Millennial Travel

2018 sees a continuation of last year’s trend – millennials setting their sights on African travel. Over the years, there has been a shift in the age demographic of travellers coming to Southern Africa – an incentivised travel destination. According to David Frost – CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, younger generations are becoming an increasingly large market for the tourism industry with 46% of international arrivals to South Africa in 2017 between the ages of 18 and 35.

Apart from the search for ‘authentic experiences’, adventure activities, good weather and local hospitality – millennials are taking a break from the latest technology, moving away from typical ‘tourist’ destinations and choosing instead to venture in to unknown territories; deeper in to the wilderness.

Marataba Trails Lodge Luxury Safari Africa Waterberg

That being said, more establishments are catering for and accommodating tech-savvy millennials. Wi-Fi remains a priority for lodges catering to this market. Millennial travellers are interested in following and being connected to the cities and lodges they will be visiting both during and after their trip. Another incentive for millennial travellers is how ‘Instagrammable’ the holiday is. Youth see the world through pixels and filters. Having every breath-taking experience littering the feeds of envious friends and family, Africa – filtered or not – makes for a picturesque experience.

Here are our top ten millennial travel incentives to Africa:

*There is a huge gap in the industry for youth safaris. For a long time, African safaris have been recognised as a luxury experience, out of reach to the young traveller. More young hearts and minds are seeking out a night under the expansive starlit sky while wildlife roam nearby – close enough for you to hear them.

*More than half of our “foodies” are millennials – becoming increasingly conscious of what they put into their bodies, and where it comes from. Mozambique is the place to be for an experience that will satisfy taste buds, with fresh “farm-to-fork” cuisine brought to you from local markets and roadside stalls. Tuck into Tiger prawns, fresh fish and steaming hot Portuguese rolls with stunning views.

*Experience is everything and young travellers want complete cultural immersion. South Africa has a wonderful mix of boutique hotels and apartment rentals in its inner-city districts. Here travellers can unpack everything from street art to street food. A little beyond the city, cuisine and culture remain equally important in the winelands. Wine-tasting tours have become increasingly popular among the millennial travellers as well as an interest in “Instagrammable” agro-tourism in the countryside.

*We do not realise the extent of community work and international volunteers in South Africa, with almost half of the youth travellers coming here partaking in some sort of community initiative or volunteer work.

*Education is also another incentive for youth trips with guests showing interest in astronomy, ecology and interactive dynamics. There will always be a dichotomy between luxury travel, conservation issues and cultural diversity.

*Older travellers have confirmed that they are more likely to choose accommodation that is eco-friendly. Millennial travellers have caught on to this trend of sustainable travel, where a conscious effort is made to avoid contributing to the decline of natural environments (Link to top five eco-lodges post).

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Luxury Safari Kruger Park

*Youth are choosing to spend their money on experiences rather than material things. Africa, especially Southern Africa, offers experiences that are culturally rich and forcing them to step out of their comfort zones to embrace authentic destinations culturally-relevant sightseeing and diverse cuisines. It is found that millennials are constantly trying to integrate themselves into as many aspects of local life hoping to become a more culturally enriched human.

* Wanting to take everything in; cramming as many places and activities in to their experience as possible, Africa is a millennials travel-sanctuary – offering them opportunities to see a variety of different sights.

Iconic Africa Kalahari Desert Balloon Safari

*One of the biggest trends in millennial travel is the desire to visit off-the-beaten-track locations. They no longer want to sit back and relax on their vacation or visit typically popular attractions that have become overcrowded and ‘over-touristic’.

*For your next millennial adventure trip, head to Zimbabwe. The natural wonder of Victoria Falls will be sure to activate their adventure-seeking nature. The country offers active adventures and unique experiences, which is exactly what the millennial traveller is looking for.

Millennial travel creates memories and invites individuals to reach further in to their own life, changing mind-sets forever. Experience tastes, sights, smells and ambience of authentic African luxury with Iconic Africa. Find out more here. 

