The Perfect African Family Adventure

School vacations come around more often than not, and planning the perfect family getaway can be stressful – especially when the kids want activity-filled adventure and parents need the down-time. Waiting for that itinerary to plan itself when you have children is tantamount to it never actually materialising.

Unless you have thought of it all – from interacting with other kids and a plethora of activities, you can forget that R&R time you had planned. But what if we told you that you didn’t have to be the ringmaster to your own circus? Imagine a vacation where your kids are entertained, you get to have that full body massage and sip on cocktails you can’t pronounce while everyone gets to enjoy an indulgent level of sumptuous luxury!

Let us do all the planning so that you can have the best of both worlds – happy kids and a relaxed mind and body. We have taken a hands-on approach with our family vacation itinerary that keeps your children in mind and focuses on keeping your whole family happy.

 

Africa’s Family Getaway is the ultimate luxury bespoke family holiday. It is full of excitement, adventure and fun. It is also completely safe for young children. The One&Only Cape Town is perfectly placed and appointed to accommodate your family in luxury while being an excellent launch pad to the delights of the Cape. Lelapa is malaria free and by far the premier luxury safari camp for families with a quite exceptional children’s programme amidst gorgeous wilderness and opulent accommodation. Likewise Tongabezi is specially equipped and staffed to delight the modern family with adventure and fun in complete safety and extravagance.

ITINERARY

DAY 1-3: VIBRANCY AND FRESH LUXURY FAMILY REFUGE

The One & Only is a modern and energetic, hotel in the heart of Cape Town. The suites all have sweeping views out over Table Mountain or the picturesque working harbour.

Every possible modern convenience completes the opulence of the space and the commodious bathrooms boast huge baths and showers.

Cape Town and its surrounding Winelands are packed full of fun for the whole family.

DAY 4-7: AFRICA’S SEAMLESS SAFARI FAMILY RETREAT

Lelapa, meaning family is another of the More family’s sublime properties. Situated in the malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve and with a great children’s safari, Lelapa is the ideal destination for a family safari.

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.

DAY 8-10: THE PERFECT VICTORIAN FALLS FAMILY SANCTUARY

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. There are endless activities for the whole family surrounding the mighty Zambezi and the lodge boasts private decks and terraces where families can relax in privacy with breath-taking views of the river.

Some of the suites come with a private valet, chef, guide, boat and vehicle for exploration.

Click here for full interactive itinerary.

Stargazing in Southern Africa

We all love catching flights, meeting new people and seeing new places; but have you ever thought that maybe there was a different, perhaps better form of travel? Once in a while we should all move beyond the urban noise and light pollution and look up – you’ll be surprised what you can see! From here you will embark on a spectacular journey, going through space and time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re only spotting little speckles up above or simply looking at moon craters… what you’ll find will be equally intoxicating, and even sentimental.

Many travellers may associate South Africa’s little treasures with the Big Five, pristine private coves and great food. But travel beyond the city lights and just two hours later, in one of the semi-remote areas that’s free of air and noise pollution you will have no distractions from what’s twinkling in the sky.

Despite frozen toes and cold noses, winter evenings are our particularly favourite time to discover the artistic blotchy sky.

Next time you’re visiting, take a moment to look up – whether you’re looking to find the brightest star, Earth’s closest neighbouring galaxy or just want to see a brightly-lit sky with the naked eye or a giant telescope, here are our top five locations where stargazing conditions couldn’t be better to see scattered diamonds:

  1. Madikwe Game Reserve

If you’ve been to the North West Province, you’ll know that there’s very little availability in the reserve at one time. While this is primarily perfect for those seeking privacy, it is also the perfect location for some stargazing. Easily spotted star formations include the Southern Cross and the Milky Way. And if you want a closer look, Royal Madikwe allows guests to use their telescope.

  1. Kruger National Park

The Kruger National Park is synonymous with iconic game-viewing – South Africa’s favourite travel destination and the second-largest park in Africa.  This unpolluted expanse of sky is perfect to see celestial constellations with the naked eye. So while you’re out on one of your night drives, glance up at the star-studded skies.

