Property of the Month: Singita Faru Faru

Surrounded by the Grumeti River and the riverine woodland is this month’s property of the month – Singita Faru Faru. One of Africa’s ultimate classic safari lodges, this seamlessly elegant and modern accommodation is set in one of the world’s most exquisite locations, offering guests access to prime game-viewing  and some of Tanzania’s finest hospitality.

The ultimate East African luxury

Faru Faru lodge is the pinnacle of luxurious safari, ensuring that you spend your time in East Africa living on your very own piece of paradise. Suitably located in the Grumeti Reserve inside the Serengeti – you can only vacation in this area with Singita. This means that you are guaranteed a private and exclusive experience, far removed from the crowds you’ll find in other parts of the area.

Here you are promised access to some of the best wildlife viewing in the country while indulging at a luxury stay. Boasting its own beach and natural waterhole, Singita Faru Faru makes sure that you never have to leave the lodge to experience romance, relaxation or adventure. The safari comes to you every day.

And if you’re looking for something to do in-between game drives, Faru Faru lodge has an endless list of activities for you to try. From archery and lawn croquet to dips in the rim-flow swimming pools, there is always a new experience waiting to be had. And while you are enjoying the best the Serengeti has to offer, why not take a hot-air balloon trip for an exhilarating balloon safari or wind down after a thrilling game drive at the spa. And in-case you thought game vehicles and hot-air balloons are the only way to see East Africa’smagnificent wildlife, try a horse-back safari or an adventurous night drive.

Classic yet contemporary

The location of this property is remarkable and the wildlife and activities are definitely alluring, but the main attraction is the lodge’s classic East African style architecture and décor. While the design creates an ambiance of authenticity, guests are offered all the luxurious comforts one could wish for.

The construction focuses on the waterhole, with the planning making a bold, but magical statement. This perfectly combines the living areas with nature creating a rustic and real bush appeal with a fresh and clean-lined modernity allowing animals and nature to take centre stage.

The nine stone, canvas and thatched suites have the character of a classic safari camp, yet the interiors offer the ultimate in contemporary luxury with panoramic glass windows and free-standing claw-foot baths. Each suite makes a statement with a botanical theme and all of them are outfitted with every conceivable comfort – including your very own Swarovski spotting scope.

Why wait for the most magical trip to happen… Start imagining lounging in the swimming pool overlooking the surrounding area awash with wildlife; recline on the Lodge’s elevated viewing decks, or relax unwind in your room and watch as predators and prey are drawn right up to the lodge.

In Pictures – Singita Castleton

Singita is a name synonymous with the best in African luxury safari and their all-encompassing lodges live up to the accolade/praise. This star-covered bucolic country getaway is nothing short of decadent, full of historic charm acquired over generations and one of the Sabi Sands’ most sought-after destinations.

Steeped in history, Castleton Camp is the original family home of Singita’s founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather built in the mid-20th century. The newly refurbished family property has since been transformed into a homestead characterised by it spacious and graceful relaxation areas, unforgettable experiences and world-class interior design.

The lodge displays a palette of warm, earthy tones, and dried grass colours complement a series of South African botanical art etchings commissioned exclusively for the house, each one reflecting an example of local indigenous flora. The house also has a collection of botanical installations with historical references that adds an element of nostalgia to the décor.

Sometimes the only way to truly unwind is a well-deserved luxury escape to the majestic wilderness, and Singita Castleton is the perfect place to do this. This blissful and beautifully decorated lodge is Africa’s perfect combination – it encompasses everything you dream the bush to be; luxurious safari experiences, romantic, a wellness retreat and a home-away-from-home for those travelling with the whole family.

What could be more perfect than spending time with your closest family and friends in your own exclusive-use luxury villa, in the heart of the Sabi Sands Private Game reserve? Castleton Camp gifts you this rare treasure of spending uninterrupted time in the lap of luxury, away from the distractions of ‘life’ in a surrounding that is infinitely peaceful and secluded.

