Niassa Reserve, Mozambique
Any foray into the wilds of Africa would constitute adventure for most people. The Niassa Reserve in Mozambique, a country on Africa's southeast coast, pushes the experience to the limit. This sprawling, 26,000-square-mile (42,000-square-kilometer) area was only recently opened for tourism. It has no roads, no power grid and no modern amenities. It's accessible only via small aircraft, provided by the few companies that currently operate tours there, and only during the dry season, roughly May through November. Wet season rainfall can reach 14 inches (350 millimeters) a month. Several indigenous tribes live on the Reserve, working as fishermen, sustenance farmers, and occasionally, as professional guides. And in a location this remote and undeveloped, you need them.
Although landlocked, the reserve is fed by the broad, free-flowing Lugenda River. You can explore the river by canoe, camp on the banks overnight, and safari into the savannah by day. You'll see isolated, inland mountains known as inselbergs and hike into forested tropical grasslands called miombo woodlands. Despite the poor soil, these ecosystems are among the richest, most diverse habitats known, and Niassa's is one of the biggest miombo woodlands on earth. The elephant, noted for its especially large tusks, rules here. Leopards, lions and sable antelope thrive, and impala and zebra are endemic. The Niassa also hosts a small but significant population of the critically endangered African wild dog. On the Lugenda you may encounter hippos, orange-billed water birds called African skimmers, and if you're not careful, crocodiles -- another reason to canoe with guides.