  1. Maropeng, Cradle of Humankind

Just two hours from Johannesburg is Maropeng, the visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although it is considerable close to the bright lights of the city, it is still a great stargazing location. So you don’t have to travel far to go on a celestial safari! And the next time you layover in Johannesburg, be sure to include stargazing to your to-do-list.  Maropeng has regular overseen stargazing sessions presented by astronomer, Vincent Nettmann.

  1. Sutherland

Sutherland holds the southern hemisphere’s largest telescope and offers extraordinary views of the Milky Way. This small Karoo town is on every list of prime stargazing locations. The dry climate and cloud-free nights means unparalleled observations 80% of the year.

  1. The Cederberg

Just two hours from Cape Town and protected from light pollution, the Cederberg is a haven for professional and amateur stargazers. Guides will show you how to trace over constellations with a powerful emerald laser so you’ll always remember where to find them.

The Celestial Big Five

Did you know that the African sky has its own big five? They are the amazing star clusters, gas clouds and galaxies visible from Africa. The Celestial Big Five are the Southern Pleiades, the Omega Centauri star cluster, the Eta Carinae nebula, the Coalsack Nebula, and the Southern Milky Way. They can all be seen with the naked eye, but are more spectacular when viewed through binoculars or a telescope. We’ve named just a few of our favourites – South Africa is full of remote spots that are ideal to see brightly-lit skies. Make that magical connection between you and the amazing universe and let us know where you’ve been!

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 tranquility of Marataba

This month’s property of the month is the ultimate arcadian weekend getaway, perfect for those seeking a wildlife retreat to restore tired minds and bodies. Marataba occupies a small slice of the 23 000 hectare concession.  After a short 3 hour drive from Johannesburg to the dramatic Waterberg Mountains, you will arrive at the magnificent Marakele National Park in Limpopo – making it an easy escape.

Marataba Trails Lodge Luxury Safari Africa Waterberg

If you’re wondering why Marataba was chosen as this month’s property of the month – picture an entire concession all to yourself. As the only lodge in the area, guests are guaranteed privacy, exclusivity and luxury! Explore any or every area of this wilderness with no other vehicle in sight – you won’t have to share any sunrise, sunset, wildlife or landscape vista.

Marataba Trails Lodge Hiking Walking Waterberg

Most fervent travellers expect and receive typical luxury safari incentives – the romantic bush dinners; blazing fires on winter evenings; artisanal drinks and gourmet dishes. And while Marataba prides itself in offering guests the most exclusively styled modern-tented suites, there is something more intriguing about this accommodation than its stunning contemporary design! Without invalidating the ingenious use of timber, canvas and stone-packed walls, the diverse wildlife and serenity is as attractive as the rooms!

Marataba Safari Lodge Suite Deck

Seen as a place of sanctuary for both wildlife and people, Marataba has become an Eden. Africa’s Big Five and so many other rare species such as roan, sable, mountain reedbuck and the endangered Cape Vulture have settled here and are readily spotted.

Marataba Safari Lodge River Cruise

While the retreat is only a short distance from the bustling city of Johannesburg, guests are transported to what feels like thousands of miles away. You will find the area in an untainted condition with the red mountain rock consuming the luscious green plains as the colours merge into one another. Rivers cut through the land, sustaining herds of wild animals such as the spotted hyena, the warthog, and bat eared foxes. As you ascend in the safari vehicle, you will leave all your worries behind.

Marataba Safari Lodge Boma Evenings

Find yourself amidst the unobtrusive silence with tailor-made exclusive yoga retreats that will realign your aura and help centre yourself. What better place to conjure up an image of motionless than in the mountains! Heighten your senses with the least amount of manufactured distractions and relish the beauty of Mother Nature.

Marataba Safari Lodge Dining Area

Being rendered breathless by everything that surrounds you is part of the rediscovery as you naturally connect with nature. Find a spot that speaks to you, lay down a mat and meditate or practice Asana. Or practice your pose on the deck that overlooks the valley.

At the apex of the mountain, you will feel revitalised… Now only knowing relaxation, you can pick up a cold beverage and relax beside the infinity rock pool and watch the sun give way to the moon at the end of another peaceful day.