It was listed as the Best Safari Lodge/Property under Best Resorts (by Cigar Aficionado in 2010), and here’s why:

Singita Castleton Kruger Park

 

Meet the Team – John Holley

Iconic Africa has teams based in South Africa, Kenya and in the USA! We are African-born travel experts and are always thrilled to prepare and guide our clients before and during their dream luxury African escape. We have a profound love for Africa, its wildlife and its people and our goal is to share this love with you!

Our wonderfully diverse team is committed to providing you with a full service and exceptional travel experiences to groups, couples and families. Whether you’re ticking off your bucket-list, planning a romantic getaway or gathering with old friends, our dedicated team will the perfect partner for all your travel needs.

But before we can do that, here’s just a little introduction to our dream team. Meet our director,  John Holley.

John Holley grew up in Africa. His fervour for conservation and travel was ignited by a childhood spent travelling to the continent’s wilderness hotspots. As a student John spent every minute he could in the wild. Most of his youth was spent travelling and working as a horse safari guide in Kenya. He began his professional career by completing his chartered accountancy for global financial services firm KPMG. Eventually, however, John’s passion for travel and the call of the African wilderness lead him to Londolozi where he worked as a game ranger for two years. It was on one epic Londolozi safari that John drove Terri and her family and, through their mutual love and knowledge of Africa, they conceptualised Iconic Africa.

John’s Favourite Tour:

Singita Safari Splendour

John’s Favourite Camps:

Londolozi

Singita Castleton

AndBeyond Mnemba Island Lodge

Here are a few of John’s awesome pictures from his most recent trips to the bush.

Why Go for a Private Guide?

A private guided safari is without a doubt the best way to experience Africa’s bush and wildlife. Guests can enjoy a holistic experience with our lodges and camps’ excellent teams of specialist guides who will assist you with not only planning your dream game drives but also guiding you throughout the journey to ensure that your wildlife experience is everything you ever dreamed of!

Most camps and lodges organise game drives with between 4 and 6 guests to a vehicle. While sharing your experiences with other guests is a great way to meet fellow travellers and often great fun, it is also possible to request the ‘exclusive-use’ of a vehicle and a private guide for all or part of your stay.  This can be very appealing to guests who have very specific interests or simply wish to prioritise the flexibility and exclusivity of their day.

Here are our top reasons to choose a private guided safari:

All of our destinations offer the finest qualified and experienced private guides in the industry, adding immeasurable value to your safari. Most countries in Africa have a formal qualification requirement which is extremely rigorous, and ensures top quality guiding.

From the moment you arrive, your private guide will be there to make sure you don’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying your time in Africa’s great outdoors. You can customise your game drives to specific areas you wish to visit and your guide will help you to maximise the sighting and photographic possibilities.

You’ll build up a wonderful relationship with your private guide, as they share the incredible knowledge, stories and experiences with you. Your private guide will become familiar with your interests, what you’ve already seen and what you want to see, maximising your time in the bush.

On a private guided safari, you won’t have to share your guide’s knowledge and passion – special attributes that add a unique touch to your experience.  This one-on-one time accompanied by your guide’s deep understanding will open your eyes to a world you never knew existed. You will learn more than on any other type of holiday – that’s for sure!

Your private guide is also available to you throughout the day for any questions or to help with editing the day’s photographs. Whatever your level of photography is, you can be assured of leaving your safari with new skills, techniques and inspiration.

Whether your focus is on wildlife photography or an interpretive game drive, your private guide will make your days more relaxed, memorable and informative, but leave you wanting more. You will also no doubt make a life-long friend in your guide.

Rebuild of Jao Camp, Botswana

From waterways to unbroken grasslands, Jao Camp is located perfectly on a remote island in one of the most picturesque concessions in the Delta that provides guests with both land and aquatic experiences. Here, all your dreams become possible at this luxurious property intelligently designed to showcase Botswana’s exquisite beauty and show off the surrounding channels of incredible water, landscape and wildlife.

And because this property is so special to us, we are delighted to announce that the rebuild and complete transformation of this gem set in the heart of the Okavango will be completed later this year and due to open 1 June 2019.

The new Jao Camp will remain raised on the existing wooden decking built into the tree canopy. Guests can still completely disconnect from the world below and immerse in this magical wildernesswith more private areas created in amongst the trees.

