With only three spacious tents in camp, each resting on a raised wooden deck under the shady boughs of wild ebony trees, exclusivity is the name of the game at North Island, the latest amazing camp in the Natural Selections Portfolio.
Set in one of the most wildlife-rich concessions in the world heritage site that is the Okavango Delta, this is truly an African Paradise.
Each tent offers stunning views of the lagoon in front of it and a private plunge pool with a sunken sundeck for cooling off, for you to enjoy while watching the ever-present wildlife that comes into view.
After dark the local frog chorus dominates the soundscape whilst fireflies twinkle at you from the reedbeds, their reflections on the still water doubling the light display. During the hotter summer nights, each bed comes with its very own ‘over-the-bed’ cooling system, and during the winter when cold nights are the norm, there is a cosy fireplace to relax in front of, making each tent a romantic safari experience.
Tents all come with sleeper couches that can accommodate children should you be travelling with the family.
En suite bathrooms are fitted with both indoor and outdoor showers, which means you can wash while being fully surrounded by nature. WiFi is available in the rooms but not in the communal areas; guests are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the experience and their surroundings, so checking social media can be left for after hours!
Delicious dinners are served in separate dining areas overlooking a hippo-filled pool; these parts of camp are connected by a wooden deck that extends outwards for stargazing around a crackling firepit one the sun has gone down. Tucked discreetly to one side lies a small, comfortable library for resting and reading and an outdoor gym for those who wish to stay fit while on safari.
North Island looks set to reinvent what the words “luxury” and “exclusive” truly mean on safari.
If you’ re interested in this spectacular destination, get hold of us on firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s start planning your safari…
If there was one reason to safari in East Africa, it’s the great migration. Well north of a million wildebeest and zebra follow the rains as they move between the great grassland ecosystems of the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti on a continuous loop.
Since the migration is seasonal and highly concentrated at different times of the year, knowing when and where to go is crucial if you are to fully appreciate one of the natural world’s great wildlife shows.
One authentic mobile tented camp, but in two locations, Lemala Ndutu & Lemala Mara moves north and south with the seasons to ensure guests enjoy ringside seats to the spectacle of the magnificent wildebeest migration year-round. Both camps are set up in sublime locations offering a high-quality safari experience with excellent guiding.
Lemala Ndutu Tented Camp is in the Ndutu region of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area near the border of the Southern Serengeti.
This area is classic savannah, characterized by flat grassy plains, and the camp is in one of the finest locations in Ndutu to see the migration between December and March. Tens of thousands of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle usually arrive in December to graze on the newly-watered, highly nutritious short grass plains, and then by February, the main calving season takes place. Predators – especially the big cats – are highly concentrated in the Ndutu area in these months, and take full advantage of the birthing season to snap up easy meals among the newborn wildebeest.
With nine tents, Lemala Ndutu is perched on the edge of a permanent marsh and acts as the ultimate amphitheatre to capture the boundless drama that accompanies the migration.
The twelve tents of Lemala Mara Tented Camp travel north between June and October to set up under large Euclea trees in one of the best game viewing areas of the Northern Serengeti. The exact location varies from year to year. Sometimes the camp set up camp close to the Mara River, but are always far enough away to remain discreet and not interrupt wildlife behaviour as the wildebeest mass along the steep banks during their frantic crossings on their way north to the Maasai Mara.
Here, in this immense remote wilderness, guests can enjoy fabulous landscapes and terrific game viewing with almost no crowds. Resident wildlife numbers are always high, but nothing compared to the dramatic scenes during the migration as tens of thousands of animals gather to then plunge into the crocodile-infested river.
Lemala Mara & Ndutu is a mobile tented camp offering an authentic bush experience, but the tents are spacious and each is furnished with two queen-size beds and all the little luxuries and amenities that make them wonderfully comfortable. After an evening game drive, your tent attendant ensures your safari shower is filled with hot water to wash away the dust of the African savannah.
Delicious meals are prepared fresh, and for those who want to go on extended full-day game drives, great picnic breakfasts and lunches are available. The communal areas have separate lounge and dining areas and are beautifully decorated with leather sofas, chandeliers, side cabinets, rugs, chests and a bar. In the evening, guests can gather around the campfire to enjoy pre-dinner drinks and canapes and share their safari stories of the day.
Lemala Ndutu & Mara is a superb option for those who want to be in awae of the great migration, and want the feel of an old school authentic safari.
The canvas tents of the camp make you feel so much more a part of the ecosystem, rather than removed from it when you return from your game drive.
