Iconic Africa Wins Another Award

For the 5th year in a row, Iconic Africa has scooped top spot in a LuxLife Travel Awards category, this year being declared Best Luxury Africa Travel Agent – USA.

We could not be more proud to once again be recognised for the experiences we keep aspiring to deliver for our guests, and the continent we keep aspiring to promote.

To quote the LuxLife Website:

LUXlife Magazine is a premium lifestyle publication which was founded in 2015. Distributed to a circulation of 94,000 globally, LUXlife focuses on a range of topics within the luxury lifestyle industry, featuring articles on fashion, beauty, fine dining, travel, luxury real estate and much more.
The LUXlife awards honour the extraordinary achievements of those shaping the luxury industry. These prestigious awards are a testament to the relentless pursuit of brilliance, recognizing those who are shining with excellence.

The travel and tourism industries have made a strong comeback! After enduring the effects of previous years, 2023 finally brought back a sense of normalcy. It is predicted that 2024 will continue this upwards trend in travel bookings and build upon it. Economic struggles and doubts about industry recovery are now a thing of the past. The travel industry is operating at full capacity and surpassing expectations!

Iconic Africa has been revelling in this upward trend in travel, and we have never been busier. With new sales agents joining our team and new guests from all over the world travelling with us, we continue to refine our offering, seeking out only the best destinations for our bespoke safaris.

A crucial aspect of Iconic Africa’s philosophy is that the destinations we represent must demonstrate a genuine commitment to the conservation of Africa’s last great wilderness areas and the rural people who live around them. Terri Abadi and John Holley, our founders,  have both personally been extensively involved in education and social upliftment in rural Africa.

When you travel with Iconic Africa,  a portion of the money you spend on your life-changing African vacation will be put to wilderness conservation and social enterprise development. Our destinations contribute to the protection of rhino, innovative green energy, valuable ecological research, education, lion conservation and community involvment.

Iconic Africa creates exclusive luxury African safari and adventure holidays for couples and families in southern and East Africa. Our gorgeous destinations are all hand-picked and visited by Terri and John and are as varied as Africa is large; from Cape Town to Kilimanjaro, along the Zambezi River and through the Kruger Park to Mozambique’s tropical coastline and everything in between…

With five years entering the LuxLife Tourism Awards and 5 awards to our name already, we can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring for Iconic Africa, our guests, and the magnificent continent we call home…

Get in touch with us through info@iconicafrica.com, and let’s start planning your safari…

Leopards of the Lower Zambezi

The Zambezi is truly one of Africa’s great rivers.

The fourth longest in the continent, it rises in the highlands of western Zambia, before cutting down into Angola, back into Zambia and then acting as a natural border with Namibia, then Zimbabwe before it finally flows into Mozambique, wending its way down to the Indian Ocean.

One specific section of it – the aptly named Zambezi Valley – is between Chirundu and the Mpata Gorge, and is absolutely teeming with wildlife! On the northern, Zambian side of the river, lies the Lower Zambezi National Park, and it is here that we shine our spotlight…

Although the park itself is over 4000 square kilometres, the vast majority of that is scrubby hill-land from the escarpment back away from the river; as a result over 95% of the wildlife viewing takes place down on the valley floor, in the few kilometres between the river itself and the escarpment. It is here that the camps of the Lower Zambezi are to be found, and it is here that you will find some of the best leopard viewing in Africa.

Stunning open forested areas made up of imposing Winterthorn trees provide an incredible backdrop through which the sly cats are consistently to be found moving, as they stalk their predominantly impala prey. The bark of a baboon is often the first indication that there is a leopard on the prowl.

Although in recent years it is the large pack of buffalo-hunting wild dogs in the central Jeki area that has truly put the park on the map, the reality is there is far more to it than a single pack of canids. The lion population is as healthy as ever, general game is prolific, and the elephant herds move their stately way under the Winterthorn canopy in such numbers as to almost be uncountable. The height of the dry season in particular is a spectacular time for a visit as there is scant grass cover and lovely soft light, so you are invariably viewing animals in the open and the photographic opportunities are prolific.

Accommodation-wise one is treated to an almost surfeit of spectacular camps. To the west of the park lie two of our favourites – Zambezi Grande and Time & Tide’s Chongwe House.

With our amazing 35% special currently running on Time & Tide’s camps, Chongwe House would be our obvious recommendation for now, although Zambezi Grande is no less stunning.

Moving east along the riverbank one gets to Chiawa Camp, and it’s sister camp Old Mondoro more centrally located in the park. Both are very similar in design and feel and share similar game viewing opportunities, with Old Mondor being a particular favourite with the elephants, and Chiawa being one of the leopard hotspots in the west of the reserve.

Jeki Airstrip (directly above of Old Mondoro camp on the map) is where most flights to Lower Zambezi will arrive, and is unofficially the centre of the park; it is here that the famous wild dog pack renowned for their buffalo hunting prowess have chosen to den over the past two or three years. Although the pack has split slightly, the larger group and their pups still number roughly 30 individuals, and they still hunt the big bovines in the dry season.

