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:
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
“If there were one more thing I could do, it would be to go on safari once again.” Karen Blixen.
It’s a new year… so why not make 2018 the year that you finally go on that safari you’ve been meaning to go on for so long!
Planning the perfect African Safari can be intimidating when you don’t know where to start. That’s why we’ve carefully selected our Top 3 African Safari Tours which offer only the most luxurious, authentic, and unparalleled experiences just for you!
The optimal safari tour for first-time African adventurers. Be astounded by the magnificent Cape Grace Hotel, located in South Africa’s Mother City. Enjoy luscious cocktails on the deck, tranquil spa treatments, and divine gourmet meals.
Be whisked to the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge in world-renowned Kruger National Park, and revel in complete exclusivity while sharing an intimate connection with the African bushveld. Take delight in spotting the Big 5 and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Africa.
End your adventure in Zambia at the Royal Livingstone—Africa’s most graceful Victorian hotel. Enjoy the healing spray of Victoria Falls and unwind to the sound of its roar. With your G&T in hand, gazing out over golden mist at sundown, get a true taste of Africa’s bygone era.
The ultimate romantic getaway for couples with a love for Africa. The safari begins in Cape Town at Ellerman House—an absolutely gorgeous Edwardian Mansion resting on Lion’s Head. Take in spectacular views, delectable food, and Africa’s greatest art collection.
Head off to idyllic La Residence—a captivating boutique hotel set in picturesque Franschhoek. Not only is it the most alluring hotel in Franschhoek, it is also home to exceptional wine and unrivalled cuisine.
Escape to Royal Chundu in Zambia where opulence meets tranquillity. It’s the perfect place for you and your special someone to revel in all things ‘Africa’.
An extravagant safari adventure for the whole family. Your African escapade starts at the One&Only Cape Town—centrally located and an ideal home base for the whole family. Admire the sweeping views over Cape Town while indulging in all the mod-cons, what more could you ask for?
Journey to Madkiwe Safari Lodge an African safari that caters for everyone. Located in a malaria free area makes it ideal for families. Madikwe blends five star comfort and pure African indulgence.
End your adventure at Tongabezi which lies on the banks of the Zambezi River. With plenty of exciting activities for the entire family—parents can relax at the peaceful plunge pools while kids can enjoy the delights of the play area.
For more information on tours that are available please visit our site here.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“It was the wildest, untouched Africa and it was magic.” Jane Goodall.
For many, a trip to Africa is a once in a life time opportunity that is the outcome of years of saving. So it is understandable that people would want to plan it properly and not compromise the experience by putting together a last minute trip. A survey conducted by Now Media showed that booking for holidays in Southern Africa are rising as foreign currencies thrive despite our economy showing signs of improvement.
This is not surprising as our tourism industry is South Africa’s biggest earner of foreign exchange. Not only do tourists get their monies worth in Rands, South Africa has always been and remains a key destination for family-orientated safaris, especially in malaria-free locations. Game reserves have shown an increase in child-friendly options, and most tourists head to ‘attraction destinations’ such as Zimbabwe or Zambia. With bookings for 2018 nearly at full capacity, we advise that potential holiday makers start planning at least a year in advance and start booking latest nine months before your scheduled trip. This way you can secure your preferences at the best rates.
For some people, a year is an awfully long time to plan ahead. Anything can happen over the course of a year making people feel intimidated; especially to pay for and confirm a trip that far in advance. But the planning itself takes a few weeks. All you have to do is begin the process. Here are our top five reasons for planning a trip a year before you take it:
Do you have a specific budget?
An African safari is not an inexpensive holiday even though there is a wide range of tours and travel styles, some of which are cheaper than others. We advise clients to start off with a budget in mind. It is fine to spend a little more if a consultant recommends an activity or experience that is worth much more than the extra expense. It’s also fine to spend less than you budgeted, but you don’t want to start off not knowing what you’re comfortable spending. Before planning your safari, determine a budget so that you know how to allocate towards accommodation, bucket-list activities, flights and transport, spending money and unforeseen expenses that may come up.
Choosing where to go
The most time consuming part of planning a safari is deciding on where to go. Before you can make any bookings, you’ll need to make decisions about what you’d like to see. Do you have your heart set on seeing the Big Five, whales, birds, or the “great migration”? There are so many options and you will want to weigh each one.
Choosing when to go
Once you’ve determined what you would like to experience you can determine the best time of year to go on safari. Of course, that’s where we can help you. If you are an avid birder and also want to relax on South Africa’s beaches, there are only a few months a year where these two activities can coincide or are at their respective peaks, since one requires rain and the other sun! Or, if you are considering a top safari destination such as Kenya or Tanzania and want an uncrowded stay, consider off-season travel as peak season welcomes countless visitors.