Get in touch through email@example.com to find out more about the great migration and the best way to experience it…
Although Elephants are prevalent in many of the more famous game reserves across Africa, they are seldom the reason to visit a specific park or area. The spotlight is generally reserved for the big cats or some other nuanced factor like a rare species or specific behaviour that occurs there. A lot of the time, as spectacular as they are, the presence of elephants can almost get taken for granted by visitors to Africa, and the viewing of them seen as a guaranteed byproduct of a safari. Yet there is a tremendous amount of variability in elephant populations across the continent. In some areas they are scarce and nervous of vehicles, in others they are massively overpopulated, sometimes their presence is seasonal, and they are hardly to be found during certain months of the year…
If it is elephants that you want to see, it is imperative that you know where the best places are, and what to expect once you are there.
Here a few of our favourite places to view elephants in Africa…
As unique an elephant experience as you’ll get, if you visit between June and October. The local elephant population congregates along the Zambezi River to take advantage of the availability of water at the height of the dry season, and to feed on the pods of the Ana Trees that fall to the ground during this time of year.
The true magic of Mana Pools lies in the freedom guests have to go on foot whenever they wish (although the uninitiated should only do so when accompanied by a professional guide). Mana Pools is the only National Park that allows its visitors to alight from their vehicles and approach wildlife whilst walking.
As a result, the local animals have grown used to seeing humans on foot, and as long as respectful distances are maintained, accept people’s presence.
Being 40 metres from a large African Elephant bull when on foot is just as if not more exciting than having one brush right past your safari vehicle.
With amazing accommodation options on some of the more exclusive concessions on the east and west sides of the park, as well as a couple right in the heart of it, Mana Pools is there to explore…
The true Giants of Africa live here. Famous super tuskers like Craig and Tim – old bulls carrying some of the biggest ivory in Africa – call this ecosystem their home, and what could be more iconic than an enormous elephant bull with a backdrop of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro?
There are few images that are as quintessentially Africa as this.
Between the Amboseli and neighbouring Tsavo ecosystems there are a number of super tuskers (elephants classified as carrying tusks of over 100 pounds) with even more so-called emerging tuskers – younger individuals who are on track to carry enormous ivory – so one’s chances of seeing a truly spectacular elephant are high.
Alongside the rest of the resident wildlife like lions, cheetahs and a whole assortment of the weird and wonderful, the Amboseli and Tsavo regions provide some of the best elephant viewing on the continent.
SABI SAND, SOUTH AFRICA
Plenty of relaxed elephants, plenty of lodge options.. The Sabi Sands is one of Africa’s best places to view wildlife. Known particularly for its leopards – the reserve boasts the densest population yet recorded in Africa – this is one place where elephants almost are a by-product of looking for big cats. Non-impactful viewing practices over the last fifty years have resulted in local wildlife populations that are completely relaxed in the presence of a vehicle, and close-up sightings of elephants are commonplace. Being completely surrounded by a herd is not at all unlikely, and an experience like this will quite simply take your breath away.
With a wide variety of accommodation options catering for a range of budgets and needs, the Sabi Sands is an excellent place in which to get cloe to elephants, and at the same time enjoy some of the most spectacular wildlife viewing on the planet…
Namibia is one of the most unique places you can see elephants, and one small population in particular.
In the far north-western corner of Namibia lie the Kaokaveld and Damaraland regions, which are home to the fabled desert elephants. These animals have adapted to survive in the harshest environment, sometimes walking round trips of 70km in their search for water.
The lunar landscape is the last place one would normally expect to view elephants, and it is the setting itself that makes sightings that much more spectacular.
There are a few isolated yet luxurious camps tucked discreetly away in this desert wilderness, the guides of which know exactly where to find the herds at different times of year, so despite the elephants being few in number and the wilderness so vast, encountering them is still a likelihood.
Ultimately, elephant viewing in Africa is as diverse as the continent itself, and our feeling is that it almost doesn’t count as a safari unless elephants are part of it. Almost…
Get hold of our safari consultants through firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your elephant safari…
For this special holiday, Iconic Africa would like to invite you to express the five love languages on the continent they adore. Here’s how to experience your love language in Africa:
1. Roaring lions speak words of affirmation.
2. The bold African sun envelops you with warmth and promise for physical touch.
3. Spend time together sitting in the wilderness surrounded by the sounds of the savannah.
4. Perform acts of service through your travel contributing to community upliftment through Iconic Africa Foundation.
5. Give the gift of travel, securing stunning memories and paying it forward with every trip.
They say you’ll fall in love three times in your life, but, for me, Africa has always been the love of my life.
With the help of Ironic Africa, I’d like to share my love with you this Valentine’s Day…
Come and hear the lions who roam just out of view, as you gaze into the eyes of your loved ones who are reflected in the light of the campfire. There is such connection to be found here; whether is to those with you, to yourself, or to a nostalgia for a long-forgotten time in our ancestral past when we were all seated round the campfire…
Wake up to the vivid rays of the African sun creeping over the horizon, the dawn chorus of birds enriching the crisp chill of the dawn air. There is no greater place to start the day than in the African bush, and nowhere will you feel more connected to that glowing orb in the huge open sky.
