Finding the best Serengeti Safari for you

The Serengeti—the ultimate location for an African safari, and one of the world’s most famous wilderness areas. In the Maasai language, the word ‘Serengeti’ literally means ‘endless plains’. The Serengeti is renowned for its spectacular wildlife—it has immense concentrations of predators and it is the home of the Great Migration. You are guaranteed to have an exceptional experience in the Serengeti, and it is often said that the Serengeti is the most impressive park in the whole of Africa. So, it’s all up to you to decide what you expect from a Serengeti Safari—is it to be a witness to the Great Migration? Is it to see as much wildlife as possible or as much predator action as possible? Do you want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, or spend some quality time with your loved one? Whatever it is that you’re looking for, the Serengeti has something for everyone. But, how do you find a good Serengeti Safari? We’re here to help you with that!

  1. Decide on what you want from your safari

Many people go to the Serengeti to see the Great Migration and they would feel dissatisfied if they miss it. However, other people aren’t too phased about seeing the Great Migration; they just want to get out into the Serengeti and enjoy the feeling of being out in wild Africa. Some people expect a full-on nature programme to happen right before their very eyes when the reality of being in Africa is actually something entirely different (most of the time). However, the Great Migration will provide some awesome entertainment in this sense, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a kill. Some visitors to the Serengeti just want to escape other people and screaming children, but other people want to socialise and meet their fellow intrepid African explorers. Decide on whether you want to ‘rough it’ (tents, self-catering, no spa days) or if you’d prefer a luxury safari experience (Wi-Fi for Instagram, fine-dining, opulent spas).

 

  1. Do your own research

How much do you know about the Serengeti, or about safaris for that matter? Make sure that a safari is actually what you’re looking for. Once you’ve established that a safari is definitely for you, you need to do some research on which African country you should visit. The Serengeti National Park is Tanzania’s oldest game reserve, and if you get there at the right time of the year, you will definitely be able to witness the Great Migration. Research what you can do in the Serengeti—game drives, hot air balloon adventures, and game viewing are just a few things you can do. Decide on exactly what you want to do and what type of accommodation you would like to treat yourself to.

  1. Get some advice

Once you’ve done your research, the next step is to get some expert advice i.e. from an agency or tour operator. If you’ve done your research properly, you will be able to tell your agency exactly what you’re expecting and hoping for, and the agency, if it is a good one, will be able to create an itinerary that matches your heart’s desires. Here at Iconic Africa, we specialise in luxury safaris, and we offer tailor-made safari packages to suit you. We have even made some of our own Serengeti tours and safaris (like our Treasures of Tanzania safari) that you can look at to get some inspiration from. Our Treasures of Tanzania safari takes you through all the most lavish treasures of Tanzania—experience the coffee and culture in Arusha, slow down in the Serengeti at Chem Chem, travel to the Northern Serengeti for an action-packed adventure. You never know, it might be exactly what you’re looking for, and all the flights, transfers, and private guides are already included! If it’s luxury accommodation you’re looking for, we’ve certainly got you covered! If you are looking for the pinnacle of African hospitality and colonial luxury, Singita Sasakwa is the place for you. If exclusivity is what you’re after, Singita Faru Faru will be perfect—it’s the smallest camp in the whole of Tanzania and it boasts only eight rooms! If being at one with nature is important to you, we suggest Serengeti Under Canvas—enjoy the beauty of the natural world without compromising on luxury.

So, why choose Iconic Africa? Well, we have dedicated teams that are based in South Africa, Kenya, and the USA so we’re always available to help you. We also have plenty of experience and we only sell properties that we have physically been to—this is because our clients are important to us and therefore, we have fostered very special, personal relationships with the most luxurious and exclusive destinations in Africa so that we can offer our clients only the very best in all things Safari-related. For more on the Iconic Africa Promise click here. 

Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #17 “The Bountiful Herds”

Presenting Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #17 “The Bountiful Herds” filmed by James Hendry of Safarilive.

