Property of the Month – Ellerman House

This month’s property of the month is our most favourite and beautiful boutique hotel, Ellerman House. Perched atop one of Bantry Bay’s cliffs, this palatial residence claims sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. An urban retreat in one of Cape Town’s most exclusive suburbs, visitors have immeasurable relaxation and sight-seeing options as they are in walking distance of both Camps Bay and Clifton beaches and a 10 minute drive from the V & A Waterfront and other local attractions. This property is perfect for those wanting complete exclusivity and privacy in the Mother City. Nothing comes close to its location with the dramatic backdrop of Lion’s Head behind it and the twinkling of the ocean that stretches out in front.

Ellerman House not only offers the ultimate in Cape luxury but it is an endless heaven to wine lovers and art fanatics alike. It is the incredible art collection at Ellerman House that truly sets this exemplary hotel apart from the many others on the Cape’s shores. On entrance, you are welcomed by a host of portrait shots, by illustrious local artists such as Irma Stern and Pieter van de Westhuizen. But there’s more… the more modern art is to be found in the hotel’s very own Contemporary Art Gallery.

The second but by no means the lesser of Paul Harris’s loves is showcased in his out-of-this-world Wine Gallery. Have a seat and behold the incredible Terroir Wall. A wall built of copper boxes filled with specific soils from innumerate Cape wine farms, assembled to form an educated map of the Cape Wineland’s Terroir.

The hotel itself is the pinnacle of indulgence. The beautiful rolling grass terraces of which there are 3 will provide the best position to relax with a cocktail and take in the breath-taking African sun set over the sea or watch the whales coming into the bay.

 

Whether it’s a light lunch by the sky-blue pool, an afternoon snack from the pantry packed with treats or a 3 course culinary extravagance you will no doubt be blown away. The hotel has a synchronicity and seamlessness like no other as it enables guests to walk into the kitchen and chat to the staff about their meals, enabling only the best hospitality.

Last but certainly not least the rooms themselves guarantee luxury at its highest and with eleven rooms, two suites and two 3-bedroom villas there is something for everyone.

Traveller Review – Dahm Family

The Dahm family have just returned home from a lovely African adventure and have been kind enough to share their experience with us here:

“The vacation was the best we’ve ever taken. My family said so many times, “Mom, you planned a perfect vacation. And I said well thank you to Iconic Africa! I would never have found these properties on my own.” Lauren, we absolutely LOVED both the Cape Grace Hotel and &Beyond Ngala. I truly don’t think it would be possible to have a better experience.

Cape Grace was so beautiful and it was a delight to stay in a unique property like that versus the big international hotels. The service was exemplary and every square inch of the hotel was gorgeous. Our suite was even better than expected and the photos on the website couldn’t capture how lovely and spacious it was. Of course we had a big terrace with beautiful views as well. Just perfect.

While we did love Cape Town and all the tours and sights, the safari was the highlight. What a magical experience. We had a fantastic guide with almost 20 years of experience – and saw the big Five every day – and so much more! Ngala was gorgeous, natural, comfortable, and the service was stellar. We did not expect gourmet food and elegant dinners! It was just perfect. I would highly recommend Ngala to anyone contemplating a safari. Not just the property but the reserve itself is so large, you never feel like you are surrounded by tourists, and SO MANY animals.

We also really enjoyed a couple of days in Camp’s Bay at the Bay Atlantic Guest House, which was a lovely and comfortable spot (gorgeous view of the beach and mountains and walkable to town – just perfect).

Also, the connections and flights, etc all worked out perfectly so appreciate the details you handled as well.

 

We have hundreds of pictures! I am making an album for our family.

We cannot thank you and Julia enough. Joe and I were a bit concerned about the cost of one vacation being so high but it was worth it. It will be a memory of a lifetime for us and for our children. The only concern is another vacation will never measure up! ”

A big thank you to Joanne for these wonderful words. We hope to see you on African soil again soon, soon!

 

Our Top Eco-Friendly Lodges

“The future will either be green or not at all” – Bob Brown.

