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.

Getting to know the Kalahari

Travelling to the Kalahari is like traversing into a parallel universe. It’s a surreal location – not far from major city centres – that makes you experience a supernatural feeling as everything around you looms larger than life making you feel so small in comparison. The Kalahari is an eternal destination where time stands still and the retiring expanse of land sees no end. The infinite space reflects the blanket sky and the beauty of it all deflects the desert heat.

Many believe that the harsh desert heat means an absolute harsh environment. The name Kalahari does comes from the Tswana word ‘Kgala’ which means ‘the great thirst’ after all.

But while the origin of Kalahari may suggest a waterless place, further south receives great rainfall lending it to be referred to as the “Green Kalahari”. A slight change in location and a drastic change in climate conditions, southern Kalahari discredits the perception that the Kalahari is a sparse and desolate place.

The Kalahari is in actual fact a semi-arid grassland that is home to a diversity of plants and wildlife. The paradox is that the Kalahari may appear to be a desert, but in fact is not one. For starters, it gets much more rain than the average desert.

Secondly – especially in southern Kalahari – the area consists of too many different landscapes such as savannahs, sand dunes and mountainous terrains in a relatively close proximity. Though this guarantees an increase in biodiversity (and spectacular photo backdrops). The different landscapes and climatic conditions from north to central and southern Kalahari supports more vegetation than the typical desert such as the shady camelthorn tree, shepherd’s tree, silver cluster-leaf, the Hoodia cactus and embraces approximately 80 different mammal species and 240 bird species, making for excellent game viewing.

Alongside the typical big game, you can expect to encounter rare antelope such as roan and sable antelope, gemsbok, eland, springbok and red hartebeest that are unique to the Kalahari.  There are also opportunities to sight tsessebe, Hartmann mountain zebra and the desert black rhino. If you’re wanting to see more traditional game, there is excellent cheetah viewing and brown hyenas are fairly common. The lions are also illustrious for their size and luscious manes.

There is something that draws visitors the Kalahari in all four seasons.

Even though spring is the approach to the rainy season, September and October sees warmer days and cool evenings. The meerkat pups emerge and the barking geckos start calling for mates.

Summer is hot but November to March receives occasional afternoon thunderstorms to cool down. For avid birders, migrant birds start to arrive and many of the antelope calve early in summer. The abundance of insect life during the wet season entices the jackals and foxes above ground with their pups. This is the longest season lasting up to six months.

Some late season rain still lingers on in autumn. April to May has milder weather and is the greenest time of the year! Animals which hibernate during winter are active during this time the antelope are in their best physical condition trying to establish territories and seek mates.

Winter may be cold and dry but June to August offers rare sightings of smaller mammals and clear night skies offer amazing star-gazing opportunities…

Whatever the season, the Kalahari will enchant long after you depart with its portrait of colour from the crimson sunsets and golden sands to the greenery and clear blue skies.

For our MOST favourite Kalahari destination click here. 

Millennial Travel

2018 sees a continuation of last year’s trend – millennials setting their sights on African travel. Over the years, there has been a shift in the age demographic of travellers coming to Southern Africa – an incentivised travel destination. According to David Frost – CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, younger generations are becoming an increasingly large market for the tourism industry with 46% of international arrivals to South Africa in 2017 between the ages of 18 and 35.

Apart from the search for ‘authentic experiences’, adventure activities, good weather and local hospitality – millennials are taking a break from the latest technology, moving away from typical ‘tourist’ destinations and choosing instead to venture in to unknown territories; deeper in to the wilderness.

Marataba Trails Lodge Luxury Safari Africa Waterberg

That being said, more establishments are catering for and accommodating tech-savvy millennials. Wi-Fi remains a priority for lodges catering to this market. Millennial travellers are interested in following and being connected to the cities and lodges they will be visiting both during and after their trip. Another incentive for millennial travellers is how ‘Instagrammable’ the holiday is. Youth see the world through pixels and filters. Having every breath-taking experience littering the feeds of envious friends and family, Africa – filtered or not – makes for a picturesque experience.

Here are our top ten millennial travel incentives to Africa:

*There is a huge gap in the industry for youth safaris. For a long time, African safaris have been recognised as a luxury experience, out of reach to the young traveller. More young hearts and minds are seeking out a night under the expansive starlit sky while wildlife roam nearby – close enough for you to hear them.