Watch as herds of elephant, giraffe, zebra and wildebeest congregate in the heart of the exquisite Masai Mara.

Just in case you missed last month’s episode, #16 “Into the Mara,” also filmed by @jamesrahendry of #safarilive click here to view.

We hope that these clips fill you with a little bit of Africa, enough to make you dream of it’s sensational sunsets, endless grasslands and wonderful wildlife.  #Africa #bigfive #luxury #wildlife #safari

Click here to learn more about James Hendry, the safari guide in our interview with him.

Experience of the Month – Great Migration

There is no natural phenomenon quite like The Great Migration which takes place in East Africa every year. The wildebeest migration is rated as one of the world’s most incredible wildlife spectacles, and an experience that should have its place on every safari-lover’s bucket list – this month, it’s our Experience of the Month! For a very quick sneak peek of what awaits you in East Africa have a look at the video below and for more on the actual migration…. keep reading!

Every year, over 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem. They travel up to 3000 kilometers each year in search of rain-ripened grass. It is a natural phenomenon like no other, a spectacle not to be missed and, most definitely, an event that belongs on your bucket list.

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We were fortunate enough to witness the world’s greatest wildlife show in the Serengeti last year. Here’s a little taste of what you have to look forward to:

“We were overwhelmed with disbelief as we watched 5000 wildebeest scramble down the steep cliff and launch themselves into the muddy water with absolute faith that they would make it to the other side. They swam in hoards, tenaciously fighting the current, and then climbing up the far bank to join their teammates in tangible jubilation. The noise was deafening; the panic was palpable. It was literally survival of the fittest. They just kept coming… and they just kept swimming… we couldn’t believe how many there were and how determined they were to get to the other side.”

“We had done it! We had witnessed the wonder of the great crossing and, my goodness, was it worth every second we had waited. From the first day of our trip there had been unspoken anticipation and excitement about whether or not we would be lucky enough to see the great migration. You can never truly know if you will be fortunate—that is nature’s unpredictability and, as a result, the prize is an even sweeter gift that no one can ever take away from you. It’s Africa at its best, it’s nature showing off, and it’s certainly something every human should witness.”

Crocodile Attack Great Migration Angama Mara Tanzanaia Masaai Mara

The trouble with the wildebeest migration is that it can be so unpredictable and, if you get your timing wrong, you could miss the whole event. Therefore, it is imperative to do your homework first and to work out where and when to go before you even book your flights!

There are typical movement patterns but they can, and do, vary from month-to-month, and year-to-year, as the herds follow the rains and the new grass. Being amongst the migration is an experience like no other; it truly is something you will never forget. The herds stretch for as far as the eye can see, there’s endless mooing, and an awe-inspiring sense of knowing that this community of wildebeest works together towards the common goal of survival.

There are certain times of the year where you have a better chance of experiencing the magic of the migration. Click here for some pointers on when to go to East Africa.

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We wish you all the best on your mission to see Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacle! For more information on the absolute abundance that awaits you in East Africa, click here! For more advice on booking an epic Great Migration safari, click here.

Top 5 #safarilive Moments

Are you feeling miles away from the beautiful African bushveld? Do you miss the smell of the rain in the distance… the sound of the cicada symphony in the evening or the lion calls at night? Well we’ve got just the thing for you.

Great friend James Hendry and his #safarilive team bring live safari’s to you – wherever in the world you are. So why not jump on the game vehicle right now and join a LIVE African Safari here. Or scroll down for #safarilive’s 5 top encounters of 2017 so far.

A massive thank you to James and the team for sharing all these wonderful moments of our incredible African wildlife with us.

Enjoy!

  1. Sleepy lion cub

2. The Hyena Hierarchy

3. Baby Ellie

4. Leopard takes the plunge for lunch

5.New addition to the pride

Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #16

Presenting Iconic Africa Bush Diary Episode #16 “Into the Mara,” filmed by James Hendry of #Safarilive.