 

The Great African Migration

The great wildebeest migration is Africa’s largest annual single movement of wildlife, where over two million wildebeests – accompanied by a large number of zebras, gazelles, eland and impala – pour across the Serengeti plains in Tanzania to the Masai Mara in Kenya driven by instinct to find fresh grazing and better quality water. The wildebeest act as one entity out of necessity – to mate, survive or die on this journey of endurance.

Great Migration Tanzania Masaai Mara East Africa Safaris Angama Mara 2

For a quick video of the migration click here:

The short rains begin in early November, signifying the arrival of the herds of wildebeest on the short-grass plains of the Serengeti. Reaching as far as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, these plains are home to adult wildebeest and calves until April, when their travels North begin.

Here are some interesting facts and statistics about Africa’s wildebeest and the Great Migration:

All wildebeest are native to Africa and the species that partakes in the Great Migration is the Western-bearded wildebeests. The Eastern white-bearded wildebeests can also be found in Tanzania and Kenya.

Great Migration Tanzania Masaai Mara East Africa Safaris 2

The Great Migration is the largest overland migration in the world.

The wildlife move in a clockwise direction over 2900 kilometres annually. Their pattern of movement is usually easy to predict – allowing travellers to plan ahead on where to go and when to witness the Great Migration.

Wildebeest have ‘swarm intelligence’ – the ability to systematically explore and overcome an obstacle as one unit.

While occupying the short-grass areas of the Southern plains of the Serengeti, pregnant wildebeest stay here until late-January, early-February when the calving season starts. Over 600 000 calves are born here. Born in such large numbers, it is easier for the calves to survive predators.

The Serengeti National Park is home to the oldest eco-system on the planet. It claims a diversity of indigenous plants and animals only to this area.

The end of March brings heavy rainfall in Tanzania, making this period an off-season for observing wildebeest.

Great Migration Tanzania Masaai Mara East Africa Safaris Angama Mara

At the beginning of May, the grass is reduced and the wildebeest begin migrating in search of more grass. They move North to areas that have enough water and where the grass is already much longer.

By early June, the wild animals start moving West in search of more food. Their travel pattern puts them at the River Grumeti populated by hippos and starving crocodiles that are ready to eat the wildebeests that come to drink from the River.

Crocodile Attack Great Migration Angama Mara Tanzanaia Masaai Mara

Between July and October, the wildebeest divide themselves into smaller herds in the North of Serengeti and the Masai Mara. During this time, the herds gather around bodies of water, particularly the Masai River – also home to hungry crocodiles.

By this time, the best place to view the Great Migration is Kenya (link to Serengeti/Masai accomodation) as the short October rains drive the wildebeest south of the Masai Mara.

The rains continue and motivates the wild animals to continue moving south and east. By December, the herds begin their return back to southern Serengeti which marks the end of that migration cycle.

Tanzania Great Migration Experience East Africa Masaai Mara

Sadly, over 250 000 wildebeest die during the migration from Serengeti. The distance covered on this journey is so enormous that many lose their lives due to exhaustion, hunger, thirst and others are eaten by predators.

The crocodiles awaiting the wildebeest in the Mara River can lunge more than half of its body length out of the water to grab and drown their prey. They also use their tail as a secondary weapon. Adding to their threat list – more than 3000 lions living in the Serengeti follow the wildebeest across the reserve.

Witnessing the Great Migration is among the most iconic experiences you will encounter. Watch immeasurable amount of wildebeest and other wildlife travel up and down the African plains, crossing perilous rivers and returning via death-defying paths coursed with predators lying in ambush. Book with us now and see Africa’s most spectacular wildlife event.

What is a Game Drive?

A game drive is the highlight of and one of the main activities on any African safari, especially for first-timers. Most travellers to Africa still get confused between a safari and a game drive.

You’re sitting in your outdoor bathtub at Singita Sabi Sands in the Kruger National Park, overlooking the luxury camp’s grassy plains. You’ll have one of the best views of elephants bathing in the Sand River. Sipping on a bottle of imported bubbles resting in an ice bucket, you think to yourself – “this is by far the best safari I have been on,” as you reach for that Egyptian cotton bath towel.