‘Going green’ has recently become a buzz phrase within the travel industry. More and more African luxury destinations are making efforts to preserve and protect both natural environments and communities within them. Owners are trying to reduce carbon footprints and human impact on the earth in order to safeguard its future. Eco-friendly accommodation does not necessarily mean that you have to compromise on luxury travel. Eco-lodges are becoming increasingly fashionable with their ability to integrate their role in conservation and luxury comfort.

Here are our top four eco-accommodations utilising and promoting green practices for those eco-conscious guests who seek a luxury African experience. Whether you are looking at Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa or Kenya we’ve got you covered.

BISATE LODGE, RWANDA

Situated near Volcanoes National Park in the Republic of Rwanda offering unique gorilla sightings.

Bisate Lodge Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Resting in nature’s amphitheatre, the Bisate lodge reopened in June 2017. Formerly renowned for their gorilla conservation experience and dramatic landscape views, the lodge is now celebrated for its progress in pioneering a largescale reforestation program. 5000 indigenous trees have already been planted to date, contributing to conservation and community empowerment. Bisate’s organic yet modern architecture reflects Rwandan building traditions a seen at the Royal Palace of the traditional Monarch.

Bisate Lodge Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Rooms

ZARAFA CAMP, BOTSWANA

An exquisite tented camp located on the on the private Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors.

Botswana-Safari-Selinda-Camp

Zarafa recognises the importance of sustainable tourism in South Africa and is 100% eco-wise. It is located in some of Africa’s most beautiful surroundings nature has to offer and they don’t plan on spoiling it! Opening in 2008, and considered a newer property, regulations discourage permanent structures. As a result, the camp is awash in beautiful and luxurious canvas and timber homes so that should the entire site seize to remain, the land would return to its natural state within months. Not forgetting the Zarafa ‘oil field’ – a solar farm that supplies the camp with all its power.

Zarafa Camp Banner Deck

OL DONYO, KENYA

On the private Mbirikani Group Ranch in south-eastern Kenya, between Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks, the rippling Chyulu Hills give way to Ol Donyo.

Its location is unparalleled, with full views of savannah and Mount Kilimanjaro, crossing paths with traditional wildlife migration routes. People and animals crossing paths with this migration route has led to the death of many feral lions, leaving them at risk. The lodge is currently negotiating with cattle breeding villagers to develop a wilderness zone which will be ‘people-free’. Ol Donyo also manages community projects that ensure the sustainability and success of compensation for cattle loss, mobile health clinics, schools and employment.

TSWALU KALAHARI CAMP

The Lodge is located close to the border of Botswana and lies within an easy driving distance of South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.


Tswalu has won a number of international awards. Their primary focus is conservation and socio-economic development in the region. The architectural designs minimise water and energy usage while extensive use of solar energy and everyday waste recycling substantially reduce the impact on the environment.

Tswalu is committed to restoring and preserving the natural environment and ecological processes that are unique to the Kalahari ecosystems, thereby providing a sanctuary for endangered species such as the African wild dog that is red listed. Some of Tswalu’s projects include the assurance of the density of the black rhino that is be sustained by vegetation in Tswalu and the development of a Tswalu spider database.

We hope our fine travellers of the earth will return home knowing that their holiday contributed to … and preserving the world’s natural environment.

Introducing to you… the new Victoria Falls International Airport

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have just been cleared to land at the Victoria Falls airport. Please make sure your seat belt is securely fastened. Cabin crew, please take your seats for landing.”

This is a new era for Zimbabwean tourism as their new state-of-the-art Victoria Falls International Airport is now in full operation. Visiting the incredible Victoria Falls just got a whole lot easier for national and International tourists wishing to stay at The Elephant Camp or the Victoria Falls Hotel or any of the other top lodges.

For many years visiting this Unesco World Heritage Site has not been particularly straightforward, despite it being an established tourist hub. With the boom of air travel in Africa and its ability to surpass the physical challenges to ensure easier access to landlocked countries, visitors no longer need to take multiple flights or make long drives to get there.

The recently operating airport is located approximately 20 km south-east of Victoria Falls town centre. Victoria Falls town lies just 1.5 km away from the Victoria Falls rain forest – one of the 7 natural wonders of the world allowing visitors to spend more time enjoying their stay and less time spent travelling.

