I am an African

We came across this written piece recently and felt it was too beautiful not to share. It has gone viral around the South African airwaves but we unfortunately don’t know who the original author is. Please get hold of us if this was your piece of writing…

In the meantime, enjoy…

“I sit here quietly thinking about what it means to me to be South African, a visitor to South Africa or even African. It seems easier to explain the effect that this land has on me…

The perfume of rain on African soil. The scent of woodfires drifting across the highveld on winter evenings. There’s a very distinctive aroma just as one starts coming into George / Knysna / Plett’ (I’ve never figured out which herb it is), in much the same way the smell of Wild Sage defines the area around Santawani in Botswana. The odour of thatch in a game lodge. The bouquet of dust and the various plants when one gets into the bush, sometimes a whiff of something dead. The tang of the ocean at the seaside. The smell of ‘moer’ coffee over an early morning fire, or the delicious aroma of roasting meat over flames – whether you call it a braai or shisa nyama (but definitely NOT a barbeque, a barbie, or a sausage sizzle!)

There is also something about the light here. “Santorini Blue”… I don’t know if that’s an actual colour, but it seems to describe the hue of the highveld sky on a winter’s day to perfection. We live in “big sky” country – whether blue, or orange in sunset, or dark grey and rent by lightening, or velvet black and filled with stars that seem close enough to touch – the sky is ever present. As is the moon. I am always aware of the moon, from a sickle moon to the full fecund globe that is full moon. Silver light gilding thorn trees, juxtaposed against dark shadows on the savannah, is not a sight one easily forgets.

The caw of the ubiquitous, raucous  Hadeda in suburbia, the burbling call of a rainbird (Burchell’s Coucal) when a thunderstorm is on its way, the beautiful Diederick’s Cuckoo announcing the arrival of spring, the screech of a barn owl or the evocative call of the Fish Eagle. Jackals calling as the sun goes down, a lion’s roar quite literally making the air reverberate, or the chilling whoops of the hyenas. The cacophony of barking geckos that start up as the sun goes down over Deception Pan, or a veritable orchestra of frogs around a pan in the summer months. Cicadas shrilling on days so hot that the air shimmers, or a nightjar calling in the dead of night in the bushveld.

Days of withering heat often followed by the lightest cool breeze, just as the sun is setting. A gentle little wind, which plays with your hair like an absent-minded lover, reminding you that the cool of the night will soon be with you. Walking in the bush very early in the morning, the sun’s rays catch the dew on spiders’ webs, reminding you that life, both seen and unseen, is all around you. Trout fishing as the sun peeps over the horizon in Dullstroom, so cold that the water droplets freeze on your line…

The colours of this land are not subtle either. The blood red of the coral tree, the green metallic glint of sunbirds, the striped black and white hide of the zebra, or sapphire blue of a kingfisher. The miles and miles of yellow and orange daisies in Namaqualand in September, or pink and white swathes of cosmos along the roads in April. The lilac and turquoise of the roller, the tawny hide of a lion or the emerald green of a little dung beetle that makes its appearance in the summer months. From the golden dunes of the Namib to an unimaginable number of greens in the Knysna Forest. All vivid and arresting.

Talk to me of Morrungulo or Tsodilo Hills, the great Drakensberg, Platteland dorps and the great Karoo. The warmth of Sodwana Bay or the icy kelp forests of the Atlantic Ocean. Of wine farms and fynbos in the Cape, to meerkats and diamonds in the north. Show me our people, in so many hues, with brightly coloured traditional costumes – and even brighter smiles.

All of this creates a frisson of excitement, passion each and every day, a vivid, immediate sense of being alive that I have found nowhere else….

These are my people. This is my land. 

Because I am, at the very core of my being, a child of Africa!”

A Weekend at Grootbos

It’s a big place that’s all about the little things. 

The last year has certainly taught us the importance of slowing down and taking stock of one’s life and there’s no better place to do this than at Grootbos. Grootbos is the Afrikaans translation for ‘big forest’ yet there is so much more that this incredibly unique destination offers. 

Only 2 hours from Cape Town… Grootbos is one of the Western Cape’s best kept secrets!

My husband and I had the pleasure of taking a night off from being parents and visiting this peaceful oasis both to explore and relax. 

From the minute we arrived, the quiet, the pace, the serenity was palpable. Every minute felt like an hour… and the one day that we were there, in fact felt like a week. 

Whether it’s the 360 panoramic views, the smell of the surrounding fynbos, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the whales frolicking in Walker Bay below or the mist rising up off the ocean…. the recipe was ideal for what we needed. Time… quiet…. space… and nature!

Welcomed with a warm smile, refreshing cocktail and a mouth-watering 3 course lunch… we could have driven the two hours home then and still felt rejuvenated and revived!

But alas… there was a great deal more that the Grootbos Team had in-store for us. 

After a short afternoon nap we headed off towards De Kelders to explore the ancient caves of the Khoisan people… these archaeological wonders are living tributes to our ancestors and a privilege to explore. 

On our return we took off for a walking tour of the enchanting Milkwood forests on the reserve. Time certainly stands still when you are entirely and completely immersed in nature with only the constant buzzing of insects, the quiet call of the Cape Battis or the melodic tune of the Bokmakierie leading the way. 

Sunset… well there are just no words. I will let the pictures do the talking here… Recommended drink of choice – there is only one… the classic G&T!

The suites are exquisitely appointed, private and opulent. The outside shower with the whole of Walker Bay and the 847 species of the fynbos floral kingdom below you… will be a moment you won’t want to forget…ever! With simple lines, all the creature comforts one could dream of and beautiful vistas the suites are nothing short of magical. 

The evening couldn’t have been more idyllic: there wasn’t a breath of wind and the milky way was showing off… so we dined outside on the deck and felt as if we owned the world. The meal was absolutely delicious… from mushroom tataki starter, to guava sorbet, to medallions of fillet drizzled in peppercorn sauce and chocolate torte dressed with Grootbos’s very own fynbos honey ice cream… need I say anymore!

