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. 

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.

 

Now Fly Direct – JFK to Nairobi

Over recent years, Kenya has become an increasingly popular travel destination – here’s why! As one of the top countries in Africa for safari and the origin of safari, vacationers wander all over from Giraffe Manor to the Great Mara plains on their luxury East African adventures.

girraffe-kenya-walk-optimisedBut the journey from the U.S. to Kenya has always been quite long, and often required a lengthly stopover.

 

After nearly two years, new flight plans have finally been approved, are in use and are open for bookings. This is a paramount moment for African flying as Kenya Airways is the very first to fly non-stop from the eastern coast of Africa directly to the United States.

Angama Mara East Africa Kenya Safari Tour

Now you don’t have to wait to see more than ten different species of mammal in one spot! With Kenya Airways’ introduction of the first long-haul flight between the U.S and Nairobi, holiday-makers will find their journey much quicker and simpler. This new daily direct flight will have you photographing Thomson’s and Grant’s gazelle in no time.

Great Migration Tanzania Masaai Mara East Africa Safaris Lion Kill

These daily flights are the fastest connection from East Africa to New York. Thanks to favourable winds, the flight from Nairobi to New York is a short 15 hours and an even shorter 14.5 hours on the westbound journey. The 7360 mile distance has never seemed this short. This new flight schedule has opened up more than 40 possible travel connections to various African destinations from the airline’s hub in Nairobi.

If long flights and unnecessary layovers have kept you in two-minds – now is your chance to book your seat on that Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. Be on of 234 passengers on their way to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where the quintessential African panorama awaits you!

If you are heading to Giraffe Manor in Nairobi or one of the many exquisite properties in the Mara and want to know how to make the most of your experience, read more here. 

Top 5 Reasons to Book a Balloon Safari

Many would agree that seeing Africa’s Big 5 and other wonderful wildlife is an opportunity of a lifetime. But imagine being able to tower above the herds of wildebeest or the elegant giraffes and look down on them from above.

Iconic Africa Kalahari Desert Balloon SafariA balloon safari is definitely one of the best ways to experience the magic of Africa’s wildlife, especially if you’re heading to the Mara Region where zebras and antelope run a few hundred meters below you – an adventure that belongs at the top of your bucket list! Here’s a sneak peek of the magic that awaits to get you excited:

 

Combine the feeling of weightlessness, the sense of space and freedom, incredible panoramic views, and endless possibility. There is no better, more beautiful and overwhelming way to start or end your day than drifting over the endless plains of the Serengeti, or floating above the absolute abundance of the Masai Mara, where you will be carried over game path after game path.

Balloon safari Views River Iconic Africa 2

If this hasn’t caught your attention yet, here are our top five reasons to book your balloon safari today:

  1. See a legendary sunrise or sunset you will never forget!
  2. You have an uninterrupted aerial view of the wildlife at their most active.
  3. Unimaginable scenes of the Great Migration.
  4. Our balloon safari partners are well-known and the best in the business. Every detail is thought of including your safety and ensuring a quiet drift above the land.
  5. Hot air ballooning can take you where safari vehicles can’t.

The bush tells a much more complete story from the sky. This crisscross maze of winding routes will lead you to herds of wildebeest, zebra, elephants, lions, and even tiny scrub hares.

Elephants from Above Balloon Safari Iconic Africa

Up and down you go… dropping in to check on the hippos and the crocodiles in the rivers. A few big, wide-mouthed, hippo yawns will welcome you, the Fish Eagle’s morning calls will greet you, and the gurgling of the rapids below will relax you. With photo opportunities aplenty, the trip always seems to go by far too quickly and you will wish that you could be up there, in paradise, forever.

Balloon Safari Iconic Africa Tanzania Desert

After your magic carpet ride over the exquisite African bushveld, you will be treated to a delicious 5-star Champagne Breakfast fit for a king, laid out impeccably, and set up in the middle of nowhere. Absolute bliss!

Balloon Safaris are on offer in both the Serengeti and the Masai Mara so let us help you book this once-in-a-lifetime adventure today!

Top 10 Travel Trends for 2019

If you’re planning your next trip to Africa and want to know the hottest trends to make sure you’re not missing out on any travel ideas, styles or tips to make your holiday more enjoyable – we have compiled a list with the help of industry experts of the top 10 travel trends for 2019. Whether you’re escaping the winter blues, celebrating a birthday or anniversary or gifting a Christmas getaway to a loved one, here is a prediction of the year’s popular travel indicators:

The travel industry is working on year-round tourism. Travel will be based less on peak season and off-season as more than 50% of travellers believe that large crowds are taking away from experiences. There will be more travel choices available for autumn, winter and spring trips.

Marataba Trails Lodge Luxury Safari Africa Waterberg

Continuing with one of 2018’s top travel trends, culinary travel continues with more foodie tours from city centre food tours to countryside wine and cheese tasting.

