Top Videos of 2017

Just in case you’ve missed out – here are some of our top #iconicmoments of 2017 caught on film. We hope that wherever in the world you are… watching these transports you into the African bush for even just a few minutes.

Enjoy!

Up Close and Personal with the Gorillas

Tree Leopard Londolozi

Lions Feeding

Curious Hyena Pup

Leopard at Dusk

Majestic Giraffe

Elephant Family at Marataba Safari Lodge

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!

 

Month on Instagram

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa… for he has so much to look forward to.” Richard Mullin.

For all those lucky people who haven’t yet ventured towards our exquisite shores… there is so much  that awaits you. To get you just a little excited… here’s just a few snapshots from June in our #monthonInstagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samp and Gem Squash Risotto

“This Risotto features Samp as the hero ingredient – replacing risotto rice with an African staple that has a lovely al dente crunch and creaminess. I’ve also added in one of my favourite vegetables – gem squash, for a delicious gentle nuttiness. It’s perfect for our chilly African winter at this time of year, but just as delicious in warmer weather with a chilled glass of white wine. Oh, and yes it tastes even better if you cook it in a traditional South African ‘potjie’ pot :).” Sarah Graham.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 gem squash, halved
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp Willow Creek Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or use thyme or oregano)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup samp, rinsed and soaked for at least 2 hours
  • ½ cup Durbanville Hills White wine (optional, otherwise use extra stock)
  • 2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (or hard cheese of your choice)
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to serve (or oregano)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

What to do

1. Add your gem squash halves to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and the flesh can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove, drain and set aside to cool before removing the seeds.

2. Meanwhile, add your butter and olive oil to a large heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in your chopped onion and herbs and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened and are translucent.

3. Add in your garlic and samp and stir well until the samp is well coated in any remaining oil and butter. Add in your wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.

4. Add in your stock gradually, ladle by ladle, and leave to simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Then add the milk until and the samp is cooked through and creamy. Add a little extra water or stock along the way if necessary. It should be creamy and not too dry.

5. Scoop out the flesh of the gem squash and add it to the risotto. Stir until everything is well mixed together. Add in your Parmesan, check for seasoning and serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little extra grated Parmesan and fresh parsley to garnish.

Photo from ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari Season 2’ by Ricardo de Leça.

For more of Sarah’s delicious Food Safari recipes click here. 

 

 

Safari Pricing Explained

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Month on Instagram

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

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

 

 

 

 

Iconic Moments at Madikwe

The Iconic Africa team was treated to 2 magical days at Madikwe Safari Lodge earlier this month. Here’s just a little snapshot of our trip:

From the moment we arrived on the warm red soils of Madikwe we knew we were in for a treat but…somehow… it still managed to far exceed our expectations. Madikwe Game Reserve is not only astoundingly large (75000 hectares to be precise) but it is filled with an absolute abundance of wildlife. With over 10 000 head of game including all of Africa’s iconic species – lion, leopard, elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, wild dog and cheetah – Madikwe really is both a regular safari traveller or first time visitor to Africa’s – heaven.

A big African welcome

The staff at Madikwe were there waiting as we pulled into the car-port, dressed impeccably, refreshments in hand and warm African smiles blazing! They led us into Kopano lodge with a pride that was so tangible… we were made to feel immediately like it was our home too. Tucked delicately into the hillside, Kopano is at complete peace with its surroundings… no mess, no fuss, no commercial anything – just an exquisite hidden gem of a bush lodge.

So much deliciousness

We’d sit down to lunch, dinner or breakfast and Helen would arrive with her delightful demeanour, endless list of culinary delights and of course a dazzling white smile. Every meal was a feast of its own, with 3 mouth-watering courses to it… in fact there really is a point when you just have to say no to something, anything, even though… it is virtually impossible!

Private and spacious suites

You really do feel as though you own your own little section of the beautiful African bushveld in these suites. Each suite is totally private and complete with a little plunge pool, sun deck, outside shower and expansive interior. In fact, you could have a perfect day without even stepping outside your room.

Incredible wildlife encounters

In just two days we had some awesome experiences with the game, so much so, that it felt like we were there for an eternity. I’ve listed only a few of the best below:

Chilling with the pride

We sat with a pride of lion for ages while they lazed in the sun and the cubs frolicked amongst them.

A tea-break with some buffalo

We ran into a sizeable herd of buffalo in the open plains who very nonchalantly carried on with their grazing… almost unfased by our presence.