After what felt like a century of deep sleep (remember no kids to wake us) we awoke to a sunrise that felt like it was setting the earth on fire! Desperate to make the most of this last morning of freedom we set off on a lovely trail run above the lodge and ended it off with a crisp dip in the bright blue rim flow pool!

Breakfast was yet another treat for the senses… but this was only the beginning for shortly after we were whisked off on an eco-tour of Grootbos’s floral kingdom. The different species are endless and the colours spellbinding from limestone sugarbush, to wild rosemary, to blombos to proteas… the floral kingdom is just fabulous! Our guide Gareth was charismatic and so knowledgeable that the 2 hours flew by and we returned feeling so appreciative and in awe of nature and all it’s incredible intricacies and endless beauty. 

A big thank you to the entire Grootbos team for a magical weekend… full of luxurious treats and surprises, adventures, time in nature, decadent cuisine and most importantly…. peace and quiet 🙂

Some advice:

When you go to Grootbos – sign up for some of the activities whether it’s whale watching, horse-riding or forest walks but also make sure you take the time to stop… breathe and take in the slowness. Reset your clock with nature’s and just be!

And lastly:

Grootbos is offering a once-in-a-lifetime Secret Season Special for 3950 per person sharing per night. Only available from May to August contact us now to make this a reality for you and your loved ones.

Our Top Exclusive-Use Family Villas

Imagine… a luxury safari… no strangers, no sharing vehicles… just you, your loved ones and the rejuvenating African bushveld.

With all we’ve been through in the last year – there’s no more exclusive getaway than a safari and we’ve hand-selected our favourite lodges that are offering the perfect homes away from home… in a time when we need them more than ever before. 

Our top exclusive-use villas are easily accessible, guest numbers are small and Covid policies are in place. These properties provide the freedom to create your own safari schedule and experience where you and your family can reinvigorate yourselves, reinforce your bonds and reignite that flame with the healing powers of the bush. 

Rockfig Safari Lodge 

RockFig Safari Lodge is the ideal exclusive use bush destination in the Timbavati. Owned by the Jenkins family, it’s designed specifically for families with its intimate six chalet-type suites. It is wholeheartedly yours and the perfect place from which to reconnect with Africa’s wild spaces and with each other. 

Self-catering from R20 000 per night for 10 guests (Valid until 31 July 2021) 

Exclusive-use catered at R45 000 per night for 12 guests (Valid until 30 June 2021)

Click here for more.

Madikwe Safari Lodge 

Madikwe Private Game Reserve has become world-famous for its Lion and African Wild Dog viewing and Madikwe Safari Lodge as one of the ultimate destinations for young families. Easy to get to and malaria free the staff at Madikwe Safari Lodge cannot wait to welcome and spoil you and your loved ones in their exquisite corner  of the world.  

Priced from R3225 per person per night (midweek) and valid until the end of April. 

Click here for more.

Marataba Safari Lodge

Resting at the sleepy foothills of the magnificent Waterberg mountain range, you will find Marataba Safari Lodge—an absolutely magical retreat, and the most dreamy escape from the real world. Combining luxury, adventure, wildlife and the very best of African hospitality, Marataba Safari Lodge truly has it all. This destination is ideal for honeymoons, romantic getaways, celebrations, and weddings – a quick escape to the bush and malaria-free. 

Priced from R3 499 per person per night (midweek) and valid until the end of June.

Click here for more. 

Marataba Safari Lodge Suite Deck

Tanda Tula  Nkarhi Homestead 

The remarkable and exclusive, Tanda Tula Nkarhi Homestead sits perched above the vast plains and winding rivers of the world-renowned Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. The property aims to provide an off-the-grid experience for total relaxation, with activities including star-gazing, wildlife walks and game-drives. 

From R 2250.00 per person per night (min 6). 

Base Rate R13 500.00 per night. Offer valid until 31st December. 

Click here for more. 

Machaton Private Lodges (Self-catering)

Simbavati Machaton Camp is an intimate and exclusive camp offering a secluded and private safari experience. Next, to owning a private safari lodge, there is no more private way to enjoy a safari in the Timbavati. 

Priced from R 10499 per night for a maximum of 6 people

Ts & Cs Apply. For more information, contact the Iconic Africa team here

 

We can’t wait to create a heavenly escape for you and your loved ones in the heart of the bushveld!  

A Longing to Return

Jolie Abadi – a precious member of the Iconic Africa family, lives in the U.S. but returns to Africa every summer holiday to fulfil her innate desire for the African bush. Thanks to travel restrictions constantly changing, Jolie hasn’t been able to visit this last year and is longing to return. She has very kindly shared her heartfelt thoughts with us. Read more below on why Jolie longs to return and how @Londolozi Game Reserve has shaped some of her most beautiful childhood memories and forever left an imprint on her heart.

By Jolie Abadi

“This morning, as I was checking my social media like I always do – I got a notification that I had a memory from a year ago today.

Automatically I clicked on it, and as the picture appeared on the screen was immediately overcome by a wave of nostalgia. The picture showed the trees sweeping the pale blue sky that framed the horizon as the sun set over the African savannah, while in the foreground three tawny lions slunk low to the ground as they stalked their prey, tan against the dusk. Their ears alert to the chirping of the francolins in the nearby thickets, as did mine as I looked; it all came back to me in one photo. It broke my heart just a little, that photo of my surrogate homeland where my parents and their parents were born.

Every year since my first birthday, I have spent the summer in South Africa. In fact, I would not know summer without South Africa, where the stars shine brightest in the absence of pollution and the breeze whispers the leaves of the Marula trees. I ran around after guineafowl as a little girl and went out with the rangers to seek lion prints to make plaster of paris impressions of. I bundled up for 5 am drives in the open Land Rovers through the Sand River that crisscrosses the Londolozi reserve.