Hold hands as you walk together across the savannah through grasses and across landscapes overflowing with wildlife. The memories you make as you give the gift of the trip of a lifetime will remain in your hearts and minds for years to come.
And, your gift will in turn give back to Africa through the Iconic Africa Foundation, which will contribute a portion of your travel to preservation and conservation efforts, sustaining the continent that you, too, will come to love.
Experience Africa. Experience love. Come and travel with us…
Black Panthers. An idea from the Jungle Book that many people associate only with storybooks, and few believe actually exist. Those that do know that they are out there more often than not believe them to be a species apart, when the truth is they are simply melanistic versions of a leopard or jaguar.
A recessive gene codes for a much higher production of the dark pigment melanin, and an almost black coat is the result. Leopards like this still have their normal rosettes, they are just much harder to see against the infinitely darker coat.
The Laikipia region in central Kenya is home to the highest diversity of mammals in Africa, and like its wildlife, the region is wild. Although it isn’t a national park, a series of private conservancies and ranches maintain its wilderness feel, and these are largely unfenced, allowing animals to roam free between the,. The whole area spans nearly a million acres and the habitat is incredibly varied. It is home to a number of threatened and unique species of mammals found only in Northern Kenya; Grevy’s zebra, Reticulated giraffe, Beisa oryx, zorilla, striped hyena, aardwolf and wild dog.
A melanistic leopard therefore, is simply the cherry on top.
It was a young individual that was first spotted by the owner of Laikipia Wilderness Camp a few years ago, and subsequent camera trap work by photographer Will Burrard-Lucas documented the animal in spectacular fashion.
To this point there have been reports of a number of melanistic individuals in the greater Laikipia region; an encouraging sign that the recessive gene is becoming more prevalent. However, the majority of these cats are unrelaxed; nervous of people and vehicles and very difficult to see or capture on camera.
It is around Laikipia Wilderness Camp that one has the greatest chance of experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime sighting of a black leopard, as the young female there was viewed with her mother for much of her youth, and became habituated fairly rapidly as a result.
For those adventurous enough to venture off the beaten path and explore this lesser known region of Kenya, viewing a black leopard in the wild is a very real possibility. Our strong recommendation is that you are accompanied by a private guide, to assist with photography in particular, as photographing a black animal at night with only a spotlight for light can be a tricky prospect (most of the viewing of the melanistic cat is after dark, when it feels most relaxed).
There are as couple of very experienced photographic guides that we work with, so be sure to enquire as to their availability.
If this unique experience is something you would be interested in, get in touch with us through email@example.com. Laikipia Wilderness Camp has limited space and is suddenly a much sought after destination with the appearance of the black panthers, seemingly out of nowhere, so don’t hesitate to start planning your safari…
Drive north for a couple of hours from Cape Town, passing winelands and then up and over the Piekenierskloof Pass, twisting and turning down towards the town of Citrusdal alongside the Olifants River, you enter the Cederberg foothills. The mountains loom over you to the east, providing an unbroken chain from north to south, presenting a barrier to the country’s interior.
For centuries this mountain fastness was the stronghold of numerous Koi and San tribes – the oldest culture on earth – and to this day, their artwork and dreamscapes adorn caves across the whole range of mountains. One can almost hear their whispers on the wind, reminding us of a forgotten time in our own ancestry.
Cradled by these same mountains, Bushmans Kloof offers a unique wilderness escape in South Africa. This family-owned lodge and ecological oasis is set within a 7500-hectare private reserve, and offers five-star luxury accommodation and inspired South African cuisine. The grandeur of nature is all around you here, and unforgettable days can be spent discovering the wide-open plains, the specialised mountain wildlife and the pristine mountain landscapes. Bushmans Kloof has access to more than 130 ancient rock art sites, some dating back as far as 10,000 years, and visitors can enjoy the unique opportunity of discovering the region’s ancient San culture in the company of experienced local guides.
Bushmans Kloof boasts 16 rooms & suites, plus two fully catered private villas, and during the hot summer months, four separate swimming pools will ensure you main cool and refreshed on even the warmest of days.
Each of the suites and private villas have been individually decorated to offer a one-of-a-kind luxury experience in the Cederberg wilderness. In each room, and throughout the communal lodge spaces, the bespoke collection of art, décor, antiques and heritage furniture pieces has been handpicked to celebrate the history and culture of the region. The beauty doesn’t end when you step in from the wilderness.
Bushmans Kloof is easily accessible from Cape Town, and offers an ideal way to relax at the end or beginning of a safari trip to Africa. Spend some time in the bush, then in the Mother City of Cape Town, and then just over the mountains is the gorgeous paradise of Bushmans Kloof, waiting for you.