*More than half of our “foodies” are millennials – becoming increasingly conscious of what they put into their bodies, and where it comes from. Mozambique is the place to be for an experience that will satisfy taste buds, with fresh “farm-to-fork” cuisine brought to you from local markets and roadside stalls. Tuck into Tiger prawns, fresh fish and steaming hot Portuguese rolls with stunning views.

*Experience is everything and young travellers want complete cultural immersion. South Africa has a wonderful mix of boutique hotels and apartment rentals in its inner-city districts. Here travellers can unpack everything from street art to street food. A little beyond the city, cuisine and culture remain equally important in the winelands. Wine-tasting tours have become increasingly popular among the millennial travellers as well as an interest in “Instagrammable” agro-tourism in the countryside.

*We do not realise the extent of community work and international volunteers in South Africa, with almost half of the youth travellers coming here partaking in some sort of community initiative or volunteer work.

*Education is also another incentive for youth trips with guests showing interest in astronomy, ecology and interactive dynamics. There will always be a dichotomy between luxury travel, conservation issues and cultural diversity.

*Older travellers have confirmed that they are more likely to choose accommodation that is eco-friendly. Millennial travellers have caught on to this trend of sustainable travel, where a conscious effort is made to avoid contributing to the decline of natural environments (Link to top five eco-lodges post).

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Luxury Safari Kruger Park

*Youth are choosing to spend their money on experiences rather than material things. Africa, especially Southern Africa, offers experiences that are culturally rich and forcing them to step out of their comfort zones to embrace authentic destinations culturally-relevant sightseeing and diverse cuisines. It is found that millennials are constantly trying to integrate themselves into as many aspects of local life hoping to become a more culturally enriched human.

* Wanting to take everything in; cramming as many places and activities in to their experience as possible, Africa is a millennials travel-sanctuary – offering them opportunities to see a variety of different sights.

Iconic Africa Kalahari Desert Balloon Safari

*One of the biggest trends in millennial travel is the desire to visit off-the-beaten-track locations. They no longer want to sit back and relax on their vacation or visit typically popular attractions that have become overcrowded and ‘over-touristic’.

*For your next millennial adventure trip, head to Zimbabwe. The natural wonder of Victoria Falls will be sure to activate their adventure-seeking nature. The country offers active adventures and unique experiences, which is exactly what the millennial traveller is looking for.

Millennial travel creates memories and invites individuals to reach further in to their own life, changing mind-sets forever. Experience tastes, sights, smells and ambience of authentic African luxury with Iconic Africa. Find out more here. 

 

African Travel Myths Demystified

“The only thing dark about Africa is our ignorance of it.” – George Kimble

Many people have preconceived ideas about Africa – often based on opinions or myths. Some of these myths have been circulating for so long that they now are in fact considered as truth or fact. Misconceptions are awful things, managing to dissuade many from visiting Africa – which is very sad! Here are our top five African safari myths debunked to convince you to finally book that unforgettable African trip.

Angama Mara East Africa Kenya Safari Tour

Africa is not safe:

Safety can be an issue in some African cities as it can be anywhere in the world now, but when it comes to national parks and game reserves, they are some of the safest places in the world.

Africa is all bush:

Africa is a vast continent with diverse landscapes, environments and climates in a single area. Countries have savannahs, rainforests, mountains, beaches and deserts to accommodate different travel wishes – making it easy to find whatever it is that your heart desires!

You always need a guide:

While it would be recommended that first-time traveller’s view game with a guide – once you’ve been on enough safaris you can go on self-drive safaris. Many travellers have seen the super-seven (the Big Five, cheetahs and wild dogs) on their self-drives.

To truly experience Africa, you have to “rough it”:

There is always the option of “roughing it” in the wilderness – sleeping bag and all. But there is the more popular preference and opportunity, to experience all Africa has to offer in comfort and opulence. South Africa boasts some of the most luxurious game lodges offering unrestricted access to some of Africa’s prestigious wildlife. Most game lodges offer gourmet meals and private bungalows – kitted out with all your modern amenities – that overlook the vast plains and Africa’s vibrant wildlife. Not to mention it offers some of the world’s most affordable luxury travel!