Londolozi Tree Camp Bush Dinner Kruger Park

Continuing the trend from 2019, travellers will be frequenting sustainable properties and accommodations and researching what they are actively doing.

Travellers are planning more surprise trips for milestone birthdays and anniversaries at secluded destinations – as the search for quiet and relaxing vacations increase.

Travellers will be frequenting undiscovered and off-the-beaten-track getaways such as eco-friendly island destinations.

Ocean safaris Snorkeling mnemba Island

Travellers are going back in time with a camera in hand and leaving the beach for historical excursions around old buildings and sights such as castles, chateaus and citadels.

Travellers are increasingly heading towards the countryside than staying in the city or cramming all the city sights into a few days.

Travellers of all ages are exchanging extensive sightseeing for fewer immersive experiences such as cultural interactions and new activities.

Travellers are taking the hassle out of travel and booking guided trips and tours to spend more quality time with family and friends while on vacation. With our tailor-made itineraries, you won’t have to stress about a thing.

While millennials continue to research holidays on social media, most travellers are considering a digital detox and are leaving technology behind. Unplug by filling your days with mountain hikes, morning yoga and evening swims.

To book your dream 2019 luxury African safari, contact one of our team members now!

Iconic Africa’s Ultimate 2019 Bucket-List

2018 took us to some breathtaking destinations so choosing our favourites for you has not been easy. We hope this inspires you to start planning your once-in-a-lifetime safari, African romance or island getaway! From heaven in the tropics to awe-inspiring wildlife experiences, unforgettable adventures and cultural immersions, it all starts here, now.  Click on the link below to scroll through our top destinations for 2019! The magic of Africa awaits you…

Iconic Africa Bucket List 2019

For any questions or queries please contact us here. 

Africa’s Most Elusive Wildlife

Africa is the place of rolling hills, warm sunsets, amazing culture and memorable wildlife. Travellers from all over the world head to Africa for a thrilling experience as they tick off the Big Five and other big game off their list. Found in diverse habitats, from mountain sides to savannah and tropical forests ecosystems, Africa’s most celebrated and fascinating animals are waiting for you to find them.

It surely is a once-in-a-lifetime experience spotting the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant or buffalo – but what about those animals that aren’t so easy to see? Your next safari trip should be about trying to boost your bush-cred and try to find those more elusive animals. The idea that they are so hard to find is part of the appeal, able to elude the sights of humans, adds to their charming character. Whether you’re on a traditional safari in South Africa, on an adventure in Victoria Falls or immersing yourself in East Africa’s endless open spaces, keep an eye out for the more shy animals! These five animals will be a real treat for all our photographers and wildlife enthusiasts:

The Aardvark

Our first of the lesser seen, peculiar animals is the aardvark. Roaming the bush with its pale skin, a long snout resembling a pig’s and long bunny ears, there’s no chance you will mistake it. These nocturnal creatures are impressive diggers and can dig up to six metres deep in minutes. The best place to try and spot these little creatures with sturdy legs and long claws is the Addo Elephant National Park or the Kalahari. 

The Leopard

Leopards are very secretive creatures and keep a low profile high up in trees or amongst the tall grass or bush. These big cats are the strongest feline climbers and can kill prey even larger than themselves. Because these creatures are always lurking until they can pounce on their prey, spotting them in the wild is a rare treat.

The Pangolin

This one is for the wildlife fanatics! With its unmistakeable bronze armour, the pangolin is extremely distinctive with its unique scales and unassailable attitude. Despite this invincible outlook, all eight species are endangered – being the most trafficked animal on earth. They have a really long and sticky tongue that’s almost 40cm long. Try spotting them in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

The Patas Monkey

Patas monkeys are considered the fastest primate on Earth. Their long limbs help them reach top speeds of 55km/h to evade predators and also makes it harder for us to catch a glimpse of them…

The Oryx

These majestic and graceful creatures have been hunted for their meat and hides, and in many cultures, the horns of the oryx are used as tokens or charms.

For your next wildlife bucket-list, why not change it up and try spotting these amazing creatures that make you work a little harder to find them.

 

Our Year in Pictures

Walter Benjamin understood that photographs could “meet the beholder halfway”. For those who cannot make it to Africa’s bush right now, we can deliver masterpieces straight to your screens! Carefully packaged in digestible form to examine over a morning coffee or in between dreary meetings – we’ve put together a select list of some of this year’s best captured wildlife, adventure and luxury moments. This is Africa for you – it’s the stuff dreams are made of!

Feel intoxicated with wildlife images so perfect it appears almost staged; or travel the world in a lunch break through the eyes of our talented photographers! These raw, candid pictures transport us every time to a different place.