Elephant Camp Vic Falls Safari

In 2013, the civil aviation authority of Zimbabwe – with the assistance of China – embarked on a project to upgrade Victoria Falls’ airport. Currently the airport is serviced by domestic and regional flights by South African Airways, Air Zimbabwe, British Airways, Air Namibia, Fast Jet Zimbabwe and chartered flights from various parts of the world. The airport can now receive long haul flights from around the globe and its smooth new runway can accommodate some of the world’s largest jets – raising the prospect of new direct international flights. Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have also expressed an interest in serving this bucket list destination.

The airport is also located within the heart of southern Africa, giving access to six countries within a range of two hours such as Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia, making it a national and regional gateway by location. And most importantly this means that getting to our fabulous lodges in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia is going to be a whole lot easier for travellers.

Month on Instagram

“We take photos as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” Kate Thurmes.

Just in case you missed out on this month on Instagram, scroll down here to see our beautiful continent and its exquisite creatures… captured in moments!

 

 

 

The Best Time to Visit the Ngorongoro Crater

The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world, and it is an incredibly diverse ecosystem which means that it is absolutely teeming with wildlife. You can find over 30 000 animals in the crater which should make this destination one for your bucket-list. Because the crater is overflowing with wildlife, Ngorongoro is the absolute best place to be for Big Five viewing. Not only is the Ngorongoro a safari-lover’s dream come true, it is also home to some of the most exquisite luxury accommodation in the world. Nogorongoro also offers some of the most magnificent views in Africa.

So, when is the best time to visit the crater? Well, it really depends on you and what you’re looking to gain from the experience. The things that you need to consider are seasonal climate changes, migration, and breeding patterns. But, never fear, each season has something special to offer which guarantees you an adventure of a lifetime. Just remember, the crater is abundant with wildlife so you will be able to see animals all year round.

In November to December, the weather is quite hot and humid from the short rains that the crater experiences. Of course, hot and humid weather means that mosquitoes are quite rampant so you will have to take anti-mosquito precautions. From January until February, there is a vast number of new born wildebeest calves which is really something quite spectacular to behold. March until May is the rainy season at the Ngorongoro Crater—this means that the plains are verdant and lush, and this is the best time to visit the crater if you enjoy visiting places out of season. However, it also means that it is more difficult to manoeuvre vehicles. Accommodation is cheaper and there are fewer people to contend with. This time of year is certainly a bird-watcher’s paradise.

Ngorongoro-Crater-Lodge

June until October is the dry season. It’s also the peak season because it is easier to spot game in the dry season, and animals can be found gathered at watering holes. People like to visit the crater at this time of year because of the large likelihood of encountering the Big 5 (sometimes visitors even manage to spot all of the Big 5 in one day!). The weather from June until August can be a bit chilly, but because the crater is near the crater, a light jacket is all you’ll really need.

If you’re looking for luxury accommodation at the Ngorongoro Crater, look no further because Iconic Africa has you covered. You can have a look at what we have to offer here.

 

Getting to Know Kenya

Kenya is without a doubt one of the classic bucket-list destinations. The true jewel in this beautiful country is the Masai Mara. Its name derived from the Masai people of the area and Mara, which refers to African jungle. World famous among travellers and photographers, this plain is known for the annual wildebeest migration from Tanzania and offers the best chances to see the Big Five. If you are visiting one of our lodges in the Masai Mara and intend on seeing other parts of Kenya, here is all you need to know about Kenyan history, culture and food.

Tanzania Great Migration Experience East Africa Masaai Mara

The moment you hear the word Kenya, you think of a safari because that’s exactly where the activity of game drives started. The name safari even comes from the Swahili word meaning ‘journey’ or ‘trip’. Not only did safaris originate in Kenya, but civilisation too! The Great Rift Valley is thought to be one of the ‘cradles of life’, and archaeologists working in the valley have found remains of what they speculate are some of the earliest human ancestors.

Kenyans are friendly and hospitable people and have great cultural and etiquette values. An important part of their social and business interaction is greeting. Handshakes and eye contact is customary to build trust and show respect. You won’t go far in this country without being greeted with a warm smile and a hearty “Jambo!”

Bateleur Camp Masaai Mara Kenya Safari Tour

Kenyan culture is a fascinating way of life that amalgamates thousands of year old traditions, social evolution and modern influences. This multifaceted way of life is expressed in different forms, from its people, languages and food to its music and dance and so much more.