On this grand safari vacation, the camp will have planned many spectacular game drives for you. Far from the luxurious comforts of the camp you will set off on an adventure that entails viewing Africa’s prestigious wildlife ‘up close and personal’ from the comfort of an open 4×4 which can accommodate you and your family. This is a sure way to give you that classic safari feeling. A game drive is one of the most popular ways to see the rolling landscapes, big game, indigenous flora and infinite horizons.

Whether you find yourself in South Africa’s Kruger Park, Botswana’s Okavango Delta or Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater, you will witness the natural beauty of Africa up close! On your game drive you may be afforded opportunities to see local wildlife such as the lion, rhino, elephant and so much more! Especially in the Serengeti that is renowned for endless open savannahs.

A game drive can vary in length and distance, depending on individual preferences and the animals you hope to encounter. Most camps and lodges conduct two game drives a day. Most rangers and guides recommend early morning, late afternoon or evening drives, since these are the coolest times of the day when the wildlife are most active. During the drive, knowledgeable guides will introduce you to the wildlife, trees and plants. Don’t forget that you are on vacation, and it’s okay to want to sleep in. Not every game drive is the same – during the evening drive you may see nocturnal animals that are not noticeable during the day!

Here is a quick list of essentials to bring with on your game drive:

SUN PROTECTION

When you’re out in the bush, always protect yourself from the sun – even if it’s not visibly hot. Pack in a pair of sunglasses, a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and stay hydrated!

CLOTHING

Part of the pleasure of going on safari is that you won’t get stopped by the fashion police. As you’re putting together your movie-made safari outfit there a few practical elements to keep in mind. First, avoid bright colours that make you stand out. You should dress according to the climate and time of year. Dress in layers on early morning and evening game drives. During the summer months, pack some light rain gear and if you’re traveling during the winter months, be sure to dress warm to keep the cold at bay.

SHOES

Whether you stay in the vehicle, or get out to examine smaller animals, insects and plants, a reliable pair of walking shoes or hiking boots will allow you to get the most out of your experience. If your footwear is comfortable, you’ll be able to get up close while feeling safe and secure.

SMALL MEDICAL KIT

It’s invigorating being so intimate with Africa’s fauna and flora, but you will be in a remote location in order to achieve that. We recommend you pack a light medical kit that includes essentials such as aspirin, plasters, anti-histamine medication/cream and insect repellent —this way you’ll be prepared for anything that comes your way.

CAMERA EQUIPMENT

You’ll be taking a lot of photos when you’re out on safari, but the key is to pack light. A quality DSLR camera with an optical lens is recommended if you want the best photos possible. Don’t forget to pack extra batteries and memory cards

BINOCULARS

On drives, you’ll be able to see most big game. You might even get up close to many animals. But other wildlife such as birds are frequently viewed from a distance. For those moments, you’ll need a great pair of binoculars – often on loan by your lodge or camp.

 

Property of the Month – Ngorongoro Crater Lodge

Three hours from Arusha lies one of the iconic natural wonders of the world that leaves travellers speechless!

“It is impossible to give a fair description of the size and beauty of the Crater for there is nothing with which one can compare with it. It is one of the wonders of the world.” Bernhard and Michael Grzimek.

This month’s property of the month is perched on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater – once an enormous volcano which has become an ecosystem in itself and home to an unbelievable collection of game. The exquisite salt lake, fever tree forests, leafy woodlands, lush swamps and golden savannahs within the crater combine to make it feel like a more modern, African version of the Garden of Eden.

The lodge boasts some of the best 360-degree views of the wildlife haven; offers a magical, romantic setting along with an abundance of enchanting delights and delicacies. Fit for royalty, the ornate architecture, dramatic interiors and the most opulent finishes, transport you into a world like none you’ve ever been to or even dreamt of before.

Separated into three camps, North, South and Tree Camp each one has its own secluded wonderland and character. Colonial, meets European, meets Maasai, meets Baroque, there is not one distinct influence at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge but a little bit of everything. This is what makes it so foreign, romantic and magical, the perfect escape from everyday life.