This year provided us with jaw-dropping sunsets, meaningful wildlife moments and classic African landscape views. The power of these images can storm our consciousness and start transporting us to open savannahs, sparkling oceans and mountain tops. What starts off as an iridescent distraction soon remoulds our thought processes and invokes wanderlust in us.

Capturing some of 2018’s most iconic moments, we have seen a fantastic collection of photographs these past few months. Here are a few of our favourites selected just for you:

 

 

 

The Highlands in Pictures

Winner of The Luxury Safari Co Award for the most unique Ngorongoro property, The Highlands redefines the Masai experience.

The spectacularly designed moon domes that resemble tiny Richat structures from above rests within the lush mountain forest just next to the Olmoti volcano, 45 minutes from the Ngorongoro Crater. Here, you will find the perfect balance between the great outdoors and an exclusive luxury escape.

These cutting-edge dome-suites resemble a Mazarin cut diamond. With sharp edges and a crystal clear panoramic view laid out before you, this open design with an intimate setting and wood-burning fire places will leave you feeling captivated.

This futuristic, yet traditional accommodation is both contemporary-chic and true to its African roots. The striking design of the suites is complemented with an authentic atmosphere.  With only eight canvas and glass domed suites, the architect has gracefully mirrored the Masai bomas that mark the landscape.

Guests can expect warm and contemporary interiors that offer the perfect atmosphere to unwind after a successful day of game viewing.

To top-off the jaw-dropping suites is a beautiful Ngorongoro Crater safari. The highland is home to the leopard, buffalo and elephant among others. Walk in the footsteps of the Masai people on ancient trails to the top of the Olmoti crater and experience true East African culture.

Here are some of our favourite pictures of this property that give glamping a new meaning! Suspended 2700 meters atop the slope with spectacular views of the of Ngorongoro area that rolls out before you, you can relax on your spacious bed and take in these breath-taking sights behind the glass face of your geometric tent.  This area holds unmatched beauty and overlooking the plains from your tent makes you feel like you are the only people up there. You are wild and free and so remote that the solitude will take your breath away! Scroll down for a visual journey to the Highlands:

Ngornongoro Highlands Crater

For more on this exquisite property – click here. 

 

10 Things to Consider When Planning A Safari

As you may already know, planning a safari adventure isn’t without its complications. It’s difficult to know what to expect and there are a number of things that you need to organise in order for your trip to be a success. Because planning a safari can be a daunting task, we have compiled a list of the top ten things that you should consider while you are in the planning stages of your African adventure.

Lions Sands Ultimate Luxury Safari

1. Plan your trip way in advance
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that there is a huge demand for safaris. Depending on where you are planning to go on safari, you will need to book your stay in advance. Some camps require you to book at least six months in advance, whereas others might require you to even book a whole year in advance. So, if your dates aren’t flexible, you need to keep this in mind.

2. Do your own research
Part of planning your trip is doing your research. It is important to do your own research so that you know what you can expect. Luckily, there is a vast amount of information on the internet for you to look at. It can be daunting, and you may have more questions than answers after doing your research, but at least you’ll know what you want to ask your safari specialist.

3. Consider visiting Africa in the shoulder season
This is a really great time to visit the parks because there are fewer vehicles and visitors and the prices are often much less. Because there are fewer vehicles, you will also be able to spot wildlife more easily – you might even have the whole park all to yourself.

Buffalo Walking Safaris Iconic Africa

4. Manage your expectations
Seeing the Big Five is never guaranteed, but that’s part of the appeal of going on a safari. Who wants a boring and predictable trip anyway? However, what is guaranteed is that you will definitely see wildlife wherever you choose to go in Africa. So don’t get too hung up about what you see or don’t see while you’re in Africa. You’ll have a splendid time sighting all kinds of mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

5. Remember that you will get what you pay for
In most cases, the more you pay, the better your experience. Usually the more expensive places have better game viewing or better guides, and they certainly have better service. If you’re unsure of a place to choose, you can always contact us for advice and we’ll recommend the best place to suit your needs.

Rock Fig Safari Lodge Timbervati Pool

6. Make sure that you have the right malaria tablets or vaccines
This is very important! Nothing will rescind the joy of your safari more than contracting malaria. Most of the parks in Africa are malaria areas, with the exception of South Africa. Visit a travel clinic for advice about the best malaria medication for you, and ensure that you have enough time to start your medication a few weeks before your trip to allow time for it to work.

7. Think about combining your safari adventure with a beach holiday
Safaris can be quite tiring so it’s always a good idea to plan a little beach trip for while you’re in Africa. There’s no better way to unwind after a spectacular safari than on some of the best beaches in the world, so it’s definitely worth considering. Visiting the seaside also extends your African holiday a bit, and it isn’t excessively expensive.