Contact us here to help you rediscover your very best self at Marataba!

SAVE 40% on our Black Friday Family Safari Special

BREAKING NEWS: More prices slashed!

SAVE 40% with our Black Friday Family Safari Special and experience an once-in-a-lifetime luxury Africa family vacation with this unforgettable 9 day tour including Cape Town and Madikwe Game Reserve.

For FULL ITINERARY and PRICE click HERE.

Valid for booking only from 08h00 on Friday 23 November through to 23h00 on Monday 26 November.

ENQUIRE NOW or call us: United States +1 888 345 3443 or South Africa: +27 82 411 5776

Availability is limited so contact us as soon as possible so we can make your African safari dream come true.

Black Friday Family Safari Special

4 Nights – More Quarters Hotel, Cape Town

Spend your first 4 nights at thenestled in the shadows of spectacular Lion’s Head mountain. This beautiful home-away-from-home is ideal for families and couples seeking privacy and the romance of the Cape.

4 Nights – Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

You’ll then be chartered and transferred to Madikwe Game Reserve for 4 nights. This extravagant lodge is spread between two picturesque and boulder strewn hills.

Includes:

Meet and greet at Cape Town Airport and transfer to More Quarters Hotel.

4 night’s accommodation at More Quarters Hotel in a 2 Bedroom Apartment on a bed and breakfast basis.

Road transfer from More Quarters Hotel to Cape Town Airport.

Scheduled flight from Cape Town Airport to O.R. Tambo Airport.

Scheduled flight from O.R. Tambo Airport to Madikwe Game Reserve.

Return 4×4 game drive vehicle transfers between Madikwe Airstrip and Madikwe Safari Lodge.

4 night’s accommodation at Madikwe Safari Lodge in a Family Suite on a fully inclusive basis.

Scheduled flight from Madikwe Game Reserve to O.R. Tambo Airport, Johannesburg.

Excludes:

International flights (into Cape Town and out of Johannesburg).

Travel insurance.

Items of a personal nature.

Gratuities.

Terms & Conditions

Valid for bookings made from 08h00 – 23 November through to23h00 – 26 November SA time.

After hours contacts from 17h00 until 23h00 on Friday and Monday.

Valid for travel between 04 January and 30 April 2019. Further discounts apply for travel between 01 and 31 May 2019.

This deal is subject to currency fluctuations and seat and accommodation availability at time of booking. Tour length can be reduced if required, subject to T&C’s.  For other Black Friday tours, look here.

Hurry and book now!

 

 

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.

Jamala Madikwe In Pictures

Presented with the 2017 American Express Fine Dining Award; and the Best Safari cuisine in Africa two years in a row, Jamala Madikwe is one of our top food-safari destinations. The in-house award-winning chef, Nico Verster, presents magnificent artworks that titillate the senses with a selection of mouth-watering treats that double-up as a sight for sore eyes. Guests wait in anticipation to dine uncovered beneath Africa’s water-coloured skies. Infamous for modern gastronomic techniques, Verster creates luxury-meals served with a side of colonial charm that mirrors Jamala Madikwe’s personality.

But the scrumptious and attractive edibles are not the only reason we spend our free time day-dreaming about this splendid retreat – basking in exclusivity and privacy, Jamala Madikwe is a very special property.

Accommodating only 10 guests at a time, each of the five freestanding villas is positioned a distance from each other and the main lodge to ensure that you have absolute privacy and quiet – perfect for honeymooners and relaxation. Owner-run, this property prides itself on its attention to detail, ensuring you always feel like royalty.

The villas are perfectly positioned beneath lead-wood trees that create an elegant canopy – compelling an extravagant romance. Retire to your extra-large king size bed and enjoy the wanders of passing wildlife or fall asleep to the hum of Africa.

The interior luxury is juxtaposed against the backdrop of the savannah that is given life from the Marico River. Step on to your private veranda and oscillate between the rugged, surreal African Bush and colonial opulence of your living quarters that overlook the reserve’s own watering hole.

We can exhaust all adjectives trying to describe the magnificence of the villas private rim-flow pools and salas; expansive viewing decks and outdoor showers, but words aren’t able to pronounce the superlative luxury and intimate privacy these villas offer.