 

It will be too hot:

Yes, Africa’s climate is warm, but not all the time. Some countries have a cold, wet winter and others have a rainy summer. Throughout the year, most game reserves can actually get quite chilly in the morning and at night, and you will need to layer to stay warm. This’s a nice balance between the heat of the day and the cool of the night.

Animals are likely to attack you:

Animals attacking is probably the last thing you need to worry about on your safari! The wildlife, in general, prefer to avoid the company of humans, so they won’t be hunting you down any time soon…

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Sabi Sands Lions

Only expensive cameras can take good wildlife photographs:

If you own a long lens it is of course advantageous, however it is not a necessity. Many people have photographed animals within meters of the safari vehicle with a 300mm lens. What works well – if you already have one – is the Nikon D7000 with 18 megapixels. The resolution is decent and you could crop the far-away shots.

Zarafa Camp Leopard Iconic Africa

 

Our suggestion is that when you embark on your trip to Africa, you leave behind all myths and legends. Once you hit the tarmac, your adventure begins and you will never look back!

Top Travel Trends for 2018

From remote luxury accommodations to achievement-based travel, 2018 is set to be a year of long vacations, slowing down and learning to appreciate the world around us. Here’s what the experts have to say about the trends for the year ahead:

Booking trends:

79% of travel research is being done on mobile phones and an increase in online bookings has begun trending with 49% of these direct online bookings being made on mobile devices.

Duliini Lodge River Bridge

Solo Travel:

Ever since Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ was published, solo travel – especially among female travellers – has gained popularity. 2018 welcome’s our solo visitors to our safe safari destinations, where the world is at your fingertips. Our private guides and luxury transfers ensure your safety at all times.

 

Remote Luxury:

Luxury travel is increasingly being associated with remoteness and disconnectivity. This year, people are projected to dedicate more time towards travel – willing to travel farther and into destinations often difficult to get to in order to feel like they have a small piece of the world (nearly) entirely to themselves!

‘Off the beaten track’ is one of this year’s travel themes allowing visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and experience nature at its fullest. An example is Tswalu Kalahari – a hidden gem set literally in the middle of nowhere!

Zimbabwe and Zambia – The two hot safari destinations for 2018:

South Africa is typically considered a favourite go-to for African safaris with Zimbabwe and Zambia as add-on destinations. On the contrary, 2017 saw an increase in demand for trips to Zimbabwe and Zambia as primary destinations. This is a trend most experts believe to continue in to 2018. These two countries have luxury accommodations and crowd-free safaris – perfect for those looking towards that remote luxury vacation. Investments in both countries from infrastructure and airports to national parks has contributed to this new destination-trend. Not to mention the fact that Zambia was recently voted “safest destination in the world by skyscanner.”

Glamping:

For those travellers who really want to be one with nature – but really can’t, there are endless possibilities for you to be outdoorsy without sacrificing comforts and luxuries. 2018 sees an increase in bookings at luxury tented properties for the less nature-inclined to slow down, unwind and enjoy nature without actually having to “be in nature”.

Singita Sabi Sands Luxury Lodge Kruger Park

Achievement-based travel:

2017 was the year for experiential national and international travel; connecting the traveller closely with their country or destination. This year, we will see this taken a step further with travellers pushing themselves to achieve a lifelong goals or using travel to “find themselves.”

The goal of the year is to achieve something – whether it is climbing a certain mountain or hiking a difficult trek – built into a traveller’s trip. This trend is a reflection in the travel industry of visitors wanting more from their trips than just a standard sightseeing tour.

Extended trips

The last six months has seen an increase in travellers booking trips for longer than two weeks – clients often pushing for around-the-country trips. According to Jacada Travel, 50% of the trips already booked are for longer than two weeks.

Travellers not tourists:

Increasingly encouraged over the years and recently trending – visitors to foreign countries prefer immersing themselves in experiences that cannot be found in guidebooks and brochures. Meeting locals and wondering through neighbourhoods has been the best way to experience cultures, from wine tasting to learning a new crafts or languages.

 

For all of us getting on a bus, plane or train to somewhere new… 2018 is going to be an exciting year!

Our Top Eco-Friendly Lodges

“The future will either be green or not at all” – Bob Brown.