8. Don’t make your safari too long
This is something that we can’t stress enough! Safaris soon lose their appeal when you start to feel tired, so we like to suggest that the best amount of time to spend on safari is three to seven days. Remember, time slows down in the bush, so although three to seven days may seem too short, we can guarantee that it isn’t.

Gorilla Trek Tours Rwanda Iconic Africa

9. Start your safari the day after you arrive in Africa
This is one of the best tips we can give our clients. Long flights can be so exhausting. It’s a good idea to spend your first night in a nice hotel to recover from any jetlag or exhaustion that you may have from travelling. After all, you need to be wide awake to spot all of those animals on safari!

Golden Monkeys Gorrila Treks Rwanda Iconic Arica

The right safari specialist is key. Contact us to answer any of your questions, and we will guide you on when to go, where to go and what to do on your next adventure. In fact we can plan every step for you!

What exactly is a safari?

Great… You’ve finally decided to book that once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Africa. But you’re still not sure what exactly a safari is? Fear not! It’s as you’d expect – amazing wildlife sightings, great company and even better food.

A typical African safari is a journey or an expedition to observe wild animals in their natural habitat.

The Swahili word ‘safari’ which comes from the Arabic origin (safar) has always described an overland journey, usually taken by tourists. ‘To travel’ in Swahili is kusafiri which would include any type of journey, from bus to ferry. Thanks to Richard Burton, the explorer, the word safari entered the English language in the1850’s.  In the past, a safari was often a trip taken to hunt big game, but now it is to observe and photograph majestic animals and landscapes and even hike surrounding trails and sightsee.

Now that you know what a safari is, you’re probably wondering what you can expect while on a safari? Here are a few highlights to get you excited about your next trip:

Your day-to-day itinerary will differ depending on the destination and accommodation you have chosen. Even visiting a private reserve compared to a national park will offer a contrasting experience. Each country, reserve and lodge has its own character and many will offer various activities and unique sightings such as the silverback gorillas in Rwanda or the white lions in the Sabi Sands. This is just one of the reasons why going on safari is so addictive!

Iconic-Africa-Rwanda-Gorillas

A luxury safari at one of our leading accommodations is all-inclusive covering tours, food, drinks and expeditions. Our carefully curated luxury packages offer travellers the comforts of home whilst in Africa’s bush. You will feel all the authenticity of a traditional safari and bush camp – the camp-style tents, evening fire pits and cultural immersion with the comforts of air-conditioned suites to rich linens, exquisite décor and world-class service.

Now that you know what you can expect, be prepared to start your day early each morning to catch Africa’s breath-taking sunrises and animal sightings. You’ll have 360 degree uninterrupted views of the beauty all around you – which makes rolling out of bed before the crack of dawn so much easier! Don’t forget your sunblock, sun hat and to have your camera charged and ready.
You may be thinking that sitting in the back of a game vehicle can be boring. But you’re constantly on the lookout for wildlife and everything else the exquisite African bush can treat and teach you about. Most accommodations have spa facilities, great adventure activities, outdoor meals and private viewing decks from your suite.

There will always be something new to see, do and experience. And while it’s impossible to guess or predict what wildlife you will see, most days on safari follow a ‘routine’. This is what a standard day might look like:

You will want to leave the sanctuary of your bed to see the active animals begin their daily routines. The best time for game viewing is before the sun is overhead.

Selinda Explorers Camp WIldlife

Don’t worry, you’ll have some scrumptious rusks and coffee before you leave and be back in time for a hearty breakfast or brunch. Perhaps you will stop for a morning picnic along the way if you have a full day’s game viewing planned.

You can return for a long and relaxing lunchtime when the animals are most inactive. Use this time to unwind with a book and some bubbly or enjoy a refreshing swim. If you haven’t had enough of the wildlife, you can do some game viewing from your private deck.

Most guests head out for another game drive late afternoon when it starts to cool off. Have some snacks and tea before you start looking for animals on the move. By this time, some predators will be grocery shopping for their dinner.

As you make your way back to the camp, the night drive will show you some of nature’s most elusive and nocturnal animals.

Just in time for a delectable and romantic dinner – most probably enjoyed outside under the starlit sky – reminisce the day’s spectacular sightings and end off another wonderful day in Africa around the campfire.

Don’t let routine scare you! As with nature, expect the unexpected. Each day will be unique and no two game drives will be the same. Not forgetting the amazing sunsets that are as distinctive as a fingerprint.

Visit our destinations page for all your safari options, including Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, South Africa and more.

Magnificent Manyara

Ernest Hemingway once said, “it is the loveliest lake in Africa.”

The Manyara region is the epitome of picturesque. It’s home to a diverse set of landscapes and an unbelievable amount of wildlife.

Our wonderful team member Julia Fryer was lucky enough to visit and explore this lake shore region recently and has shared with us her exquisite pictures below.

A big thank you to Julia for sharing these wonderful pictures! Please keep them coming.