Tuludi Camp is the perfect base from which to explore one of the most productive areas of the eastern Okavango Delta. Set in the renowned Khwai Private Concession, and overlooking a stunning Delta landscape – rippling floodplains fringed by ancient riparian forest – the camp sits next to a permanent waterhole that is frequented by elephants in particular, and the local big cat population are regular visitors.
Tuludi is one of the newest luxury camps in the World Heritage Site that is the Okavango Delta, with tree-house style rooms – each with its own private plunge pool – shaded by magnificent leadwood trees. Those who like to wile away the warm afternoons with a book will love the treehouse library.
The seasonal changes to the area result in either floodplains, lily-covered lagoons and the spectacular Khwai river, depending on what time of the year you visit, and what type of safari you would like to experience.
Twice-daily 4×4 game drives take you on excursions into the wilderness, expertly choreographed by local Setswana guides. You also have the chance to take to the water by motorboat or mokoro and gain a different insight into the Okavango’s ecology, although these activities are dependent on the Delta’s water levels.
And since the camp lies in a privately-run reserve, you can also choose to go on guided bush walks – a must for keen birders and photographers, and those who want to discover the minutiae of the environment.
Built in partnership with the local community and contributing to the social upliftment of the surrounding areas, Tuludi is a small camp comprised of only seven luxurious suites.
Each is extremely spacious and elevated for stunning views; you will not just have an indoor and outdoor bathroom but a private plunge pool and a station at which you can charge phones and batteries.
The intimate feel of the camp lends itself perfectly to couples and honeymooners, but Tuludi also welcomes families with children aged six and over. Privately guided vehicles are available and one of the suites is slightly larger, sleeping a family of four more than comfortably.
Enjoying the advantage of both water and land habitats, Tuludi Camp is open all year round. Water levels are highest during the dry winter period – May to September – when the annual inundation of the Okavango is in full spate, and so offers the best time to explore by boat as well to see impressive concentrations of wildlife. The summer rains trigger an explosion of greenery and many animals such as impala and warthog give birth – good for predator activity – and the birding is at its peak with the migrant visitors all down to take advantage of an abundance of food.
With over 200 000 hectares of pristine wilderness to explore, at Tuludi you will find an exclusive oasis that you’ll be delighted to return to after a day soaking in all the extraordinary ecosystem has to offer…
One of the hardest things about choosing a safari destination is simply wading through the huge amount of choice you get given. Literally hundreds of lodges and camps spread all over the continent, from desert to mountaintop and everything in between.
Yet every now and then a really special place pops up on one’s radar, somewhere that immediately gets you thinking about a return visit.
We’ve picked three that we’ve come across on our own travels that we simply cannot recommend strongly enough…
Kicheche Valley Camp
There are few safari camps out there that give you an overwhelming feeling of “Yes!” when you walk onto the deck for the first time. Kicheche Valley Camp is one of them.
Tucked discreetly between two acacia-covered hills in the Naboisho Conservancy of the eastern Maasai Mara in Kenya, the camp has a wonderful simplicity to it that instantly draws you into a slower pace of life. Zebras graze within metres of your tent, lions (of which there are plenty in the area) roar in the distance at night, and the camp staff’s warm smiles and enthusiasm for their work are clearly genuine.
Kicheche have a number of offerings in the area (Bush, Mara and Valley Camp), but Valley has to be our favourite; the intangibles there make it evident that nothing is forced, everything is done at your pace, the food is excellent, the drinks are cold, the accommodation makes you feel like are part of the environment instead of excluded from it – whilst still being incredibly comfortable – the guides are excellent, and of course, the wildlife viewing is utterly spectacular.
For those looking for a wildlife destination in East Africa that ticks all the boxes, but most importantly the one about feeling at home, look no further than Kicheche Value Camp.
Neighbour to some of the biggest name lodges in the South African safari industry, Notten’s has been quietly in operation since the 1980s, conducting Big 5 safaris with their own special brand of charm and hospitality.
As part of the Sabi Sand Reserve, Notten’s boasts just as high a density of big game as any other lodge in the area, with a particularly high number of leopards and lions calling the area home. The Sabi Sands is in fact home to the densest population of leopards yet recorded in Africa.
Notten’s has a family feel to it; it is family run and many of its staff have their own families living and working there. This is reflected in the warm welcome that everyone receives, and the level of repeat business that Notten’s can boast (among the highest in the greater reserve) is testament to this fact.
Whilst other destinations close by might be better known, it is Notten’s that will have us going back time and time again.
When the Okavango Delta, a world-heritage site and one of the most sought-after safari destinations in Africa is only two hour’s drive away, it’s hard to compete.
Yet Nxai Pan offers a completely different type of safari experience, a highly concentrated one that is difficult to find anywhere else on the continent.