‘Going green’ has recently become a buzz phrase within the travel industry. More and more African luxury destinations are making efforts to preserve and protect both natural environments and communities within them. Owners are trying to reduce carbon footprints and human impact on the earth in order to safeguard its future. Eco-friendly accommodation does not necessarily mean that you have to compromise on luxury travel. Eco-lodges are becoming increasingly fashionable with their ability to integrate their role in conservation and luxury comfort.

Here are our top four eco-accommodations utilising and promoting green practices for those eco-conscious guests who seek a luxury African experience. Whether you are looking at Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa or Kenya we’ve got you covered.

BISATE LODGE, RWANDA

Situated near Volcanoes National Park in the Republic of Rwanda offering unique gorilla sightings.

Bisate Lodge Rwanda Gorilla Trekking

Resting in nature’s amphitheatre, the Bisate lodge reopened in June 2017. Formerly renowned for their gorilla conservation experience and dramatic landscape views, the lodge is now celebrated for its progress in pioneering a largescale reforestation program. 5000 indigenous trees have already been planted to date, contributing to conservation and community empowerment. Bisate’s organic yet modern architecture reflects Rwandan building traditions a seen at the Royal Palace of the traditional Monarch.

Bisate Lodge Rwanda Gorilla Trekking Rooms

ZARAFA CAMP, BOTSWANA

An exquisite tented camp located on the on the private Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe/Savute corridors.

Botswana-Safari-Selinda-Camp

Zarafa recognises the importance of sustainable tourism in South Africa and is 100% eco-wise. It is located in some of Africa’s most beautiful surroundings nature has to offer and they don’t plan on spoiling it! Opening in 2008, and considered a newer property, regulations discourage permanent structures. As a result, the camp is awash in beautiful and luxurious canvas and timber homes so that should the entire site seize to remain, the land would return to its natural state within months. Not forgetting the Zarafa ‘oil field’ – a solar farm that supplies the camp with all its power.

Zarafa Camp Banner Deck

OL DONYO, KENYA

On the private Mbirikani Group Ranch in south-eastern Kenya, between Tsavo East and Amboseli National Parks, the rippling Chyulu Hills give way to Ol Donyo.

Its location is unparalleled, with full views of savannah and Mount Kilimanjaro, crossing paths with traditional wildlife migration routes. People and animals crossing paths with this migration route has led to the death of many feral lions, leaving them at risk. The lodge is currently negotiating with cattle breeding villagers to develop a wilderness zone which will be ‘people-free’. Ol Donyo also manages community projects that ensure the sustainability and success of compensation for cattle loss, mobile health clinics, schools and employment.

TSWALU KALAHARI CAMP

The Lodge is located close to the border of Botswana and lies within an easy driving distance of South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.


Tswalu has won a number of international awards. Their primary focus is conservation and socio-economic development in the region. The architectural designs minimise water and energy usage while extensive use of solar energy and everyday waste recycling substantially reduce the impact on the environment.

Tswalu is committed to restoring and preserving the natural environment and ecological processes that are unique to the Kalahari ecosystems, thereby providing a sanctuary for endangered species such as the African wild dog that is red listed. Some of Tswalu’s projects include the assurance of the density of the black rhino that is be sustained by vegetation in Tswalu and the development of a Tswalu spider database.

We hope our fine travellers of the earth will return home knowing that their holiday contributed to … and preserving the world’s natural environment.

Our Favourite Family Friendly Lodges

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; or simply the smile that results as the sun sets over the horizon turning the sky pink, purple and blue. Africa has so much to offer for all souls – young and old.

That’s why we recommend staying at one of our favourite family friendly lodges. Have a look at the lodges below to get inspired. You won’t be disappointed.

Lelapa Lodge at Madikwe Safari Lodge

Lelapa Lodge is the quintessential safari adventure for the whole family, and it specifically caters for families with children. 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. Each suite has its own private plunge pool, and spectacular views over the African bushveld. Set against the backdrop of the savannah, and simply teeming with wildlife, Lelapa Lodge is the ideal family escape.

Tswalu Lodge in the 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 for 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.

Tswalu Game Reserve. Southern Kalahari. Northern Cape. South Africa.