After a lovely game drive down in the crater, some beading with the Maasai ladies or some archery for the kids, a decadent evening drink awaits you on the deck or in the cosy sitting room. The food is very definitely fit for kings, the plates gold, the service silver and the flavours vibrant and colourful. Whether you choose the brandied chicken liver parfait, the grilled beef fillet with potato rosti, the homemade panna cotta, or all three and more you will no doubt be wholeheartedly thrilled.

As one of andbeyond’s flagship properties the team at Ngorongoro Crater Lodge have heaps of experience and certainly know how to you win you over. For more on this magical destination click here.

African Travel Myths Demystified

“The only thing dark about Africa is our ignorance of it.” – George Kimble

Many people have preconceived ideas about Africa – often based on opinions or myths. Some of these myths have been circulating for so long that they now are in fact considered as truth or fact. Misconceptions are awful things, managing to dissuade many from visiting Africa – which is very sad! Here are our top five African safari myths debunked to convince you to finally book that unforgettable African trip.

Angama Mara East Africa Kenya Safari Tour

Africa is not safe:

Safety can be an issue in some African cities as it can be anywhere in the world now, but when it comes to national parks and game reserves, they are some of the safest places in the world.

Africa is all bush:

Africa is a vast continent with diverse landscapes, environments and climates in a single area. Countries have savannahs, rainforests, mountains, beaches and deserts to accommodate different travel wishes – making it easy to find whatever it is that your heart desires!

You always need a guide:

While it would be recommended that first-time traveller’s view game with a guide – once you’ve been on enough safaris you can go on self-drive safaris. Many travellers have seen the super-seven (the Big Five, cheetahs and wild dogs) on their self-drives.

To truly experience Africa, you have to “rough it”:

There is always the option of “roughing it” in the wilderness – sleeping bag and all. But there is the more popular preference and opportunity, to experience all Africa has to offer in comfort and opulence. South Africa boasts some of the most luxurious game lodges offering unrestricted access to some of Africa’s prestigious wildlife. Most game lodges offer gourmet meals and private bungalows – kitted out with all your modern amenities – that overlook the vast plains and Africa’s vibrant wildlife. Not to mention it offers some of the world’s most affordable luxury travel!

 

It will be too hot:

Yes, Africa’s climate is warm, but not all the time. Some countries have a cold, wet winter and others have a rainy summer. Throughout the year, most game reserves can actually get quite chilly in the morning and at night, and you will need to layer to stay warm. This’s a nice balance between the heat of the day and the cool of the night.

Animals are likely to attack you:

Animals attacking is probably the last thing you need to worry about on your safari! The wildlife, in general, prefer to avoid the company of humans, so they won’t be hunting you down any time soon…

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Sabi Sands Lions

Only expensive cameras can take good wildlife photographs:

If you own a long lens it is of course advantageous, however it is not a necessity. Many people have photographed animals within meters of the safari vehicle with a 300mm lens. What works well – if you already have one – is the Nikon D7000 with 18 megapixels. The resolution is decent and you could crop the far-away shots.

Zarafa Camp Leopard Iconic Africa

 

Our suggestion is that when you embark on your trip to Africa, you leave behind all myths and legends. Once you hit the tarmac, your adventure begins and you will never look back!

Top Travel Trends for 2018

From remote luxury accommodations to achievement-based travel, 2018 is set to be a year of long vacations, slowing down and learning to appreciate the world around us. Here’s what the experts have to say about the trends for the year ahead:

Booking trends:

79% of travel research is being done on mobile phones and an increase in online bookings has begun trending with 49% of these direct online bookings being made on mobile devices.

Duliini Lodge River Bridge

Solo Travel:

Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was published, solo travel – especially among female travellers – has gained popularity. 2018 welcome’s our solo visitors to our safe safari destinations, where the world is at your fingertips. Our private guides and luxury transfers ensure your safety at all times.