Set in the vastness of the greater Kalahari Desert, the pan itself – and accompanying pans to the south – offer an incredible open reprieve from the surrounding scrubland.
Short grass plains and salt pans stretch as far as the eye can see, presenting incredible game viewing opportunities.
Water is everything here, and with only one or two permanent water sources in the dry season, incredible concentrations of wildlife – most notably elephants – are to be found coming to slake their thirst each day.
Nxai Pan is a unique ecosystem that will leave you in awe at its scale. Baobabs dot the area, and a trip to this part of the world would not be complete without a day trip to the world famous Baines’ Baobabs just to the south.
Although open year round, the game-viewing at Nxai Pan tends to be seasonal in response to water availability, so be sure to connect with one of our travel consultants to find out about the best time to visit.
And with the Okavango just a short safari stone’s throw away, this reserve offers the perfect place to incorporate into the wider Botswana safari circuit…
To the west of the world famous Kruger National Park, nestled beneath the norther escarpment of the Drakensberg Mountain Range, lies the 22000 hectare Greater Makalali Private Game Reserve. This secluded corner of South African bushveld welcomes you for an immersive Big 5 safari experience. High profile endangered species like cheetahs and wild dog are also to be found here, as well as a spectacular array of bird life, with over 200 species waiting to be ticked off by the avid twitcher.
The Makhutswi river wends its way through the rolling hills and grassy plains of the reserve, and perched on a slight rise within it all is Little Garonga Camp.
The three gorgeous suites that make up Little Garonga are completely separate from Garonga’s two other camps. All three are fully en-suite, thatched and air-conditioned, each with a raised deck, complete with hammock and stunning bush views. They are located around centralised indoor and outdoor lounges, with a swimming pool overlooking the bush.
The Hambleden Suite in particular is our favourite, and is a two-bedroom private villa suitable for a family of four or a couple who wants an extra-special and secluded stay.
The bedrooms are spacious and centre around four-poster beds. The hand-beaten copper bathtub is the highlight of the en-suite bathroom, which includes indoor and outdoor showers. The suite has a central fireplace, mini-bar and air-conditioning.
The indoor living space opens out onto a covered outdoor lounge and open raised deck with own swimming pool.
Little Garonga is for honeymoons and romantic retreats that deserve extra privacy and exclusivity. As a self-contained and run lodge, there is a private team of staff ready to meet all your needs. For a small family or friends group, Little Garonga is also an ideal exclusive-use lodge for a special safari experience.
With full exclusivity at Little Garonga your family can enjoy their own safari lodge while still being part of all the facilities of the main camp. This includes their own private safari vehicle and guide/tracker team.
This Big 5 wilderness celebrates South Africa’s biodiversity and wildlife conservation, and is now a sanctuary for some of Africa’s most endangered species. All members of the Big 5 and various other game were the first to call the reserve their home thanks to important game reintroduction progams.
Now, African wild dog, cheetah and pangolin populations also thrive here under the protection of K9 anti-poaching units. The endangered ground hornbill along with various threatened vulture and raptor species are a special part of the nature-lover’s checklist.
If you want a truly immersive Big 5 experience, away from the crowds, and with the exclusivity of your own private camp, Little Garonga is the place for you, and if you want to experience a home-within-a-home, the Hambleden Suite is a must.
Get in touch with us through firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more…
South Africa’s north coast is one of the most underdeveloped areas of the country, so when combined with a warm ocean, endless sandy headlands and verdant green coastal forests, you can imagine it is the perfect setting for a seaside escape.
In Thonga Beach Lodge, one of the country’s most pristine wilderness getaways awaits you on the azure shores of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), situated deep in this wilderness of white beaches, blazing corals and freshwater lakes.
The 12 thatched eco-sensitive rooms, with ocean or forest views, boast an earthy elegance, and are positioned to afford maximum privacy and minimal environmental impact. Thonga Beach Lodge is the ideal place to connect with one of Africa’s last pristine wilderness beaches and rediscover your place in it. Three types of room are available: standard, family and then the ultra spacious Honeymoon Suite. With a private plunge pool, the sounds of the sea lapping the shore and the birdsong of the indigenous forest sounding as a constant backdrop, this is THE place for a romantic getaway…
Whether you want action and adventure or downtime with a good book is all your heart desires, there’s something for everybody here.
Ocean excursions can have you whale watching or swimming with dolphins. Scuba Diving on the local reefs lets you access an aquarium-like dream world with an array of marine life the likes of which you never even imagined.
Even the local rock pools and accompanying inshore reefs boast an amazing variety of fish and other creatures, and a simple snorkelling excursion will fill your mask’s frame with fish far quicker than you can count them.
Kayak on local lake Sibaya (south Africa’s largest freshwater lake) or even track turtles as they come ashore to lay eggs. The days here are literally as full as you want them to be.