Londolozi in Sabi Sands

Sabi Sands is possibly the most famous private game reserve in the southern hemisphere. For high quality game-viewing, Sabi Sands is the place to be because of the incredible number of predators in the area. Londolozi proudly boasts the title of ‘best hotel in the world’ which it was given by the Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards in 2014. For the ultimate family safari, families should be sure to stay at Varty Camp. What makes Varty Camp so special is the fact that it is so committed to bringing families the very best in luxury and entertainment that it even has a special itinerary just for children. Varty Camp puts family first and children are always warmly welcomed.

For more information about our family friendly safaris, please visit our site here.

Property of the Month – Tswalu

Proudly presenting Tswalu, the ultimate luxury safari destination and September’s Property of the Month! Situated in the heart of the Kalahari this lodge has recently been ranked 6th in the Best Hotels in the World. We’ve been lucky enough to visit Tswalu recently and it really is a truly magical destination and one that has a special place in our hearts. 

Tswalu is 100 000ha (240 000 acres) of pristine Kalahari wilderness. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, this is the largest private game reserve in southern Africa and bares testament to the family’s commitment to authentic conservation and opulent luxury. Motse Lodge sleeps just 24 people in ultimate comfort while Tarkuni is a stunning ten bed villa.

Tswalu Supports Tracker Academy Fundraiser

Before we say more we’d like to thank Tswalu for supporting our Tracker Academy Fundraiser taking place in Atlanta on the 3rd of October. One lucky couple will be taking home a once-in-a-lifetime Tswalu experience.

Tarkuni Special

There is currently an incredible special on Tarkuni: Stay for 4, Pay for 3 nights. Valid 30th June – 31 December 2017.

Out in the wild, the game viewing is breathtaking be it from the back of a 4 X 4 safari vehicle, the saddle of an impeccably behaved horse or on foot. Tswalu is the ultimate luxury safari destination in the heart of the magical Kalahari.

The Tarkuni Experience

This sumptuous villa is the personal home of the Oppenheimer family when they are in residence. Tarkuni lies in a secluded valley for ultimate seclusion in this vast wilderness. The home boasts five magnificent, individually decorated suites and stunning lounge and dining areas with cosy fires for cold nights – this is the ideal retreat for large families or groups. The shaded pool and sala are perfect spaces from which to appreciate the magic of the Kalahari.

Tarkuni comes with a personalised and exclusive butler, chef, guide and tracker – you can tailor your safari experience according to the whims of your group. It really is built for pure family bliss.

Promotion includes:

Luxury full board accommodation
Private guide, vehicle, and tracker
Walking safaris
Horse rides
All beverages and full selection from our award winning winelist
In-suite honour bar & gourmet pantry
Laundry and valet service
Wireless internet access
Children’s Junior Ranger programme and babysitting
National telephone calls

Other highlights of this sensational property include:

Award-winning Spa

The award-winning Tswalu Kalahari Spa boasts a tranquil indigenous garden, a yoga sala and a gym for the more energetic. Exercise or enjoy a relaxing treatment under the gentle hands of one of Tswalu’s remarkable therapists.

Vast, untrammelled wilderness

100 000ha is a vast swathe of magnificent wilderness and, unless you are staying for more than a month, you will experience just a fraction of what this incredible piece of the Kalahari has to offer. Traditional safari vehicles offer the chance to explore large areas of the reserve and a full day out in the winter, with a delicious picnic, is an excellent way to travel to some of the further flung regions. The stables house horses for every level of rider and game viewing on horseback is a unique opportunity for the adventurous. Possibly the ultimate wilderness activity at Tswalu is tracking a black rhino on foot – the Kalahari vegetation facilitates a safe and awe-inspiring experience with your highly-trained guide.

Unique Fauna

The Kalahari boasts many unique species of animals and in fact has large populations of some that sadly in other areas have been almost eradicated. Endangered desert black rhino, roan, sable, tsesebe, mountain zebra, aardvark, and pangolin are among these and another 70 species of mammals can be seen. Predators include the world-famous Kalahari lions and their huge black manes. Cheetah sightings are excellent and it is possible to see leopard, wild dog and both spotted and brown hyena. You don’t go more than a few minutes on a game-drive here withouth seeing something incredible and lots of it – the quantity of game is unfathomable.

