Birding in Mana Pools

Are you planning your post-lockdown travel itinerary? If you’ve decided on the far north of Zimbabwe, Mana Pools is the perfect destination for travellers who appreciate and are seeking a great diversity of bird species. This already bucket-list worthy destination has over 380 recorded bird species, spread across more than three different habitats from woodlands to plateaus and savannah areas.

Mana Pools National Park includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia. The park is known for its incredible wildlife… and the exquisite river and vast flood plains. It is on every safari-lovers bucket-list as it is remote, it’s teeming with animals, the scenery is exquisite, sunsets breath-taking… need we say more – it really is Africa at its best.

Some of the avifauna you can expect to lay eyes on are Waterbirds along the banks of the Zambezi River, the Southern carmine bee-eaters during April to November, the African skimmer, Pel’s fishing-owl and Lilian’s lovebird among others.

The best time to feast one’s eyes on the abundance of colours and sounds is during the dry season – April to November – when both resident and migratory birds are plentiful. Although birding in Mana Pools is good year-round, the dry season is when local species begin nesting.

Plan your trip to coincide with the best wildlife viewing which is from June to October to make the most out of your time in this beautiful region. At this time animals congregate around water sources and large numbers of elephants and buffalo can be seen more frequently.

The Zambezi River is known to have luxury safari accommodations nestled along its banks and relaxing boat safaris cruising its waters. The river attracts a variety of waders, including:

Spur-winged Plover,
Green Sandpiper,
Common Ringed Plover,
Grey Plover,
Caspian Plover,
Common Redshank
and Bar-tailed Godwit

Zambezi Crescent, Victoria Falls River Lodge, Zambezi River, near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Plan a walk along the river or take a canoe/boat trip and try to spot the Afrian Skimmer – breeding along the sand banks from May – November. During Spring, Southern Carmine Bee-eaters excavate their nest holes in the river banks.

Other species to keep an eye out for are:

Mottled & Bohm’s Spinetail,
Horus Swift,
White-browed Coucal,
Western Banded Snake-Eagle,
Rufous-bellied Heron,
and Collared Pratincole.

Back at your camp, look out for the Purple-banded Sunbird or White-bellied Sunbird before heading out for your drive through the woodland.

James Hendry is Now Married

We’re back with the follow-up to our most loved blog – Is James Hendry married? Unfortunately (for his die-hard fans), our dear friend, ranger and Wild Earth-star is now married. Iconic Africa catches up with him about his better half, his beautiful wedding and life in the bush during lockdown. Scroll down to see what he has to say and don’t forget to catch him on his live safaris here.

Q: Can you tell us who the lucky lady is?
A: Lucky is an entirely subjective term. The poor girl Who has acquiesced to hanging around me until one of us shuffles off this mortal coil, is Kirsten Hendry (née McLennan-Smith).

Q: Where did you meet her?
A: She was a director of the wild earth shows and as such used to be in my ear more or less permanently. This was excellent preparation for marriage.

Q: Where did you have your wedding?
A: At a place in the KZN midlands called Brahman Hills…there were many cattle and much fun was had by all except my nephew and mother in law who got gastrio but that’s not a story for here.

Q: What was it like?
A: Terrifying, wonderful, permanent

Q: Can you give us an update on what you are doing now?
A: We (my good wife and I) are trying to create and sell wildlife shows with a humorous bent to broadcasters. Mostly I’m trying to keep my wife sweet (she is a redhead so I must tread carefully)

Q: Tell us a little about the Wild Earth journey over the last 3 months?
A: Lockdown WildEarth was an extraordinary honour…being part of the show during this unprecedented human crisis felt important because we were taking the healing power of nature into peoples homes. This is the fIrst time in history that the human species as a whole has faced the same immediate threat. I think people took comfort from the unchanging ways of nature…perhaps made them see that ‘this too shall pass’

Q: What was your best sighting during this time?
A: An elephant sighting one Sunday afternoon where a young bull spent ten minutes feeding just 2 meters from me. He was so close I couldn’t take a picture. He was so relaxed that it brought tears to my eyes…his inviting me into his space was profound.

Q: Are there any other dashing guides that your fans should keep an eye out for?
A: No. I will become jealous.

Q: Any tips for your fans who are really missing the bush right now?
A: Watch WildEarth…I’ll be back on the 21st of June. Go into the Garden and watch the birds…there is a whole wilderness suspended above our cities in the trees. Appreciate the indomitable spirit of the grass pushing through the pavement or the gecko on your wall.

Q: Where to next for James Hendry?
A: You’ll have to ask my wife.

If you’d like to see more of him… and his work, visit his Instagram and Facebook pages 🙂

Help Kicheche’s Conservancy Guardians Protect our Wildlife

“…Our conservancies need you now more than ever.”

Iconic Africa would like to invite you to help us support an incredible initiative that is doing great work for wildlife and communities in Africa. We really believe in what Kicheche is doing and encourage you to get involved if you are interested and able to.

The coronavirus pandemic has left nothing untouched. People, countries, economies, tourism and wildlife have felt the effects of this catastrophe.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation. But since the global collapse of tourism, the funding of these conservancies has sharply declined and the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bushmeat hunting and encroachment is returning and growing rampantly.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation and a benchmark for tourism. Many of you have appreciated the biodiversity and the variety of species supported by these protected lands first-hand, returning year after year to get your safari fix, from the hills and plains that have become your own backyard.

25% of their revenue funds the guardianship, protection and maintenance of 250,000 acres of the finest wildlife habitat in the world, but since the global collapse in tourism, that funding has sharply declined.