Here are our hand-picked images of Jamala Madikwe’s thoughtfully chosen interiors that combine colonial contemplation and unconventional African inspiration; picturesque dishes; and unimaginable vistas that contribute to this lodge being one of our most aesthetically pleasing accommodations.

 

Click here to read more about this property and the incomparable experiences it offers.

 

 

A ‘Workation’ in Africa

Vacations are synonymous with relaxation, unwinding and ‘switching off’. Many travellers, couples and families head to destinations where they have no access to WI-FI, cell service, or contact with the outside world. It is a time for rejuvenation, healing and time spent with loved ones. There’s probably a link between increased endorphins and setting up your out-of-office reply, but not everyone has the advantage of a Monday to Friday work-week or enough leave days to actually vacate reality and escape.

In this day and age – many of us take our work with us, everywhere, even on vacation. This has progressed the mobile office space to a new level, and has recently been referred to as a ‘workation’.  Sometimes a change of environment is enough to catch a break. The watercolour sunsets and mirages may even bring inspiration. This new way of working has seen many travel-hungry businessmen successfully accomplish tasks while seeing the world.

But internet connectivity in some parts of the world can be sporadic at best and remote areas often have poor signal, let alone bandwith. Unreliable connections makes checking-in and social engagement a frustrating experience.

We have put together our top five ‘workation’ destinaions for those who need to retreat back into the wild but can’t leave their e-mails behind:

  1. Madikwe, South Africa

The possibility is that you would rather want to take in Madikwe’s panoramic views instead of hear your message notifications come in, but this luxury safari lodge offers guests excellent complimentary WI-FI throughout the lodge, laptop loans and business facilities for those who like to travel light.

  1. White Pearl, Mozambique

Here’s an opportunity to work hard and play hard. It is almost certain that you will have the chance to swim amongst dolphins or view migrating humpback whales while you’re strolling on the beach or reclining on your private deck. This ultimate African experience may inspire some creativity or give you the motivation to finish that task! While the guest areas have been designed for relaxation and romance, stretch out on your bed or day lounger and keep updated or simply post those magnificent pictures of the crystal blue water using the complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi.

  1. Mara Plains Camp, Kenya

Kenya is unparalleled in sceneries and adventure and Mara Plains Camp rolls both into one at one of the most iconic destinations in Africa. It’s not only millennials that will have a hard time not sharing these magical moments with the world as it happens. Luckily, Safaricom provides a decent 3G network in most parts of Kenya, and Mara Plains Camp offers mobile network to guests.

  1. Tongabezi, Zambia

Most travellers head to Tongabezi for a romantic stay. But posting those dreamy pictures to your Instagram may be more important than work e-mails. Catch up with loved ones and post those pictures that will have all your friends envious using the area around Victoria Falls and Livingstone’s mobile connectivity or Tongabezi’s uncapped Wi-Fi.

  1. All our properties in the Sabi Sands, Kruger National Park

There’s no need to put off spending time in the bush. You can have it all – rest in a sanctuary for both humans and wildlife, and work at the same time while enjoying five star accommodation and fine dining opportunities. The Wi-Fi signal is strong in the one place you wish you could switch off…

Lions Sands Ivory Lodge Lounge Interior 2 Iconic Africa Luxury Safaris

May your travels take you where the signal is strong, but don’t forget to take the time to stop, switch off, submerge yourself in the amazing surroundings and let the magic of Africa wash over you.

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!

The Big Five – Fun Facts

‘The Big Five of Africa’ is one of the most relentlessly searched for and often mentioned phrases.

The term “big five” began as a way of referring to the five animals most difficult to hunt on foot. The lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo were the five large African mammal species that were known to hunters as dangerous and successfully hunting them was considered an accomplishment.

However, today the expression takes a much gentler approach – referring to seeing the majestic wildlife species on safari in Africa. These friendly giants are frequently sought-after for sightings, encounters and photo opportunities.