Ancient history

If you are interested in our origins as human beings, Tswalu is home to some of the oldest artefacts and engravings from the San Bushman.

Photography

The endless panoramas and unique suites of animals, the plains, the mountains, the rocks, the sun, the moon and the stars offer photographers an endless palate of delightful opportunities. The colours of the Kalahari are completely unique and make for incredible photos . With the deep reds of the sand, the yellows and greens of the savanna and the cobalt blue skies you can’t go wrong!

For more on Tswalu, the Tracker Academy Event or the Tarkuni special please be sure to contact us.

Where to See Leopards in Africa

The leopard is without a doubt the most beautiful and most elusive member of the Big Five. It’s the most sought after sighting amongst tourists and one that safari guides across Africa spend their days in search of. If you are lucky enough to see a leopard in your life… that moment will be one that you remember and treasure forever.

Leopards are solitary and stealthy predators whose mastery of camouflage makes them very difficult to spot. To increase your chance of seeing them you need to find their prime habitats where concentrations are greatest. It also really helps if guides are able to take you on night drives as well as drive off road in the reserve to follow these magnificent predators. A leopard sighting is truly a sight to behold but unfortunately seeing them really is down to luck. However, if you go to one of the 5 places listed below you will most definitely have better odds of witnessing this definitive wildlife experience.

Sabi Sands, South Africa

The Sabi Sands situated on the Kruger National Park’s western boundary has an incredibly high concentration of leopard. Within the Sabi Sands your best bet is most definitely Londolozi as this pinnacle safari destination prides itself in its incredible relationship with its leopards. The reserve contains hoards of the perfect leopard prey, its lush habitat and expanse of dense trees makes is perfect for leopards and guides are allowed to drive off road and at night in search of them.

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Click here to read our five favorite stories from the famous Londolozi blog.

Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Moremi is a truly special place as it surrounds much of the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s wildlife hotspot. With herds of small antelope, monkeys, warthogs and the like the grassy floodplains and tall forest are prime leopard country. Most of the camps allow night and off-road driving which helps considerably too. Chiefs Camp in particular sits on the Delta’s largest island and is renowned for some of the best big game viewing in all of Africa and most notably leopard viewing.

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Samburu & Masai Mara Reserves, Kenya

The Samburu and Masai Mara National Reserves both have great reputations for excellent leopard sightings. Samburu a dry woodland area and the Mara an open rolling grassland are both prime leopard habitats. Leopards lie especially along the rivers, in the trees and in amongst the kopjes awaiting the arrival of their prey often which consist of the great herds that move annually into the areas.

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South Luangwa, Zambia

The exquisite South Luangwa Valley in central Zambia boasts one of the highest concentrations of leopard in Africa due to its high concentrations of prey. A wide and fertile alluvial plain nourished by the Luangwa River, the park’s wildlife ranges from aardvark to zebra and it has long been known for its dense concentrations of predators, especially lions and leopards. South Luangwa camps also offer some of Africa’s best walking safaris, which enable you to prowl this big predator country on foot!

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Kalahari Desert, Namibia and South Africa

The Kalahari Desert is a large “waterless” desert covering most of Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. It is hot and rainfall is minimal but it is also home to a large collection of leopard, which graze and cool off by the few rivers in amongst the sandy plains, mostly up North towards Namibia.

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A leopard sighting is one of life’s true wonders, an experience you will never forget and one that will leave you speechless and covered (head to toe) in goosebumps! We wish you all the best on your quest to get up close and personal with Africa’s most magnificent predator.

Samp and Gem Squash Risotto

“This Risotto features Samp as the hero ingredient – replacing risotto rice with an African staple that has a lovely al dente crunch and creaminess. I’ve also added in one of my favourite vegetables – gem squash, for a delicious gentle nuttiness. It’s perfect for our chilly African winter at this time of year, but just as delicious in warmer weather with a chilled glass of white wine. Oh, and yes it tastes even better if you cook it in a traditional South African ‘potjie’ pot :).” Sarah Graham.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 gem squash, halved
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp Willow Creek Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (or use thyme or oregano)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup samp, rinsed and soaked for at least 2 hours
  • ½ cup Durbanville Hills White wine (optional, otherwise use extra stock)
  • 2 cups good quality chicken or vegetable stock
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan (or hard cheese of your choice)
  • Fresh parsley, roughly chopped, to serve (or oregano)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

What to do

1. Add your gem squash halves to a large pot of salted boiling water. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through and the flesh can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove, drain and set aside to cool before removing the seeds.