Just east of Jeki, down towards Anabezi Lodge, is the leopard area. For some reason the density here seems to be higher than in the rest of the park, and sightings are frequent. A mother and her two daughters have become regular features in the sightings logs, as well as two small cubs born towards the end of 2023 that are now wll on their way to sub-adulthood.

Anabezi is our favourite camp in the east. It provides superb access to the eastern section of the reserve, is as comfortable as one could wish, and best of all, each visiting party receives their own private vehicle, meaning game drives are yours to do with what you please.

Whilst it is the wild dogs that have taken centre stage over the last few years in the Lower Zambezi, it is the leopards that we believe will keep the park on the map.
Spread throughout the reserve (the wild dogs can disappear into the escarpment), the viewing of them is as consistent and spectacular as one could wish, and with some of the most stunning scenery in Africa on display, there is almost no better place to be viewing these cats in the wild.

The Time & Tide 35% special will be running for the next two months, but there are plenty of options to choose from in this, one of the continent’s most underrated destinations.

Get in touch now through info@iconicafrica.com to find out more…

 

The Luangwa Valley: the Best of Time & Tide

Spoiled for choice is a wonderful term with which to associate with safari, and it is certainly the case when looking into lodge options within the South Luangwa Time & Tide portfolio.
Stunning camps – some of which are set along the banks of the Luangwa River while the others are further west on the seasonal Luwi Riverbed – provide access to a wide diversity of habitats, ensuring maximum game viewing opportunities in one of Africa’s greatest wildlife areas.

Time & Tide camps are currently available at 35% off, but this limited-time offer is set to expire in a couple of months, so this is the time to book!

Essentially what you are looking at is a wonderful spectrum that takes you from the heart of one of the core game viewing areas out into the true wilderness areas of the park where there are far fewer operators; you will work a bit harder for your major sightings in the more remote camps, but whatever you find you will likely have all to yourself.

Our personal recommendation would be to combine two of the camps in your trip; either Chinzombo or Kakuli at which the chances of seeing excellent game are exceptionally high, and then moving on to a Luwi or Nsolo camp where you will get a true sense of wilderness. Apart from dusty roads there will be almost no other evidence of human presence. The stars will be more brilliant than you could imagine and you will feel like you are a part of the community

The beauty of Luangwa is its seasonality. Cool dry winters give way to a hot dusty spring, with the promise of rain threatening more and more each day. Wildlife congregates around the river and permanent waterholes during the dry times, but when the rains unleash during the summer months the entire landscape transforms into one of vibrant greens, with ephemeral pans topped up, frogs calling throughout the night, and the dambos (dry floodplains) turning into boggy ground that is difficult to negotiate with even the hardiest of vehicles. It’s all part of the adventure, and for photographers in particular this is a time of plenty. The migrant birds have returned, baby impalas are all over the place and everything is clean and colourful.

Some of the more remote camps shut down over the rainy season due to the logistical difficulty of getting supplies in during muddy periods, but Chinzombo remains open due to its still-navigable road network.

One of the main reasons to visit South Luangwa is the leopards. There are plenty of them. Plenty. The dry season in particular is an amazing time to visit as the leopards alter their behaviour to suit the terrain. As the grass dies through the winter, cover becomes sparse and the hunting becomes difficult. The leopards then take to the trees, in particular the heavily foliated sausage and mahogany trees. With ample cover up in the branches, they have shady refuges from which to scan for hunting opportunities, often only waiting until darkness has descended before descending to attempt a stalk.
On rare occasions they will even drop straight from a tree onto unsuspecting prey down below.

Zambia, and South Luangwa in particular is swiftly emerging as front-runner in Africa’s wildlife real estate; a place to compete with the Okavango Delta to the south or the East African grasslands.

With the amazing 35% special currently running with Time & Tide, there could be no better time to book, so you can see for yourself…

Get in touch through info@iconicafrica.com to find out more about the special, camp rates and availability…

 

 

A Londolozi of Leopards

The collective noun for multiple leopards is actually a Leap, but the alternate term in this post’s title is more than appropriate, given that Londolozi practically pioneered leopard viewing as we know it today.

In the early 1970’s, thanks to progressive land-management practices and a sensitive approach to viewing wildlife, Londolozi started seeing a single female leopard fairly regularly. Carefully observing her habits and getting her used to the game drive vehicles meant that her cubs picked up her relaxed approach to being viewed, which spawned successive generations of habituated leopards. Londolozi is now viewing its 8th generation of leopards descended from that single female; most likely the most documented leopard lineage in existence.

These days Londolozi remains at the epicentre of Leopard viewing. A camera-trap study conducted by the Panthera Organisation concluded that the Sabi Sand Reserve contains the densest population of these spotted cats yet recorded in Africa, with Londolozi and its neighbours (all of whom sit at the core of the Sabi Sands) containing the highest density of them all; approximately 12 leopards per 100 square kilometres.

A combination of ideal habitat and the resulting prey availability, as well as the fact that the reserve is unfenced and open to the 6 million hectare Greater Kruger National Park, has maintained the population as stable and allowed for unrestricted genetic flow.