Given the formidable five’s status and significance, here are some interesting facts about the lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and buffalo that we thought you might find interesting:

Lion:

The lion is Africa’s top predator and the second largest big cat in the world. Roaming the savannah grasslands and open plains of Africa, these social felines are the only cats that live in groups (prides) and need a lot of contact with each other. The lions will greet each other by rubbing their heads against one another, exchanging scents that convey information about their intentions, moods and recent activities.

Females share a particularly strong bond as they remain in the same pride for life and raise their cubs together. They do all the hunting, and the males get the first helping – even when there are cubs in the pride. The hunting is done mostly at night as lions can see in the dark. They are not completely nocturnal so their most active time is just before sunrise or just after sunset. However, they are opportunistic feeders and will hunt at any time.

A lion’s roar can be heard up to 5 miles (8km) away, enabling them to communicate with each other over large distances. They spend most of their time sleeping and can sleep up to 20 hours a day!

iconic-africa-kruger-national-park-leopard luxury african safaris

Leopard:

The leopard is nocturnal, solitary and secretive, staying hidden during the day. They are the least seen of the Big Five. These antisocial cats avoid interacting with each other beyond mating and raising young cubs.

Leopards are excellent at climbing trees and will often safeguard their kill in a tree to prevent lions and hyenas from stealing it. They are also strong swimmers and occasionally eat fish and crabs. Leopards can drag prey weighing up to three times their own body weight up into trees over 20 feet (6 meters) tall.

Leopards don’t roar, they bark and snarl. When they are happy they even purr. But this is not only what makes them unique – they are the most adaptable felines! Inhabiting some of the most diverse environments of all the big cats, such as both deserts and forests – their ability to survive across a range of habitats has enabled leopard populations to survive in far flung parts of the world.

Rhino:

The rhino is the most endangered species of the Big Five. The illegal trade of rhino poaching is being driven by an Asian demand for horns, made worse by increasingly sophisticated poachers. Very few rhinos now survive outside national parks and reserves.

A rhino’s horn is not attached to its skull. If it breaks off it will grow back again.

The white and black rhino have no teeth and hence rely on their lips for eating.

Rhinos have poor vision and will sometimes attack trees and rocks by accident. However, their hearing and sense of smell are excellent, thus often making up for their poor eyesight.

Elephant:

Many trees in West African forests – at least one third – rely on evolved seeds to pass through an elephant’s digestive tract for dissemination and germination.

African elephants communicate across large distances at a low frequency that cannot be heard by humans.

Under Africa’s scorching sun, elephants get sunburnt too! They throw sand on their backs and heads to prevent sunburn and keep insects off their skin. And even though their skins are incredibly tough, they can feel those tiny insect walking on their skin!

When baby elephants are born, they are almost blind and some individuals suck their trunks for comfort, similar to the way young humans suck their thumbs.

Elephants love to swim and are able to swim for long distances. They use their trunks as makeshift snorkels. The trunk is also used for grabbing, bathing, smelling, drinking and can pick up something as small as a grain of rice.

Buffalo Walking Safaris Iconic Africa

Buffalo:

A buffalo’s primary predator is the lion. It will try to rescue another member who has been caught or hurt and has often been observed killing a lion after it has killed a member of the group. Unlike the water buffalo – whom has an uncanny resemblance to the African buffalo – the latter is dangerous and has never been domesticated.

Dangerous, and rightly so! Buffalo are said to have killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. They still kill over 200 people every year earning them the reputation and nickname of ‘Black Death’ and ‘Widow Maker’.

Our safari-goers from across the world are eager to spot the famous rhino, leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant combination. Contact us now to learn more about our safaris to Africa’s finest Big Five viewing reserves!

Traveller Review – Pelton Family

The Pelton family recently returned from their vacation at Lelapa lodge in Madikwe. They had a wonderful time and we hope to see them again soon! Here’s what Jackie Pelton had to say:

Lelapa – truly means Family – Wonderful holiday family travel experience!