Kitenge is a cotton fabric of various tie-dye colours and designs embellished with heavy embroidery. Although it is not accepted as authentic, traditional customary wear, the Maasai wear dark red garments to symbolise their love for the earth and their dependence on it. It also stands for courage and blood that is given to them by nature.

Kenya is not short of beats and rhythms with songs that dig deep into African culture. With the more traditional compositions that use drums and guitars, the variety is endless and fill the airwaves with authentic, yet contemporary sounds such as taarab – inspired by Arab and Indian immigrants.

Kenya is home to over forty different ethnic groups, each with its own unique traditions, identity and lifestyle. However, Kenya’s national dialect of Swahili and English bridge the communication gap.

Despite numerous ethnic-specific dialects, tribes and nationalities, Kenya is brought together as a single nation through cuisine. Like its people, Kenya’s cuisine has its own distinctive personality. Using native spices and local ingredients, you will discover a burst of flavours and a sense of their heritage in their local dishes.

In 1496 the Portuguese arrived and introduced foods from newly discovered Brazil such as maize, bananas, pineapple, chilies, peppers, sweet potatoes, and cassava. They also brought oranges, lemons, and limes from China and India, as well as pigs.

When the Europeans arrived, they brought with them cucumbers and tomatoes as well as thousands of Indians for labour. This labour force introduced curries, spices, chapattis and relishes which have become part of traditional chakula for many Kenyans.

Here are five delicious Kenyan dishes you should try during your visit to Kenya:

Ugali is the most popular food in Kenya – a staple starch cornmeal made with maize flour – that is often paired with protein dishes.

Pilau is similar to akhni, it is rice flavoured with spices and cooked in stock with meat, chicken or fish.

Kenyan Chapati is Kenyans’ favourite bread that resembles a roti. It is made with white flour, salt and oil and eaten for breakfast with tasty stew or kachumbari.

Mukimo is a popular food in Kenya and served at all major events. A delicacy made with potatoes, peas, corn and onions.

Nyama Choma is a grilled meat and it is barbecued over an open fire and usually eaten with Kachumbari.

Some local delicacies in the city centre include sambusas, corn on the cob, mkate mayai and deep fried yams.

If you are heading into a city centre or smaller town, be sure to use the Boda Boda’s, Piki-Piki’s, and Matatu’s. These are some of the main modes of transport. Boda Bodas are bicycles used to get short distances while Piki-piki’s are motorcycle taxis used to get passengers to destinations in half the time that a car can. Matatus are the cheapest and most efficient way to get around – minibuses are hard to miss with blaring music, custom paint jobs, and neon lights.

Angama Mara East Africa Kenya Safari Tour

For more on some of our most favourite luxurious Kenyan destinations click here.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Trekking with the Gorillas

 

Gorilla trekking is an experience that belongs at the top of any wildlife-lover’s bucket-list. It is both awe-inspiring and breath-taking – to say the least. Gorilla trekking takes place in either Rwanda or Uganda, so it’s up to you to decide where you would like to visit. Once you’ve made this decision, there are a few tips to keep in mind before you embark on this adventure of a lifetime. Here are our top five tips for trekking with gorillas.

Iconic-Africa-Rwanda-Gorillas

  1. Do research before you go

It’s imperative to do research before your trip because there are a few very important formalities that you need to be aware of. One crucial piece of advice is to make sure that you have a permit to trek. The permits cost between $500 and $800 and they ensure that you get a one hour visit with the gorillas. Permits are necessary because the gorillas are endangered and are victims of poaching. Do some research about specific gorilla groups that you can visit because there might be a particular group that you’d like to see.

Rwanda Gorillas

  1. Be honest about your level of fitness

Don’t try to be a hero. You need to be realistic about how fit you are—Rwanda has a high altitude which might have an impact on your trekking abilities. Keep in mind that trekking to the gorillas can take between half an hour to ten hours, so be upfront about your abilities and if you hardly ever exercise, be sure to take one of the shorter routes! Otherwise you may not be a very happy camper…

Gorilla Trek Tours Rwanda Iconic Africa

  1. Dress appropriately

Make sure you pack in thick gloves, knee-high hiking garters, thick pants (but not thermals), and a long-sleeved light-weight shirt—remember, it’s not a fashion show. Also be sure to pack in a comfy pair of hiking boots and a rain jacket.