Experienced rangers and trackers – among the best in the business – understand the behaviour of the cats intimately and are able to find them on game drives repeatedly.
Although leopards steal the show, and are one of the reasons that guests visit Londolozi from all over the world, they are part of a much wider cast of wildlife, including all the Big 5, as well as cheetahs, wild dogs and a plethora of general game species that will your camera’s memory card up more rapidly than you could dare dream.

The camps themselves offer a wonderful diversity of accommodation options, from the slightly larger family camps – Founders and Varty – to the three-roomed Pioneer Camp, which is generally booked in the exclusive-use villa style, you will almost certainly be able to find what you are looking for.

It is the people of Londolozi that truly set the place apart however.
Since the Varty family rebranded the lodge as a stand-alone, family-run affair in 2007, the vibrant culture that permeates into every nook and cranny of the land has become more and more entrenched, and for many repeat guests, it is the friends they have made amongst the staff that sees them returning time and time again.
Some can boast over 50 visits…

Londolozi delivers time and time again, from the bush experience they offer to the food, hospitality, wellness spa and everything in between.
It may be the place to see leopards but it is also the place to feel more alive than you thought you could. Where you can reconnect with ancient energy and connect to yourself all over again…

Get in touch now through info@iconicafrica.com to enquire about rates and availability…

The Beautiful Darkness: Black Leopards of Laikipia

In the heart of Kenya lies Laikipia County, slap bang on the Equator and one of 47 counties in the country.
The county encompasses the high, dry Laikipia Plateau, a wilderness of thornscrub, rocky outcrops, valleys and rivers, with Mount Kenya rising imposingly in the distance to the south-east, just beyond Laikipia’s borders.

Over the last few years, this previously unobtrusive part of Kenya has crept into safari prominence. Not because of its wonderful wildlife density and diversity, but because of a very special population of leopards roaming its hills; melanistic ones.

Although long known about by the locals, they were essentially ghosts in the night; glimpsed from afar by a villager tending his flocks or heard calling in the distance, passing themselves off as one of their spotted cousins. It was not until Will Burrard-Lucas famously camera-trapped an individual in 2018 that a spotlight was finally shone on the region and the unique gene pool it contained.

Local researchers have shown that approximately 10 melanistic leopards (or black panthers, if you will) roam the greater Laikipia region, but it is one individual that has captured the world’s attention with her relaxed demeanour and accessible territory; Giza Mrembo – the Beautiful Darkness in Swahili.

This young female was first seen fleetingly as a young cub around four years ago, but as her mother is quite relaxed around vehicles, Giza herself become habituated within 18 months, and these days is completely relaxed around game viewing vehicles.

Photographic opportunities are plentiful as a result, but it is certainly not just the chance of seeing a black leopard in the wild that one visits this area for.

Elephants make their stately way through the acacia trees and dik-diks (one of the world’s smallest antelopes) peer out from almost every bush. These diminutive ungulates are the main food source of Laikipiia’s leopard population, and their importance in the ecosystem cannot be overstated. The striking vulturine guineafowl is a common feature in the area as well.

Safari options in the immediate area are varied, but the best option if one wants to stand a good chance of viewing and photographing Giza, is one of the Laikipia Wilderness Offerings; River Camp, Wilderness Camp itself, or the newly established Palm Camp, found a little bit upstream on the Ewaso Narok River.

Wilderness Camp, perched up on a hillside, overlooks the whole stunning vista. Giza – and other leopards – are spotted consistently from the hillside above the camp, and a beautiful lookout deck is perched on top of the hill from which some of the most spectacular sunsets in Africa can be observed.
River Camp sits down below and its guests are lulled to sleep by the bubbling of river water over the rocks. Elephants regularly come to drink at a culvert opposite Room 5.

Venture a few kilometres upstream and you find Palm Camp, Laikipia Wilderness’s newest offering, only opened in the second half of 2024. The simple yet elegant rooms stay cool even on the hottest days thanks to their intricately woven palm-frond roofs.

Cuisine at the camps is simple and delicious; coffee and muffins on morning drive with the occasional bush breakfast if you are to be out long. Brunch is a wonderful mix of whatever the chef may feel like on the day, dinners are a similar selection of local and international flavours. Mealtimes are completely up to you, depending on the safari schedule you have discussed with your guide.

The guides at the camps are very experienced. They operate in an incredibly nuanced environment, and believe us, they know how to find leopards, particularly Giza the black panther. Well versed in her habits, they have a knack of being in the right place at the right camp.

Laikipia is well and truly on the map for its black leopard sightings these days, but there is far, far more to it than one cat. A whole world awaits discovery in a beautiful, diverse and remote landscape.

If it is true bucket-list stuff that you are after, look no further. The black leopard of Laikipia will truly take your breath away, as will the rest of it…

Beach & Bush: the Perfect Holiday Combo

The East coast of Africa is one of the most amazing coastlines to visit in the world. And it is almost endless.

Starting from Cape Town right on the south-western tip of the continent, moving east past Cape Agulhus (which is technically the southernmost point of Africa) and up the coast towards Durban, one experiences an amazing change in climate; Mediterranean weather (hot dry summers and cool wet winters) gives way to a sub-tropical system (warm all year with rain over the summer months), and the incredible diversity of habitats along the beaches reflects this.