Getting to South Africa
While we encourage guests to start planning a year in advance and confirm reservations and bookings at least nine months before departure, paying for airline tickets is a little trickier. Airfares constantly flex and although airline reservation systems start showing flights 330 days in advance for international flights, you can start looking for flights four months beforehand (the prime booking window). With direct flights to Africa being few, you want to book your seat no later than two months prior so you can get the lowest possible fare. Given the lack of competition between airlines for international flights to Africa, there are very few sales to take advantage of.
Booking Hotels, Camps and Lodges
Of course there are more accommodation options than airplane seats, but the best safari camps fill up a year in advance. This is especially the case around Christmas and at the height of the safari season. Luxury safari camps often cater to fewer than 20 guests, so availability runs out very quickly especially if you are travelling with a family and need more than one room. When booking your accommodation be sure to pre-book any game drives or activities you wish to do as well. Having a structured budget and plan will allow you to decide whether you want to stay in a private residence or hotel; perhaps a public or private game reserve.
We hope that we have convinced you that planning in advance helps make sure your journey is tailored around your needs, wish list preferences and unique travel concerns. Planning a year in advance can ensure that your travel style & budget is met. If your budget is limited, you’ll want the most affordable options. If you have limited time, you’ll want the most efficient travel logistics. A few months before your trip, you should check in with your travel clinic to get the right immunizations and malaria prophylactics if necessary. At this time you should also find out if you need a tourist visa and double check to make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after you arrive in Africa.
If you have any other questions please do let us know. We certainly hope we can help make your dreams of visiting our beautiful continent a reality.
2017 has been a fun and incredible year for us. From the magic of the Mara, to the endless Kalahari, to the abundance of Kruger and the beauty of the Cape – we’ve seen, explored and revelled in so much that Africa has to offer. Just in case you have missed out – scroll down here… for Our Year in Pictures.
We hope that in just a few #iconicmoments – these photographs will transport you to the wonder that awaits! Perhaps you will pay us a visit in 2018? We’d love to show you around!
“Why is it you can never hope to describe the emotion Africa creates? You are lifted. Out of whatever pit, unbound from whatever tie, released from whatever fear. You are lifted and you see it all from above.” Francesco Marciano.
There’s something special about coming to Africa… something that cannot be described to those who’ve never been. It’s a feeling you get when you are here… one that takes you over, inside and out!
We can’t wait for you to feel it… so here are just a few of our favourite wildlife videos from this year… coming to you wherever in the world you are. Sit back, watch, listen – enjoy!
We’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our travellers over the year – for everything! For choosing us, for travelling with us, for changing travel plans, for coming on safari for the first time, for taking lots of awesome pictures and for sharing all of your incredible experiences with us. You are what makes our business! We love that we can help you tick all your African bucket-list items – whether it’s witnessing the migration in the Mara, seeing your very first leopard in a tree at Londolozi or watching a high speed cheetah chase in the Serengeti… these are the moments that make life worth living!
We always enjoy hearing about your travels and seeing your photos. A special mention to all of you who have kindly sent through reviews in 2017, thank you! Here are our top ten reviews this year:
“Fantastic experience in Africa. Flawless attention to detail and wonderful sites and people.” by Marie.
“Absolutely amazing! We have used Iconic twice now to organise golf and game park tours for a group of 8, and each time they have been exceptional. We always go to Londolozi at the beginning, then a couple of weeks of golf, and a week or so at the end at different game parks – last time in Zambia and Botswana. We have always been looked after by Beverley van Schoor, and she goes out of her way to make everything perfect. We do 4 – 6 trips a year in various parts of the world, and since retiring 10 years ago, I have never experienced such a wonderful travel service anywhere in the world. We live in Australia, and if any of our friends are contemplating a trip to Southern or Eastern Africa, I have no hesitation in recommending Bev and Iconic. So far all the feedback has been consistent with our own experiences. They are absolutely amazing!” by Ian.
“Terri at Iconic Africa is fantastic! She arranged our trip itinerary based on our interests and then refined it with her knowledge of Africa. She is very enthusiastic and helpful. This was a trip of a lifetime! We cannot wait to go back. She worked very hard to make sure that our wishes were met and even arranged for a photographer to take family pictures of us at Victoria Falls. Her suggestions for specifics of the trip were spot on. It was very helpful to have a private vehicle for safari. She also arranged to have specific guides with photography skills to help us.” by Lynn.