The spa at Jao will be tucked in amongst the balmy leaves for privacy, and is surrounded by water to provide a calming and tranquil atmosphere. The gym will be thoughtfully placed on the edge of the island, offering breath-taking views over the lush water, while the main pool shaded by a canopy will project out into the floodplain with 270-degree views of the Delta.

Jao camp will introduce two new villas, each accommodating up to four people, and will feature a private vehicle, guide, chef and butler. The other five twin accommodations will boast private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, kitchen facilities, and exquisite indoor and outdoor showers. A colour palette will reflect and incorporate a unique botanical theme throughout with special emphasis placed on the water lily.

Cathy Kays, co-owner of the Jao Reserve shows the camps commitment to be as eco-sensitive as possible with the introduction of Climate Wizard, self-igniting Calore stoves and great use of natural lighting.

The lead architects Lead architects, Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who designed the original Jao in 1999 have approached the rebuild 18 years later with an approach to keep Jao Camp’s sense of adventure, element of surprise and delight. Until June 2019 – watch this space!

A Babymoon Safari for Expecting Parents

For some expecting parents, one of the priorities on the to-do list is planning the ultimate babymoon before the stalk arrives. For some it’s a relaxing weekend getaway and others are ready for a long-haul flight and an action-packed two-week stay in the bush.

This is your chance to unwind properly and enjoy each other’s company undisturbed. Whether it’s a quick trip or an extensive vacation, you could expect to indulge in couple’s massages, gourmet dinners, theatre performances, art galleries, outdoor yoga and not forgetting a memorable game drive that will leave you wanting to return with your little one.

 

Create a babymoon bucket-list filled with all the activities that won’t be as easy when two becomes three such as turning up the romance in a luxurious honeymoon-worthy villa overlooking a waterhole or lodges that don’t accommodate under 12’s/young rangers.

 

We’re here to help you plan that final romantic hoorah. If you’re ready to hop on a plane, South Africa is the ideal destination for a pre-baby escape because of its malaria-free game reserves and access to great medical care (just in case). And if you or your better- half are incapable of sitting on a lounger for more than a couple of hours, we’ve incorporated a little bit of adventure for you too…

The best time to experience an unforgettable safari in South Africa is September, when spring is in full force in the Western Cape. You’ll have clear blue skies and temperatures in the early 20s – perfect for exploring and relaxing in the sun.

Begin your babymoon exploring Cape Town where you will find a great balance between fun activities and sophisticated pleasures. This city has everything to offer you, from mocktails on glistening beaches and an incredible city-life to countryside day-trips and time to relax by the pool – which is pretty essential when you’re pregnant. Not only does Cape Town house many great tourist attractions such as Table Mountain and Robben Island , you are centrally located to great smaller towns that are only an hour and a half drive away such as the coastal town of Hermanus and the French-inspired Franschhoek.

Move on to a luxury safari in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve where there is phenomenal game-viewing.  Just 3.5 hours north of Johannesburg and bordering Botswana near Gaborone, this 75 000 hectare reserve is one of South Africa’s largest and finest game reserves. Madikwe Private Game Reserve has become world famous for its Lion and African Wild Dog viewing. The exclusive Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Hills and Jamala Madikwe are equally famous for their bespoke romantic experiences and have become synonymous with luxury and attention to detail. Here you are ensured a romantic, lavish safari retreat.

You can also add the beautiful Kalahari to your itinerary. Located just south of Botswana’s border, it’s the largest private game reserve in South Africa, yet only allowing 30 guests at a time within its borders. Tswalu Kalahari’s lodges were named together as one of National Geographic’s 24 Unique Lodges of the World!

A new baby brings with it great changes and joy for new parents! Soak up these romantic moments with a luxury babymoon safari.  You know what you seek, whether it’s pristine beaches or a brush with the Big Five, our team is here to help you take advantage of the small pleasures.

Southern Africa’s ‘Green’ Season

If you’ve set out on safari before, you’ll know that Africa’s traditional safari season begins in the southern hemisphere’s winter months, – just when European and North American holiday-makers are on their summer breaks.