The coastline is so full of life that documentary makers come from all over the world to film the spectacular array of creatures and natural events taking place.
The Academy Award winning feature My Octopus Teacher was filmed in Cape Town, and the annual sardine run off the appropriately named Wild Coast north of East London is one of the greatest marine shows on earth with countless whales, dolphins and all sorts of other marine life flocking in to take advantage of this bounty.

And that’s just in the south.

Golden beaches with bath-warm water await you in Mozambique. The Kenyan coast and its coral fringes have some of the best big game fishing in the world. And offshore you have the jewels of the Seychelles, the Comores and Mauritius awaiting.

The point is you are absolutely spoilt for choice, and the accessibility of so many of these dream destinations is more often than not a short flight from Johannesburg, the flight hub of Southern Africa.

45 minutes in a light aircraft can get you from your safari destination to Johannesburg, and then a connection down to the coast will not be much more than that.

You can be on a game drive in the morning watching a leopard climb a tree and elephants drinking from the waterhole, and by sunset you can be sipping a pina colada under a palm tree, the Indian Ocean lapping the shoreline only a stone’s throw from your verandah whilst a fresh seafood buffet – caught that day – is being prepared for dinner.

And whilst safari can offer the ultimate opulence, with luxurious rooms and Michelin-quality food, amazing service and hospitality, after four or five days of extended game drives, getting up before sunrise for a 5:30 departure, one can feel the need to slow down and unwind a little bit. And that is where the beaches come in!

A few days reclining in a hammock, reading a book whilst reminiscing over your favourite safari sightings, or snorkelling on shallow reefs, marvelling at the myriad tropical species to swim in front of your goggles

Be you a honeymoon couple, a family with kids or a group of friends travelling together, there is something for everyone along Africa’s extensive coastline.

Get in touch at info@iconicafrica.com, and let’s start planning your beach and bush combination holiday…

South Africa: The Ultimate Travel Destination

South Africa literally has it all.

Well. Almost.

It can’t quite compete with the Alps or the Rocky Mountains as a skiing destination, but for the rest, you name it, it’s got it!
Beaches, mountains, forests, deserts, bustling cities, cultural heritage sites, fascinating history, amazing food and wine… the list is seemingly endless.
From the rugged yet stunning west coast through the dry interior to the high peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains, and down the other side to the turtle-strewn beaches of Kwazulu/Natal, if you can’t find something here that absolutely blows you away, you’re doing something wrong…

The sheer diversity of experiences on offer is simply staggering, and the fact that the country is linked together by incredibly efficient modern airports in the major city centres, smaller regional hubs, and a road network that runs through the major tourist areas, and you have the perfect recipe for travel.

You could spend a month in the Mother City (Cape Town) and not do it all, and once you get your safari fix for the first time, you’ll be spending the next year planning your return trip, so addictive does it become.
The eastern Lowveld towards Mozambique is the traditional area to safari, and the Garden Route along the south coast offers quaint and magical little escapes where one can luncheon on oysters and champagne then go mountain biking in the forest, but to be honest, there is no corner of South Africa that doesn’t contain its own special offering.

The main tourist areas are just that for a reason – they feature incredibly high densities of amazing things to do – but from the farthest flung desert to the chilliest mountain peak, the country is strewn with thousands off hamlets, homesteads and adventure activities that are just waiting to be discovered. And heading off the beaten track often ensures lower costs and fewer people…

South Africa is about SO much more than just safari. It truly is one of the low-hanging fruit of travel destinations in the world. You will love it. That much we guarantee,

Get in touch with us through info@iconicafrica.com if you want to experience some of what this remarkable country has to offer…

 

 

Summer vs. Winter: When to Safari

When is the best time to go on safari?

This is ultimate question.

But at the risk of sounding non-commital, there’s no such thing as a “best time”. Or maybe “it depends” would be a better way to put it. The question should really be “When is the best time for ME to go on safari?”.
SO much depends on what you want to see, do or photograph, so the simplest way to get to grips with it is probably to look at three of the main components that safari is based upon – wildlife, weather and photography – and look at all three from a seasonal point of view, even thought all three are inextricably linked.

Weather

Winter

Dress warmly in the mornings and evenings, because it can be really cold. The uninitiated may not view Africa as a cold continent, but sitting on the back of an open game viewer in -10° is no joke! Granted that is an extreme, but even the low single digit mornings can be very uncomfortable if you aren’t prepared.
Cold mornings give way to wonderfully temperate days however (shorts and t-shirt weather), and given that this is the dry season, clouds are a rare sight.
As soon as the sun goes down the temperature drops quickly, so make sure you have a couple of extra layers with you on drive!

Summer

Summer is a time of contrasts; it can get very hot on safari, but it can also be wonderfully cool during a week of overcast weather. This is the rainy season after all, so a few downpours here and there should not be unexpected, but often it will simply bucket down for an hour and then clear into the most magnificent sunset.
It’s unlikely you’ll need any clothing for really cold weather during this time of year, but rain jackets are definitely a good idea. Most lodges will offer their guests ponchos in case of precipitation.

