Instagram Takeover – Jaco le Roux

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.

For more of these unbelievable photographs follow @jacofotos on Instagram.

Top Videos of 2016

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  Soren Kierkegaard.

They say reflection is great for the soul… so let’s take a take a trip down memory lane and revisit our top 7 videos from 2016! So many #iconicmoments… to be remembered.

The Great Crossing

The Leopard Hoist

Our Magical East African Safari

A Taste of Africa

 

Lions in the Crater

The Cheetah Chase

Our Serengeti Balloon Safari

Victoria Falls – Zimbabwe vs Zambia

Victoria Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and one that should most definitely be on that bucket list of yours. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime destination that will stay with you for the rest of your days!

Elephant Camp Vic Falls Safari

The Falls or as the locals call it “Mosi oa Tunya” (The smoke that thunders) is situated on the Zambezi River which is also the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia and so it is often difficult to decide which side to visit or to stay on. Here are a few pointers on the pros and cons of each side:

Zimbabwe

• The Zimbabwean side definitely offers the most iconic view of the falls with 75% of the incredible “world wonder” visible. (This is quite a view as the mighty Zambezi River plunges 93m down a rock face)
• There are 16 different viewpoints within a beautiful tropical rainforest
• There is an exquisite rainforest where true to its name it rains 24hrs, 365 days of the year, from the falling spray created by the powerful Falls
• The water flows all year round
• There are loads of fun exciting and extreme activities on offer for the adrenalin junkies out there
• The Hotels are relatively cheaper than the Zambian side due to lower government levies and taxes.
• Most hotels are easily accessible and within walking distance of the Falls
• Victoria Falls is much smaller than Livingstone (on the Zambian side)
• There is exceptional game viewing in the Victoria Falls National Park, Hwange and Mana Pools
• For almost 80 kilometres the banks of the river remain natural and are overflowing with wildlife as development upstream of the Falls has been carefully controlled.

Zambia
• From the Zambian side you can only properly see a quarter of the Falls (also known as the Eastern Cataract)
• There are some activities that you can only do on the Zambian side such as Devil’s Pool. (a section right at the top of the Falls that has pools you can swim in) This is only for the adrenalin junkies, who like to live on the edge (so to speak) and only in the dry season. Other activities that you can only do from the Zambian side are Micro-light flights and Livingstone Island Tours.
• There is no rainforest
• In the height of the dry season the eastern cataract has been known to dry up completely.
• Prices on the Zambian side are slightly higher but there are some incredible spots right on the river.
• Game viewing in Mosi-Oa-Tunya, South Luangwa or the Lower Zambezi National Parks is fantastic.
• The town of Livingstone is approximately 10kms from the Falls

Remember you can cross over the border very easily (just don’t forget your passport) so if you have time you can still see both sides. It is definitely worth a trek over the bridge!

Whichever side you decide to stay click here for more on the leading luxury destinations the Mighty Zambezi has to offer. Let us tailor you the perfect visit to this incredible natural wonder, a visit you most definitely won’t ever forget!

To learn more about when is the best time to visit Victoria Falls click here. 

Month on Instagram

We can’t believe October is done and dusted. As the saying goes – time flies when you are having fun! So… just in case you missed out – here’s our month on Instagram. Scroll down for just a minute and witness some incredible wildlife photographs, sensational safari moments and awesome African adventures.

 

Instagram Takeover – Lucien Beaumont

Talented wildlife photographer and great friend @lucienbeaumont is back for his last #IATakeover. Just in case you missed this on Instagram click here and scroll down for his best shots of 2017 so far. We hope you enjoy them. A big thank you to @lucienbeaumont for sharing.

 

Traveller Review – Jim & Deb Mills

Recent travellers Jim and Deb Mills have just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime East African safari  and have been kind enough to share some of their experiences with us. Here’s what they had to say:

Was the Masai Mara everything you’d ever dreamed of? 

It was everything, and more. I had no idea that the river was so big, or that the wildebeest were so confused and that they go back and forth, and often in circles! The size of the herds was mind boggling and to see so many zebras in one place was spectacular. We saw two small river crossings and would love to return to see a larger crossing. We love cheetahs and we saw them almost every day! The people at the camps, both the Mara River Tented Camp and Faru Faru, were delightful. They were kind, interesting, helpful and fun.

The Serengeti Plains are absolutely gorgeous! We had seen photos and documentaries, but to see the vast grasslands is spectacular…and then to see a cheetah gracefully walking through the grass is even more amazing.

 

What was your most unforgettable moment? 

It is hard to choose the most unforgettable…there were so many. As we go through the photos, the memories keep coming back. I guess the viewing of the dogs at Londolozi was among the most unforgettable. It was amazing to watch the dogs around the kill, and to have the hyena come in and attack, and then call in other hyenas added to the frenzy. We couldn’t catch our breath because it happened so fast, and we were not sure that we would get any good photos because it was so chaotic.