This summer, I would have taken a pair of more mature eyes, excited to make some of the last youthful memories of my summer with my family as I become a senior in high school, to that same game reserve five hours outside of Johannesburg. I miss the taste of coffee-dipped rusks, the smell of the sand and elephants, the sounds of lions roaring throughout the night, and even the shock I get when a lizard occasionally makes its way into the shower. Sadly, instead of writing this blog post from the comfy lounge chair on the Pioneer Deck looking out onto the river, I sit in my mom’s windowless office staring at a black and white photo of a leopard, longing for some sense of my version of a normal summer, back at my home.

But then I turn my sadness into reflection. South Africa still delivers her gifts to me, stuck in America, in quarantine with the rest of the nation patiently awaiting the end of covid’s awful second wave. This uncertain period of waiting is similar to following a pride of lions on the hunt: both require an abundance of patience. The twitching of the predator’s tail is like the ticking of the clock; full of suspense, anticipation, and a desire for action. In the end, the wait is rewarded by seeing the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime sight of Africa’s apex predator hurtling after its prey and accomplishing a successful take-down.

When I return to South Africa, my patience will be rewarded. The malva pudding will be sweeter, the sunsets more vivid, and the wildlife more breathtakingly beautiful. So, I guess I’m just going to have to mimic that patience while I anxiously long to hop on a plane and jet towards the wellspring of my happiness.”

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Style this Year

Nothing can kill the romance like a global pandemic so we’re here to help you get the spark back with the help of our beaches, bush and Winelands… Africa is the continent of safari, wilderness and adventurous escapades but at the heart of it all is an unmistakable and ancient romance. We’ve hand-selected our most idyllic destinations and designed the perfect romantic getaway for you and your loved one here. Now, more than ever before… we need to take time out to celebrate and to make memories. 

Iconic Africa’s Royal Romance combines the beauty, wilderness, adventure and pioneering excitement of Africa with four destinations that define supreme luxury permeated with complete privacy and opulent romance.

Ellerman House is the definition of modern sophisticated living on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the marvels of Cape Town all around. La Residence is the jewel of Franschhoek – abject indulgence suspended in an impossibly beautiful valley of vineyards. Royal Malewane is impeccably tasteful grandeur surrounded by the majesty of the African wilderness. Royal Chundu is the ancient mystery and magic of the Zambezi in luxurious island seclusion.

ITINERARY

EDWARDIAN PASSION, LUXURIOUS EXTRAVAGANCE

Ellerman House is a sumptuous Edwardian mansion resting on Lion’s Head Mountain, above the ultramarine waters of the Atlantic stretching to the meet the depthless African sky. No expense has been spared, it truly is a Relais&Chateaux haven of unparalleled luxury.

Ellerman House boasts arguably Africa’s greatest art collection as well as a world-class wine selection and cellar.

Cape Town’s endless sights, activities and beauty will keep you enthralled for months on end.

Accommodation: Ellerman House

AFRICA’S MAJESTIC WINELANDS

Nestled in the vineyards and plum orchards of Franschhoek, La Residence is the most gorgeous boutique hotel in the most picturesque valley in South Africa.

A benchmark to luxury and comfort and created with exquisite detail and love.

The hotel is infused with colour, fabulous antiques, luxurious finishes and vaulted ceilings from which Indian chandeliers twinkle.

The little village of Franschhoek is the undisputed culinary capital of South Africa and boasts great exceptional wine and delicious food.

Accommodation: La Residence

AFRICA’S WILD ROMANCE

At Royal Malewane, a private concession bordering the world-famous Kruger National Park the Biden’s Royal Portfolio has achieved perfection again.

A marvel of wilderness romance and seclusion that blends seamlessly into this ancient land.

Gourmet, starlit dinners under the giant Leadwood trees.

The Royal Malewane Spa is world-renowned and the ideal way to unwind with a uniquely healing African treatment.

Royal Malewane’s guides and trackers are some of the most highly qualified in Southern Africa.

Accommodation: Kruger National Park Private Concession

Royal Malewane

THE ROYAL VICTORIAN FALLS RETREAT

Royal Chundu is Zambia’s first Relais & Chateaux property – defined by the sumptuous luxury that blends seamlessly into the private stretch of the Zambezi River Bank.

Island Lodge is set on its own private island in the languid waters of the Zambezi, offering just four exclusive and indulgent villas.

Each palatial haven boasts a private deck suspended over the river.

The outdoor bath is a fantastic space to soak up the night sky while on cooler nights, keeping cosy in the plush lounge before retiring to your extravagant bed.

A little downriver from Royal Chundu, the Zambezi falls over the Victoria Falls to create one of the greatest demonstrations of nature’s power on planet earth.
Accommodation: Royal Chundu

Contact us here to help you plan and book your next local or international romance holiday.

A Comprehensive Travel List

“Move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes, or at least eat their food” – Anthony Boudain

Travel for as long as we can remember has always been associated with people’s general and greater happiness. Let’s be honest we could all do with planning and looking forward to a trip right about now. With the anticipation of travel, comes the questions of is “it safe; where can I go; and what is travelling like right now…?” We have some answers, inspiration and tips for you right here!

Research has shown that travelling can boost your wellbeing, energy and creativity. So even amidst a global pandemic, getting away from the crowds and heading towards nature can bring you complete and utter contentment. The African bush is right there… just a flight away… waiting to fill up that cup of yours!

If you’re dying to get on a plane, but not sure where you’re allowed to visit and what you need to do, take a look at the most updated comprehensive travel list or read our tips for travelling during covid here.

Although countries have strict COVID-19 protocols put in place, don’t forget to implement all safety guidelines and precautionary measures during your stay. Click here for Level 3 risk-adjusted strategy.

For any questions please contact us. Our team is here to help.

Thank You Magical Marataba

After a year of lockdowns, covid and work stresses. I could not have imagined a better way to start 2021… than what can only be described as the MOST magical family safari. Situated just over 3 hours from Joburg, Marataba Safari Lodge is a 5 star, home away from home, an enchanting wonderland, set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Waterberg Mountain range.

It is almost 4 years since our last visit to Marataba… a time when I was pregnant with my son, we were much younger and more carefree (although embarrassingly still wearing some of the same clothes!)