The main thing in using weather as a determining factor in your safari decisions is consistency. In winter you are likely to get weeks on end of cool, dry weather, with barely a cloud in the sky, whereas in summer it’s a bit more of a lucky dip. It might not rain for three weeks, but it could also set in and drizzle for three days. It’s hard to predict, but that also makes it kind of exciting…

Wildlife

Winter

When it’s cooler, things tend to be more active. Understand this and you won’t go too far wrong. The winter months in Southern Africa in particular have lower temperatures than the countries closer to the equator, and morning and even temperatures in particular can actually be pretty frigid. This is the time of the year when you are likely to see a bit more action later in the day. It’s not too energy-sapping for lions to be moving around in the late morning, and in fact a significantly high number of lion hunts on buffalo take place around midday (although this can be very much dependent on the area).

Winter is also the dry season so activity tends to be focused around perennial water sources.

Summer

Animals are just like us when the sun is high and hot; they tend to retreat into the shade.
Summer months on safari will often see one returning to camp by mid-morning as temperatures soar, and most of the wildlife starts clustering under trees and bushes to conserve energy.
Having said this, the sheer variety of things you are likely to see rises significantly in summer, as this is the birthing season.
Impala lambs, warthog piglets and wildebeest calves seem to be everywhere, which offers excellent hunting opportunities for predators.

The rains usher in a time of plenty, so summer is when all the fascinating small fauna emerge to take centre stage. Termites, tortoises, migratory birds… it’s hard to drive for 500m without coming across something new and interesting that you wouldn’t have seen during the winter months.

In brief, the idea is generally if you want to see a bit more action, plan your safari for winter, but if you want abundance and diversity, come in summer.

Photography

Winter

Long golden hours define the winter months, and the brown and gold hues match perfectly with the evening and early morning glows.
Less vegetation means more unobstructed views of whatever you might be photographing, and finding things to photograph in the first place is a little simpler with the bush not so thick.
There is quite a bit more dust around in winter so be careful when changing lenses out in the field, but you can use it to your advantage by creating some lovely back-lit images.
Photography tends to be a bit more forgiving in winter as the light tends to be consistently better, and of course the animals are usually more active.

Summer

The verdant greens of the rainy season create a wonderful palette against which to photograph wildlife. The golden hours tend to be quite a bit shorter during summer than in winter, but this is offset by the higher chances of overcast days, which keeps the light softer, meaning you can photograph happily all day, without worrying about too much harsh contrast during the hours when the sun is high.

The variety you will encounter is also astounding, from nesting birds to chameleons crossing the road; you’ll need a decent lens kit to be able to handle the incredible array of photographic opportunities which will likely come your way…

There’s no “best” time to come on safari. It is always magnificent.
Simply do the research, decide what it is you most want to get out of your trip, and plan accordingly.

If you would like more info, don’t hesitate to get in touch through info@iconicafrica.com…

Space & Silence: The Real Luxury

In this modern age of safari, when there are countless lodges to choose from, often with no more than a few kilometres between them, people are starting to reevaluate what luxury means.
Wifi speeds and thread-counts, wine lists and heated seats in the game viewer… these are certainly things that can optimise your enjoyment of an experience and make it as comfortable as can be desired, but are they things you can’t find anywhere else? Are they things that will leave you breathless and in complete awe?


It is the sensation of feeling somehow so insignificant yet so much a part of something that people are starting to realise they are truly searching for, and that you are unlikely to find in a fairly standard lodge offering, no matter how “luxurious” it may be on the surface.
Those feelings can only be sought in the stillness of great space, where one can look to distant horizons and let the imagination soar as to what might be out there.

The absolute silence of the Makgadikgadi Pans as you gaze out over their endless salt flats will humble you.
A huge bull elephant dwarfed by the vastness of the north Namibian landscape will give you a new appreciation for the fine balance of life in the harsher environments of this world, and the beauty of an Okavango sunset reflected in the still waters will open your mind to colours and beauty you never knew existed.

These are the bespoke trips we love our guests to experience. Discovering the thrill of safari and adventure often comes with the realisation that it’s not only about the wildlife, but about feeling grounded with the earth and unearthing a deep sense of reverence.
Finding places in this world that are hardly affected by man and where you still very much need to respect the elements gives one a respect for nature that won’t dwindle.

Come and travel with us to uncover these worlds.
Where the magnificence of the land before you makes your gin and tonic the sweetest you’ve ever tasted, and where the emotions of being confronted by such grandeur leave you almost drained come the end of the day, so you enjoy the best sleep you’ve ever had, disturbed only y the lion’s roar on the still night air.

Come and journey with Iconic Africa, and discover that the stillness to be found out there can translate into a stillness and peace within you…

Going Green in the Bush: Sustainability as the New Normal

In a world where trends shift weekly and the only true constant is change, some solace is to be found in that the shift in the safari industry that is rapidly establishing itself as the new normal is the move towards sustainability.

