star, listening to bird calls as you soak in style. After a romantic getaway? The star bath can be set up for two…

Star bath

 Star bath

9. Star gazing in Serengeti at Sanctuary Kusini, Tanzania 

Most visitors come to Africa looking for the wildlife and the beauty, yet one of the most spectacular sights of all is hardly ever mentioned - the African night sky, offering some of the best star gazing in the world. Cuddle up with blankets and cushions around the camp fire at Sanctuary Kusini and discover the beauty of night sky like never before.

Star Gazing in Serengeti

Serengeti at night

10. Nature walk at Sanctuary Olonana, Kenya

Walk with our naturalist and learn about plants, trees and insects and their use in the daily lives of the Maasai tribe. Visit our award-winning wetlands which cleanses wastewater naturally before returning it to the environment. There is an opportunity to plant a tree, leaving a positive mark in Africa. Our naturalist shares his intimate knowledge of the surrounding environment and how many of the trees and plants are used for medicinal purposes. Your guide will also point out animal signs which are everywhere, but not that easily noticed.

 Tree Planting

 Tree planting at Olonana

 By Robert Dixon, Sanctuary Retreats