A visit to the hyena den

We stumbled upon a hyena den and watched as mother and cubs frisked and romped around in front of us. Some of the cubs were particularly taken with the mud-flaps on our vehicle and would not leave them alone… this became somewhat of a game and they were relentless to say the least!

The elephant fight

We watched two elephant bulls going head to head… a magnificent sight to witness. You could hear the crashing of their tusks as they charged at each other kicking up the red soil and taking out any bushes in their way.

Hunting with wild dogs

We were lucky enough to come across a large pack of wild dog that we hunted with and followed for almost an hour. We drove slowly after them as they ran down the boundary line looking for their evening meal… one duiker was taken out and then a great deal of havoc caused when the dogs interrupted some zebra and giraffe from their sunset grazing.

Magical bush dinner

On our last night we were driving along, the sun had just gone down and the stars were out in full display when we heard the most melodic African singing. Next minute we drove around a corner and into a magical bush dinner that the camp staff had set up for us. The staff were singing traditional African songs and dancing around the fire… it was only a matter of time until we all joined in. Yet another delicious meal was served but this time to the accompaniment of the exquisite African sky overhead, fires burning, sounds of the bush and the red soil of Madikwe Game Reserve at our feet. To say it was enchanting would be an under-statement… it was an evening one cannot express with words or with film… one that can only be recorded by memory. Kudu steaks,  mealie pap, lovely fresh salads, malva pudding, red wine and Amarula… so much to enjoy and to savour. A night of happy hearts, fresh air, great food, excellent company and of course the most special of all – lots of beautiful African people!

I feel like these few words can’t quite do our 2 days at Madikwe justice but I hope that they instil in you – a wish to go there… one day, as you most certainly won’t be disappointed. A big thank you to Alan, Johan, Gerhard, Helen and the rest of the team for making our stay at Kopano an unforgettable one! We will be back… hopefully soon.

 

A Magical Babymoon at Marataba

We all know the term “honeymoon” and what that entails… but this isn’t the only “moon” that one can look forward to. Now becoming an increasing popular activity amongst expectant parents is what has been termed a “babymoon.” And from my experience… this is definitely something worth investigating especially if you can do a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, and head off into the sunset… a last adventure as two! There really is nothing better.

My husband, our ever-growing baby bump and I set off to Marataba for this very reason, in excited anticipation – but with no idea of the incredible experience that awaited us there.

Marataba is located 4 hours North-West of Johannesburg in a malaria-free zone, very important if you are pregnant. It’s only a short/drive or flight away so perfect for even just a couple of nights or as part of a greater South African holiday.

We arrived at the lodge, to be greeted by heart-warming African, smiles, enchanting staff and refreshing beverages. From the moment you step foot into the lodge the view and the vista of the exquisite Waterberg Mountains in the distance transfix you. It is at this point that Africa starts, refilling, rejuvenating and inspiring your soul!

The tented suites are all completely private, perfectly appointed and expertly designed to make you feel like you have your very own piece of African paradise to yourselves. The lavish bath, breath-taking outside shower and over-sized bed fitted with only the finest linen, makes you feel like King and Queen.

Every meal is prepared with the utmost care and attention. Whether it’s the kudu loin, the butternut soup, the steamy oxtail or the delicious teatime brownies… you can’t help but ask for more! The service is absolutely outstanding and cannot be faulted. Each member of staff, whether it’s a waiter, game guide or your very own butler acts as your host and does everything possible to make your stay more enjoyable. They really do take “going above and beyond” to a whole other level. From special romantic turn-downs, to hot bubble baths, to complimentary massages, to surprise lantern-lit boma dinners, to non-alcoholic champagne on the sunset boat cruise and so much more. The staff at Marataba surprised and delighted us, every moment of our stay there. Having only been there 2 days – we left feeling as if we were leaving family behind.

The bushveld at Marataba was lush and green and the game abundant. In only 2 days we had some incredible encounters with Africa’s most iconic wildlife. Here’s just a brief snapshot of what we came across: a leopard hunting at dusk, lions feeding on a kudu, white rhinos grazing, elephants drinking at the waterhole, hippos lazing in the river, buffalo feeding in the riverbed… and so much more. Not to mention the smaller wonders, the birds… from red and yellow-billed hornbills, to grey go away birds, to crimson breasted shrikes, to woodland and malachite kingfishers, to paradise flycatchers and whydahs… the list is endless.