Without your support, the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bush-meat hunting and encroachment cannot be kept at bay. Currently, conservancies of Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Mara Naboisho and Ol Pejeta need you more than ever.

‘Nature never halts’ is a common phrase but if threatened, it just might.

The solution

Kicheche and their neighbouring communities are working tirelessly on a plan for the next year, to ensure that their conservancies remain secure and intact despite the dramatic drop in tourist arrivals.

CONSERVANCY GUARDIANS

They have initiated the Conservancy Guardians appeal, concentrating solely on covering critical conservancy costs: rangers salaries, welfare and medical, predator monitoring and patrol costs.

CREDIT THE CONSERVANCY

This scheme assists in underwriting conservancy land leases for a year, so the priceless conservancy birthright remains intact. By paying a conservation contribution of $750 (or more) now, you will receive a credit of the SAME value on your next Kicheche safari.

Kicheche has been at the vanguard of these Conservancies since inception and in this moment of need is backing them wholeheartedly.

Almost a thousand acres are now protected for a year. One camp cannot protect it all but every acre is priceless.

A message from Andrew Obaga, Kicheche Laikipia manager.

How you can help:

Protect an acre now

Contribute to the conservancies now

South African Safari Specials for Locals

South Africans, are you ready for the ultimate safari special?

Let us show you another beautiful day in Africa with these irresistible Winter 2020 bush deals! We have undoubtedly faced a challenging start to the year – as individuals and as a country, but we are hopeful that there will be a time to return to Africa’s wilderness soon… While we give you time to plan and pack, we give nature and wildlife time to heal and rest until we can relish our beautiful country again, spend time with the Big 5 and support and visit amazing destinations that perhaps aren’t normally so accessible to locals.

We are committed to working closely with our partners to support and stimulate local travel as and when restrictions allow. So we have put together these amazing once-off offers that will allow local travellers to make the most of the incredible natural beauty and diversity we have on our doorstep.

Get to know your country better and indulge in much-needed 5-star service with these amazing city to bush escapes created just for you!

 

  1. The More family are offering up to 70% off at the exquisite Lion Sands lodges. Book now & travel after lockdown. *At Narina Lodge, each suite has an expansive wooden deck centred on a private plunge pool. A cooling soak in the heat of the midday, a gin and tonic at your side, a buffalo bull chewing in the deep shade below, a flock of green pigeons squabbling over figs in the boughs above, will immerse you in the wilderness until you feel like a part of it – which of course you are. *Tinga lodge is a cathedral tribute to the Kruger. The double volume, cathedral-like main area opens out onto an expansive deck overlooking the Sabie River. When you return famished from morning game drive, you can devour a delectable breakfast array on the deck while the elephants wander past in the lazy heat. In the evening, put your feet up next to the lounge fire with an excellent glass of South African wine as you contemplate the wonders you experienced on drive.

  2. The Royal Portfolio is committed to supporting local travel with 50% off at La Residence & Birkenhead House after lockdown.*Perched amongst the vineyards, on the slopes of the beautiful Franschhoek Mountains is the pinnacle of luxury and unrivalled piece of heaven – La Residence. Voted Conde Nast’s No 1 Hotel in the World in 2013 amongst a myriad of other awards, La Residence is a must for any bucket list. Tuscan inspired, the horse-shoe shaped manor wraps around an exquisitely manicured courtyard, decadent pool and endless panoramic wineland backdrop. *Birkenhead House is perched on a cliff overlooking magnificent Walker Bay in the little seaside town of Hermanus – gateway to the garden route. The bay is fringed with pristine white sand beaches and secluded coves while in the water surfers carve the waves and, for several months of the year, hundreds of southern right whales call the waters of the bay home.

  3. Marataba Safari Lodge is offering a once-in-a-lifetime 70% off! Why not escape with your family & indulge in much-need 5-star service after lockdown? Marataba-Safari-Lodge-Dining-Area*Marataba Safari Lodge is the ideal location for a romantic wedding or a honeymoon, or even just for an intimate escape with your loved one. The Lodge is very convenient as it’s located in a malaria-free zone and is only four hours away from Johannesburg—perfect for a quick escape to the bush!

  4.  The Outpost in Kruger National Park is offering locals a massive 60% discount for the upcoming months. *The Outpost’s awarded architecture accommodates 24 guests in 12 stand-alone luxury spaces cantilevered over the Luvuvhu river valley – connected to the central lodge area by a raised walkway. Enjoy 180˚ views of the African wilderness and fall asleep to the open-air sounds of the African night.

  5. Book a safari now with 50% off at Phinda Forest & Mountain Lodge. *Set deep in the heart of a rare and beautiful dry sand forest, the andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge fuses spectacular design with the ultimate in conservation principles. 16 handcrafted, minimalist, glass-encased suites are built on stilts among the trees and boast luxurious en-suite bathrooms and viewing decks where guests can take in the sight of graceful nyala and duiker in the shade of the forest. *Poised majestically on the crest of a mountain, Phinda Mountain Lodge commands dramatic vistas over the surrounding landscape. Balanced between soaring views of the scenery below and the endless blue of the African sky above, each suite opens onto a breathtaking panorama.

  6. Escape to your own private wilderness at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve with 60% off! *The lodges at Kwandwe are intimate, relaxed and trendy with décor inspired by the vibrant colours and textures of the nearby villages.

Enquire HERE now.

10 Things We Are Grateful For

With the South African National Lockdown extended an additional two weeks, many citizens have been left feeling overwhelmed and full of despair. We want our kids to return to school, we want to return to work and we want to feel the freedom of being in nature once more.

While we continue to stay home this month, let us remember that as a country, we can overcome any crisis as long as we stand together.

Let us take this time to reflect on who we are, who we want to be and what we are grateful for.