“Iconic Africa created a dream itinerary for us. We absolutely loved our time in Tanzania at the Singita Mara River Tented Camp and Faru Faru. It was amazing to see the great migration and the beautiful Serengeti with its mesmerizing cheetahs. All of the transfers and flights were managed perfectly. Our return to South Africa and Londolozi was incredible, both in terms of the staff and the game viewing. We had such an amazing time that we are scheduling our return trip. Thank you Iconic Africa!” by Deb.
“The holiday of the century! Thank you Iconic, we had the most divine safari in South Africa and my children are already asking when we can go back! Soon… soon we’ll be back.” By Tom
“Wonderful last minute bush experience. Iconic Africa was able to put together a holiday which we took up at the last minute on a whim – it was a lodge experience that doesn’t come often for South Africans paying in rands for expensive bush getaways and we really appreciated. The package was wonderful and required no effort or hidden costs.” by Jean
“Completely refreshed! A great experience with professional pre-trip service and a wonderful, memorable stay. Thank you from my wife and me.” by Craig
“Must experience! Very professionally run, providing an excellent Safari experience to last a lifetime.” by KC
“Absolutely perfect. Could not fault any aspect with the accommodation, tours or Transport organised. Everything went as organised and the arrangements made. Beverley you are a star!! 10/10 Use iconic Africa! You will be glad you did!” by Laraine from Australia
“Tailor-made holidays in heaven! Iconic Africa have been absolutely amazing in offering a bespoke end to end holiday solution. I cannot praise them enough! Right from picking the right resort to the transfers at location to making your holiday special, they think of it all.” by Jerbackpack
For a long time now, Zimbabwe has been overlooked as a safari destination due to years of political turmoil. However due to recent developments and one of the world’s most peaceful peoples’ revolutions… ending in the resignation of president Robert Mugabe – the country’s future is brighter than ever. It is likely that in 2018 many more travellers will cross its borders than in the last decade.
As we have a passionate “Zimbo” in our midst, we are obviously very “stoked” (excited) about this news and we hope to send more and more travellers there over the coming year!
Zimbabwe really and truly is one of Africa’s hidden gems… (for some it’s the best!) Here are a few reasons why we think this country is most definitely worth a visit:
The Pinnacle of Hospitality
There is nothing more magical than the warmth of the people in Zimbabwe—their friendly smiles, affectionate handshakes, and absolute love for their country is completely contagious. You will feel part of the greater Zimbo family from the minute you step off the plane!
What could possibly be better than a truly African safari? Well, perhaps a truly exclusive African safari … Zimbabwe is the ultimate place to be if you want to get away from the crowds and have the bush to yourself. It’s definitely one of the more private safari destinations and there will never be masses of tourists cramping your style!
Value for money
This is a safari that won’t necessarily cost you an arm and a leg. Zimbabwe gets full marks for value for money!
Zimbabwe is home to some of the most exquisite landscapes in Africa. From the high mountains in the east, to the Mopane woodland in the low-veld, to the vibrant waterholes of Hwange and of course the majesty of the Victoria Falls – you are never at a loss for beauty.
One specific member of our team will say that the game-viewing in Zimbabwe is better than anywhere else on the continent. To be honest – she’s not far wrong…spotting the Big Five is definitely doable and so is seeing all sorts of weird and wonderful creatures. It’s certainly a birder’s paradise, too! For the twitchers out there – a fish eagle call over the Zambezi… is one of the world’s most remarkable sounds.
Zimbabwean guides are some of the most knowledgeable and extraordinary guides in Africa. You will learn so much from these experts and no doubt make friends with them almost immediately.
Word Class Accommodation
Zimbabwe is home to some of the most stunning luxury accommodation in Africa and boasts extraordinarily world-class service.
Spectacular Victoria Falls
There is only one word that describes Vic Falls perfectly: awe-inspiring. This natural world wonder will take your breath away and will leave you feeling like a completely changed person. If you visit Zimbabwe just to see Victoria Falls… thats OK too… just make sure you come back for… Hwange, Mana Pools, Kariba … and so on!
Mana Pools National Park
Mana Pools has been declared a World Heritage Site because of its incredible wilderness and beauty—there are elephants, hippos, and hyenas at every turn. It’s the perfect place for walking and canoeing safaris. A must for the safari-lovers bucket list.
Hwange National Park
Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest game reserve and is renowned for its massive herds of buffalo and elephants, but you’ll also spot plenty of black-back jackals, lions, giraffes, zebra, and hippos.
So, there you have it! Those are our top 10 reasons to visit Zimbabwe. For more information please visit our site here. #NewZimbabwe #luxury #travel #safari
Brilliant photographer and friend of Iconic Africa @jacofotos has recently done an awesome #IATakeover for us. Just in case you missed it – scroll down here for his incredible shots of some unique African landscapes.