Whether it was watching the sun turn the Waterberg Mountain range pink at sunset, enjoying a lantern-lit meal under the stars, a rock shandy by the pool or a steamy hot amarula coffee at the waterhole… our two days at Marataba were filled with epic and memorable moments. So much so, that if felt like we’d been there for at least a week!

We left feeling inspired, overjoyed, overflowing with a love for the African bush and the incredible intricacies with which our world is made, an appreciation for our beautiful country and it’s people and lastly an excitement for what the future holds for us. Now we just can’t wait until we can come back as three and show our little one what an exceptional continent we live on and to teach him/her all that there is to know about nature, wildlife and how everything has it’s place in the world.

A massive thank you to the More Group and specifically to Clive, Ralf, Nadea, Kabelo and the rest of the team for spoiling us so. More hospitality – really is on another level… you really and truly do create to inspire! We can’t wait to return and will be back soon.

 

 

Game Reserves and National Parks—what’s the difference?

If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime African safari, it is important to keep in mind the differences between game reserves and National Parks so that you can get the exact adventure that you have been dreaming of. Many travellers to Africa don’t realise that there is a huge difference between game reserves and National Parks, and this can often lead to disappointment because guests were hoping for a distinct type of experience.

What can be even more confusing is that private game reserves often exist within the target National Parks. For instance Singita Lebombo operates on a private concession within the Kruger National Park. Read on to learn more.

difference between national park and game reserve sunset

Perhaps the most striking difference between the two lies in the exclusivity and freedom that guests will encounter. If you are looking for a unique safari adventure, it is essential to book in a private game reserve. Because there are fewer safari tours that take place in private game reserves, guests are allowed to freely explore the African wilderness.

Private game reserves offer guests the opportunity to escape from the crowds that are associated with the larger National Parks. This means that guests can experience the true African bushveld all to themselves, and they won’t have to share their wildlife sightings with an enormous crowd of other vehicles.

The number of visitors to National Parks is not restricted so the safari experience is open to everyone. Although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does mean that you will have to share your sightings with quite a large number of other people. ‘Traffic jams’ are a real thing in National Parks as visitors scramble about to view animals that have been sighted. Visiting a National Park will also mean having to share your bucket-list safari experience with all sorts of other visitors. At private game reserves, the number of vehicles that can be present at a game sighting is restricted to two or three cars which means that you are ensured the ultimate game viewing experience.

National Park vs Game Reserve Lion Road

National Parks are open to everyone, so sightings are often fleeting and crowded with other visitors and tourists. Often the best photos you can get will have a car or two in the picture.

National Parks often have many tar roads that allow visitors to enjoy them in any rental car available from the airport where you arrive. Even most of the dirt roads have been well maintained and will allow you to drive on them in a regular sedan or hatchback. This makes them National Parks very accessible to visitors. Most game reserves use purpose built 4X4s in order to traverse through the wild African terrain and get you into the best possible position to view the animals.

Private game reserves are just that, private. They allow you to experience Africa’s wilderness in a more authentic fashion, where you see Africa’s animals in their natural environment, undisturbed by the vehicles around them.

Game Reserve Vs National Park Vehicle Lion

Private game reserves only allow game viewing vehicles from the lodges to be used, and the rules about where you can drive are very different from the rules at National Parks. In private game reserves, game viewing vehicles are allowed to drive off-road to allow guests to search for big cats or to track specific animals. Private game reserves don’t have hours of operation like National Parks so guests are given an exclusive opportunity to experience an exhilarating night drive. This means that visitors to a private game reserve enjoy a more ‘full’ experience than visitors to a National Park.

Game reserve vs National park Lion Sighting Hyena

This means that at private game reserves you get to see amazing animal interactions that often occur out of sight of main roads and would definitely be missed at most National Parks.

It is essential to have the option of going on night drive if you would like to search for nocturnal animals which won’t be visible during the day. Unfortunately, visitors to a National Park have to abide by the rules that are set by the Park. This means that game drives are restricted to certain times and to certain roads. Guests cannot enjoy night drives in many National Parks. Bush walks are another popular activity that private game reserves offer that cannot be enjoyed by guests of most National Parks.

difference between national park and game reserve sunset

National Park vs Game reserve RondavelsMost National Parks generally offer self catering options like these quaint rondavels or “huts”, where luxury private game reserves are usually an all included experience, with beautifully made up rooms and sumptuous feasts waiting for you after your daily activities.