Going green is the buzz phrase, but is far more complex than many visitors seem to realise. It’s not simply a push towards renewable energy, although if your lodge isn’t running primarily on solar power these days, you’re getting left in the dust. Yes, renewables play a key part in the whole complicated microcosm of lodge building and continued functioning, but it is ultimately the mindset behind the sustainability movement that is most important, and which thankfully is becoming ever more entrenched in the industry.

It is a mindset that is centred upon awareness of your own impact upon not just those places and people you encounter, but the rippling out of your personal experience into the greater industry.

Are the vegetables on your plate being sourced locally, thereby reducing their carbon footprint in the form of transportation and packaging?
Is the lodge you are staying at contributing meaningfully to the communities near which they operate? Are they promoting health and education and employment equity?
Are waste disposal measures focused on recycling and are leftovers being made use of to minimise wastage?

These are questions that conscious travellers are asking more and more these days, and what we are increasingly seeing in safari is that if lodges aren’t fulfilling these criteria, travellers won’t book.
Many times of late we have seen the decision of where to stay being reduced to the simple equation of how much the respective lodges are doing in terms of conservation and community development, and those at the forefront of the movement are getting the bookings.

With many of the top lodges almost inseparable in terms of their wildlife, accommodation and culinary offerings, it is their respective shifts towards sustainability that serves to differentiate them.

Londolozi in the Sabi Sands, one of our favourite destinations, has long been leading the charge in terms of their sustainability efforts and community programs.
The Good Work Foundation, a non-prophet dedicated to digital and english literacy in rural areas surrounding game reserves, is one of their brainchilds. They are almost completely off the grid with their state-of-the-art solar farm, they grow their own vegetables on-site to reduce carbon emissions from the transport of fresh produce, and they are constantly looking for new ways to innovate.

The Wilderness Portfolio operate largely in remote, ecologically sensitive regions like the Okavango Delta of Botswana or the Busanga Plains in Zambia. It is imperative for the longevity of the regions they promote and take guests into that their camps are as low-impact as possible, which is a model they have wholeheartedly endorsed. Solar energy, advanced water treatment and waste disposal systems, you name it… the camps set the standard very high.

At Iconic Africa, we are wholeheartedly behind this movement. More and more we find ourselves leaning towards those lodges and safari destinations that are having increasingly positive impacts in the areas in which they operate, and we encourage our guests to ask those same questions…

Its ultimately the accumulative effect of all the little changes that has the biggest impact…

Tswalu Green Season Special

Stretching for 114,000 hectares across the southern Kalahari, Tswalu is South Africa’s largest private game reserve and a destination in its own right.

Dramatically scaled landscapes, breathtaking vistas, diverse habitat with fascinating fauna and flora, and a wide choice of privately guided safari experiences set the scene for a safari of unparalleled exclusivity and freedom. Game drives here are something entirely different. Space is what you feel. Horizons, vistas and timelessness. The unique wildlife adds its own flavour to the reserve, but for the most part you simply feel awed by the sheer expanse of this wilderness that most of the time feels like its all yours.

With the opening of Loapi Tented Camp’s six private tented safari homes, guests can now enjoy the best of Tswalu and explore the destination with an incredible 6-night itinerary that includes three nights at the Motse (first night free) followed by three nights at Loapi. With this first-ever dual camp offer from Tswalu, they are also including complimentary return flights to Tswalu from Johannesburg or Cape Town with Fireblade Aviation for two adults. Children pay 50% of published flight costs.

Pioneering and nomadic in spirit, Loapi Tented Camp’s individual safari homes are surrounded by open savannah grasslands and accommodate two or four guests for the ultimate private wilderness experience. The 4 one-bedroom homes and 2 two-bedroom homes, spanning over 300 square metres and over 400 square metres respectively, are for those who are after complete privacy whilst on safari. Sustainably designed and environmentally sensitive, each tented home is tucked into the contours of a valley set in the Korannaberg mountains. The six homes are at least 50 metres (165 feet) apart to ensure privacy and solitude. Personal service is provided by a dedicated house manager and all meals are prepared by a private chef in the interactive kitchen. As with all our camps, a private safari vehicle, guide and tracker is guaranteed.

Motse is the larger of the two luxury safari camps, and was designed with individual couples and families in mind, and accommodates a maximum of 18 adults in nine legae or suites.
Indigenous gardens throughout the camp are a haven for antelope and birds (many of which are endemic to the area), while a waterhole in front of the main guest area attracts a variety of wildlife, especially in the dry season. The main camp’s communal guest area comprises a series of generous spaces for relaxing and dining indoors and outdoors. Covered verandas lead to two swimming pools and a fire pit for sundowners. The main lounge has a feature stone fireplace, mezzanine library and walk-in wine cellar stocked with premium South African wines. An intimate boma is the setting for barbecue dinners under the stars. The Tswalu Spa is situated at the Motse, along with a Gym, Photographic Studio and the Gallery, a boutique stocked with art, jewellery, clothing and souvenirs.

Tswalu is an utterly unique safari experience. We cannot recommend it highly enough, especially for those who have previously enjoyed a safari in the traditional bushveld of the Kruger Park or surrounds. This is something else entirely.