Whether vacationing with your family or looking for the most luxurious Robinson Crusoe style romantic getaway, Thonga Beach Lodge will suit your needs. Exquisite comfort, stunning location, amazing service and all the ocean- and beach-based adventure you could want, this has got to rank right up there with our favourite destinations in Southern Africa.
Get in touch through email@example.com to find out about rates and availability…
Botswana’s northern regions are most famous for the Eden that is the Okavango Delta. But venture even further north, to the border with Namibia, and you come to one of Southern Africa’s most underrated wilderness destinations; the Linyanti.
This river system is a section of a much greater flow; the Kwando river flowing south-east encounters a fault line and has its course dramatically diverted to the north-east, wheere it becomes the Linyanti. The Linyanti continues on its trajectory until it flows into Lake Liambezi, situated amongst extended marshland. From this ecosystem the waterway becomes the Chobe River, which heads further north and east to join the mighty Zambezi on its flow towards the distant Indian Ocean.
This extensive land of open floodplains, mopane woodland and riparian vegetation boasts a wonderfully high wildlife concentration, and sited in a prime position to enjoy the area at its most spectacular is King’s Pool Camp, one of the Wilderness Safaris’ portfolio.
Tucked away in a grove of jackalberry trees, King’s Pool is a luxurious safari camp named for Swedish royalty. This regal thatch and canvas camp, made up of eight spacious suites, a sprawling common area and eye-level hide overlooks a tranquil lagoon, attracting a diverse parade of wildlife and an impressive array of birds.
The area is a hotbed of lion activity, with a number of prides and coalitions flowing along the river system and crossing in and out from Namibia over the river. The open ecosystem provides a subtle ebb and flow of wildlife, and means the wildlife is always in a natural state of flux.
The rumble of elephants is never too far away, particularly in the dry season during which there is an almost constant stream of them down to the river to drink, as standing water is hard to come by.
Monkeys in the treetops are often heard sounding the alarm, telling the alert guest or guide that a leopard is skulking somewhere nearby.
Water-based camps like King’s Pool have the added appeal of offering water-based activities, and an afternoon boat cruise down the Linyanti River, gin and tonic in hand, is sure to turn up some delightful surprises.
King’s Pool is only one of a delightful selection of camps in the area; their particular concession is also traversed by Duma Tau and Savuti camps, also part of the Wilderness Portfolio. With all three being serviced by a central airstrip, access is essentially equidistant., and transferring between camps during the course of a stay is always an option if guests want to fully explore this sizeable area.
Get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your Botswana Safari to the Linyanti…
In many ways, the leopard represents the African continent best.
Whilst the regal lion may hold the title of King of the Beasts, and the elephant’s great size render it the most impressive African mammal, it is the enigmatic nature of the leopard, and the mystery that surrounds it, that most adds to its allure as an animal to see on safari, and captures the essence of the African continent most effectively.
In large portions of Africa – and particularly in areas where human wildlife conflict has been a factor over the years – leopards can be hard to find. They are there, but remain invisible. Although they occupy almost every habitat from the mountains just outside Cape Town to the open deserts of the Sahara way to the north, for the most part they are unobserved creatures of the night.
Yet in a few wildlife reserves, leopards are eminently viewable. The big cats there have long realised that the game viewing vehicles do not represent a threat to them, and so allow them and the guests they contain into their daily lives.
Although there is no such thing as a guaranteed sighting, these are a few places that will give you your best chance of viewing leopards in the wild:
Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa
Long-viewed as the epicentre of wildlife viewing in Southern Africa, a recent camera-trap survey by the Panthera Organisation firmly established this iconic reserve as containing the densest leopard population yet recorded on the African continent.
With a high availability of natural prey species and perfect habitat in which to hunt and raise cubs, the area boasts leopard numbers that around 12 per hundred square kilometres in the centre of the park.
A number of world-class lodges like Londolozi, Singita and Mala Mala have decades of experience showing guests the wonders of the area, and in particular the leopards. Experienced rangers are well versed in the habits and territorial movements of the resident individuals, and so it is in the Sabi Sands that we feel you have THE best chance of viewing leopards in the wild.
South Luangwa, Zambia
Although not as lauded as other contemporary reserves, the South Luangwa National Park has in fact been providing phenomenal game viewing for years. With the Luangwa River delivering a much-needed source of water during the dry season, the area is able to sustain healthy general game populations, and it is these antelope species – particularly puku and impala – that the local leopard population favours.
Riparian vegetation along the river and its many tributaries provides the perfect habitat for the leopards to slink through, and large evergreen trees provide safe refuges in which to hoist kills to keep them out of reach of hyenas.
Whilst better known for boasting the largest populations of lions and cheetahs in Africa, the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem in East Africa has no shortage of leopards. Although sightings won’t be quite as regular as in other reserves, it is the setting here that creates the appeal around leopard viewing.