Which was your favourite camp in East Africa and why? 

I am hard pressed to choose between the Mara River Tented Camp and Faru Faru. They were both different, and delightful. At Mara River, the tents were very comfortable, with king size beds and furnishings that were perfect for the décor and environment. The location was fabulous and we could see the river from our tent and from the lodge. It was amazing to watch the wildebeest wander beside the river while we ate breakfast. In fact, one morning there was a huge crossing just down river that we could see in the distance. The people at the Mara River Camp were delightful. It is a small camp and everyone was very helpful and friendly. Our ranger Benson Mboya, was absolutely incredible. He went to endless lengths to be sure that we had the experience of a lifetime.

At Faru Faru, the accommodation was a hybrid, with walls like a building and a roof like a tent. The windows were the full length of the room and it was easy to watch the elephants stroll by and the monkeys peek in the windows. There was also a beautiful waterhole in front of the lodge where you could watch the zebras swimming in the morning, and the elephants in the afternoon. At Faru Faru, they also had the practice of having a camp fire each evening where you could chat with other guests and discuss the sightings of the day. They like to provide surprises there as well, and one morning we had a wonderful breakfast in the bush. Our guide at Faru Faru, Peterlis Kibwana, was very interested in birds, which was great for us since Jim is a zoologist with a specialty in birds. He had a great time photographing a pearl spotted owlet, which is seldom seen since it is so small, on one occasion and a secretary bird on another.

Were you lucky enough to see the migration? If so what did you think of it? 

We were blown away by the migration. It is unbelievable to see such large herds of wildebeest and zebras. The little Thompson gazelles are gorgeous as well. It is so different than the way they depict it on TV. All of the programs we have seen seemed to indicate that the wildebeest and zebras form giant herds, and they follow each other across the river into Kenya, and then later in the year they come back. It is not nearly that straightforward or organized. A herd will start to approach the river and then they will turn around and go back. They will run around in circles, and then they may try again. They may charge toward the water, only to turn around at the last minute. They may wander around the river for hours on end. Sometimes part of the herd crosses, and then they return, and sometimes they are going in both directions at once! They don’t seem to pick the easy places to cross either. Often it is a place with fast current or high banks, rather than a shallower place. We have never seen so many vultures! In fact, we didn’t think that many vultures existed. Finally, we were surprised that the crocodiles were not an issue while we were there. They had eaten so much in the previous weeks that they did not pay any attention to the wildebeest.

If you could describe your trip in one word what would it be?

Magical!

What did you see on your 12 hour game drive? 

The 12 hour drive was fantastic! Being out for a full day allowed us to cover a lot of territory. There had been a report of a black rhino with a year old calf about 1.5 hours from the camp. Our ranger, Benson, tracked the rhino and we were able to spend a good half hour photographing the rhino and calf without anyone else in the vicinity. It was absolutely beautiful. We also saw lions mating, a leopard with a kill in the tree, huge herds of wildebeest and zebras in the plains, and klipspringers on the rocks! The two other highlights were cheetah brothers and a serval cat. The two male cheetahs were lying in the long grass and we were able to watch them interact. We had only seen lone cheetahs before so it was lovely to see the brothers together. Similarly, we only had a fleeting glance at a serval cat in the past. This time we were able to follow the serval through the high grass for twenty minutes, watching it look for and stalk prey. What a gorgeous, elegant cat!

What was your best sighting?

I am hard pressed to choose a best sighting. We had a number of amazing experiences. One thing that stood out this time was the number of young that we saw. Watching the lions interact with the cubs was delightful. The dynamics between the mothers and cubs were almost human. Watching the leopard cubs frolic in the tree while their mother was consuming the kill was amazing as well. Another day we watched a baby elephant that was just learning how to manage his trunk! Tracking the serval was truly a memorable experience too…

What did you think of the staff at the camps?

The staff at all three camps, Mara River, Faru Faru and Londo were delightful. We loved them all.

What is it that made Londolozi your favourite camp overall?

Somehow Londolozi has developed the approach that each time we visit, it is like we have come home. This time we were met at the airport by Garrett and Life, who had been our ranger and tracker the last time we visited. Trevor, who had been butler the last few times greeted us at the camp, even though he was not going to be the butler this time. We had the same room we have had on the last four trips and we absolutely love Pioneer. It is so nice to have a kitchen right on the deck so that you can interact with the chef and the staff, and with only three suites, it is very private and personal. Two years ago we were able to take over the whole camp with family and friends which was spectacular. The staff at Londo is fabulous at creating memorable moments, ranging from dinner in the bush, to wine tasting by the hippo pool, to a private dinner in your room. Tayla Smith, our camp manager, arranged a wonderful barbecue in the bush, catered to all of the individual needs, and in fact cooked it all herself!