Get in touch through info@iconicafrica.com to find out more…

Terms and Conditions: Promotions are mutually exclusive and cannot be combined or used in conjunction with any other special rates or promotions | Offer must be requested at the time of booking and cannot be applied retrospectively | Booking validity: for new reservations, from 1 September 2023 to 15 December 2024.

Iconic Africa’s Top 3 Sundowner Spots

A safari should never be run according to a specific formula. Granted, there are certain times of the day when wildlife is more active and the light is better for photography, so heading out on game drive tends to be far more productive then, but too strict a framework will tend to tie you down somewhat, so it’s usually better to just head out there and see what happens.

One time-honoured tradition that is still very much a part of the DNA of safari however, is the sundowner.
The term may be new to some international guests, but it essentially means a cool libation (generally alcoholic, with Gin & Tonic being the accepted standard) enjoyed at sunset, with which one reflects upon the day’s sightings and simply soaks up the magnificence of Africa.

By no means should you interrupt a wild lion sighting simply because protocol dictates that you should be stopping for a drink, but if you do happen to be winding down towards the close of day, here are three of our absolute favourite spots to enjoy a cold beverage as the daytime patrol ends and the night stalkers come out to play…

Ximpalapala Koppie, Londolozi

Drink of Choice: Gin and Tonic

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the landmark that was used as inspiration for Pride Rock in The Lion King.
In fact, generation upon generation of both lions and leopards have used it for densites, and continue to do so to this day. The rangers at Londolozi will always leave it well alone if they suspect one of the resident big cats might be secreting cubs there, but for the rest of the time, it’s fair game to climb and enjoy one of Africa’s most stunning views from.

To the north, east and south lies the rest of Londolozi and the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, with the horizon fading into the Kruger National Park in the far distance. To the west sits the fastness of the Drakensberg escarpment, with the gash of the Blyde River Canyon – the third largest in the world – just visible near where the sun sets.

If you’re lucky a lion might be roaring in the distance while the light fades and you reflect on the magic of this place.

Tintswalo Atlantic

Drink of Choice: White Wine

Technically not a safari destination, but Cape Town features prominently on many people’s itineraries, and enjoys such spectacular sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, that we felt it would be remiss of us not to include it.

With the chilly waters of Hout Bay lapping the shore just below you, Chapman’s Peak rising high up above and the iconic outline of The Sentinel – a huge rock formation on the opposite side of the bay – providing an imposing silhouette, Tintswalo Atlantic puts you right up against the wildness of the ocean.

Salt air around you, the mournful cry of seagulls floating by and the flora aroma of the local fynbos permeating the ether… you will be captivated by one of Cape Town’s finest jewels.

Throw in a dish of fresh seafood and you have a combination made in heaven.

Anywhere in Kaokoveld/Damaraland, Namibia

Drink of Choice: Tafel Lager

Namibian sunsets are of a different ilk.

The space, the silence, the overwhelming grandeur of the country… very few places in the world afford one such agreeable isolation.

The north-western corner of Namibia – the Damaraland and Kaokoveld regions – are where some of the true magic lies. Desert elephants walk along ancient pathways and desert adapted black rhinos trundle their way through the sparse euphorbias.

Sunsets here last an age and bathe the entire landscape in a surreal golden hue. The silence is deafening.

With an ice-cold beer in hand as the sun goes down – Tafel Lager is locally brewed – you will never feel as refreshed in body, mind and soul…

 

 

 

Iconic Africa’s Favourite Escapes #3

Continuing our series of our travel consultant’s favourite escapes, this month we feature Mary Hensman and her podium of destinations in the safari world. These three lodges are among our favourites and receive consistently amazing reviews and feedback from our guests, so it’s no wonder they are some of Mary’s top picks…

The Outpost 

The Outpost has become one of my personal favourite places to visit to experience the extraordinary biodiversity, scenic splendour and history for which the Pafuri region is renowned.
The lodge is perched high above the Luhvuvu River, and is the perfect place from which to explore this spectacular corner of South Africa. The birdlife is stunning, the baobabs are magnificent, the leopards rasping during the night will send tingles up your spine, and everywhere you look you are simply blown away! 

Elephants have always been a massive part of my life and sensational interactions with them in the bush always hold a special place with me, especially if they come gently into your space.
One of my most incredible experiences with elephant – that left all of us a little awestruck – happened while visiting Lion Sands River Lodge, and that sentimental association means the lodge will always remain dear to my heart.
The game viewing is nothing short of spectacular and the decor of the lodge is amazing!

A dream destination; not anywhere I have been before (the camp is very new) but it’s on my bucket list!
Why? Since having kids there has been a shift in me in which I want to share everything unique in this world with them and to open their eyes to the beauty out there. Tswalu is a completely unique and untouched area that has the potential for wildly different sightings; pangolin, bat eared fox, brown hyena and the majestic Kalahari lion. There is also not one thing that they have not thought of in creating a luxury bespoke experience.
Loapi – “Space under the Clouds” – caters to families or couples, where you have a space and unspoiled views all to yourself. If that isn’t enough, you also have a private chef, butler and guide and tracker team to make your stay completely personal.