Wide open spaces, unimpeded Acacia woodland; wherever you see a leopard – and in particular photograph it – you are likely to get the sense of space that the greater habitat brings. Vistas like you can’t believe, with the seemingly endless plains of Africa stretched out around you. If you happen to be there during the migration, you will also have the background accompaniment of a million snorting wildebeest throughout the day.
Leopard or no leopard though, the East African grasslands are a wildlife experience like no other.
Our final recommended leopard-viewing destination is not what one would normally expect to be included in a list like this.
In fact until recently, it wasn’t really on the international radar as a place to see these beautiful cats.
But over the last couple of years, one or two leopards in particular in a small area called Laikipia in central Kenya, have captured the broader imagination of the safari community.
These are the mythical black leopards.
A rare recessive gene that codes for an excess of melanin – a dark pigment – results in an animal that is much darker than a normal individual. This is the black panther of legend. Black panthers can be any big cat from the Panthera genus – although they are essentially either leopards or jaguars – and contrary to popular belief they are not all black. One can still see the rosettes in their coats if you look closely.
A few individuals have been born recently in the Laikipia district, and although most of them are skittish and very hard to find, one or two individuals that inhabit the area near Laikipia Wilderness Camp have become accustomed to the presence of game drive vehicles, and spectacular photos like the above one by Will Burrard-Lucas are now possible.
Even without the viewing of this most special of leopards, Laikipia is a spectacular area to safari with its high number of unique species.
Leopards capture the idea of safari beautifully. They are on many safari-goers’ bucket lists, but many visitors to Africa entertain little hope of actually seeing them.
If they are an animal which you really to want to see though, we have a number of lodges we recommend highly to give you your best chance.
Get in touch through email@example.com, and let’s start planning your safari…
The northern corner of the world-famous Kruger National Park is one of South Africa’s most breathtaking areas. Elephant herds wander through ageless fever tree forests, hundreds of buffalo spread like oil across the Limpopo floodplain, and through it all runs the Luvhuvu River, the lifeblood of the region.
Perched on a hill high above the Luvhuvu riverbed, with indescribable views of the African bushveld, sits The Outpost, your gateway into one of the most biodiverse regions in Southern Africa.
The Outpost operates within the 26 500ha Makuleke concession, a unique partnership in the Kruger Park in that the land is owned by the Makuleke people, and the lodges within the concession are staffed almost exclusively by the tribe.
Warm smiles greet visitors to this spectacular corner of Africa (which boasts over 80% of the Kruger National Park’s biodiversity), and guests can explore the bush through guided drives conducted by experienced rangers, or – even better – through immersive bush walks. This is truly the best way to experience the magic of the African wild, as one can get a far greater appreciation for the minutiae of the wilderness by fully grounding oneself on foot.
The Outpost accommodates 24 guests in 12 open plan, en-suite luxury spaces cantilevered on a hill overlooking the Luvuvhu River. The private, free standing spaces are inter-connected to each other and the central lodge area by 500 metres of Zimbabwean teak walkway. Contemporary architecture makes use of concrete and steel with state-of the-art retractable, remote-controlled screens offering 180º of uninterrupted views.
Ultimately, at The Outpost you are looking at the top lodge in the most spectacular region of South Africa’s most famous national park. The combination is ideal for almost anyone and everyone, from the adventurous to the birders, the walkers or the romantic honeymooners.
There is no one who won’t feel utterly enchanted both with this unique section of South Africa’s greatest wilderness, and this stunning hilltop lodge within it.
Get hold of us through firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your safari…
We recently ran a post on one of the best offerings in the Zambezi River Valley; Zambezi Grande on the Zambian side. This luxury lodge provides amazing access to the Lower Zambezi National Park and its incredible wildlife.
Safari Guide Robbie Ball was recently on a trip to Zambezi Grande, and tells us here of one of the wildest things he’s ever seen in the bush:
We’d heard stories of the huge pack of African Wild Dogs that were resident in the Lower Zambezi Park and asked our guide if we could try and find them one morning.
Zambezi Grande is literally on the water’s edge, and water activities form a huge part of the offering here, so in true Zambezi River style, we set off downstream before dawn in one of the lodge’s boats whilst our ranger drove the vehicle round to meet us in the area the dogs had been seen the day before.
We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise from the boat, passing fish eagles, pods of hippos and elephants ambling along the bank.
It was about a 45 minute boat ride to where we disembarked, and shortly after linking up with the vehicle, we were guided to where the pack of wild dogs were sleeping by the tell-tale signs of vultures in the trees nearby.
The pack numbered 46 at the time, which must surely make them one of the largest packs in Africa!
