The Unexpected Five: Some of the more unusual activities you might encounter on safari.

1. Running with a Maasai Warrior

If you’re looking to keep active whilst on safari, how about buddying up for a run with a local Maasai? Cottar’s 1920s Camp will organise one of their Maasai staff to keep you company while you make your way through the bush.  The question is, can you run as fast as them?!

Maasai Moranis at Cottar’s 1920s Camp

2. Painting

Do you enjoy the odd dabble with a paint brush? The lovely Saruni Mara has themed cottages, of which one, The Artist’s Studio, has a collection of drawing materials and an easel for you to let your imagination go wild, and the scenery out the window will keep you enthralled for hours.

The Artist’s Studio, Saruni Mara

3. Star Gazing

What could be better than being surrounded by silence, miles from the nearest town, in the middle of the Namib Desert and watching the stars above in the inky black sky through your skylight whilst lying in the comfort of your bed? Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in Namibia has just this.  If you’re really serious about your star gazing, they also have their own state of the art observatory where, each evening, you can join resident astronomers who will guide you around Namibia’s skies.  The reserve here is Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve.

Star Gazing at Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

4. E-Bike Safari

Plenty of camps offer mountain biking safaris but how about taking the pressure off the legs a bit and trying out an e-bike. Similar to a conventional mountain bike, but with a battery added to it, these bikes will give you an extra helping hand to haul you up the hills, giving you more energy to enjoy the views.

Cottar’s 1920s camp have six e-bikes available (four guests and two guides).

Cottar’s 1920s Camp E-Bikes

5. White water Rafting

If you’re after a way to cool off while getting the adrenaline pumping, then how about a trip to the Zambezi River for some white water rafting?  Along from the Victoria Falls are 70km of warm and fairly turbulent water offering some of the most exhilarating grade 5 rapids in Africa as it surges along the Batoka Gorge.  A perfect base for a little post-rafting luxury would be the Royal Livingstone, a 15 minute walk from the Victoria Falls.

White Water Rafting at The Royal Livingstone

Francesca Sanders: our hotly tipped up and coming wildlife artist

We’ve been huge fans of talented artist Francesca Sanders for many years. We’re also rather jealous of her lifestyle, travelling through some of Kenya’s most ravishing game reserves, painting as she goes. The end result is some spectacular artwork, painted with a flair that’s already made Francesca a finalist of the BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year competition this year.

Sleeping hippos by African wildlife artist Francesca Sanders

Sleeping Hippos by Francesca Sanders

On Tuesday evening I visited the private view of Francesca’s exhibition at Love Brand in Chelsea. I fell in love with an oil painting of a fat little baby hippo, and was left positively aching for Africa in front of a picture of a grand sweep of Samburu National Park, stretching for miles with a family of tiny ellies striding sedately through the grasslands.

Elephants by Francesca Sanders

Elephants by Francesca Sanders

For any Africa lover in London this is well worth a visit, and if anyone wants to spoil me with a Christmas present, I’ll have the hippos please!

Francesca Sanders is exhibiting at Love Brand, 5 Park Walk, Chelsea, SW10 0AJ from 11th-23rd November 2013 from 10am-6pm.