 

Remote Luxury:

Luxury travel is increasingly being associated with remoteness and disconnectivity. This year, people are projected to dedicate more time towards travel – willing to travel farther and into destinations often difficult to get to in order to feel like they have a small piece of the world (nearly) entirely to themselves!

‘Off the beaten track’ is one of this year’s travel themes allowing visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience nature at its fullest. An example is Tswalu Kalahari – a hidden gem set literally in the middle of nowhere!

Zimbabwe and Zambia – The two hot safari destinations for 2018:

South Africa is typically considered a favourite go-to for African safaris with Zimbabwe and Zambia as add-on destinations. On the contrary, 2017 saw an increase in demand for trips to Zimbabwe and Zambia as primary destinations. This is a trend most experts believe to continue in to 2018. These two countries have luxury accommodations and crowd-free safaris – perfect for those looking towards that remote luxury vacation. Investments in both countries from infrastructure and airports to national parks has contributed to this new destination-trend. Not to mention the fact that Zambia was recently voted “safest destination in the world by skyscanner.”

Glamping:

For those travellers who really want to be one with nature – but really can’t, there are endless possibilities for you to be outdoorsy without sacrificing comforts and luxuries. 2018 sees an increase in bookings at luxury tented properties for the less nature-inclined to slow down, unwind and enjoy nature without actually having to “be in nature”.

Singita Sabi Sands Luxury Lodge Kruger Park

Achievement-based travel:

2017 was the year for experiential national and international travel; connecting the traveller closely with their country or destination. This year, we will see this taken a step further with travellers pushing themselves to achieve a lifelong goals or using travel to “find themselves.”

The goal of the year is to achieve something – whether it is climbing a certain mountain or hiking a difficult trek – built into a traveller’s trip. This trend is a reflection in the travel industry of visitors wanting more from their trips than just a standard sightseeing tour.

Extended trips

The last six months has seen an increase in travellers booking trips for longer than two weeks – clients often pushing for around-the-country trips. According to Jacada Travel, 50% of the trips already booked are for longer than two weeks.

Travellers not tourists:

Increasingly encouraged over the years and recently trending – visitors to foreign countries prefer immersing themselves in experiences that cannot be found in guidebooks and brochures. Meeting locals and wondering through neighbourhoods has been the best way to experience cultures, from wine tasting to learning a new crafts or languages.

 

For all of us getting on a bus, plane or train to somewhere new… 2018 is going to be an exciting year!

The Big Five – Fun Facts

‘The Big Five of Africa’ is one of the most relentlessly searched for and often mentioned phrases.

The term “big five” began as a way of referring to the five animals most difficult to hunt on foot. The lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo were the five large African mammal species that were known to hunters as dangerous and successfully hunting them was considered an accomplishment.

However, today the expression takes a much gentler approach – referring to seeing the majestic wildlife species on safari in Africa. These friendly giants are frequently sought-after for sightings, encounters and photo opportunities.

Given the formidable five’s status and significance, here are some interesting facts about the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo that we thought you might find interesting:

Lion:

The lion is Africa’s top predator and the second largest big cat in the world. Roaming the savannah grasslands and open plains of Africa, these social felines are the only cats that live in groups (prides) and need a lot of contact with each other. The lions will greet each other by rubbing their heads against one another, exchanging scents that convey information about their intentions, moods and recent activities.

Females share a particularly strong bond as they remain in the same pride for life and raise their cubs together. They do all the hunting, and the males get the first helping – even when there are cubs in the pride. The hunting is done mostly at night as lions can see in the dark. They are not completely nocturnal so their most active time is just before sunrise or just after sunset. However, they are opportunistic feeders and will hunt at any time.

A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8km) away, enabling them to communicate with each other over large distances. They spend most of their time sleeping and can sleep up to 20 hours a day!

iconic-africa-kruger-national-park-leopard luxury african safaris

Leopard:

The leopard is nocturnal, solitary and secretive, staying hidden during the day. They are the least seen of the Big Five. These antisocial cats avoid interacting with each other beyond mating and raising young cubs.