2. Meanwhile, add your butter and olive oil to a large heavy-based pot over medium-high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add in your chopped onion and herbs and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened and are translucent.

3. Add in your garlic and samp and stir well until the samp is well coated in any remaining oil and butter. Add in your wine and stir until the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.

4. Add in your stock gradually, ladle by ladle, and leave to simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed. Then add the milk until and the samp is cooked through and creamy. Add a little extra water or stock along the way if necessary. It should be creamy and not too dry.

5. Scoop out the flesh of the gem squash and add it to the risotto. Stir until everything is well mixed together. Add in your Parmesan, check for seasoning and serve immediately in warmed bowls with a little extra grated Parmesan and fresh parsley to garnish.

Photo from ‘Sarah Graham’s Food Safari Season 2’ by Ricardo de Leça.

For more of Sarah’s delicious Food Safari recipes click here. 

 

 

Africa’s Top 5 Bucket-list Experiences

If travelling to Africa isn’t on your bucket list yet, we’re here to tell you why it should most definitely be. We have compiled a list of the top five African experiences that we think definitely deserve a place on your bucket list. We even have great links to spectacular, first-class places for you to stay at while you cross off your African bucket list items. These are the types of experiences that will remain entrenched in your memory… forever!

  1. Witness the Great Wildebeest Migration.

Known as the ‘greatest wildlife show on earth,’ the Great Migration is a mind-blowing phenomenon that should not be missed by anyone who loves Africa. For a sneak peak of this incredible spectacle watch our video here. Over a million wildebeest make their way through the vast plains of the Serengeti to find better grazing areas. It is the most exquisite mass movement of land animals that takes place in the entire world. Escape to the Serengeti and spend some time in the National Park. If exclusive, and incredible game viewing is what you love, why not stay at Sasakwa House in Singita Sasakwa? It has exquisite views of the infinite Serengeti plains, and it gives one the feeling of going back in time to the colonial era. Singita Faru Faru is another gorgeous option, with its very own beach, and its classic safari lodge feel.

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  1. Climb Table Mountain.

If you’re planning a trip to the Cape, be sure to add hiking up Table Mountain to your bucket list. Once you’re at the top, you can admire the breath-taking view of Cape Town and you will realize the immense scale of the steep mountain slopes and the vast reach of the sparkling blue ocean. There are plenty of places to stay in Cape Town, from the grandiose Cape Grace Hotel to the Victorian beauty that is the Cape Cadogan which dates back to the 1800s, there is truly something for everyone.

  1. Soak in the beauty of Victoria Falls.

Victoria Falls is an astounding natural wonder and it is the largest curtain of water in the world. The magic that is Victoria Falls deserves a place on anyone’s bucket list. We recommend staying at the Royal Livingstone Hotel if Victorian elegance is what you’re after. The Victoria Falls Hotel is another delightful place to stay with its tranquil gardens and its Edwardian grandeur. Wherever you stay, we guarantee that you will fall in love with the enchanting Victoria Falls.

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  1. Taste award-winning wine in the Cape Winelands.

Without a doubt, touring the Cape Winelands should certainly be on your bucket list. The Winelands boast spectacular views of captivating mountains and century old vineyards. If you’re looking for a place to stay, we suggest the idyllic valley of Franschhoek. Le Quartier Francais is one of our most favourite establishments. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to truly experience all that this incredible village has to offer. It has an uncanny ability to remind one of a time gone by.

  1. Visit the Kalahari Desert and walk with the Bushmen.

The Bushmen of the Kalahari are the nomads that have lived in the Kalahari Desert for thousands of years. They are remarkable hunters and experts at finding underwater springs. They make their own medicine by using plants from the Kalahari. No one would want to miss out on such an informative and interesting experience. You can stay in Tswalu at the Motse Lodge which is in the heart of the spellbinding Kalahari Desert. It is a place of ultimate peace and is the epitome of a luxury safari destination.

For more ideas on what incredible African experiences to add to your bucket list click here.