Gorilla Trek Tours Rwanda Iconic Africa Bambo Forest

  • Verse yourself in gorilla etiquette

Your guides will give you tips when it comes to this, but there are some important things to keep in mind. Firstly, you shouldn’t look a gorilla directly in the eyes because it may come off as aggressive. Secondly, don’t ever run from a gorilla, and thirdly, don’t eat or drink in front of gorillas.

Rwanda African Luxury Saafari Gorillas

  1. Hire a porter

Porters will carry your bag for you and they will help you at any tricky parts of the hike which will definitely maximise your experience. By hiring a porter, you will also make a contribution to the local community and gorilla conservation because most porters are ex-poachers.

For more information about the gorilla trekking experiences we offer, click here.

Fall in Love with Africa this Valentine’s Day

Africa is the continent of safari, wilderness and adventurous escapades but infused into all of this is an unmistakable and ancient romance.

There is very little in this world that compares to a rustic, yet luxurious entanglement with nature. And what better way to spoil your partner or loved one than to jet off to one of our hand-picked lodges this Valentine’s Day. If a tailored romantic safari is something you have always dreamed of, now is the opportunity to make it an iconic reality.

 

 

If you’re short of ideas, here are our top three romantic accommodations that will inspire that loving mood. From their prime location to majestic views – Iconic Africa wishes to provide you with an once-in-a-lifetime African experience.

Singita Sabi Sands Luxury Lodge Kruger Park

Four hours from Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport lies the Kruger National Park, the largest reserve in South Africa. Encompassing three countries – South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique – this wildlife sanctuary adjoins the Sabi Sands, the most famous Private Game Reserve in the Southern Hemisphere. This reserve boasts some of South Africa’s leading safari lodges:

Singita Boulders
If you are looking for unparalleled luxury in the bush then Singita might just be the place for you. It is without doubt one of the most romantic safari lodges in South Africa, winning “Top Hotel in the World” 16 times! Fitted with modern comforts in an exquisite African wildlife setting, each suite offers privacy, pampering and romance. Enjoy the sunset while overlooking the vast landscape or a candle-lit open air dinner from your private suite. Share the memory of miraculous sightings with your significant other as Singita has no perimeter between comfort and nature.

Londolozi Granite Suites
There is no better place to keep the flame burning than in nature. Londolozi’s private granite suites are built in to the granite rock on the banks of the Sand River with uninterrupted views over the river. Each suite has its own private rock pool and a glass encased bathroom allowing you to feel like you are living in the bush. This is the ultimate romantic safari destination as you and your loved one relax in the private outdoor bath overlooking the river, or sight a leopard and unsurpassed game. Find all the secret places of Londolozi and enjoy a picnic in the wilderness or a couple’s massage in the bush.

Lion Sands
Have the night of your life under the stars. Share a unique and exhilarating experience in the top of an ancient Jackalberry Tree. Couples are left for a night of privacy in a secluded treehouse, towering over the wealth of fauna and flora Lion Sands has to offer. Left in complete comfort, luxury and tranquillity, the treehouse is nestled among the trees 15 minutes away from the lodge. Couples can also get rid of urban stress and unwind at the health spa.
The Kruger is showered with magical, dreamy lodges. From game sightings right from the comfort of your luxurious suite to private outdoor dining and sleeping under the stars. Our lodges have plenty of choice to satisfy incurable romantics this Valentine’s Day.

Lions Sands Ivory Lodge Rooms Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

If a full tour is what you are looking for – look no further. Iconic Africa’s Royal Romance combines the beauty, wilderness, adventure and pioneering excitement of Africa with four destinations that define supreme luxury permeated with complete privacy and opulent romance. Ellerman House is the definition of modern sophisticated living on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the marvels of Cape Town all around. La Residence is the jewel of Franschoek – abject indulgence suspended in an impossibly beautiful valley of vineyards. Royal Malewane is impeccably tasteful grandeur surrounded by the majesty of the African wilderness. Royal Chundu is the ancient mystery and magic of the Zambezi in luxurious island seclusion. Click here for full interactive itinerary.