This means that Africa’s peak season runs from July to September, which is ideal for most travellers. But this also means that Africa’s ‘green’ season is often overlooked. Between November and April, traditional ‘safari hotspots’ experience a rainy summer. With luscious landscapes and quiet accommodations, this could actually be the perfect time for that luxury trip to the bush. During this ‘green’ season, the chances of having uninterrupted views and endless sightings of wildlife all to yourself are good. By March most of the summer ‘safari hotspots’ move towards the end of the heavy rain period making it a pleasant time for travel.

Summer rain also brings about an abundance of migratory birds visiting from the North and resident birds preparing to breed making it perfect for avid bird-watchers; there’s copious flora; thriving bugs and the short rainstorms make way for clear skies and cloud formations that present beautiful sunsets. Summer brings about new life from impala to elephants which also mean the bush is filled with predatory activity.

Some of our top southern safari hotspots that experience refreshing summer rains are Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania.  Here is our list of seven summer safari destinations that will definitely add significant value to your experience:

Victoria Falls remains a top bucket-list destination perfect for year-round travel with heaps of local activities.

Chobe is an hour’s drive from Victoria Falls and offers spectacular elephant sightings.

The Central Kalahari is at its finest from December to April.

The Okavango Delta is excellent year-round.

Cape Town’s peak season is during the warm and clear summer months and is easily combined with other safari hotspots.

Tanzania’s Serengeti is at its peak once the rains have fallen. The new-born wildlife is thriving and the area is carpeted in luscious grass.

From October to April, Uganda is set apart from any other African safari destination with its diverse bird habitats.

Book your next safari trip in March when there is little rain and there is an increase in game sightings. It’s a quiet time of the year in the bush and you will hopefully miss the crowds. For more on the exquisite destinations we recommend in the above destinations contact us here. 

Property of the Month – Selinda Explorers Camp

Perched along the famous Selinda Spillway, this month’s property of the month offers an authentic classical safari that will have you feeling like a true explorer from a bygone time. Selinda Explorers Camp combines a modern twist to the essence of pioneering, creating this luxury under canvas that’s set in the shade of the riverine forest.

Canoeing Selinda Explorers Camp

Grabbing our attention for this month’s property of the month is the distinct comforts that define luxury safari and authentic experiences immersed in wilderness, disconnected from the rest of the world and completely comfortable the way the first explorers did it.

When you’re in the bush and want authenticity and luxury to coincide, you head Selinda Explorers Camp and ask for a brass hip bath to be set up for you in a quiet spot on the sandy banks of the Selinda Spillway.

Selinda Explorers Camp Swims in Selinda Spillway Botswana Safari

Or perhaps cool down in the clear waters of the spillway and ask your guide to keep watch while you enjoy a refreshing swim.

Selinda Explorers Camp Botswana

Where else in Africa will you enjoy sundowners after exhilarating game drives, guided walks and wildlife canoeing other than at one of Botswana’s secret hideaways.

There is no better way to experience the unsullied waters of the Selinda Spillway than from the silence of a canoe drifting with the current. Once again, accompanied by a highly-experienced guide, an evening paddle might afford you views of buffalo, roan or sable drinking at the water’s edge. You will be enthralled by the egrets, kingfishers, herons and jacanas hunting from reed perches, hopping across the lilies and waiting patiently in the shallows as the African sun disappears in a blaze of crimson.

Selinda-Game-Reserve-Bush-Dinner-Selinda-Camp

 

Travel back in time under pioneer canvas, outfitted with the finest leather and wood…

The Selinda Explorers Camp is chic, basic and beautiful. The four private tents are settled in the deep shade of giant Mangosteen and Jackalberry trees. The camp rests on the ancient Kalahari sands allowing you to feel the throb of wild Africa while the décor and appointments conjure an era of opulent exploration. You will recline on campaign furniture and inhale the glorious, herb-scented Selinda air. Your personal effects will live in vintage trunks and your hot water will arrive in copper kettles. The bathrooms are completed with flush loos and open-air showers with plenty of hot and cold water.

When you are not in your tent, you might be indulging in a gin and tonic from the comfort of a huge cushion, set on the Arabian rugs of the main tent. As the African night builds you could be dining on simple yet stunning cuisine by the light of a brass lantern or relaxing around the fire, contemplating the day’s adventures with a single malt, dancing gold in the firelight through a crystal tumbler.