“We just returned from 3 nights at Madikwe Lelapa Lodge with 17 of our family members (3 generations, ranging in age from almost 2 to 70 years old). We had 9 children (14 and under), 6 parents and a set of grandparents. What a wonderful experience we had. Lelapa means family, and by the end of our days there we felt like family with the staff at Madikwe. And I must admit 3 nights didn’t seem long enough…

We arrived in 2 shifts on Christmas Eve. Staff greeted us with cool towels and lots of hugs. They took our luggage to our rooms where we found lovely notes for our families and small ornaments and candy for the children as gifts. The first group to arrive made it in time for the evening game drive where they saw lots of animals and an amazing sunset. The second group arrived just in time for dinner (definitely plan on at least a 5 hour drive for Johannesburg; and don’t be fooled, once we entered the gates to Madikwe Game Reserve it was still another 45 minutes to the lodge, but it was worth it!)

Dinner the first night was in the Boma – and special it was. Fire-pit, barbeque and serenaded by song and drums. Our children LOVED it and within minutes we felt like family with the staff of Lelapa. The lodge itself is quite nice. I mean it is Africa, so there were some bugs (spiders, mosquitos, etc.) in our room but nothing crazy. We had reserved 3 family suites with bunk beds which were perfect for those of us with young children (the bunk bed room was sweet and cozy, and they provided a pack n play for our toddler as well) and 2 other rooms for individual couples. The rooms were spacious and housekeeping service was excellent. We loved our little deck with outdoor shower and plunge pool – we even saw the elephants making their way to the watering hole right from our deck. The rooms are all along a path on either side of the main lodge. The family rooms are close to the pool, and a short walk back to the main lodge. Only after dark did we need to call for security to escort us to and from our rooms. On the other side of the main lodge were individual rooms and the Eco House for children’s activities.

Meals were fantastic. They truly catered to our every need (we had children, vegetarians and nut allergies in our group, so it wasn’t easy). We were never hungry with 3 big meals as well as snacks on both game drives, a morning snack before the drive and afternoon tea. And the adults enjoyed plenty of drinks as well.

We ended up with two guides: Josh and Mitchell, since our group was so large. They were both fantastic. So knowledgeable about the game reserve, the animals and could answer just about any question we asked. They were great with the kids (and with the adults too!)

One evening drive was cancelled due to a very large rain storm – but we managed to make the most of it with games and drinks in the lodge. Throughout our stay we managed to see 3 of the big 5 (lion, elephant and rhino) and loads of other animals, big and small. My mother really wanted to see the wild African dogs and Josh went out of his way to bring her to see them! She was thrilled. We truly got an “off road” experience going through the bush and over water, to seek out the animals. What an adventure!

Back at the lodge, there were lots of activities for the children. Painting, scavenger hunt, learning about animals, and of course the pool. The pool was beautiful, and we were lucky enough to find elephants, giraffe, zebras, wildebeests and more that came right to the watering hole by the pool. It was truly amazing. Christmas lunch by the pool was lovely. The other meals (other than the one in the Boma) were served in the main lodge.


We had a little excitement when 1 child needed stitches but the staff handled it like pros and quickly got the child/parent/grandparent off to the closest hospital with Wayne at the wheel and they even packed snacks for the 3 hour journey (P.S., child is just fine!)

We fully expected to take advantage of the child care while we were there for our youngest who is 2, but in the end she was able to join us on all of our game drives because we had a private vehicle (and she is extremely well-behaved, you wouldn’t want to take a crying baby on a game drive, that’s for sure!). But I do know that had we decided to leave her back, she would have been well-cared for by the staff at Lelapa.

Honestly, with a group of 17 and the wide range of ages, we knew it would be tough to please everyone. But we can truthfully say it was one of the best family vacations (if not the best, and we’ve travelled extensively as a large group). Everyone at Lelapa was really great: from Dreeine, Doreen, Natasha to Josh and Mitchell, Beauty, Kebla, the waitstaff, night watchman/security Daniel, housekeeping, bartenders, etc. We honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more!

One thing I will say, if you’re not traveling with children, I would perhaps book a stay at one of the other 2 Madikwe lodges. Lelapa is definitely child-friendly, and I felt bad for the lovely couple who was there on their own while we had 9 children with us!

THANK YOU LELAPA – WE HOPE TO BE BACK ONE DAY, PERHAPS WHEN THE BABY CAN TRULY ENJOY HER OWN SAFARI EXPERIENCE!”

A big thank you again to the Pelton family for this lovely review. Until next time…