Heads, Kruger; Tails, Serengeti

Where is Africa’s most iconic safari destination? The question most first-timers ask when planning their trip to the bush. This depends on who is asking and while there isn’t a definitive answer, the Kruger National Parkand the Serengeti come head-to head when trying to claim the title.  Let us compare two of Africa’s most popular wildlife epicentres and help you decide:

Singita Sabi Sands Luxury Lodge Kruger Park

 

East and Southern Africa has so much to offer the nature enthusiast, but the Great Kruger and Serengeti stand out among contenders. The two destinations offer very different experiences and each reflects the priorities of different travellers. The Kruger National Park in South Africa is set in a bush environment while the Serengeti in Tanzania occupies a large open plain. Depending on personal taste, you could love either… or both!

The fact is that both the Kruger and the Serengeti are equally iconic, offering different ecological environments that determine them both esteemed choices. Whichever you decide to visit, the truth is that you will never tire of it, dreaming of returning again and again – each time creating new memories.

Both parks – easily the size of a small country – are full of big and small game and equally demonstrates the emblematic predator-prey dynamic.  They border legendary private reserves such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Masai Mara in Kenya; and Sabi Sands and Timbavati Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

Both offer sightings of mystical wildlife and picturesque landscapes, family experiences, unprecedented sunsets, a touch of romance and luxury comforts in exquisite colonial-setting accommodations. In Tanzania or South Africa you can sleep in tented accommodationsbut rest assured, it is not considered camping! Your safari will include four-poster king beds and en-suites with modern amenities.

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Kruger Park Safaris

Both the Kruger and Serengeti are the perfect place to begin your African adventure, especially for those who have never been on a safari before. As a rite of passage, both parks rank among the best in the world to see the rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard. If you’re a gentle giant enthusiast, head to the Kruger that supports a dense elephant population or to the Serengeti if you’re more of a cat person.

Both the Kruger and Serengeti are considered year-round destinations as it’s always a good time to go! Although, both countries have two distinct seasons and you can expect similar weather and animal patters in both countries during these times of year.

 

The summer months bring occasional thunderstorms and higher temperatures. The landscape and vegetation is green and lush and the beauty of the landscape will overwhelm you. While large game are not as active during this period, sightings are still sensational as there are lots of young animals around and the bird watching is incredible.

They each have dry winter months which are considered the best time of year for wildlife viewing. This is when the bush is less dense and animals are much easier to spot as they generally congregate near waterholes. There isn’t much rain at this time of year and the skies are blue. What sets the Serengeti apart from the Kruger during winter is the incredible wonder that is the great wildebeest migration.

For most first-timers, just getting to tick off the Big Five from their bucket-list is commendable. Yet Tanzania offers travellers something greater, the annual migration of over 2 million wildebeest. And if you catch yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time, there remains an abundance of wildlife to see.

Serengeti is recognised for its variety and volume of wildlife in comparison to almost every other African park.  Besides the Great Migration being a manifestation of dreamlike wonder, cheetahs are frequently sighted in the south – more so than in central Kruger, and is better for locating the world’s largest antelope, the eland. Common sightings of the striking serval is best experienced (and possibly only) in the Serengeti, making it one of Africa’s top wildlife areas.

Not undermining the Kruger, the park holds the world’s most important monopoly over the endangered black rhino! Contrary to the Serengeti’s eland, travellers can anticipate seeing diverse antelope on game drives such as kudu, sable, nyala and bushbuck. They also maintain one of the last endangered African wild dog populations. And while some flock to the Serengeti for the Great Migration, ecologists might be interested in the Kruger’s organised night drives to look at some of the smaller nocturnal predators.

The two parks are not only located in different countries, but host different ecosystems, landscapes and wildlife. Yet they have more things in common than that which sets them apart, making it difficult to decide which to visit first. The elusive leopard can be spotted along the Seronera River and Sabi River and both parks guarantee sightings of one or all of the following: the spotted hyena, jackal, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, hippos, crocodile and endless other wildlife.And while the black rhino is most commonly found in the Kruger, they can also be seen along the buffalo’s migration route in Tanzania. The open plains of the Serengeti promise sightings of large herds of grazers, but Kruger National Park has also recorded sightings of magnificent numbers of buffalo.

Both the Kruger and Serengeti offer incredible wilderness opportunities. If you have been to the Kruger National Park or the Serengeti, which one would you recommend and why? Let us know in the comments on our Instagram page @iconicafrica and tag us in your wonderful photographs of the Kruger National Park or the Serengeti with the hashtag #KrugervsSerengeti.

 

 

Introducing Giraffe Manor

Iconic Africa would like to introduce the latest addition to our portfolio, the splendid Giraffe Manor!

This intimate home away from home is perfectly located in the Lang’ata suburb on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Giraffe Manor is a relaxing haven neighbouring a wonderful giraffe sanctuary on the flourishing 140 acre land. A wonderfully dreamlike refuge among tall trees and animals alike to start or end a family vacation. This East African gem has become one of Nairobi’s iconic natural sites.