Why wait to experience such splendid adventure in the finest comforts, find out more now!

In Pictures – Singita Sweni

Singita Sweni is a legendary destination part of Singita Kruger. A complete luxurious treat designed by visionaries specifically for romantics and luxury-seekers. Since its inception, this marvellous accommodation has enthralled visitors from all over the world. Its unique setting in South Africa’s most famous national park is matched by the inspiring architecture, passionate attention to detail and distinct décor.

This palatial den has integrated the natural beauty of its surroundings into its design, integrating the architectural with the natural landscape.

Sweni’s lush interiors

The Sweni suites interiors are a soothing combination of rich brown African textures and vivid natural greens which embalm the bushveld surroundings. Each suite tailors to your ultimate luxuries. The glass and wooded lavish open styled design over flow onto the generous out door decking with both exquisite in-door and out-door shower.

The magnificence of the wild landscape is told through a magical architectural story depicted through floor-to-ceiling windows, bamboo ceilings, dazzling modern earthy décor and hardwood flooring, you are left standing in awe long after you arrive.

Arguably, the Singita collections most exclusive lodge, Singita Sweni rests beside the Sweni River within the 33 000 acre, private concession in The Kruger National Park. The ultra-exclusive lodge offers only 6 one-bedroom suites, perched elegantly on stilts, offering magnificent African views. The Singita Sweni suites hover peacefully among the tranquil Acacia tree forest and ensures the lodge’s footprint melts into the African wilderness. The proximity to the river and the impeccable vantage point of the Sweni river oasis ensure incredible game viewing of the multitude of animals that move slowly along the water’s edge.

And yet, as family friendly as this accommodation is, it is a romantic honeymoon paradise! Singita Sweni’s charm and intimacy is unrivalled. Indeed this was where Iconic Africa’s founding partner chose to spend a large part of their honeymoon. Surely that says it all!

Here are our top pictures that will have your heart swooning in no time:

 

For more on this fabulous property click here.

Meet the Team – Terri Abadi

Iconic Africa is lovingly built, run and maintained by a passionate team of safari and travel experts whose goal is to make luxury travel more human, more extraordinary and more tailor-made, just for you! With decades of combined experience, the team will make sure you have an unforgettable time in Africa.

We would like to introduce you to Terri Abadi, Director at Iconic Africa.

Terri is based in Atlanta, Georgia and founded Iconic Africa in 2013. The company is a labour of love designed to entice global travellers to African destinations that have inspired her over a lifetime of travel to this great continent. Terri’s uncontainable enthusiasm for Africa – her wildlife, her people and her wild spaces – borders on obsessive and this passion runs in the veins of the Iconic Africa team. Terri’s favourite way to spend the summer months is on safari with her husband and four children and she has been going to Londolozi for more than 20 years, she even got engaged there! She has personally visited every destination that Iconic Africa recommends and used this extensive luxury travel experience to mould Iconic Africa into one of the leading bespoke travel agencies for exclusive, luxury and adventurous African safaris and expeditions.

Terri’s Favourite Tour: Africa’s Luxury Safari Classic

Terri’s Favourite Camps: Pioneer Camp, Angama Maraand Singita Castleton

Terri is also a talented photographer. Here are a few pics from her most recent trips to the bush.

 

 

What to Expect from a Night Game Drive

If you have ever been on safari before, you would surely have experienced the wonders of sighting all sorts of wildlife. But you may not have had the chance to go on a thrilling night game drive. A night game drive is a whole experience on its own and completely different to a day safari.

chobe-beyond-under-canvas-game-drive-lions

At private game reserves, there are usually three guided game drives every day. Each unique in its sightings, the first departs before sunrise, another takes place midday and the last drive is usually before sunset or after dinner, returning after nightfall.

You may want to start the game drive before sundown and enjoy the last light in the bush over a glass of bubbly, cold beer, a delicious G&T or with a light picnic basket and return in time for dinner. Or perhaps have an early dinner and leave after sunset to observe the nocturnal activities of Africa’s most sought-after wildlife and small animals in complete darkness. Twilight is considered the best time to track and observe nocturnal animals and in some parks and reserves, night-drives can last long into the night.