Leopards are excellent at climbing trees and will often safeguard their kill in a tree to prevent lions and hyenas from stealing it. They are also strong swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs. Leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall.

Leopards don’t roar, they bark and snarl. When they are happy they even purr. But this is not only what makes them unique – they are the most adaptable felines! Inhabiting some of the most diverse environments of all the big cats, such as both deserts and forests – their ability to survive across a range of habitats has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world.

Rhino:

The rhino is the most endangered species of the Big Five. The illegal trade of rhino poaching is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers. Very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves.

A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. If it breaks off it will grow back again.

The white and black rhino have no teeth and hence rely on their lips for eating.

Rhinos have poor vision and will sometimes attack trees and rocks by accident. However, their hearing and sense of smell are excellent, thus often making up for their poor eyesight.

Elephant:

Many trees in West African forests – at least one third – rely on evolved seeds to pass through an elephant’s digestive tract for dissemination and germination.

African elephants communicate across large distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans.

Under Africa’s scorching sun, elephants get sunburnt too! They throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin. And even though their skins are incredibly tough, they can feel those tiny insect walking on their skin!

When baby elephants are born, they are almost blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs.

Elephants love to swim and are able to swim for long distances. They use their trunks as makeshift snorkels. The trunk is also used for grabbing, bathing, smelling, drinking and can pick up something as small as a grain of rice.

Buffalo Walking Safaris Iconic Africa

Buffalo:

A buffalo’s primary predator is the lion. It will try to rescue another member who has been caught or hurt and has often been observed killing a lion after it has killed a member of the group. Unlike the water buffalo – whom has an uncanny resemblance to the African buffalo – the latter is dangerous and has never been domesticated.

Dangerous, and rightly so! Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They still kill over 200 people every year earning them the reputation and nickname of ‘Black Death’ and ‘Widow Maker’.

Our safari-goers from across the world are eager to spot the famous rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant combination. Contact us now to learn more about our safaris to Africa’s finest Big Five viewing reserves!

Responsible Travel 101

Ecotourism, Green travel and Sustainable travel are all terms frequently used by tour operators when planning trips to Africa. Last year, the UN declared it the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development — an entire year dedicated to reminding us that tourism just isn’t about seeing the sites.

But what exactly does responsible travel entail? Responsible travel allows local communities to earn a fair income from tourism; it supports conservation, local community initiatives; and limits the environmental impact of the vacation itself.

Ecotourism started the green travel trend where the focus was on protecting and preserving the physical environment, fauna and flora. Tourists ensured that their visit did not disrupt or damage the local surroundings. Of late, the focus has shifted to responsible travel that brings the wellbeing of people in to focus.

Bateleur Camp Masaai Mara Kenya Safari Tour

Travellers going on safari have widened their gaze beyond the majestic lion hunt. They are visiting local schools, expending the skills of local warriors as guides and taking local cooking classes to truly enjoy the culture and appreciating the people as much as the physical environment. And while responsible travel aims to promote community involvement in tourists’ experiences – it is not limited to this. Ecotourism and responsible travel are not mutually exclusive and often occur simultaneously – protecting the environment whilst promoting local communities. It is not about high-profile gestures, rather a long-term support.

Many ask if luxury vacations can still be ‘’Responsible”, and the short answer is yes! Here is a quick guide on how to be a responsible traveller in Africa:

When planning your trip, focus on low-impact routes of travel around the country, aiming for direct flights. The single largest impact of most leisure trips is the international flights to the destination and back home. So consider alternatives to reduce your carbon emissions or offset the environmental consequences of the extra flights.

Plan to stay at eco-friendly lodges and camps. Support accommodations that do good work in terms of reducing their environmental impact, promoting conservation and contributing to social betterment.

Attempt to use environmentally friendly bathroom products and use them sparingly to minimise pollution of the local water supply. Many lodges provide their own complimentary environmentally friendly products.