Plan your next vacation, start that hobby you keep putting off or spend some quality time with your loved ones and most importantly take this time to just BE!

We are all in this together, and while this unprecedented event has forced our lives to continue at a different pace; forced each one of us to make sacrifices and compromises, we still have the little things to be thankful for:

  1. Our health

  2. Sunrise and sunset

  3. A roof over our heads

  4. A warm meal

  5. A hot bath

  6. Family and friends to talk to

  7. The space and time to take a step back and re-evaluate our busy lives

  8. The sunshine

  9. The kindness of strangers

  10. A chance to return to the African bush once more

Let us remember what we are grateful for and have faith in the incredible combined strength of all South Africans.

If you were heading to South Africa, we wish to see you soon! And if you were planning a safari, don’t stop planning. If there has ever been a time to be hopeful, it is now. And if there has ever been a time to dream of the African bush, it is now.

Remember to check the WHO coronavirus situation reports and your government’s own site for daily updates, and to plan your travel accordingly.

We wish you well, and hope to welcome you soon!

Once in a Lifetime Safari Specials for SA Citizens

COVID-19 UPDATE – The African Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow 

The Covid-19 pandemic has now permeated every corner of the world. 

It continues to impact lodges, flights, and the ways we live, work… and breathe. African travel and the people whose livelihood is intertwined in our wildlife industry have sadly been dealt a huge blow by this pandemic. 

This has created unprecedented global uncertainty and anxiety, but our hope is that the action we all take now will minimise the impact on our people and our Africa. 

Our priority remains to showcase our magical continent, to uplift our communities and to welcome you back to our shores as soon as possible. 

It’s difficult to predict how long it will take before we start to see a reduction in geopolitical impact and the economy starting to recover, but we will continue to coordinate our efforts and follow the recommendations of the World Health Organization and local health authorities as well as to keep you – our travellers – safe and informed. 

Your upcoming travel:

Should you have upcoming bookings, we ask that you please consider rescheduling your trip rather than cancelling, to help preserve our country’s companies, people and wildlife. 

Our immediate concern is to move any April/May/June bookings to a later date. 

Most lodges have allowed postponement between 1 October 2020 and April 2021 at no extra cost. We are all trying to work together to achieve the best outcome in these uncertain times but we recommend you contact us as soon as possible to aid your planning processes. 

However, should you not be able to travel during the above period, then we will extend deferment further into 2021. Any seasonal or annual rate changes will then be applicable to the new rates.

Electric Safari Vehicles Cheetah Plains Sabi Sands

Once in a lifetime specials for locals:

Every cloud has a silver lining, and in order to support our partners through this crisis, we are currently offering incredible short term deals (April/May) with discounts in excess of 50% at some of Africa’s most sought-after destinations. Should you have any interest or know of anyone locally who might be keen to find out more please do let us know. We want to do all that we can to keep these beautiful places and their wonderful staff in business. 

Keep safe and enjoy this time with your loved ones.

A New Addition to the Iconic Family

Iconic Africa is thrilled to welcome the splendid Mpala Jena to our portfolio and safari family…

Mpala Jena Camp is an exquisite and exclusive canvas tented camp, located on a private concession within the Zambezi National Park. Overlooking a beautiful stretch of the Zambezi River shoreline, the four guest tents have been elegantly positioned under the dappled shade of a mixture of indigenous trees including Kigelia Africana (sausage tree), Lonchocarpus capassa (rain tree) and Syzygium cordatum (water berry tree).

The camp is named after the natural spring-line, Mpala Jena, which runs through the centre of the concession, and which attracts an abundance of wildlife throughout the year, particularly during the drier months. ’Mpala Jena’ means “White Impala” and according to the local National Park rangers, at the time when the Zambezi National Park was separated from the Victoria Falls National Park in 1979, there had been regular sightings of a “ghost-like” albino impala along the river in this area.

Wonderful Wildlife  

The Zambezi National Park has a healthy and ever-increasing number of wildlife species, with higher concentrations of buffalo and elephant during the months June through to October. This area is particularly good for bird watching throughout the year, but with a higher diversity of species during the months November through to April. 

Sustainable Safari

Mpala Jena Camp has been created to be the most environmentally innovative camp within the Zambezi National Park. This is achieved through the use of only recycled hardwoods and canvas in its construction and ensuring all the camp’s electricity needs come from its solar farm.

Luxury Safari Accommodation

The four luxurious guest tents are under beige, flowing canvas, with canopy ceilings and open (yet netted) views of the river frontage, with Moroccan style influences throughout the decor. Each tent has a small lounge / seated area with a desk and en-suite bathroom facilities which include an impressive bathtub, indoor shower, separate loo and double basins. Decking in front of the tent leads to a private plunge pool with views of the calming and peaceful flowing waters of the Zambezi River. Yoga mats, weights and bands are provided in each suite and each room has fans and an overhead airconditioning circulation system. 

The Mpala Jena Suite

The Mpala Jena Suite is an exquisite, private and exclusive two-bedroomed suite, located on a private concession within the Zambezi National Park. Overlooking a beautiful stretch of the Zambezi River shoreline, the suite has been elegantly positioned under the dappled shade of a mixture of indigenous trees including Kigelia Africana (sausage tree), Lonchocarpus capassa (rain tree) and Syzygium cordatum (water berry tree). The suite is named after the natural spring-line, Mpala Jena, 

The suite sleeps a maximum of 4 adults sharing, or a party of 5 if there are children travelling with two parents. There is a central private lounge and dining area with spacious bedrooms on either side offering en-suite bathroom facilities. Decking in front of the tent leads to a private plunge pool and campfire area with views of the calming and peaceful flowing waters of the Zambezi River. 