At the end of that post, I wrote…

“Now we just can’t wait until we can come back as three and show our little one what an exceptional continent we live on and to teach him/her all that there is to know about nature, wildlife and how everything has its place in the world.”

Little did I know that we would return as a family and that somehow would enjoy the whole experience 4 fold. Never mind the fact that these words would hold more truth now than ever before.

We had booked to stay 3 nights and after the first night had extended it to 4… if we could have, we would have stayed even longer. Life in the bush dances to a different rhythm and it is unfathomable what you can do in just 4 days and what those 4 days can do for you.

For me – it was like “going home” just what the soul, post all the stress of 2020 needed. It was in short, life-changing.
For my kids – it was their first real safari, each moment the excitement was palpable. It was a privilege to witness.
For my husband and I – it was so divine to have some time as a couple again! The team at Marataba certainly know how to do romance ☺
For my view on the world – it was restorative, calming, inspiring and rejuvenating. No matter what you’ve faced – the African bush can set you right. It’s trips like these that make me so grateful to live in this exceptional country.

Just a few highlights of our trip:

  1. Spotting 2 white rhino, a female cheetah and all the plains game before we’d even got to the lodge
  2. The miracle of seeing the bush through my kids’ eyes
  3. The exciting adventure that was each jam-packed game drive
  4. Sundowners overlooking the river as a crimson red sunset descended over the horizon
  5. A surprise breakfast of salmon bagels and bacon and honey-butter crumpets in the bush
  6. The delicious aroma of More coffee
  7. Living in amongst a herd of impala at the lodge, lambs aplenty
  8. The nostalgic sound of fish eagles while on a sunset cruise
  9. Following 3 lionesses along a windy road for while they searched for a shady spot to snooze
  10. The continual learning of the intricacies and wonder that is the natural world
  11. Watching my kids’ excitement as they did spoor casting/made cookies/attempted archery
  12. Playing in the pool with the kids and all the fun pool toys
  13. Afternoon sleeps on the plush oversized beds with the air con on high and the emerald-spotted wood dove calling in the background
  14. A fairy-tale birthday boma dinner, the team’s harmonious Happy Birthday song and an indulgent chocolate cake
  15. The smell of the rain, the sound of thunder and the vibrant skies
  16. Driving alongside two white rhinos, running under a rainbow and during a monkey’s wedding
  17. Feeling the peace and restorative nature of the African bushveld
  18. The cicada’s lullaby each evening
  19. The in-suite massage on our deck, whilst kids were sleeping and impala wandered past #winning
  20. A quiet bush walk with a herd of kudu and impala
  21. Steaming hot outside showers under the milky way each night
  22. Sitting around the campfire telling stories of old
  23. Witnessing some interesting elephant behaviour during a romantic sunset drink
  24. Sharing my morning tea with a bushbuck
  25. Learning the trees, plants and insects and revelling in the overall serenity on a quiet bush walk

And…. I could go on and on… and on! Continue reading “Thank You Magical Marataba”

South Africa’s “Small Five”

Travellers flock from all over the world to witness South Africa’s magnificent Big Five, often waiting hours to catch a glimpse and photograph the fierce lion or the gentle elephant. The lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo and leopard are held in high esteem and even celebrated on our currency.

The Big Five animals really have the ability to conjure up magical memories for families, especially when travellers are fortunate to see all of them on a safari! While the Big Five are extraordinary and charming in physique and manner, there are lots more adored wildlife including the giraffe, zebra, impala and many more that are heartily pursued. Sadly there are some that are forgotten too, but we are here to show you that there’s so much more to South Africa’s animal kingdom.

South Africa has a multiplicity of ecosystems that include remarkable birdlife, small game and insects. Included in this is South Africa’s Small Five animals that are no less fascinating and should make an addition to everyone’s “must-see” list. The Small Five are elusive creatures and so spotting them is somewhat of an accomplishment. In complete contrast to the size of the Big Five, they maintain a part of their counterpart’s English name. They are the elephant shrew, ant lion, rhinoceros beetle, buffalo weaver and leopard tortoise.

ELEPHANT SHREW
Found all over South Africa, the Elephantulus Myurus– getting its name from its long elephant-like snout – reaches an arrested size of 25cm and weigh approximately 60 grams. While they feed on insects, fruit, seeds and nuts, they in turn become food for our slithering reptiles and birds of prey. Because of this, they become extremely scarce and spotting this small insectivore can deem your game drive a success!

ANT LION
The Myrmeleontidae is a peculiar creature with familiar ways. Like the king of the jungle, this insect traps its prey by digging indents into soft sand and pouncing on the ants. Hence the name ant lion. During the adult stage, the pupa develops wings and starts resembling a dragonfly. Although the ant lion is as scarce as the elephant shrew, you will recognise its funnel-shaped death traps that collect ants stumbling into it.

RHINOCEROS BEETLE
The Scarabaeinae dynastinae is one of the largest beetles in southern Africa. Getting its name from the horns on its head much like that of the Rhinoceros. Dynamite comes in small packages as the male rhino beetles are known to be an aggressive creature, fighting off rivals with their horns. The horns are also used to dig, climb and mate. Adult rhino beetles should be applauded. The larval stage can last 12 to 18 months.

BUFFALO WEAVER
The Bubarlornis Niger is found in parks and reserves all over South Africa and is the easiest of the Small Five to spot. And if you can’t seem to find them, you’ll hear them or find their nests. The buffalo weavers are noisy and busy birds that build their woven nests up in the branches of tall trees. They interlace coarse grass and twigs to form large nest structures.

LEOPARD TORTOISE
The Geochelone pardalis is definitely not as fast and agile as the leopard, but definitely poses a striking resemblance. Named for its black and yellow spotted shell, the leopard tortoise is one of the largest breeds in the southern hemisphere with an adult weighing up to 23 kilograms and a shell circumference of up to one metre.

Tag us in your candid images of South Africa’s Small Five on our Instagram account @iconicafrica!