 

If these destinations appeal to you – and they should! – get in touch now through info@iconicafrica.com to find out about rates and availability…

 

The New-Look Rattray’s on Mala Mala

Since the 60’s, Mala Mala has been wowing guests with its game viewing.

The camps have developed somewhat in the last five and a half decades, but the phenomenal wildlife viewing has remained ai its consistent best.

MalaMala Rattray’s Camp offers an intimate glimpse into an era long lost, when travellers from afar married the magic of the African bush with elegance and refinement.

Combining humble opulence and romantic exclusivity with unrivalled game viewing, MalaMala Rattray’s Camp is one of the premier safari destinations for those seeking to experience the wild heart of Africa.

 

Mala Mala’s hashtag #itsallabouthewildlife, says it all; wildlife safaris are their number one priority. A maximum of only four guests per safari vehicle out of Rattrays Camp is the norm and a flexible operation ensures your adventures into the bush will be intimate and unforgettable. An experienced ranger will serve as your guide and host, handling all the minutiae that go into making your trip as seamless as possible, both in camp and out in the bush.

Sumptuous meals can be enjoyed in a variety of locations including the boma, the deck, the dining room or in the privacy and comfort of your own suite. And with unobstructed views down into the Sand River, it is more than likely that mealtimes will feature a wildlife show of some sort, be they elephants drinking from the gently flowing water, or a leopard skulking through the reeds.

Rattray’s on Mala Mala features everything you may need to make a slightly longer complete from all angles. A beautifully appointed library containing rare African books and magnificent works of art lets one pass the heat of the day reading of explorers of old, and an historic bar adorned with antique photographs lets one hearken back to the early days of game viewing in the reserve.

Lunches are served on the most phenomenal viewing deck, whilst evening meals will more than likely (although weather permitting) be served under the stars in the boma. Thos who would like to take home some mementos of their visit will find more than they could wish for in the boutique shop, and to ward off the inevitable gains that come with the delicious hearty meals on offer, a fully equipped gym will let you remain active between game drives. WiFi is available in all the rooms.

Rattrays can host 16 guests in eight luxury villas, each of which boasts a private verandah with grand river views and a private heated plunge pool, a private indigenous garden, en-suite bathrooms with double vanity, ball-and-claw bath and double indoor shower and outdoor shower; outdoor and indoor dining area, air-conditioning, heating, overhead fans, hairdryer, minibar, tea and coffee facilities. Satellite television, DVD player and laptop with wireless connectivity are available on request.

The accommodations here are everything you could ever wish for on safari, and with the high likelihood of encountering wildlife roaming through the camp, things couldn’t get any bette

Whether you’re visiting for three days or fifteen, Rattray’s on Mala Mala will make you feel as though your trip was too short, so at home will you feel.

If you want to find out more about staying in this wildlife-intense camp, mail us on info@iconicafrica.com, and let’s start planning your Mala Mala safari…

Singita Pamushana: Another World

Perched high on a sandstone ridge overlooking the shimmering expanse of the Malilangwe Dam, Singita Pamushana Luxury Lodge’s eight elegant suites – all with private plunge pools – draw inspiration from the rich tribal history of ancient Zimbabwe.

Maximising opportunities to be immersed in the restorative power of its incredible wilderness setting, the lodge’s guest experience allows for a safari that’s both soothing and inspiring – with comfort, intuitive ease and a complete sense of freedom underpinning every stay.

Featuring a series of staggered and interlinked platforms, Pamushana’s main lodge area provides a variety of living spaces from which to appreciate the astounding natural beauty of the area. Expansive decks deepen connections with the landscape and a cliff-top fire pit and bar-deli overlooking the dam provides the perfect setting for alfresco dining and fireside storytelling.

Pamushana Luxury Safari Lodge is set in Zimbabwe’s remote southeast, within the 130,000-acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve.

Guests have exclusive access to this untouched wilderness and can immerse themselves in nature on twice-daily game drives, bush walks, sundowner boat cruises, excursions to rock art sites and more.

In addition to the benefits for the reserve, it is envisaged that lessons learned here will help to derive best practice protocols that will have application in other conservation initiatives

As custodians of the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in Zimbabwe, the Malilangwe Trust manages the conservation of this pristine wilderness – which comprises 38 different habitats and ecological zones in 130,000 acres of protected land.

After successfully introducing 28 black and 15 white rhinos to the reserve in 1998, it’s now home to a globally significant population of both and the programme has been so successful that it is a source for restocking rhinos in other reserves on the continent.

The Trust has developed a blueprint for creating harmony between conservation initiatives and community development in villages that neighbour wildlife areas and ensured a sanctuary for a wide range of wildlife, including breeding herds of rare antelope species such as sable and roan.

An onsite Environmental Education Centres for school teachers and children allows them to immerse themselves in Outdoor Education and fieldwork, while the Trust’s nutrition programme provides 20,000 children with a fortifying meal before school every day in order to address increasing food insecurity in the region.

In this south-eastern corner of Zimbabwe, Singita Pamushana is really defining  what community-focused conservation should be.

Get in touch with us through info@icocniafrica.com to find out more, and let’s start planning your safrai…