Endless Activities 

Mpala Jena Camp offers professionally guided wildlife viewing on open vehicle drives or walks in the morning or afternoon. The camp has custom-built Land cruisers specially designed for photography. With just four to six guests each, the vehicles are fully stocked with reference books, drinks and snacks. Or try a delightful seasonal boat cruise and/or canoeing throughout the day depending on the water level. 

In addition, guests have the opportunity to enjoy a one-day excursion into Victoria Falls town including a visit to the thunderous and impressive mass of falling water on a tour of the Victoria Falls during their stay at Mpala Jena. 

There are other optional, additional cost, add on activities available for those who wish to participate in the varied adrenalin and more relaxing activities that this tourist hub has become renowned for. Encounter the excitement of a day navigating the world’s most intense white water rafting; partake in the numerous high-wire activities at the Gorge / Lookout Cafe; conduct a cultural village tour; a historical guided high tea tour, or simply enjoy wandering the streets of this bustling tourist town.

The property is conveniently located 16 kilometres inside the Zambezi National Park which makes for easy access to Victoria Falls town, but is far enough away from the hustle and bustle, allowing guests to relax and unwind whilst enjoying an incredible setting amidst the wild habitat of the Zambezi National Park.

Contact Iconic Africa Now and let us tailor make your bespoke African adventure at our exclusive rates.

Fun facts about the Indian Ocean 

When you hear the word “safari” you immediately think of the Masai Mara, the Serengeti, or the Kruger National Park. However, the official dictionary definition of the word “safari” is “an expedition to observe animals in their natural habitat.” So why not explore the offshore wonders of the Indian Ocean from White Pearl, Mozambique, where a somewhat different, but equally magical, adventure awaits?

Benguerra Island – Mozambique

Explore the offshore wonders of the Indian Ocean, swim with dolphins and whales in the big blue and discover the colourful marine life beneath the waves. Here are 10 fun facts about the Indian Ocean and what makes it special:

iconic-africa-swim-with-dolphins-mozambique

This small, secluded and beautiful ocean is known as the “Zone of Peace”. 

The Indian Ocean is named after India, taken from the word “Ratnaka” meaning “the mine of gems” in Ancient Sanskrit Literature.

Speaking of gems, Indian Ocean sands are renowned for their mineral-rich sands – this ocean has hidden some of the world’s rarest minerals, such as the moissanite found in sand bodies, ilmenite and chromite. Being on the ocean might make you the rare gem itself!

Not only is the Indian Ocean a breeding ground for beautiful and well-defined beaches, dunes and estuaries but it also offers a beautiful chance for sight-seeing with its majestic Humpback Whales.

The Indian Ocean is categorized as a closed ocean, this is because it is land-locked to its north by the continent of Asia.

Want to know of the depth of the ocean? Well, the highest level is the sea level itself, with a maximum depth of 8047 metres!

The “Zone of Peace” easily lives up to its name. This ocean is the warmest of all three oceans, this means golden tans and more fun in the sun!

The Indian Ocean holds the world’s most important ports that all belong to different continents, the most infamous in South Africa being Richards Bay and Durban.

This ocean also holds vital sea lanes that contribute largely to Asia’s economies.

The Indian Ocean is the largest body of water in the world, despite the fact that it is the smallest ocean.

 

Okavango Delta – 10 Things You Didn’t Know

The Okavango Delta is one of Nature’s real masterpieces. Created as the Okavango River dissipates into the parched Kalahari Desert, adventurous travellers can explore the magic of this vast eco-system by mokoro, on foot or on a game drive during an Okavango Safari.

Botswana-Safari-Okavango-Safari-Banner-04

Before we start learning amazing facts about this vast inland river, let’s start off simple…

  1.   What is the Okavango Delta?

It is a swampy inland, a vast inland river in Northern Botswana.  Doesn’t sound appealing, right? Wait until you read what this incredible grassland has to offer.

  1.   A World Premier Wild Area

The Okavango Delta’s lush vegetation from seasonal flooding provides a safe haven to a variety of game. It is home to some of the world’s most endangered large mammals species.  The wildlife includes cheetahs, black and white rhinoceros, the African wild dog and lions.

  1.   There is a large variety of flora and fauna

The Delta’s hosts roughly 1061 plant varieties, 89 fish species, 64 various reptiles, 482 species of birds and 130 mammals.

  1.   The Delta has over 150 000 islands

The Okavango Delta has islands scattered throughout the plains.  The Chief Island is the largest, at 70km long and 14 km wide. It was once a prime hunting spot but is now the best place to spot wildlife.

  1.   The Delta is kept wild

Botswana government has implemented restrictions on the number of tourists that are allowed to enter the Okavango Delta.  This, in turn, has kept the vast plain truly wild and remote.

  1.   It is the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site

This decision came on 22 June 2014, because this delta is not only one of the largest inland deltas in the world.   But it is one of the new major systems that do not flow into the sea. 

  1.   The Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

In February of 2013, the Okavango Delta was officially added to the list.  After reading all these facts, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

  1.   Animals aren’t the only habitants

In and amongst all the wildlife and greenery, the Hambukushu, Dcerika, Wayeyi, Anikhwe and Bugakhwe live.  They range from hunter-gathers to fisherman and farmers.

  1.   Travelling by Mokoro

The best way to travel around the Okavango Delta is on a traditional Mokoro – a dug-out canoe.  Most of the lodges in the Delta cater for Mokoro rides, where you will get up close and personal with smaller creatures that you may have missed in a vehicle.

  1. The Delta grows!

When the floodwaters from the Angolan Highlands in the dry winter months, the delta increases up to threefold in size!  Between March and August, the Delta can reach up to 15,000km2.