This exclusive boutique hotel owned by The Safari Collection is set on 12 acres of private land within the abundant 140 acres of forest home to the Rothschild Giraffes. The manor is one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings and takes guests back to the wonderful 1930’s with its extraordinary appeal. Reminiscent of the first European travellers that visited Nairobi, Giraffe Manor channels this history through their stately front, elegant choice of interiors, garden-facing terraces, plentiful tea spots and luscious greens. Giraffe Manor has even named one of the twelve rooms after the author Karen Blixen who so beautifully writes of Africa.

The manor’s rooms reflect a certain colonial regency that include both elaborate and ornate features. The twelve rooms are beautifully furnished with romantic décor such as four-poster beds and neoclassical amenities in the en-suite bathrooms in a building that dates back decades. While the furnishings are quite charming and the attention to detail magnificent – right down to the chess set – what sets this accommodation apart from the rest is not where you’re staying, but rather what you see!

What makes this property a justifiable bucket-list splurge is the main attraction – the resident herd of Rothschild giraffe that casually wander around outside your bedroom window and make their morning visits during breakfast. Breakfast has never been more fun and interactive than at Giraffe Manor. Not only is the food fantastic, you are likely to be interrupted by one of the sociable giraffes poking its head through the window. With only 1671 Rothschild giraffes estimated in the wild, being in such close proximity to these friendly, towering animals is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The giraffes are wild but are well aware that they are adored by guests and that grass pellets are available during breakfast and afternoon tea. Each with its own discernible character, these elegant creatures are always keen to be hand fed by guests, creating long-lasting memories for them!

The fun doesn’t end with the resident giraffes… Guests can relax or take the kids on plenty of adventures.

Truly a family destination, Giraffe Manor has a variety of games to keep both old and young minds occupied. Stay indoors snuggled up next to the fire whilst sitting down for a game of chess or enjoy Kenya’s great weather with a game of boules and croquet in the garden.

Have access to the AFEW Giraffe Centre and learn some interesting information about your temporary neighbours or take the nature trail for a stroll and get some fresh air. Giraffe Manor also offers guided walks through the nearby forests and hear all about the traditional uses of the local flora. You might even meet a warthog or bushbuck on your way.

Our older guests can enjoy a light lunch on the terrace or quiet afternoon tea on the front lawn both with breath-taking views of the Ngong Hills. Start you evening with around a crackling fire sipping on house cocktails and have a romantic dinner in the warm dining room or the splendid-smelling orchid house.

The orchid house is also open to the more creative for painting.

Don’t forget to take a trip to the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi where you and your partner can adopt a baby elephant. The best time to visit is at 5 PM so that you can see your little one put to bed.

 

Why visit the Masai Mara

Wherever you go in the Mara, the one certain thing is that you’ll see an astonishing amount of game, often in one place at one time. A visit to the Masai Mara is guaranteed the safari of a lifetime. From the mating habits of lions, to the displaying characteristics of the crowned cranes, to the quirky behaviour of the male wildebeest, to the idiosyncrasies of the local Maasai people… there are so many wonders to take in.

Tanzania Great Migration Experience East Africa Masaai Mara

The area is watered by the luscious tree-lined Mara River and one of its tributaries, the Talek. On the western border is the gracious Oloololo Escarpment, which towers over the reserves highest magnificent concentrations of plains game.Still wondering why you should visit?

Here’s why we think you should add the Masai Mara to your itinerary:
Now more than ever, it has become very accessible with daily flights to various parts of the Mara.
The Maasai Mara is an extremely safe area, especially when travelling alone or with small children. Every few kilometres you will encounter the The Kenya Wildlife Service officers on patrol who protect both wildlife and people.

Witness one of the world’s most spellbinding wildlife movements – the Great Migration. This largest annual movement of over 1.5 million animals is an awe-inspiring spectacle that is incomprehensible unless in person. See video here.

iconic-africa-east-africa-migration-african-luxury-safaris

Hop in a hot air balloon with your significant other and watch over the rolling landscapes and the Mara River. If the views on the ground is breath-taking, imaging seeing the open plains from above. Click here for a sneak peek of this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Like all African gems, the Masai Mara offers travellers the opportunity to spot any of the Big Five along with hundreds of other wildlife, birds and insects. A haven of fauna and flora, you can sight all of this in one place. This exquisite ecosystem boasts one of the highest densities of animals in the world with 95 mammal species.


The Masai Mara is a sanctuary for bird-lovers with 570 bird species recorded. Take the time to spot the immeasurable amounts of varying colours, types and sizes.


Take a cultural journey and explore the rugged terrains marked by millions of wildlife with the Masai herdsmen. Watch then graze their cattle alongside the Mara’s predators and prey.


While there are so many life changing things to do and see, the Masai Mara isn’t short of world-class accommodations either! Live in opulence while holding on to that Mara culture that always comes through at one of our exclusive luxury properties. More on which you will find here.

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!

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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.

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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.