10 Reasons to Book for Botswana

Iconic’s very own Lauren Fryer has many stories to tell about all the places she has travelled to and her favourite memory remains in Botswana – the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries with its diverse landscapes: from the Kalahari Desert through great stretches of Mopane woodland to the delta itself, with kilometres of channels, islands and lagoons. It has large herds of elephants, beautiful cats, and enough variety in its bird-life to turn even the most dedicated big-mammal follower into a twitcher!

This bush-mad team member has an endless list of reasons why Botswana should be on your current bucket list, but here are just 10 to persuade you:

Stand in front of the extraordinary ‘upside-down trees’. The baobab trees are a sight to behold with their strange and unique configurations. Looking as if their roots are sitting above the ground, they make beautiful photographs! Visit Baines’ Baobabs in Nxai Pan National Park where you will find a cluster of seven baobabs, also known as the Sleeping Sisters,

A romantic sunset cruise on the Chobe River

Hot air balloon rides over the Okavango Delta

Sleep under the stars on a skybed and overlook endless plains with the perfect view of elephants gathering at the nearest waterhole.

Horseback safaris are such an incredible experience to add to your trip and it’s definitely worth booking.

Find an abundance of wildlife with some of the best predator sightings.

A birder’s paradise! Bring your wide-angle lens to capture them in all their glory…

Water safaris down the Okavango waterways

Vumbura Plains Water Boat

Join the San on guided walking adventures and learn about their culture

We have left the best for last: the incredible luxury destinations such as Selinda Game Reserve, Chobe and the Okavango Delta.

Luxury African Safaris Selinda Camp Iconic Africa

Selinda Explorers Camp

chobe-chilwero-bathroom

chobe-chilwero-bedroom

Botswana Safaris Okavango Safaris Okavango Delta

If you’ve left the planning for last-minute but desperately want to visit Botswana, the Green Season is always less busy than peak season. Don’t leave bookings over peak season and holidays to the last minute as most lodges will be full.

Contact us here to let us make this ultimate African adventure a reality for you.

Why We Love Private Game Reserves

If you are planning a once-in-a-lifetime African safari and are looking for exclusivity and freedom and a unique safari adventure, we would recommend booking in a private game reserve.

Because there are fewer safari tours that take place in private game reserves, guests are allowed to freely explore the African wilderness. You are offered the opportunity to escape from the crowds that are associated with the larger National Parks and this means that guests can experience the true African bushveld and won’t have to share their wildlife sightings with other vehicles.

Private game reserves guarantee no “traffic jams” because the number of vehicles that can be present at a game sighting is restricted to two or three cars which means that not only are you ensured the ultimate game viewing experience, you won’t have other vehicles photobombing your best wildlife photographs!

Game viewing vehicles in private reserves can drive off-road to allow guests to search for big cats or to track specific animals. Private game reserves don’t have hours of operation like National Parks so guests are given an exclusive opportunity to experience an exhilarating night drive, showing you all the nocturnal game you wouldn’t get to see during the day.

You get to see amazing animal interactions that often occur out of sight of main roads and because the rangers are not restricted to national park hours, your game drive can last much longer and you can stay as long as your ranger will allow on a sighting.

Game drives are not restricted to certain times and to certain roads and the open-top vehicles give you the best panoramic view of the area.

You can enjoy bush walks and your guide or ranger will help you get those extremely up-close and personal pics of wildlife.

‘Traversing rights’ will allow your ranger to take you onto neighbouring land to expand your wildlife sightings with more biodiversity to explore.

It’s all in the name…if you’re after privacy, this is what you can expect to get in a private game reserve. Not only will you feel like you have the entire continent to yourself, but you can also experience Africa’s wilderness in a more authentic fashion, where you see Africa’s animals in their natural environment, undisturbed by the vehicles around them.

King Lewanika - Lounge on your private verandah, taking in the panoramic views and watching birds and big game

Contact us here to find out more about the luxury private game reserve on top of your bucket list.

The Great Migration – Where to stay?

The wildebeest migration is rated as one of the world’s most incredible wildlife spectacles, and a phenomenon that should have its place on every safari lover’s bucket list. Every year, over 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, and antelope migrate clockwise around the Serengeti/Masai Mara ecosystem. They travel up to 3000 kilometres each year in search of rain ripened grass. It is a natural phenomenon like no other, a spectacle not to be missed and, most definitely, an event that belongs on your bucket list.

The trouble with the wildebeest migration is that it can be so unpredictable and it can be difficult to be in the right place at the right time, and you could miss the whole event. Therefore, we’ve made a list of the best places to stay to make sure you get to see a wildlife spectacle like no other without the hours of driving to spot their movements.

Where to Stay in Masai Mara, Kenya

The ideal time to stay here: August – December

The Masai Mara sits at the top of every safari lover’s bucket list. This exceptional reserve comprises 1,500 square kilometres of endless, savannah grassland. In amongst whistling thorns, white thorns, fever trees and wild olives, the great plains of the Masai Mara are home to Africa’s most majestic animals. The red grass savannahs, brightly coloured Maasai villages, interminable vistas and distinct horizons combine to ensure the most quintessential African panorama.

Angama Mara
Perched on the edge of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is a lodge that comes as close to heaven on earth, as possible. Angama Mara, Swahili for “suspended in mid-air” boasts the best views in the Masai Mara. A place that constantly takes your breath away, where happiness reigns and peace is all-encompassing, where you literally stand on the edge of the world. Owner-managed and run by the reputable Fitzgerald family, Angama Mara is the ultimate African safari destination.

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Mara Plains
Situated in the luscious river woodland of the Ntiakitiak River, within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy on the Northern border of the Masai Mara, is the definition of grandeur and colonial opulence. Mara Plains is a lavish and magical wonderland. From the minute you step onto the rope bridge, you are immediately transported into your very own, African, home away from home. “A camp’s success is in the details,” says Dereck Joubert, CEO of Great Plains and Mara Plains is testament to this.