After sitting with them for 30 minutes or so, we noticed a large dust cloud billowing up from the winterthorn forest nearby, which signalled the approach of a herd of buffalo. We could hear their bellowing from a long way off, which meant the dogs could hear them too, but they pack stayed snoozing.
The buffalo came into view and still the dogs did nothing, when suddenly, with the herd only about 200 metres away, the dogs leapt up and raced towards them. There had been no signal that we could see, not greeting ritual that usually precedes a hunt, no sign whatsoever; they were just up and racing in as a pack.
We tried to keep up with them but the bush was too thick where they led us and the herd had fled to. By the time we caught up a few minutes later the pack had already grabbed hold of a buffalo cow and were in the process of bringing her down.
The rest of the herd was still bellowing nearby but they didn’t come to the aid of the old female.
Wild dog kills tend to be quite gory, but are usually mercifully quick when they involve small game. With a large buffalo cow, despite the number of dogs involved, things were drawn out and difficult to watch.
Eventually the buffalo cow had died from a combination of shock and bloodloss, and whilst the pack gorged themselves, one of the adults trotted back to where they had been resting, to call the pups – who don’t get involved in the hunt – to come and feed.
We were there for maybe an hour and a half, and it was certainly one of the craziest wildlife sightings I will probably ever have in my lifetime!
Visit our Facebook or instagram pages (@iconicafrica) to see some video footage of this sighting…
The Zambezi Grande offers fantastic access – both by river and land – to the wildlife of the Zambezi Valley and Lower Zambezi National Park. Although sightings like the one Robbie witnessed are certainly not the norm, this particular pack has become renowned for taking down adult buffalo.
If a wildlife adventure like this is something you would be interested in, get in touch through email@example.com
Different wildlife areas in Africa come into their own seasons of popularity over the years. There always seems to be “the hottest new destination around”, and it is difficult for a single lodge to remain in the forefront of people’s minds for year after year.
Well the star of the Lower Zambezi National Park and surrounds in Zambia seems to be shining brighter and brighter each and every year. It has been on the rise for a while now, and set right on the banks of this amazing wilderness area, in a prime location to take full advantage of what the unique landscape has to offer, one finds Zambezi Grande.
Opened in October 2017, Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience is situated on a prime sector of the Zambezi River front, offering visitors an unforgettable personal retreat, with all the sumptuous indulgences a discerning guest would appreciate. The honk of the local hippo pod will be your wake-up call in the morning, the call of the African Fish Eagle high above will sound throughout the day, and the roar of a lion will add to the nighttime symphony as you sit around the campfire, watching the glow of the fading light reflecting off the gently flowing Zambezi River in front of you.
Bringing the heart and soul of the magical Zambezi into one place, the décor of the lodge is a mix of contemporary design and truly authentic African feel. Reflecting the serenity of its surrounds with neutral colours representing life, renewal, nature, and energy, there is an almost seamless transition between the wilds and the lodge itself. With a seamless open-plan, guests can enjoy the majestic views of the river from all areas of the lodge, and as such be exposed to all the activities by of the local wildlife, be it river-borne or strolling past on the bank.
Since welcoming their first guests in October 2017, the lodge has truly encapsulated the vivid environment they call home. Whether relaxing on the pool deck, enjoying a sundowner cruise on the river, or unwinding on the terrace watching the wildlife passing by, there are so many ways to soak in this enchanted corner of Africa.
Zambezi Grande Private Game Experience neighbours the Lower Zambezi National Park, a bountiful 4,092 square kilometres of rich birdlife, indigenous flora and untamed wildlife. Packs of the rare African Wild Dog roam the winterthorn forests, leopards slink from grove to grove, and the elephants are particularly plentiful, flocking down to the river in great numbers at the end of the dry season to feast on Ana tree pods and quench their thirst from the waters of the Zambezi.
The game viewing along this section of the Zambezi Valley is simply out of this world, and the local guides of Zambezi Grande are well-trained to both find and interpret the high-profile sightings that guests seek,
A variety of habitats ranging from forest to open plains, thick bush to palm groves, complement the safari experience here, and guests will never feel like they are on the same excursion twice, be it a fishing trip, a game drive or a bush walk.
Zambezi Grande features five Superior Suites, each with an exclusive veranda on the banks of the Zambezi River. King size beds allow one to wallow in unspeakably comfortable opulence during the hours of slumber, and the river-facing outdoor shower allows you to refresh yourself whilst feeling completely in tune with the African wilds.
Five Luxury rooms offer their own intimate Zambezi Grande experience, being only slightly smaller than the Superior Suites, but being perfect for a family option, having inter-connecting rooms available.
Zambezi Grande offers guests the perfect way to immerse themselves in this unique corner of the world. Ultimate comfort, a superior game viewing experience, and a prime position that lets you switch off from all the trappings of the fast-paced modern world, make this lodge a must-do if Zambia’s safari scene is something on your bucket list.