Watch the zebras running, the buffalos grazing, the rhinos wandering, the elephants on the move, the giraffes browsing, and the lion clubs playing.  Take just one moment to let the magic of the Masai Mara wash over you and restore your being from the inside out! You won’t regret it…

If you missed last month’s episode, never fear… simply click here.

For more on James Hendry, great friend, intrepid guide and talented wildlife filmmaker, click here or to watch your very own live safaris daily – check out the #safarilive channel here. 

Where to go on Your First Safari?

African safaris are high up on travellers’ wish-lists all over the world. And why shouldn’t they be? The whistling yellow plains of the Serengeti, the wide open spaces, the vast blue skies, the feeling of being one with nature, the thrill of spotting wild animals —what’s not to love?

If you’re obsessed with everything ‘Africa’ but you’ve never had the chance to visit, then it’s definitely time to plan your first safari adventure. Planning a safari trip can be really difficult if you don’t know where to start—especially because of the numerous marketing sites that all claim to offer the best safari vacations.

First thing’s first. You need to decide which area of Africa you would like to visit. Africa has two excellent areas for safaris—Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. Eastern Africa consists of Tanzania, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, whereas Southern Africa comprises South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia, and Mozambique. Depending on the type of safari that you are dreaming about, you need to select the African country that you would like to visit very carefully. And, you need to keep the weather in mind because you don’t want to get caught up in the rainy seasons in Africa.

If you choose to visit East Africa, the rainy season is over April and May so it’s definitely best to avoid this part of Africa during this time. Southern Africa is a bit different. Its rainy season takes place over January, February, and March, so this is not the best time to go on safari. It’s also important however that you remember that wherever you go, be it a Game Reserve or National Park you will see game. You should also keep in mind that you can see most types of wildlife all over Africa so you don’t really have to choose your destination based solely on game viewing, unless you want to see something very specific.

With the weather in mind, you should then choose which country you would like to visit in Eastern or Southern Africa. This can also be tricky if you don’t know much about the different countries and what they have on offer. We’ve selected the two best places to visit in both Eastern and Southern Africa to narrow down your search.

If you’re thinking of visiting Eastern Africa then Tanzania is absolutely perfect for first time safari-goers. In fact, we go so far as to say that it is the ultimate safari destination for first timers. It is perfectly beautiful and it offers guests a very authentic African feeling. If you plan your safari trip right, you could even be lucky enough to see the Great Migration which is another definite bucket-list experience. Tanzania is also home to the highest volume of big cats on the continent and, without a doubt, it has the biggest concentration of wildlife in Africa. It truly ticks all the boxes—great game viewing, opportunities to indulge in Tanzanian culture by visiting the Maasai, diverse parks, and, of course, the gorgeous beaches.

Another great country to visit in East Africa is Kenya. It is also an excellent first timer safari destination because it is totally geared up for tourists and it is where the word “safari” actually originates.  In Kenya, they know exactly what tourists want, and they get it right every time. If you’re searching for a place that is utterly abundant with wildlife and that is a cultural hub, Kenya is the place to go.

If you’ve decided that you would like to visit Southern Africa for your safari adventure, then South Africa is certainly one of the best places to go. This is especially the case if you are planning to go on a shorter safari—i.e. one that is less than two weeks long. South Africa also boasts the most malaria-free safari experiences in Africa, and it has completely superb Big Five viewing opportunities. South Africa is the best place to visit if you want to experience a plethora of different activities. If you wish to combine your safari adventure with wine tasting in Stellenbosch, a hike up Table Mountain, and thrilling shark cage diving, South Africa is certainly the place for you.

If you would like a more rustic or ‘authentic’ safari experience then Botswana is an excellent option. Botswana is absolutely charming and it is home to the world-famous Okavango Delta which is known to teem with wildlife. A true taste of Africa.

The most important thing to keep in mind when planning your safari trip is to find a travel agency that understands you and exactly what you are looking for. If you’d like to find out how we can design the perfect tailor-made safari for you and your loved ones please get in touch. 