Perfect for: Family or friends travelling together

Bateleur Camp
On the edge of the Mara Triangle, beneath the Olooloolo Escarpment, Swahili for “zigzag” lies a lush, magical oasis of giant fig and wild ebony trees that is home to an intimate, colonial, Kenyan escape. The sanctuary of comfort, shade, coolness and luxury is a welcome retreat from the heat and wide-open spaces of the surrounding savannah. Enquire now and let us plan the ultimate East African Safari for you.
Perfect for: Groups and families (children of all ages welcome)

Ol Donyo
Ol Donyo Lodge is one of the oldest and most classic of Africa’s safari destinations. Kenya’s first Relais and Chateaux lodge represents the ultimate of private, exclusive safari bliss. Located on the Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch, comprising of 275,000 acres of wilderness between Amboseli and Tsavo National Parks and bordering Chyulu Hills National Park, it offers endless views of Mount Kilimanjaro and the savannahs below. Breathtakingly beautiful every way you look, Ol Donyo is a must for the bucket list, the ultimate luxury destination in South Eastern Kenya.

Mara Expeditions Camp
Set on the very outskirts of the Masai Mara and on the edge of the Mara North Conservancy is this unbelievable luxury safari hideout. At Mara expeditions camp you immediately become an intrepid explorer, with so much to investigate, to learn and to enjoy. The never-ending plains become your playground and the big-hearted, ever-smiling, genuine African staff… your friends. Mara Expeditions Camp has been built on a small bend in the Ntiakitiak River where the dese riverine forest meets the golden plains. It’s a place where lion calls dominate the nights…

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Where to Stay in the Serengeti

The Serengeti National Park, meaning “endless plains” in the Maasai language, is Tanzania’s oldest game reserve and undoubtedly one of the world’s most famous wilderness areas. It is most celebrated as the site of Africa’s greatest spectacle, the annual Great Migration when an estimated three million antelope – mostly wildebeest — migrate to Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve. This epic, seasonal journey is something every safari-goer and lover of Africa should experience at least once. The Serengeti has so much to offer: from action-packed game drives, to epic hot air balloon adventures and an abundance of game that makes it the iconic safari adventure of a lifetime.

&Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp
Set in a wild and remote section of the Serengeti’s Western Corridor is a riverside paradise like no other. Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp was built for and inspired by the Great Migration as it sits minutes away from one of the key crossing points on the Grumeti River. This lush haven is the perfect way to escape from the crowds of the Greater Serengeti to relax, put your feet up, immerse yourself in nature and resign yourself to the fact that you don’t have to lift a finger in order to have the time of your life!

Perfect for: Romantic getaways and families/groups travelling together

&Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas
Set somewhere in the vast Serengeti in hot pursuit of the massive herd of the Great Migration is this unbelievably luxurious semi-permanent camp. It is the absolute ultimate in true bush immersion and wild African adventure, your very own wildlife haven set up in only the very best part of the Serengeti for that particular time of year. Escape from the real world entirely, put your feet up and relax while sharing Africa’s most famous wildlife area with its wildlife as intimately as possible.

Perfect for: Adventurous travellers and families

Alex Walker’s Serian
Alex Walker’s Serian is the ultimate mobile camping experience, with four camps in the Serengeti it will bring you as close as humanly possible to the migrating herds. Revel in the fresh air, the unspoilt bush, the wild animals and this wholly natural setting; let the harmony and tranquillity of your surroundings infiltrate you.

Sayari
Close to the famous Lamai wedge overlooking the unspoilt plains of the Northern Serengeti and minutes from the mighty Mara River’s most famous wildebeest migration crossing points is this award-winning camp offering only the very best in exclusive game viewing while indulging you in remarkable luxury. Perched high up on a hill overlooking the great expanse of the Serengeti is Sayari, Swahili for ‘planet.’ And you definitely do feel as if you are on your own planet.

Singita Faru Faru
Singita Faru Faru really is something else, it is the ultimate in classic safari lodges, set in one of the most exquisite locations, boasting incredible game experiences and the very best East African hospitality. Here you don’t even need to leave the lodge, due to the waterhole the safari comes to you.

Singita Sasakwa
Resembling a deluxe ranch house in the midst of the African bushveld this is one Africa’s most exquisite destinations and another Singita – ‘place of miracles’. From June-September you may even have a run-in with Africa’s most phenomenal spectacle, the great wildebeest migration… something that should most definitely take the top spot on any bucket list. Witness as thousands of wildebeest make the trek from the Southern Serengeti, up North to the Masai Mara in search of rain ripened grass.

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Let’s Make it Happen! Our team will make sure you get to experience a side of Africa that few others ever get to see. Contact us here for more information.

Why Book With Our Expert Travel Agents Now More Than Ever Before

Safari is the lifeblood of African tourism and during these strange and unpredictable times, African lodges and hotels are appealing to travellers to come and experience the once-in-a-lifetime beauty and joy of the bush with the assurance of a safe environment.

At Iconic Africa, we understand that many travellers have had to put their upcoming plans on hold or postponed them, but now is the right time to be planning for your 2021 travels and we are here to help with it all. We have great relationships with our lodges and know just how to safeguard your plans to make sure that even if they get turned upside down as is the nature of 2020 we can right them again.

With almost all countries having health, safety and quarantine measures in place, we know many of you are craving to pack your bags but that you are nervous to do so. Our trained and dedicated staff know exactly where you can go on safari, where is the easiest to get to, and what is best for you and your family. Our team has been hard at work this year helping to support the South African tourism industry. With their ears to the ground, they have all the information and updates to provide travellers with a stress-free planning experience and smooth sailing from touchdown to take off.

For locals – this is the perfect time to check-in at destinations that are normally fully booked months and years in advance and that have emphasised the importance of using local rates during this pandemic. It is time to enjoy your own continent without lots of tourists and without the stirring concern and anxiety as we carry on doing what we do best – plan!

For foreigners: here are some reasons to chat to our lovely travel agents and book some time with your family in crisp, fresh African air, under open skies, no crowds, and an abundance of wildlife!