A Love for Africa Changes Lives

From Traveller to Fundraiser

One of our recent travellers was so taken by her trip to Africa that she set up this incredible fundraising effort…

Iconic Africa’s Julia Fryer showed one of our travellers, Toula Cassen, what Africa is truly about – wildlife, sunsets, people and heart! It is said that people visit Africa for the first time for the animals, but they return for the people. On Toula’s trip to Africa, she did a cultural tour in the Maasai Mara, meeting the locals and engaging in their daily life. Despite their tough economic circumstances, she was touched deeply at how happy they were. On her return back to Australia she started a fundraiser, working hand-in-hand with Julia to point her in the direction of where funds were needed the most. The reality is that precious wilderness areas can only survive in the long term if the local people who call the wildness areas home are uplifted and educated. They, therefore, decided to focus their efforts on assisting a school in the Maasai Mara that has accountable and transparent mechanisms in place to ensure funds are used for the purpose intended. In consultation with the trustees, we identified where the need was greatest and Toula responded accordingly. We are delighted to announce that the girls at the local school in the Emarti village, Kenya are now receiving @hurukits with hygiene instructions, underwear, reusable/washable sanitary towels and family planning education. The funds raised were so great that they were able to spill over to other schools in Kibera, Nairobi, the biggest slum in Africa.

“Africa has the ability to reach into people’s hearts. Travellers are amazed at the sheer joy Africans exude despite their often incredibly difficult circumstances. I knew from the minute I spoke to Toula on the phone that she was a true gem. She has such a heart for people, for giving back and for leaving the world a better place. Her efforts, and the generosity of those in Australia who supported her in her fundraising initiatives will reach women in schools far and wide in Kenya. The depth of the human heart when you engage people and point them towards contributing to a fund that has transparency and accountability is incredible! I am privileged to have met Toula and to have brought her to Africa. What a remarkable woman” – Julia Fryer.

A huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts to Toula Cassen who kindly fundraised to donate to @houseinthewild and @Crossroads_et_al. 

 

Here’s what they had to say:

@Crossroads_et_al: “I am thrilled to let you know that crossroads et al’s first fundraising venture has found its home! Your contributions are assisting female students in an area that has been a taboo up until recently. To all those who participated – you have made a difference.”

@houseinthewild – “An amazing visit from @hurukits to our local Emarti School today (2 March). 

Delivering kits of eco-sanitary towels, made by a women’s group in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, to all of the girls. The kits will not only help our environment by being reusable but they also keep the girls in school. The team also held sessions on family planning, bringing family spacing to the conversation. I was amazed to learn that 14 girls ages 15-17 at the school were mothers. And 4 more pregnant. Population pressure around the edges of the Mara is a huge challenge for conservation, and education is key. At #houseinthewild we are so excited to be partnering with @hurukits on this initiative and it would not be possible without the amazing support from Toula Cassen and thank you to the wonderful @jules_fryer for the introduction. Each kit costs $35 and comes with hygiene instructions, underwear, reusable/washable sanitary towels and family planning education.” 

For more information or to buy some kits for the girls at the neighbouring Ol Meoshi School email info@houseinthewild.com

A HUGE well done and thank you again to Toula – for making such an incredible difference in these girls’ lives. 

The Perfect Winter Tour – Durban, Cape Town & Phinda

Spend 11 days and 10 nights in KZN, Durban and Cape Town 

Iconic Africa presents an outstanding Winter Special across two fantastic South African cities. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime all-inclusive safari before heading to Umhlanga Ridge and enjoying a relaxing 4 days at the 5* Oyster Box that has direct access to a beautiful piece of beach and offers world-class cuisine. End off in the Mother City. The striking ocean views set the stage for a memorable stay in Cape Town. Wake to the sound of gentle waves breaking on the shore before embarking on a day of exploration.

Day 1 – 4  &BEYOND PHINDA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

Described as ‘Seven Worlds of Wonder’, &Beyond Phinda encompasses an impressive 28 555 hectares (70 560 acres) of prime Big Five wilderness in KwaZulu-Natal. This Reserve comprises seven distinct habitats – from dry sand forest to wetland systems and mountain ranges. Catch a glimpse of the shy suni antelope, track rhino in the bushveld, observe breeding herds of elephant in fever tree forests, hold your breath as a cheetah teaches her cubs to hunt, glide past hippo on the Mzinene River and marvel at the gracious nyala. Phinda is home to more than 3 000 of these rare antelope.

Accommodation: andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge

  • Complimentary road transfer from King Shaka International Airport to Phinda (approx 3hrs)
  • 3 nights at Phinda Forest Lodge (Fully Inclusive)
  • Wild Child Programme for the children
  • Safari activities,
  • 1-hour nature walks accompanied by experienced armed trackers (subject to availability),
  • Daily Morning and afternoon game drive

Day 4 -7  UMHLANGA

Located on the eastern coast of South Africa, just outside of the port city of Durban, Umhlanga Rocks, also referred to as Umhlanga, is a popular seaside resort town. The tropical weather and lush vegetation make this an enticing holiday destination attracting visitors from all over the world. Umhlanga and its surrounds feature golden-sand beaches stretching over 200 kilometres, endless sugarcane fields and the rolling verdant landscape of the Valley of 1000 Hills. It is the perfect location for ocean enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike, with great opportunities for diving, swimming, scuba diving, whale watching, dolphin viewing, deep-sea fishing and kiteboarding. Don’t miss Umhlanga’s excellent golf courses; they are a real treat for the avid golfer.