The most exciting part of any luxury safari vacation is seeing the wildlife and taking part in fun activities! The most responsible travel choice is to select reserves or lodges that specialise in non-motorised activities like walking, horseback, canoe and cycling safaris. These “green” options are less fuel intensive and energy consuming, as well as being less physically intrusive or damaging to the natural habitats that you visit.

Botswana-Safari-Okavango-Safari-Banner-Mokoro

Support local community based projects and small-scale businesses and try to ensure that they secure a fair share of the benefits.

Employ the services of local guides who can pass on local information and provide an insight into the destination in a culturally sensitive manner.

With regard to your own social behaviour, it is important to be aware of the local community’s culture and traditions and to respect local etiquette:

Ask before you take photographs of local people and please respect their privacy.

Try to learn simple words or phrases from the local language to reflect your interest – greetings are vital.

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Purchase local goods rather than imported products. Be adventurous and dine in local restaurants and cafés. This helps to support the local economy. Visit and support local conservation and community projects where possible. This provides valuable funding for projects and enables the local community to improve their standard of living. Seek out local, small-scale souvenir shops and purchase from these rather than city/hotel tourist shops.

Protect the environment! Keep all litter in your possession until you find a suitable disposal facility. Do not carelessly discard cigarette stubs as much of southern Africa is very arid and grasslands can catch light quickly with devastating effects.

Do not purchase products that may endanger the survival of an animal by encouraging the destruction of a species for souvenirs such as ivory, skins or other wildlife products.

If you plan on driving yourself, then stick to known roads, tracks and trails. This helps minimise damage to vegetation and distress to wildlife. Similarly, when approaching animals in your vehicle or on foot, keep a respectful distance. Do not attempt to feed or touch any wildlife.

In some areas of southern Africa, water shortage is a serious problem. In Namibia in particular, the severity of this increases during the winter period. Recently, Cape Town has entered Level 6b water restrictions. And although Day Zero been pushed back to the 4th June 2018, we continue to urge residents and travellers to please conserve water where possible. However, it is important to keep oneself hydrated at all times.

 

Key facts about Cape Town’s drought for travellers:

  • There is enough water for your daily essentials, bottled water is plentiful and available for purchase.
  • Level 6b restrictions means no more than 50 litres per day, it applies to you whether you live at a hotel or a guest house.
  • Showers should be kept to a maximum of 90 seconds – no more than twice a week
  • Help us by saving as much as you can.

There has always been a difference between a “tourist” and a “traveller”. A traveller learns about his/her destination and immerses themselves in the place and culture. Be a traveller: learn about where you are going and brace yourself for the difference between the place and your home. Don’t just see, learn.

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.

 

 

 

Top 10 Luxury Destinations for 2018

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” — Author Unknown.

Everyone deserves to feel spoilt, pampered and relaxed. Especially in the aftermath of the festive season, there’s even more of a need to escape from the madness. South Africa is not short of luxury destinations to escape to, put your feet up and bask under Africa’s sun. Iconic Africa ticks all the boxes for those who are accustomed to only the best and prefer the finer things in life. Do pristine wilderness, private pavilions, silver service and contemporary interiors excite you? Indulge in our finest selection of luxurious locations and let us enable you to travel in guilt-free style and be in complete harmony with nature. Wherever you choose to go, we have only the very best in true African   hospitality for you and your family.

Four of our top ten luxury destinations for 2018 featured on Travel and Leisure’s ‘Top 100 Luxury Hotels in the World’ in 2017. Our collection of accommodation has a traditional African character preserving pieces of our land with qualities of sophistication, charm and natural beauty. Iconic Africa ensures that guests have a comfortable and relaxing stay in private and exclusive settings which inspire wanderlust and acts as a salve for the soul.

  1. Tswalu – Kalahari

Tswalu is 240 000 acres of pristine Kalahari wilderness. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, this is the largest private game reserve in southern Africa and bares testament to the family’s commitment to authentic conservation and opulent luxury. Out in the wild, the game viewing is breathtaking be it from the back of a 4 X 4 safari vehicle, the saddle of an impeccably behaved horse or on foot. Tswalu is the ultimate luxury safari destination in the heart of the magical Kalahari.