We have been in the luxury safari business for 20 years and our Iconic team listens to everything you like, want and need from your safari experience. Whether it is a classic safari, being alone in the wilderness or harnessing the spirit of adventure. We pride ourselves on our longstanding relationships with luxury destinations which always deliver 5-star results.

Under normal circumstances, you would need to book well in advance, but because of constantly changing circumstances, we can secure the right place for you without having to put your dream safari on hold for too long.

Have your itinerary custom-designed from your arrival to departure with carefully chosen activities and experiences that suit your interests.

Let us make it our job to stay on top of COVID-19 updates, travel restrictions and border regulations and communicate it to you.

We can recommend reliable insurance cover and our team is on top of all travel and visa requirements, flight schedules and airport transfers.

We work closely with tourism representatives in each country and stay on top of all news and updates. Our team gathers reliable information to communicate with you before and during your trip.

No need to spend hours on the phone! We deal with any and all changes before your departure, from flights to hotel accommodation – we have got it covered!

There’s no better time than now to make your safari dreams come true! Let us help you plan your trip for 2021 and 2022. Travelling should be exciting, so don’t get bogged down with all the small details, leave that to us. Find out more from one of our team members here.

Once-in-a-lifetime Maasai Mara Special

Perched on the edge of Africa’s Great Rift Valley is a lodge that comes as close to heaven on earth, as possible. Angama Mara, Swahili for “suspended in mid-air” boasts the best views in the Masai Mara. A place that constantly takes your breath away, where happiness reigns and peace is all-encompassing, where you literally stand on the edge of the world. Owner-managed and run by the reputable Fitzgerald family, Angama Mara is the ultimate destination that is calling your name!

Visit the quintessential luxury African safari built exactly where “Out of Africa” was filmed 30 years ago for only $3115 per person sharing – that is an amazing 60% saving for Southern African citizens and residents.

Stay at Angama Mara for 5 nights at this unbeatable rate including local flights, a hot-air balloon safari and so much more…

Designed to replicate a traditional Maasai village the décor is tasteful, welcoming and unobtrusive. It’s absolute indulgence with the utmost integrity and discretion. With two totally separate camps of just 15 tents each, there is nothing that detracts from the main feature of the space, which is very definitely the 180degree view. Sit in opulent comfort, in amongst the woods, coppers, warm hues and contemporary pieces while looking out your very own window to the world. Unfaltering service, impeccable presentation and mouth-watering food craft every mealtime.

Includes:
Road transfers JKIA-Wilsons-JKIA
5 nights accommodation at Angama Mara
Return flights Wilson Airport-Angama Mara with Governors Aviation
All Maasai Mara Park Fees
Angama Foundation Contribution
1 Hot-air Balloon Safari per person per stay with Governors Balloon Safaris

Optional Extras:
Private flights JKIA-Angama-JKIA
Nairobi Accommodation

Contact us here for more information. Use ASA2021 as the reference/booking code.

T&Cs Apply. Valid 1 November 2020 – 30 June 2021. Subject to availability. This special is non-refundable or transferable.

Lauren Fryer’s Heart is in Botswana

Lauren is a born and bred South African who married into a bush-mad family. She has been a part of the Iconic team for many years now and falls more and more in love with Africa each day. Lauren endeavours to instil an appreciation of the natural world into her children and she believes there is no better place than Africa to do this! Over the years she has visited Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Seychelles.

While she has many stories to tell about all the places she has visited, her favourite memory remains in Botswana – the most incredible wilderness sanctuaries with its diverse landscapes: from the Kalahari Desert through great stretches of Mopane woodland to the delta itself, with kilometres of channels, islands and lagoons. It has large herds of elephants, beautiful cats, and enough variety in its bird-life to turn even the most dedicated big-mammal follower into a twitcher!

One of the most intimate and peaceful experiences she has had in nature was on a Mokoro trip through the channels of the Okavango Delta, home of the water-based safari!

“I was extremely out of my comfort zone, and although I was exceptionally nervous, my husband insisted that we go and I am so glad we did!

The polers, who stood at the back behind us, used their panoramic view of our surroundings to watch for animals of all sizes. While you can get up close and personal with the likes of Africa’s smallest frog and water birds, your guide will ensure that a safe distance is kept between you and larger species such as hippos and crocodiles! It truly is a unique safari experience gliding on the delta, taking in rosy sunsets and the dazzling array of wildlife.”

They stayed at Gomoti Camp, part of the Machaba Safari group. Scroll down for images of this breathtaking destination.

Lauren Fryer believes there is no greater vacation than an African Safari & Beach experience.

South Africa’s Ultimate Family Safaris

In the chaos of today’s frantic, fast-moving world the simple things like spending time with family are often forgotten. I can promise you that at the end of your life you will never look back and wish that you had worked harder, spent more time on your cellphone or made more money… you are going to wish that you had made more time for and gone on more adventures with those nearest and dearest to you. So why not take things down a notch, go back to simpler times and disconnect from the world. Travel to Africa, succumb to its beauty, be in awe of its people and let its magic engulf your whole family.

To be able to do this kind of travel, to let go of the world and have new experiences with the whole family is a wonderful gift to give your children. But to take them on an African safari is the greatest gift of all. Many luxury African safari destinations are specially equipped and staffed to delight the modern family with adventure and fun in complete safety and extravagance.

Nothing could ever be more special than going on an out-of-Africa safari adventure with the entire family. Sharing and making unforgettable memories with children is what parents dream of and taking them on safari is one sure way of doing this. There really is nothing better than seeing your child’s face light up at the sight of their first elephant, or watching the wind in their hair as the game vehicle races through the bushveld in pursuit of a pack of wild dogs. Africa has so much to offer for all souls – young and old.