Get your heart pumping from the sheer thrill and excitement as an unknown nocturnal world awaits you. Your guide will help you find the smallest of creatures to well-known big cats and share their knowledge of their behaviour. A  spotlight is attached to a safari vehicle and an animal-friendly red filter light is used to spot the eyes of shy wildlife that are hiding in the dark. Ask your guide if the sighting is a predator or prey from the colour of the eyes…

As with day game drives, you may be driving for a long time before you spot an animal, but when you do, it will be a moment you will never forget as most big predators do their hunting at night. And if you don’t have any explosive sightings, there is nothing more magical than listen to the sounds of nature in the dead of night with no distractions for miles.

Don’t forget that being comfortable on your night game drive is as important as on your day drives as they can last for hours. We suggest having a warm layer for the late evening, a warm hat or beanie, and a good camera with a spare pack of batteries, just in case – even though night photography is very difficult to get right.

Walking Safaris Iconic Africa ZebrasMany would expect to see the obvious game such as hippo, rhino, zebras, or even a big cat on the hunt. But keep your eyes peeled for the occasional bushbaby, chameleon, aardvark or leopard too.

 

 

To get the best quality pictures that does justice to the breath-taking evening scenes and nocturnal sightings, make sure you bring along the necessary camera equipment and lenses and ask your guide how to overcome poor lighting.

For more of the incredible African adventures that await you click here.

 

Our 2019 Africa Reading List

Of course the possibility of spending your 15+ hour journey to one of Africa’s most attractive destinations catching up on missed television shows and blockbuster movies seems intriguing – but you also suddenly have the time to read one of those books that’s been on your reading list for months.

And if you haven’t even had the time to start a reading list, we’ll help you find your next great read. Whether you get it off Amazon, buy it on the airport or download it to your kindle, you’ll be prepared for when that screen decides not to work!

Perhaps Mary JO Manzanares’ recent Travel Reading List can inspire the same love and curiosity for the world that she found through books. Here are our favourite reading prompts from her list that can be interpreted in any way you wish. Let it open your mind and enlighten your next journey or perhaps get you in the safari mind-set.

A book published in 2019

A best seller from 2018

A book with a destination in the title

A book set in a destination you want to visit

A book that inspires you to travel

A book on the New York Times Best Seller List

A book with a one-word title

A book that won a literary award

A book set on the continent of Africa

We have chosen our top five classic titles that have come out of Africa. Enhance your next safari with a novel set in your destination – whether it’s a fiction or a true story, set in the past or present. We hope this will encourage you to explore new authors, voices and genres as you travel through unchartered territories, try new cuisines and experience different cultures.

Love, Life, and Elephants 

By Dame Daphne Sheldrick

Dame Daphne Sheldrick’s memoir explores her efforts and dedication to preserving Kenya’s wildlife. The late Dame was known as the “first person to successfully raise new-born elephants”.

I Married Adventure 

By Osa Johnson

In this classic, American couple Osa and Martin Johnson are adventurous filmmakers who recount their journey through Africa in the early 1900’s.

Dark Star safaris

By Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux’s inspiring novel takes us on his overland journey from Cairo to Cape Town only using public transport such as trains, buses, mokoro’s as well as planes, cars and armed convoy. Get to know Africa as well as Paul Theroux through his eyes and discover how the continent had changed.

The Number 1 Ladies detective agency

By Alexander McCall Smith

Precious Ramotswe is Botswana’s first female detective. This enjoyable read novel is the first of seven in The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and will surely put a smile on your face.

chobe-beyond-under-canvas-camp-botswana

I Dreamed of Africa

By Kuki Gallmann

This powerful story introduces the reader to the Italian writer, Kuki Gallmann who had a life-long love and fascination with Africa – starting in her childhood. Visit Kuki in Kenya where at the age of 25, she and her future husband established an expansive farmstead. Let her describe Africa’s beauty to you and journey with her as she navigates 90,000 acres of land, pregnant and alone after the tragic loss of her husband.

Happy reading and blissful travels. Let us know which of these was your favourite read!