Accommodation: The Oyster Box 

  • Road transfer to The Oyster Box Hotel 
  • 3 nights accommodation at The Oyster Box Hotel (B&B) * 3rd night is free!

Day 7 – 11  CAPE TOWN 

Without question one of the world’s most spectacular cities, Cape Town sits on the southwestern edge of Africa and nestles beautifully between the two national heritage sites of the infamous Robben Island and the iconic “New 7 natural wonders of the world” member, Table Mountain. Cape Town is undoubtedly a destination in itself but also the holidaymaker’s gateway to the African continent. Perhaps in your own time, you’d prefer to relax peacefully on tranquil beaches, stroll along the promenade, hike up “Lions Head” or visit The Houses of Parliament set picturesquely in the Company Gardens? Or for those looking for a bit more of a buzz and some retail therapy visit the shops, restaurants and lavish hotels of V&A Waterfront.

Accommodation: Radisson Blu Waterfront

  • Transfer to King Shaka International Airport
  • Scheduled flight to Cape Town
  • Transfer to hotel
  • 4 nights accommodation 

A world of endless experiences:

The beauty of Cape Town is not restricted to the city alone. Cape Town’s proximity to a number of incredible destinations makes short day trips to the likes of the Cape Winelands, Cape Point, Hermanus and the Garden Route an absolute must!

We recommend seeing:

Private Peninsula tour

Wine estates that are child-friendly such as Blauuwklippen, Seidelberg, and Fairview, 

Eagle Encounters at Spier Estate 

Cheetah Outreach 

Camps Bay

Seal Island Hout Bay

Chapman’s Peak

Boulders Penguin Colony

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Includes:

  • Road transfer from King Shaka International Airport to Phinda (approx 3hrs)
  • 3 nights at Phinda Forest Lodge (FI)
  • Road transfer to The Oyster Box Hotel ( approx 3 hrs)
  • 3 nights accommodation at The Oyster Box Hotel (B&B)
  • Transfer to King Shaka International Airport
  • Scheduled flight to Cape Town
  • Transfer to hotel
  • 4 nights accommodation at The Radisson Blu Waterfront (B&B)

Excludes:

  • Meals, drinks and laundry not specified in the itinerary or as outlined in the Includes
  • Premium brand drinks, champagne, cognacs, cellar wines, cigars and cigarettes
  • Gratuities and any items of a personal nature
  • Sightseeing and excursions not specified in the itinerary
  • Flights and transfers not specified in the itinerary
  • National parks and concession fees not specified in the itinerary
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa fees (please be sure to check if visas are required)
  • International flights

 

Find out more about this tour here. 

https://digital.iconicafrica.com/Itinerary/Landing/d66bad8a-59a4-4a77-9b00-fc19713b71ff

 

Tips to consider when planning to climb Kilimanjaro

If witnessing the Great Migration, exploring breathtaking landscapes and sceneries or standing on the edge of a dormant volcano in Tanzania doesn’t conjure enough adrenaline to course your veins; if a heart-pumping activity is what you’re looking for and you’re ready to test your limits; why not add a Kilimanjaro trek to your Tanzanian safari…

Seeing the Great Migration, or any big game on safari is already a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will make your trip that much more unforgettable. This escapade requires you to be fit, mentally and physically and will push your boundaries like never before. But it will all be worth it as you reach the summit and look down on Africa. This add-on can be demanding, strenuous and challenging and requires weeks of physical training. 

Here are 4 tips to help you start preparing to reach the level of fitness required to enjoy your Kili climb:

Physical Endurance: Depending on which route you take, you can be hiking for up to 15km a day. Prepare yourself for physical endurance so that you can train your body to maintain energy reserves for when you’re feeling tired. 

Try running/jogging, brisk walking, cycling and swimming or start by just taking the stairs at work. 

Cardio Exercise: This form of activity requires the body to use oxygen supplies to adequately meet energy demands. Build up your cardiovascular system with running, rowing, cycling, aerobics, jumping rope and walking to train your body to process oxygen in an efficient way while determining your target heart rate. 

Hiking: A Mount Kili climb is basically one very long hike. Try doing long hikes – preferably 5-hour-long ones back-to-back and wear in your new hiking boots to avoid blisters and swollen feet on your trip. 

Improve Mental Capacity: We can push our physical boundaries, but it is often the mental stamina that holds us back. Prepare yourself mentally up to 8 weeks before your trip to Tanzania as it is often your mental strength that will get you to the end of your journey. Being prepared mentally is what keeps you going and will get you to the summit. Try long-distance running twice or thrice a week two months before your departure. 

When to go

Travelling to Tanzania is good year-round. Whenever you go, you will be guaranteed to see amazing wildlife and witness surreal landscapes. However, if you’re adding a Kili climb to your itinerary, taking the season and weather into consideration can greatly benefit you. For example, peak-season can get crowded on the mountain, whereas off-peak may be more wet and cold, but fewer people on the trails. The summer season from December to March has temperatures ranging from a high of 28°C and an average low of 15°C. There is little rain and you can catch the migration in the southern Serengeti. April to June is the wet season and has heavy rain. During this time, the parks are fairly empty and wildlife numbers are at their highest. 

When hiking up Mount Kilimanjaro you have different climb options and four routes to choose from. Your service provider can take you on a group, private or charity climb starting from the Machame, Lemosho, Northern Circuit or Rongai route.  All routes vary in the number of days you spend on the mountain and where you start and finish your climb.  

Top 10 essentials for trekking Kilimanjaro

A strong (broken-in) pair of supportive, waterproof hiking boots. 

Trekking poles. 

Gaiters (can be hired too).  

A backpack of daily essentials. 

A duffle to carry 15kg (there are porters that can be hired to carry this bag). 