Here are our favourite family-friendly safari destinations that we highly recommend:

LELAPA

Lelapa, meaning family in the local language of Setswana, is another of the pioneering More family’s sublime properties. Situated in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve and with a more extensive children’s safari than any other luxury camp, Lelapa is the ideal destination for a family safari. While parents are catching forty winks or luxuriating in a spa treatment, children are entertained in the Eco House or nature beyond. The idea is for parents to be absolutely pampered while kids are kept completely entertained by the specialised rangers and facilities. Lelapa Lodge even has a special bush orientation programme for kids. Meals are kept decadent for parents and simple for children. Kids can even help the chefs make pizzas for lunch and cookies for tea! It’s an absolutely spell-binding experience for children. The Lelapa suites are indulgent havens that blend beautifully into the vastness of the surrounding woodland. The enormous lounge, bedroom and bathroom areas are all glass-fronted and allow unimpeded views of the African wilds beyond where you may see herds of elephant picking at the leaves as they amble slowly by. The suites can accommodate up to two children on a double sleeper couch. The secluded deck with private plunge pool is an excellent place for you and your family to cool off in the heat. On colder nights, you might like to sit by the fire in the sumptuous lounge and enjoy dinner in your suite, the full moon lighting the plains in gentle blue, a lion calling in the distance.

LONDOLOZI

Londolozi Pioneer Camp nurtures the essence of generations of pioneering family spirit and offers the ultimate luxury Relais and Chateaux safari experience. Set on the wildlife-rich banks of the Sand River, the camp has access to over 16 000 hectares of pristine wilderness within The Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve neighbouring South Africa’s world-renowned Kruger National Park.

Pioneer camp is designed as an exclusive safari homestead which makes it ideal for families and small groups. Pioneer Camp is the most secluded of Londolozi’s five camps; its expansive deck is shaded by wise old Jackalberry Pioneers, an interactive open-plan kitchen, and enclosed lavish lounge gives guests the freedom to savour their private safari experience. Should you seek company or the like then a serene stroll by footpath leads the way to the Londolozi yoga deck, fitness centre, Londolozi Living gift shop and Londolozi Life massage haven.

For years Pioneer Camp has been the holiday of choice for Terri Abadi (founder of Iconic Africa) and her family. Terri has travelled Africa extensively and yet year-on-year she is adamant Pioneer Camp is the place she wants to return to over and over again. Each trip is unique, each trip delivers, each trip a lifetime of memories for her and her family.

SINGITA

Singita Castleton Camp holds a place most dear to Iconic Africa. If you scroll through the tattered original “visitors” book kept at Castleton Camp back in 1986 you will find my then 7-year-old sisters entry which reads “Thanks very much, this is definitely a 5-star experience!” followed by my entry reading “Thanks very much. I liked the chocolate.” Perhaps we at Iconic Africa are slightly biased BUT what could be more perfect than spending a week with 11 of your closest family and friends in your own exclusive-use luxury villa, in the heart of the world-renowned Sabi Sands Private Game reserve. Castleton Camp allows you this rare treasure: to spend uninterrupted time in the lap of luxury with those dearest to you, away from the distractions of “life”.

Steeped in history, Castleton Camp is the original family home of Singita’s founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather built in the mid-1900s. The newly refurbished family residence has since been converted into a stonewalled homestead characterised by its spacious patio and graceful lounge. This central homestead is adjoined by six sumptuous luxury cottages which allow you the option to retreat to the privacy of your luxury cottage or stay in the company of your friends and family.

ONE&ONLY CAPE TOWN

The One & Only is an energetic, friendly and contemporary hotel in the perfect Cape Town location. The suites all have sweeping views out over Table Mountain or of the picturesque working harbour fringed by the world-class V and A waterfront and world-renowned Two Oceans Aquarium. The rooms and suites are tributes to contemporary chic lines and fresh art with deference to Africa through the dark wood finishes. Every possible modern convenience including full internet facilities and a personal Nespresso machine complete the opulence of the space. The commodious bathrooms boast huge baths and showers with separate lavatories. Cape Town is packed full of fun for the whole family. Trips up Table Mountain in the cable car or on foot for the fitter families will leave you breathless with wonder. The gleaming white beaches, especially with a gourmet picnic lunch, offer magnificent days out in Hout Bay, Llandudno, Clifton and Camp’s Bay while the quirky town of Fishhoek and Boulder’s Beach offers warmer waters for the kids. Although the produce of the spectacular Winelands is best enjoyed by parents, there is beauty and activity in abundance for young travellers.

TONGABEZI SAFARI LODGE

Tongabezi is situated about 30kms upstream from the magnificent Victoria Falls. It is the perfect place for families with children – with two delightful two-bedroom houses with private lounges, play areas and plunge pools. The Garden House has a fully walled garden which is ideal for younger children while its funky African fusion design gives it an informal and fun atmosphere. The Dog House’s bedrooms and communal areas are safely linked by raised walkways and the infinity pool hangs out over the Zambezi River. This beautiful suite comes with a private vehicle, guide and valet. The expansive and luxuriant gardens are blended into the banks of the Zambezi. They are dotted with private decks and terraces where families can relax in privacy. The magnificent Lookout – a multi-level wooden platform, sumptuously furnished with soft sofas and chairs can be booked for exclusive use and is a wonderful way for families to dine together and watch the river. Large families can book Tangala House – the pinnacle of luxurious family living. This magnificent home has three ensuite bedrooms, a huge private pool set in lavish gardens. For fun, there is a trampoline, garden games and a TV nook. Tangala comes with a private valet, chef, guide, boat and vehicle for exploration. There are endless activities – fishing, drumming, helicopters flips and much more for parents and children alike and in the evening, smiling kids and contented parents will revel in the joy of a sunset cruise on the languid waters of the Zambezi around Tongabezi.

TSWALU LODGE, KALAHARI

Tswalu is southern Africa’s biggest private game reserve and is perfect for anyone wanting to experience true Kalahari wilderness. The views from the lodge are utterly magical and ensure awesome game-viewing opportunities. Tswalu has three luxurious bungalows that have been specifically designed to cater to families, and the warm staff know just how to make your enchanting family escape one to remember. From de-stressing massage treatments to exciting morning game drives, this is a place where memories are made. Treat yourselves to a once-in-a-lifetime horse safari or relax on the private sundeck while taking in the awe-inspiring views of the waterhole.

For more information on other family-friendly destinations on our beautiful African continent please click here.