 

Africa’s Top 5 Bucket-list Experiences

If travelling to Africa isn’t on your bucket list yet, we’re here to tell you why it should most definitely be. We have compiled a list of the top five African experiences that we think definitely deserve a place on your bucket list. We even have great links to spectacular, first-class places for you to stay at while you cross off your African bucket list items. These are the types of experiences that will remain entrenched in your memory… forever!

  1. Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Known as the ‘greatest wildlife show on earth,’ the Great Migration is a mind-blowing phenomenon that should not be missed by anyone who loves Africa. For a sneak peak of this incredible spectacle watch our video here. Over a million wildebeest make their way through the vast plains of the Serengeti to find better grazing areas. It is the most exquisite mass movement of land animals that takes place in the entire world. Escape to the Serengeti and spend some time in the National Park. If exclusive, and incredible game viewing is what you love, why not stay at Sasakwa House in Singita Sasakwa? It has exquisite views of the infinite Serengeti plains, and it gives one the feeling of going back in time to the colonial era. Singita Faru Faru is another gorgeous option, with its very own beach, and its classic safari lodge feel.

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  1. Climb Table Mountain.

If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, be sure to add hiking up Table Mountain to your bucket list. Once you’re at the top, you can admire the breath-taking view of Cape Town and you will realize the immense scale of the steep mountain slopes and the vast reach of the sparkling blue ocean. There are plenty of places to stay in Cape Town, from the grandiose Cape Grace Hotel to the Victorian beauty that is the Cape Cadogan which dates back to the 1800s, there is truly something for everyone.

  1. Soak in the beauty of Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls is an astounding natural wonder and it is the largest curtain of water in the world. The magic that is Victoria Falls deserves a place on anyone’s bucket list. We recommend staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel if Victorian elegance is what you’re after. The Victoria Falls Hotel is another delightful place to stay with its tranquil gardens and its Edwardian grandeur. Wherever you stay, we guarantee that you will fall in love with the enchanting Victoria Falls.

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  1. Taste award-winning wine in the Cape Winelands.

Without a doubt, touring the Cape Winelands should certainly be on your bucket list. The Winelands boast spectacular views of captivating mountains and century old vineyards. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we suggest the idyllic valley of Franschhoek. Le Quartier Francais is one of our most favourite establishments. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to truly experience all that this incredible village has to offer. It has an uncanny ability to remind one of a time gone by.

  1. Visit the Kalahari Desert and walk with the Bushmen.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari are the nomads that have lived in the Kalahari Desert for thousands of years. They are remarkable hunters and experts at finding underwater springs. They make their own medicine by using plants from the Kalahari. No one would want to miss out on such an informative and interesting experience. You can stay in Tswalu at the Motse Lodge which is in the heart of the spellbinding Kalahari Desert. It is a place of ultimate peace and is the epitome of a luxury safari destination.

For more ideas on what incredible African experiences to add to your bucket list click here. 

Safari Pricing Explained

We are often asked how much safaris cost. This is because it is extremely hard to find prices for safaris online, and because there is an incredibly vast range of safari tours available—each type of safari tour obviously has its own associated costs, depending on the travel agent that you use.

Iconic Africa showcases the African destinations which best represent our values of the utmost luxury, world-beating African hospitality, delectable contemporary cuisine and most importantly an authentic commitment to wilderness conservation.

We aim to give you the most comprehensive quotations by detailing all of the expenses that you will incur during your safari adventure. We pride ourselves on the fact that our quotations have no hidden costs and no hidden surprises. Here’s what you need to know about safari costs.

Good safaris are expensive, however, you truly get what you pay for. We cater for mid- to high-end, boutique safaris which means our focus is on luxury, excellent service, and unforgettable safari experiences. It is important to remember that Africa is a huge continent. Great distances need to be covered by either cars, airplanes, or both. Therefore travel costs often make up a large portion of your safari expenses.