Tswalu Game Reserve. Southern Kalahari. Northern Cape. South Africa.
  1. Londolozi – Sabi Sands

In Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards 2014, Londolozi was named the best hotel in the world! A global honour of colossal proportions. Londolozi effortlessly exceeds all expectations on a luxury, hospitality, wilderness and experiential front – however when anyone who knows Londolozi well, is tasked with describing this African wonder they are immediately confronted by the difficulty of portraying the intangible. It is this indiscernible x factor which sets Londolozi aside from the rest!

Londolozi Tree Camp Deck Iconic Africa Safaris

  1. Angama Mara – Masai Mara

Perched on the edge of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is a lodge that comes as close to heaven on earth, as possible. Angama Mara, Swahili for “suspended in mid-air” boasts the best views in the Masai Mara. A place that constantly takes your breath away, where happiness reigns and peace is all encompassing, where you literally stand on the edge of the world. Owner managed and run by the reputable Fitzgerald family, Angama Mara is the ultimate African safari destination.

Angama Kenya Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

  1. Royal Chundu – Victoria Falls

Royal Chundu, the first Relaix Chateaux property in Zambia, is 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.

  1. Zarafa – Okavango Delta

Zarafa, from the Arabic word for beloved, is a jewel set in the treasure trove of the Zibadianja lagoon – itself a paradise in the Selinda Game Reserve. Conceived by world-renowned wildlife filmmakers Dereck and Beverly Joubert in the shadows of a giant ebony tree, Zarafa is earth-friendly, exclusive Relais & Chateaux luxury in one of the last great wilderness areas on earth. There are just four sumptuous and spacious suites set on the banks of the awesome lagoon where the exuberance of the African wild will speak to your soul.

  1. Singita Sasakwa – Serengeti

Perched atop the rocky Sasakwa Hill looking out over the Serengeti’s Western corridor and endless golden plains is the elegant Sasakwa House. Resembling a deluxe ranch house in the midst of the African bushveld this is one Africa’s most exquisite destinations and another Singita – ‘place of miracles’. Exquisite views extend in every direction as the ever-changing landscape teems with Africa’s most majestic wildlife and the clouds waft over the plains.

  1. Lion Sands – Sabi Sands

By protecting and harnessing the roots of both the More and Chalkley families, Lion Sands has certainly found its wings within the luxury safari industry. In 2014 Lion Sands was awarded third place in Condé Nast Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Resort in Africa, and in 2010 the extraordinarily luxurious Ivory Lodge was named third best hotel in the world by Tatler.

Lions Sands Ivory Lodge Lounge Interior 2 Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

  1. La Residence – Winelands

Perched amongst the vineyards, on the slopes of the beautiful Franschhoek Mountains is the pinnacle of luxury and unrivalled piece of heaven – La Residence. Voted Conde Nast’s No 1 Hotel in the World in 2013 amongst a myriad of other awards, La Residence is a must for any bucket list. The sprawling green lawns speckled with majestic springbok, the private dam complete with island, rowboat and soft flowing willow trees, instil an awe-inspiring sense of peace.

  1. White Pearl – Mozambique

Set on two kilometres of magnificent, pristine Mozambican coastline, White Pearl is an intimate resort for the discerning traveller. Couples or families will revel in the luxury, hospitality, delightful cuisine and natural wonder of this beach paradise. Whether you want to adventure on or under the cobalt Indian Ocean, lounge on the beach, sip cocktails in the pool or simply soak up the soothing peace of the sea, White Pearl, Ponta Mamoli offers the ultimate luxury beach holiday.

  1. Ellerman House – Cape Town

Nestled into the side of Signal Hill and boasting some of Cape Town’s most spectacular views lies a magnificent Cape Edwardian mansion that will welcome you with both arms and capture your heart forever. Ellerman House not only offers the ultimate in Cape luxury but it is an endless heaven to wine lovers and art fanatics alike.

Please do let us know if you have any questions on the above properties or if there are any more you’d like to hear more about.