Chris Johnston, Democratic Republic of Congo

Chris Johnston

  • Africa

My Expertise

  • Angola Flag Angola
  • Benin Flag Benin
  • Botswana Flag Botswana
  • Cameroon Flag Cameroon
  • Central African Republic Flag Central African Republic
  • Democratic Republic Of Congo Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Djibouti Flag Djibouti
  • Gabon flag Gabon
  • Kenya Flag Kenya
  • Madagascar Flag Madagascar
  • Malawi Flag Malawi
  • Uganda Flag Uganda
  • Republic Of Congo Flag Republic of Congo
  • Rwanda Flag Rwanda
  • South Africa Flag South Africa
  • Tanzania Flag Tanzania
  • Togo Flag Togo
  • Zambia Flag Zambia
  • Zimbabwe Flag Zimbabwe

Chris is the Conde Nast Traveller chosen Specialist for Africa.

25 years ago, my first trip to Africa took on a life of its own. I planned for three months, I stayed for two years. Whilst there, I was mistaken for a priest, attacked by sharks and arrested. Yet the countless, clattering journeys opened my eyes to the beauty of the landscapes and the grace of the people. My recent trips are undoubtedly more comfortable, but the welcome is as warm as ever and the best experiences are still those I never see coming.

Who knew I’d find mermaids in Cameroon or share a drink with ghosts in the Congo? Where else but in Africa, could I step foot on the Eighth Continent or be stepped on by a mountain gorilla? It took 10 years of safaris before I saw a leopard, ironically, from the bar in one of Botswana’s luxury lodges. Longer still before I saw the migration, which was out of season and without the crowds. Every time I go back it is both familiar and new although I am ever hopeful that one day, I will finally get to see a pangolin.

Sandstone rock, Drakensberg mountains, KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg, South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg, South Africa

KwaZulu Natal: The dazzling safari destination

After a journey through the private reserves of Kruger, I arrived in KwaZulu Natal. The previous week had delivered exceptional big five viewings, cutting edge, luxury eco-lodges and some of the best cuisine South Africa has to offer. It was hard not to be impressed. I was ready however, to shift the single-minded focus of the big five to a broader wilderness experience. Often overlooked as a safari destination, KwaZulu Natal proved to be a dazzling adventure.

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Leopard, Zambia, Chris Johnston

Zambia: Fertile Grounds

After loading the luggage into our Land Rover, we begin our drive through Mfuwe – an unassuming town which borders Zambia’s most famous park, South Luangwa. Stephen tells me he has lived in the area, known locally as ‘The Valley’, his whole life. His own family and his children are all close by. I ask what he likes most about working here, an area that’s famous for its pioneering walking safaris and spectacular wildlife.

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Andringitra National Park, Madagascar
Andringitra National Park, Madagascar

Madagascar Trekking

The World Heritage Site of Andringitra gets my vote for the greatest national park in Madagascar. A spectacular central mountain range, flanked by deep valleys, dotted with traditional villages, it offers a hiker’s paradise. Beautiful waterfalls, ancient baobabs and even ring-tail lemurs. Few people even know it exists.

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Mountain gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Mountain gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Rediscovering Rwanda

Botswana has long been considered Africa’s leading light in high-yield, low-impact tourism. Where else can you find, remote, cutting-edge design lodges at the forefront of wildlife conservation? Try Rwanda. Luxury lodge owners are falling over themselves to gain a foothold here. Parks the size of the Mara to yourself, Big Five on the open plains and pioneering conservation initiatives. With added gorillas.

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My Favourite Experiences

Tell us what you love doing and we’ll curate a journey that’s perfect for you.

Milky way, Kwessi Dunes, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia

Stargazing in the Namib Desert

Lying in the Namib Desert at night, being hypnotised by the seemingly infinite milky way.

Forest spirit, Cameroon

Forest spirits in Cameroon

Suspending my disbelief as a forest spirit appeared out of nowhere at our campsite in the D’Ja reserve.

Veiw towards rooms, Namiri Plains Camp, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

Life and Death in the Serengeti

Watching two dung-beetles fight to the death over a tiny ball of pooh on the Serengeti plains. It’s not all about the big stuff.

Nyiragongo molten lava, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo

Nyiragongo in Virunga

Peering over the edge of the mighty Nyiragongo Volcano to see the worlds largest lava lake boiling under a full moon.

Gorilla Hand Close Up, Bwindi Forest, Uganda

Gorilla Trekking

The very first time I saw a gorilla and realised they are the only animal that really stare at you.

Meet the rest of the Africa team

The Africa team at Steppes Travel are considered to be the most experienced Africa experts in the travel industry. With more years of hands on African experience than they care to remember, they have run and managed safari lodges in East Africa, qualified as safari guides in Southern Africa, pioneered new expeditions in Central and West Africa and worked on conservation projects throughout the continent.

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