Anyone who has been on safari in an African game park knows the problem: word goes out that a leopard has been spotted feasting on a springbok, and the next thing you know every Land Rover within 25 miles turns up.
Far worse, though, are the long-term pressures faced by the big national game parks: safari tourism is a relatively low priority for many governments, and, in parks such as Tsavo National Park in Kenya, the beasts that have made sub-Saharan safaris famous are being driven out by increasing cultivation. So, to ensure a better chance of catching sight of the "big five" (lion, rhino, elephant, giraffe and buffalo) in peace and quiet, the safari tourist will have to resort to private reserves.
If that sounds a little depressing, according to Will Jones, founder and director of Journeys by Design, a high-end niche tour operator in the region, the concept is less exclusive than it seems. "The future survival of wildlife in Africa lies in land owned privately or by a community, who then lease the land to private companies," he explains. "The Singita Serengeti in Tanzania, for instance, covers more than 350,000 acres, equivalent to the Masai Mara National Park. It's about incentives, encouraging the community that owns the land to believe that there is financial security in maintaining their local, indigenous wildlife."
The Shinde and Kanana parcels of land, bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, are just such arrangements. Journeys by Design offers an itinerary that includes Shinde and its thriving pride of lions, and the astonishing small and large game attracted by the waters of Kanana (which translates as "paradise"). The camp at Kanana is typical of those that Jones works with, in that it is small (16 guests in eight tents) and more than comfortable: raised on stilts overlooking the flood plains, the camp receives daily fresh fruit and bread. You'll pay dearly for this experience, but do so in the knowledge that your money is, in part, safeguarding the extraordinary environment around you.
A two-week safari, including four nights at Kanana camp, costs from £ 4,225 per person (excluding international flights), www.journeysbydesign.co.ukReuse content