There are positives to both types of African safari, but for the ultimate luxury African safari experience we would always recommend a private game reserve.

 

Game Reserve Vs National Park Luxury Rooms

Although it might seem that private game reserves are the way to go, it is important to remember that National Parks do offer some of the best game viewing in Africa and it is an experience that is not to be missed. Ultimately, your choice has to be based on the kind of experience you are looking for. If you are looking for exclusivity and freedom, private game reserves are your best option.

Game Reserve vs National Park Whats The Difference Duiker

Please do let us know if you have any more questions on the above as we’d be more than happy to help.

Lime, Cardamom and Blueberry Gin Fizz

“One of my very favourite things to keep me company on peaceful evenings in the bush, when the sun is setting, the dust is settling and the night-time creatures are starting to come alive is a Gin and Tonic. The added notes of cardamom and lime make this one extra special, and the pretty pinkness from the blueberry skins is hard not to love.” Sarah Graham.

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup caster sugar
  • 4 tots gin
  • 600ml tonic
  • Lots of ice

What to do

1. Add lime zest, cardamom pod, sugar and blueberries to your pestle and mortar. Crush the cardamom pod to release the seeds and mix everything together into a rough paste.

2. Transfer the mixture to a large glass jug, adding lime juice, gin and tonic water to taste, and lots of ice.

Photo from ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari Season 2’ by Ricardo de Leça.

For more of Sarah’s delicious food safari recipes click here. 

Top SA FAQs

Planning a trip to South Africa can be daunting, especially if you haven’t visited before. Not to worry, to make things easier for you we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about South Africa to help you prepare for your South African adventure.

  1. When is the best time to visit South Africa?

The best time to visit really depends on the type of experience you’re looking for. You can visit South Africa at any time of the year but certain seasons are better for certain activities. If you’re planning to go on safari, August to October is a great time. June to October is the best time to whale watch, and if you love diving and surfing, April until September is the ideal time to visit. November to February is the prime time to come to South Africa if you want to visit the beaches and enjoy warm temperatures and sunny skies!

  1. Where can I stay once I’m in South Africa?

South Africa offers a wide variety of accommodation. You can choose anything from ‘bed and breakfasts,’ safari camps and game lodges, to five-star hotels and guest houses. Here are a few of our top recommendations at some of South Africa’s most exquisite destinations: Kruger, Madikwe, Cape Town, and the Cape Winelands. 

 

  1. What is South Africa’s time zone?

South Africa is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and it is eight hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. It is one hour ahead of Central European Winter Time, and it is seven hours ahead of Eastern Standard Winter Time. South Africa doesn’t have daylight saving and there is no difference in time between South Africa and its neighbouring countries. There is also no time difference between any of the provinces of South Africa.

  1. What type of currency do I need for a South African holiday?

You will need the South African Rand. Because the Rand is weaker than the Pound and Dollar, South Africa is the perfect destination for an affordable holiday for international visitors. International travellers can enjoy great value for money when it comes to accommodation, eating out at restaurants, and shopping.

  1. How much should I tip?

It is customary to tip for good service in South Africa. You should tip your porter R5.00 for every item, taxis should be given 10% of the bill, and you should tip your waiters and waitresses 10-15% of the bill depending on the service you receive. If official and unofficial parking guards assist you with parking your car, or if they look after it while you’re shopping, you should give them a tip too—any small change will be greatly appreciated.

  1. Can I use my cell phone in South Africa?

There are four mobile phone service providers in South Africa, namely Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Virgin Mobile. You can purchase pay-as-you-go airtime and a sim card easily and cheaply.

  1. Can I use my credit card in South Africa?

Yes, all major credit cards are accepted by most hotels, shops, and restaurants. However, you need to make sure that you carry your passport with you because it may be requested.

  1. Where can I change currency?

You can exchange your foreign currency at most of the local banks or through a Bureaux de Change. There are plenty of banks and ATMs all over South Africa.

Please do let us know if there are any other questions or worries that we can help you with?

Month on Instagram

It’s as if we blinked and February was gone!

Although it might have been short it certainly was sweet.  From team visits to the Kruger, to exploring some new lodges, investigating Africa’s rare creatures and welcoming award-winning photographers to our Instagram feed… we’ve had a busy month.

Scroll down here for a quick catch up on what’s been happening. #luxury #safari #travel #africa