Because we cater for mid- to high-end safaris, the lodges that we choose are only the best of the best. Guests can expect a large staff complement at all lodges—in fact, the staff-to-guest ratio at most of the lodges that we recommend is a 3:1 ratio. This is to ensure that our clients are treated like absolute royalty. Of course, excellent accommodation and gourmet meals are world-class too. The lodges that we have on offer pride themselves on exclusivity and, of course, fewer visitors means fewer vehicles, which ultimately means a more exceptional and much more intimate wildlife experience for you.

We specialise in tailor-made safaris which ensures that our clients are not limited to pre-set itineraries or specific dates. Our clients can choose their own accommodation and they can indicate which activities they would like to experience on their safari. Our clients tell us what they want the focus to be on (for example, game viewing, birds, cats, relaxation, romance etc.), and we make sure that their expectations are not only met but exceeded. Read more in our Iconic Africa Promise

Our itineraries are perfectly planned out and drafted with each, individual client in mind. They are highly intricate and specific, so you will never be met with nasty shocks or unpleasant surprises. They contain comprehensive information about where, when, and with whom you should meet, and we set up the itineraries in such a way so that they are easy to read and the important information is easy to find. The itineraries also indicate where any costs are not covered by travel agency costs or accommodation costs.

So, what do we include in your quotation? Our quotations include all of your internal flights with specific details about each flight—such as when and where to meet, and who will pick you up to take you to and from the various airports. We also include details about all of your transfers, and all of your vehicles costs will be included. The quotation includes your day tours with specific details, and rental costs for rental cars and accommodation costs are also included in the quote.

For any other queries on costing please do let us know.

Month on Instagram

“I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up & was not happy.” Ernest Hemingway.

To say that a visit to Africa is enchanting is an understatement… it’s something that cannot be fully expressed with words or with film but that can only truly be recorded by memory.  Just in case you missed them on Instagram, here are just a few of our most recent memories in our #monthonInstagram:

 

 

 

 

Experience of the Month – Balloon Safaris

A balloon safari is very definitely an adventure that belongs at the top of your bucket list. Africa shows off beneath you as you float gently through the beautiful blue sky! Need we say more…

To give you a sneak peek of the magic that awaits you – click on the video below!

The feeling of weightlessness, the sense of space and freedom, and the incredible perspective that the height provides will render you speechless. With the sun peeking up over the horizon beyond, with the darkness turning to light, and with the shimmer of gold on the savannah below, the beauty is more than overwhelming.

Drifting over the endless plains of the Serengeti, or floating above the absolute abundance of the Masai Mara, you will be carried over game path after game path. This crisscross maze of winding routes will lead you to herds of wildebeest, zebra, elephants, lions, and even tiny scrub hares. This completely unique panorama gives way to an exciting new level of appreciation. The bush tells a much more complete story from the sky… if only we could stop time and suspend ourselves there for the entire day. Oh the things we would see!

Up and down you go… dropping in to check on the hippos and the crocodiles in the rivers. A few big, wide-mouthed, hippo yawns will welcome you, the Fish Eagle’s morning calls will greet you, and the gurgling of the rapids below will relax you. With photo opportunities aplenty, the trip always seems to go by far too quickly and you will wish that you could be up there, in paradise, forever.

After your magic carpet ride over the exquisite African bushveld, you will be treated to a delicious 5-star Champagne Breakfast fit for a king, laid out impeccably, and set up in the middle of nowhere. Absolute bliss!

Balloon Safaris are on offer in both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara so please do let us know if you’d be keen to go on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Instagram Takeover – Graham Wood

One of our favourite photographers has just returned from an incredible trip to the Masai Mara and he was kind enough to share some of his best shots with us. Just in case you missed our latest @grazwoodphoto #IATakeover on Instagram scroll down here. Thank you Graham.

 

Month on Instagram

Just in case you need some inspiration to pack your bags for another unforgettable African adventure, we’ve put together some of our top pics from this month here. From encounters with Gorillas, to hot air balloon rides, to migration river crossings, to magical Marataba visits and so much more… April has certainly been full of adventures! #luxury #bigfive #Africa #safari