Traveller Review – Pelton Family

The Pelton family recently returned from their vacation at Lelapa lodge in Madikwe. They had a wonderful time and we hope to see them again soon! Here’s what Jackie Pelton had to say:

Lelapa – truly means Family – Wonderful holiday family travel experience!

“We just returned from 3 nights at Madikwe Lelapa Lodge with 17 of our family members (3 generations, ranging in age from almost 2 to 70 years old). We had 9 children (14 and under), 6 parents and a set of grandparents. What a wonderful experience we had. Lelapa means family, and by the end of our days there we felt like family with the staff at Madikwe. And I must admit 3 nights didn’t seem long enough…

We arrived in 2 shifts on Christmas Eve. Staff greeted us with cool towels and lots of hugs. They took our luggage to our rooms where we found lovely notes for our families and small ornaments and candy for the children as gifts. The first group to arrive made it in time for the evening game drive where they saw lots of animals and an amazing sunset. The second group arrived just in time for dinner (definitely plan on at least a 5 hour drive for Johannesburg; and don’t be fooled, once we entered the gates to Madikwe Game Reserve it was still another 45 minutes to the lodge, but it was worth it!)

Dinner the first night was in the Boma – and special it was. Fire-pit, barbeque and serenaded by song and drums. Our children LOVED it and within minutes we felt like family with the staff of Lelapa. The lodge itself is quite nice. I mean it is Africa, so there were some bugs (spiders, mosquitos, etc.) in our room but nothing crazy. We had reserved 3 family suites with bunk beds which were perfect for those of us with young children (the bunk bed room was sweet and cozy, and they provided a pack n play for our toddler as well) and 2 other rooms for individual couples. The rooms were spacious and housekeeping service was excellent. We loved our little deck with outdoor shower and plunge pool – we even saw the elephants making their way to the watering hole right from our deck. The rooms are all along a path on either side of the main lodge. The family rooms are close to the pool, and a short walk back to the main lodge. Only after dark did we need to call for security to escort us to and from our rooms. On the other side of the main lodge were individual rooms and the Eco House for children’s activities.

Meals were fantastic. They truly catered to our every need (we had children, vegetarians and nut allergies in our group, so it wasn’t easy). We were never hungry with 3 big meals as well as snacks on both game drives, a morning snack before the drive and afternoon tea. And the adults enjoyed plenty of drinks as well.

We ended up with two guides: Josh and Mitchell, since our group was so large. They were both fantastic. So knowledgeable about the game reserve, the animals and could answer just about any question we asked. They were great with the kids (and with the adults too!)

One evening drive was cancelled due to a very large rain storm – but we managed to make the most of it with games and drinks in the lodge. Throughout our stay we managed to see 3 of the big 5 (lion, elephant and rhino) and loads of other animals, big and small. My mother really wanted to see the wild African dogs and Josh went out of his way to bring her to see them! She was thrilled. We truly got an “off road” experience going through the bush and over water, to seek out the animals. What an adventure!

Back at the lodge, there were lots of activities for the children. Painting, scavenger hunt, learning about animals, and of course the pool. The pool was beautiful, and we were lucky enough to find elephants, giraffe, zebras, wildebeests and more that came right to the watering hole by the pool. It was truly amazing. Christmas lunch by the pool was lovely. The other meals (other than the one in the Boma) were served in the main lodge.


We had a little excitement when 1 child needed stitches but the staff handled it like pros and quickly got the child/parent/grandparent off to the closest hospital with Wayne at the wheel and they even packed snacks for the 3 hour journey (P.S., child is just fine!)

We fully expected to take advantage of the child care while we were there for our youngest who is 2, but in the end she was able to join us on all of our game drives because we had a private vehicle (and she is extremely well-behaved, you wouldn’t want to take a crying baby on a game drive, that’s for sure!). But I do know that had we decided to leave her back, she would have been well-cared for by the staff at Lelapa.

Honestly, with a group of 17 and the wide range of ages, we knew it would be tough to please everyone. But we can truthfully say it was one of the best family vacations (if not the best, and we’ve travelled extensively as a large group). Everyone at Lelapa was really great: from Dreeine, Doreen, Natasha to Josh and Mitchell, Beauty, Kebla, the waitstaff, night watchman/security Daniel, housekeeping, bartenders, etc. We honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more!