A down sleeping bag. 

Breathable, waterproof clothing and a down jacket. 

Garment essentials – fleece top, hat, gloves, scarf, breathable/thermal trousers, long top, fleece socks.  

Sunglasses (all seasons). 

Thermal underwear 

 

Practice walking/hiking with a packed backpack before you leave to make sure you are comfortable and can handle the load. 

Make sure you pack these essentials in your backpack in an easy-to-reach compartment:

Support bandages 

Sunscreen 

Moisturizing lotion

Lip balm 

Insect repellent 

Tissues

Wet wipes

Energy bars 

Water thermos and a 1L water bottle with a sucking tube 

A camera, torch and headlamp 

Don’t forget your money, passport, visa and other documentation.

Most sensational spas in Africa 

Those travellers who have been to Africa on a luxury safari will know that the memorable moments that linger on are more than the sights and sounds of the bush, the wildlife passing by your veranda and the tantalising cuisine – it is that moment where you are pampered under the shade of a large tree or on a deck overlooking the waterhole that will remain with you when you think back to your safari.

We understand the unspoken need to be greatly pampered and only choose the most bespoke and exclusive lodges and camps with luxury spa facilities that offer some of the most indulgent treatments in the heart of the bush. Being in the bush offers travellers a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reboot, recharge and reconnect with yourself, loved ones and nature. For those of you on your way to the African wilderness for the first time – we have a selection of some of our favourite spas, from outdoor massages to mud treatments and traditional hammams. 

Tanzania – Mnemba Island Lodge 

The private island offers exclusivity like no other place on the African coastline. It is the ideal romantic honeymoon beach getaway. The luxurious accommodation offers 10 luxurious bandas with a touch of rusticity. It is the only lodge on a private island, devoted to rest & relaxation. In between yoga and walks on the sugared-beach, book a massage on the beach before enjoying some fresh seafood. You can opt for a quiet treatment in the privacy of your room or choose a private beach sala and unwind to the sound of the ocean coming in and going out. 

ANDBEYOND MNEMBA ISLAND LODGE ZANZIBAR SAFARI

Kruger National Park 

King’s Camp, Timbavati Spa

King’s Camp is one of the Kruger’s most discreet accommodations. The spa is tucked away and surrounded by mopane trees, a true paradise of peace and tranquillity. The spa treatments are reflective of the natural surroundings and offer a range of indulgent skin and body treatments to enjoy after a long day on game drives and walking safaris. Choose from a variety of relaxing massages or a rejuvenating beauty treatment. For ultimate privacy, you can choose to have your treatment in the comfort of your own suite.

Ivory Tree Lodge

Amani Spa at Ivory Tree Game Lodge was awarded the Safari Spa Award in 2007 and 2013 and when you book a treatment here, you’ll understand why. Choose a hydrating body polish followed by an aromatherapy massage, or a luxurious facial using Africology products after a long day under the African sun. This ultimate escape is dedicated to pure self-indulgence and offers an authentic, African-inspired experience. 

Royal Malewane

The bush spa at Royal Malewane is committed to complete restoration and well-being and is fully-equipped with a gym, heated pool, steam room and African baths for treatments and relaxation. Book a spa treatment using indigenous products and relax in a beautiful natural setting where you will leave feeling calm and polished.

Cape Winelands – Delaire Graff

At Delaire Graff Spa, therapists offer a range of beauty treatments that change with the seasons. If you’re visiting us this June, step into elegant suites and unwind with the winter ritual. Treat those toes and tired eyes with a mask and facial before a signature wine tasting.

Zambia – Royal Zambezi Lodge

Along the Zambezi River is the perfect place to relax, unwind and reconnect with nature and recharge your mind, body and soul. Try their signature DNA Royal Special. The “Do Nothing at All” special focuses on your chance to do nothing but relax at the Royal Zambezi Bush Spa that has won multiple World Luxury Spa Awards. Let the music of the birds soothe and serenade as you get all your worries massaged away.

Cape Town 

The 12 Apostles 

Located on the slope of a towering mountain and overlooking the Atlantic ocean, the 12 Apostles spa leads you to total peacefulness via a glass walkway that takes you from the complimentary snack station to the treatment rooms and down into the hydrotherapy and relaxation area. Be one with nature as the treatment and relaxation areas integrate with the rugged mountain surroundings. Let the sound and smell of the ocean lull you to sleep in one of the tinted-glass gazebo treatment rooms. make a good alternative. Music is compliments of the local bird population.

The One&Only Cape Town Spa 

The One&Only Spa is incomparable. Make your way to the ‘spa island’ that is a destination on its own a little way from the hotel pool area. Look up at the towering Table Mountain in the distance as you make your way to get a  Bastien Gonzalez Mani-Pedi. 

One & Only Cape Town Luxury Accommodation Cape Town Relax

Zimbabwe – Victoria Falls Hotel 

Choose between the quaint beauty spa’s two massage beds or relax by the pool as the therapists relieve stiff muscles. The qualified beauticians offer a range of treatments that will treat any traveller. And if you’re still exhausted from your flight, book a mani-pedi in the quiet privacy of your own room. 

Botswana – Sanctuary Chief’s Camp

Enjoy being soothed by the sounds of the Okavango Delta while your therapist spoils you with a range of spa treatments. After a long game drive, stretch those muscles with a session of yoga followed by an Africology spa treatment. What better way to end off the day than with a facial, hot-stone massage and a tropical immunity-boosting body wrap.

Kalahari – Tswalu 

The award-winning spa offers a welcome lounge, two beautiful therapy suites with adjacent sensation showers with a private garden. The spa is crafted from natural materials with reed ceilings and dry-stone walls in the indoor and outdoor showers. If you’re torn between pampering and safari, try the Signature Tswalu touch experience to prepare you for the day ahead. The spa also accommodates junior patrons. 