In addition, Londolozi has the best overall game viewing in our experience. You can’t talk about Londolozi without starting with the leopards. The leopards are incredible, and to learn the history of each leopard is fascinating. We find that when we get home we follow the blog to find out what has happened with the latest cubs. This time when we saw the Mashaba female we knew that it was John Holley of Iconic Africa’s favorite, so even though he is no longer at Londolozi, we were able to share the experience with him. However, it is not just the leopards. The property is large enough and so varied in topography, that each day is a completely new experience. It is not unusual to see the big five in one day, but there is so much more, and we get great joy in seeing what each day brings. Seeing four rhinos in the river bed, or a group of giraffes ambling across the landscape, or a hippo making its way back to the water, or a pride of lions laying on the sand by the river, or a bull elephant blocking your way back to camp, is all magical.

If you could choose any camp in Africa to go next – where would it be?

We are already booking our next adventure. We are planning a return to the Mara River Tented Camp, Faru Faru and Londolozi, and will add a stay at Tswalu Kalahari. Iconic Africa did such a magnificent job when creating the last itinerary, we can’t wait to see what they will suggest this time!

Thank you Jim and Deb for taking the time to give us this awesome feedback and for your exceptional photos. We hope to have you visit us again soon.

Month on Instagram

Just in case you are missing the land where sunsets turn the sky pink, where impalas roam free, where hyenas call at night and where G and T’s taste their finest. Let us bring Africa to you.

Breath-taking wildlife photographs, exciting video footage, Africa’s most beautiful destinations and exciting adventures captured right here… in this Month on Instagram. #Africa #bigfive #luxury #safari

 

Ode to Julia

Recent traveller, Phillip Vecchio has just returned home after an incredible African safari. In fact, in honour of the trip and how much he loved it, he wrote this “Ode to Julia” our Director who organised the trip for them.

Thank you Phillip for this incredible tribute and for taking the time to share your #iconicmoments with us… in both words and pictures. This is why we do what we do, it’s our purpose – to bring people to Africa and awaken their souls!

Ode to Julia – by Phillip Vecchio

We dreamed of Africa, so hatched a date

But work is too busy, and life is a state

Who to help but a knowing hard tryer

Our ultimate investment in Julia Fryer

The brief was easy, so saturate the best

Budget and planning then put to the test

She knows her stuff and reads me well

Smoothly convincing, no need to hard sell

Julia is practiced but plans with her heart

Beautifully filling our African cart

We Caped, safaried and Victoria Falled

Mesmerised by animals, appearing as called

You mean what you say and say what you know

I will always admire your get up and go

Your ultimate aim is to serve and to please

Not to mention the sparring and a good client tease

Emotional goodbyes but memories for life

Saturated happiness for girl, man and wife

Leaving, believing, so special a place

Smiles and tears embellishing your face

Memories made, and colours so bold

Of sunsets and scenery, and stories untold

As avalanching memories souvenir your soul

Thank you to Julia for her sensational role

 

If ever you travel to continent Afrique

Looking for quality and a journey unique

Unpassable Julia, undoubtedly Iconic

Our toast to you is the best gin and tonic.

Em’s Magical Madikwe Safari

Iconic Africa Traveller Emily Gardiner has just returned home after an unforgettable time at Madikwe Safari Lodge. A trip that was full of #iconicmoments! Emily was kind enough to chat to us about her trip and share some of her incredible photographs as well as a lovely video with us too. Here’s what she had to say:

What did you think of Madikwe as a safari destination?

Highly recommended it! Madikwe has and is everything a safari should be, plus it’s a Malaria free reserve. I really don’t know what more another lodge could offer. (And this is coming from a very fussy and perfectionist type person…me!)

What was your most unforgettable moment?

Every day at Madikwe Lodge & the Reserve was unforgettable!

What did you think of your accommodation?

Breathtakingly beautiful, a true bush experience… You really feel like you are in a past time in Africa but with all the nessesities of modern living. Staff were really friendly and helpful too. 5star in every way!

If you could describe your trip in one word what would it be?

Emmmazing!

What was your favourite African animal?

Leopard (but I have no favourite, I loved the cheetahs, giraffes, wild dogs, elephants and lions too! I love them all!

What did you think of the game drives?

The game viewing was excellent and exciting with huge variety of healthy happy animals. If you want to see the Big 5 quickly this is the place!! The standard of the guides is exceptional.

I highly recommend Gerhard our guide, he understands and communicates with the bush and the wildlife on a level that we felt like we were part of a National Geographic documentary. He was awesome!

Did you enjoy the food?

Loved the food and the barbecue setting is magical. The Chef deserves Michelin stars!

Where in Africa would you like to go next?

I’d like to do an other safari but not sure where yet. Perhaps try a lodge in the Kruger next, but I heard that the animals look malnourished there at the moment because of the long drought they had… Madikwe will be hard to beat, so I am still looking. (It took me months to find Madikwe and I researched and looked at a lot of lodges!)

Thank you so much Em for sharing your African adventure with us… we are so glad you had such a great time and look forward to having you back here soon!