One thing I will say, if you’re not traveling with children, I would perhaps book a stay at one of the other 2 Madikwe lodges. Lelapa is definitely child-friendly, and I felt bad for the lovely couple who was there on their own while we had 9 children with us!

THANK YOU LELAPA – WE HOPE TO BE BACK ONE DAY, PERHAPS WHEN THE BABY CAN TRULY ENJOY HER OWN SAFARI EXPERIENCE!”

A big thank you again to the Pelton family for this lovely review. Until next time…

 

Instagram Takeover – James Tyrrell

From spectacular leopards, to brown snake eagles taking flight, to gorgeous hyena cubs… and so much more… our great friend, James Tyrell, has expertly captured the Sabi Sands in all its glory here.

 

For more of James’ exquisite photographs follow @jamotyrrell on Instagram.

Property of the Month – Royal Chundu

The natural excitement of being in the African bush is amplified by the romance and adventure of this magnificent lodge bordering both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Camouflaged between the untouched and untamed natural beauty of the surrounding lush vegetation, Royal Chundu heightens the senses with the sights and sounds this ‘paradise on earth’ has to offer. Coupled with the colonial décor and African charm, the River and Island lodge offers guests peace, quiet and serenity. Either overlooking the bushveld or relaxing alongside the bank of the Zambezi River, the spirit of Zambia is evident, especially in the staff from neighbouring villages. Scroll down for more details about the two lodges and why Royal Chundu has captured our hearts this month.

Royal Chundu, the first Relais & Chateaux property in Zambia, is 14 suites of majestic and secluded opulence nestled on the Zambian bank of the immense Zambezi River. Here, upstream of the Victoria Falls, the river is a wide and tranquil elixir that supports a myriad of bird, fish, mammal and plant life. Elephants graze the banks and islands while tiger fish dart through the water after prey. Royal Chundu represents a commitment to unbridled luxury in the wild of Africa and the constant support of local communities.

River Lodge

River Lodge is the majestic hub of Royal Chundu. The double volume thatch main area looks out across the main Zambezi channel onto the distant banks of Zimbabwe. It feels as if nature birthed this Zambian gem, so seamlessly does it fit into the vegetation around it. The sumptuous sitting rooms are softly lit by crystal yellow glowing chandeliers. The acres of wooden decking, deep cool pool and serene atmosphere offer endless delightful spaces for rest and reflection. The fabulously stocked wine cellar and library full of leather-bound volumes offer sophisticated retreats at night or when the weather closes in.

The ten superbly decorated and sublimely comfortable suites are spacious tributes to the Zambezi and the warmth of the local people. They offer complete privacy indoors and outside on the generous private decks. The river meanders on its timeless journey while hippos surface in the shallows, bushbuck browse in the verdant vegetation and, if you are lucky, an elephant swims across the main channel as you lie on a chaise longue in astonishment at the engulfing splendour.

Island Lodge

Island lodge is Royal Chundu’s premier camp with just four superb suites secluded on a private island, surrounded by easy channels and shaded by ancient baobabs. Each suite is a testament to the romance of Africa. The highlight of your private deck is the open-air bath. The acme of rejuvenation is to lie in the tub suspended over the river while inhaling the soft, sweet scent of the river.

If you are not watching the action in the water from the extra length king size bed, then you might be sipping a gin and tonic from the shaded basket chair on the deck or lazing in a tender lounge armchair. The entire front of the suite is fronted with glass concertina doors which means you are constantly thrilled by the wildness of the Zambezi while recharging in the lap of profound luxury.

The main area boasts two opulent lounges, a dining deck slung out under the star-sprayed African sky, an intimate boma and an infinity pool to quench the heat of the day and help you empathise with the hippo grunting with satisfaction in the river below.

Families

Children of all ages are welcome at Royal Chundu and there is an excellent children’s programme where budding young naturalists can have wilderness fun in complete safety under the watchful gaze of the high-skilled Royal Chundu Staff. While your spirit is being recharged with a spa treatment or a snooze on the deck, your kids will be treasure hunting, catching fish, cooking, cruising on the river and visiting local villages.

For more on this exceptional property click here.