Kenya – Angama Mara 

Enjoy a full body massage on the tent’s deck before retreating to the infamous bright red rocking chair in the tent where you can relax and enjoy the wildlife passing by in the Mara below you

If you have any questions or are interested in the wellness safari retreat and relaxing getaway of a lifetime please let us know.

Traveller Review – Becky Rasor

Iconic Africa Traveller, Becky Rasor recently returned from her first time visiting Africa! 

Her mum Danae Prousis took Becky, her sister Katherine and brother Greg on their first safari. This wonderful family quickly created lasting memories in the bush, met new people, and built relationships in such a short time at each location. They had an adventurous trip, visiting Arusha National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, Southern Serengeti, the Masai Mara, Nairobi and Aberdare.  Becky has been kind enough to chat to us about her time in Africa – here’s what she had to say: 

Q: Was this your first time to Africa? 

A: Yes!

Q: What was your first impression? 

A: The most stunning landscapes and kindest people.

Q: What surprised you the most about it? 

A: I didn’t expect to develop close relationships in such a short time with the different people I met along our journey. They are so proud of their country and make you feel like family. It’s a level of service and care that is difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Q: What is your favourite memory/experience at Giraffe Manor? 

A: Feeding the giraffes! One of the most special experiences. I also loved that the dinners were group dinners with other guests at the manor.

Q: Where in Africa do you want to safari next and why? 

A: Rwanda to see the gorillas.

Q: What did you spend most of your time doing while on safari? On game drives, cultural experiences or relaxation and self-care? 

A: Most of our time was spent on game drives admiring the beautiful landscapes and animals.

Q: Describe your trip to Africa in just 5 words? 

A: The trip of a lifetime.

Q: When do you think you will next visit Africa? 

A: Hopefully in the next five years 

Q: If there’s anything you could tell people who have never visited Africa what would it be? 

A: Visiting Africa helped to bring me back to reality and put things into perspective. You have a moment where it’s just you and nature and nothing else matters. I think everyone deserves that opportunity to reconnect with themselves and the world.

Most Romantic Stays in the Kruger 

Just because the month of love has passed by, doesn’t mean impromptu romantic gestures, couple getaways and memorable days in the bush need to wait. Let the passion continue with an idyllic stay in the Kruger National Park. 

There is something intrinsically beautiful about this place – the painted skies blurring with the edge of the landscape as the colours glaze over the plains ahead, the connection to nature all around you, and the majestic animals that hold dominion over all that the light touches. This is what makes this park the perfect destination for couples!

The park is only a 5-hour drive away from O.R. Tambo Airport and an even shorter flight to the nearest private airstrip. You can catch the sunrise from the aircraft and sunset on the deck of your villa.

 

Royal Malewane

Royal Malewane hosts a maximum of 20 guests insuring a continuously intimate experience. There is an option of either one of six luxury suites for couples, or for even more privacy and seclusion, one of two four-sleeper Royal Suites. Royal Malewane holds the secret ingredients for enchanting all your senses.  The spectacular close encounters with unbelievable wildlife on dawn and dusk game drives create unforgettable memories and countless photographs to look back on. 

Royal Malawane Safari Lodge. Client: The Royal Portfolio. Art director: Paul Duncan. Stylist: Nathalie Williams.

Singita Lebombo 

Singita Lebombo’s fifteen ultra-luxurious suites are an incredible combination of steel, wood and gentle African materials wrapped by a wall to wall glass casing and sweeping deck which boast exquisite African views. Singita Lebombo has become renowned for its fine dining and its private wine collection. 

Londolozi

Londolozi falls under Top 20 Safari Lodges & Camps in Africa – and, as can be expected when you’re the World’s Best Hotel, Londolozi claimed top position. Three of Londolozi’s five lodges, namely Granite, Pioneer and Tree are Relais & Chateaux properties and these lodges are true to the elegance and attention to detail that this world-renowned signature embodies.

Londolozi-Leopards-Lara

Cheetah Plains 

If the way to your heart is through your stomach – Cheetah Plains is the destination for you! Each Plains House hosts a fine wine gallery comprising a purely South African wine selection. Cheetah Plains has an ‘open kitchen’ policy; you’re always welcome to pop in and see what is cooking!  If you like, join in the culinary action or just observe while having a relaxed chat with your chef.   

Rockfig Safari Lodge 

The interior of Rockfig Safari Lodge takes inspiration from Timbavati’s locale and luxurious bush setting evident in the colours and rustic furnishings. Enjoy a romantic bush dining experience or sunset picnic. The romance at Rockfig doesn’t end here. With only eight guests at a time, you are assured privacy. The perfect destination for some R&R, you will be woken by that first ray of morning light atop pure cotton linen. 

Ngala Safari Lodge 

andBeyond Ngala Safari Lodge is nestled in the shade of a cool green mopane forest infused with an atmosphere of rich history and the ultimate tranquillity of the African wild. The 21 exquisite thatched cottages are appointed to conjure the inspiration of the brave early naturalists who were so awed by this stunning area. 

Kings Camp

Here you will bond over incredible wildlife sightings and time spent in the bush. Your Kings Camp memories will most likely be built around some incredible African safari sightings. Kings Camp is perfect for honeymooners! For those chasing the romance of Africa, the Honeymoon Suites have their own private pools with spectacular views and ensure uninterrupted privacy. 

Our top romantic Kruger stays also offer world-class award-winning spas. 

Enquire with one of our team members about a romantic package or honeymoon getaway in the bush today!