Perfecting your Johannesburg Layover

There’s nothing worse than getting off a 15 hour flight and having to spend another 12 hours at Africa’s busiest airport. Because O.R Tambo International Airport is not as close to the city centre as we would like it to be – and with peak time traffic setting people back by a couple of hours, staying at the airport can sometimes be your best bet. But even with the many duty-free shops, restaurants and lounges, it can be cumbersome when you need to occupy yourself for half a day. But long layovers make managing your time easier and allow you to explore a city you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Walking Safaris Iconic Africa Zebras

Make sure you consider the time it will take to get through passport control, collect your luggage and check in again; and set aside at least an hour travel time from and to the airport. Before planning your layover itinerary, look at what time you land. Consider the time and distance as certain activities will be closed and tours will not operate after dark. Whether you’re in the City of Gold for the day or staying over at one of the airport hotels, here are our top suggestions to do on a layover in Johannesburg:

The airport is situated approximately 25 kilometres from the city centre. Don’t get too excited… Johannesburg is known for its congested traffic and these 25 kilometers can sometimes take up to 2 hours by car. The quickest way to get to the CBD is with the Gautrain – getting you to Sandton within 20 minutes. The travel card is available for purchase and can be topped up at the airport and stations.

difference between national park and game reserve sunset

Emperor’s Palace

A stone’s throw away from the airport is Emperor’s Palace Casino and Entertainment Resort – home to the “Codesa Walk”.  Whether you’re travelling solo and need some pampering or with small children, Emperor’s Palace has something for everyone. Relax and have a sit-down meal, play some Russian roulette or try not to have more fun than the kids in the entertainment area. This wonderland has some retail therapy options for the ladies, a live theatre and a cinema.


Take the Gautrain to Sandton – one of the most upmarket areas in Johannesburg with some of the most exquisite hotels. Enjoy a meal at Mandela Square and stroll around the Sandton City Mall.

The Carlton Centre
Gather panoramic views of Johannesburg from the fiftieth floor in Africa’s tallest building – The Carlton Centre at an astounding 202 meters high. The Centre also has a hotel, cinemas and Johannesburg’s biggest shopping centre.

Soweto Tour

If you have the day at leisure, book a tour through Soweto, the South Arica’s most popular township. Soweto is home to more than one million people, which once included Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. You will get to see the Hector Pietersen Memorial and the Kliptown Open Air Museum.

Lion Park

There’s no better time than layover time to get up close and personal with some big cats. Visit the Lion Park about 45 minutes away by car. You can pet the cubs also see ostriches, zebras and giraffes.

Constitution Hill

Catch the Gautrain to Park Station in Braamfontein from where you can walk to Constitution Hill. Here rests the South African Constitutional Court, an old military fort Women’s Jail and the prison where Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and many others were held.

Gold Reef City

Depending on the time of day, you can take a 40 minute drive east and visit Gold Reef City. This is the ultimate fun town suitable for both adults and children. Right next door is the Apartheid Museum which is also worth a visit!

Regardless of all O.R Tambo has to offer, why hang around an airport when you can see the beauty of Johannesburg!


A Love Like No Other

“The eye never forgets what the heart has seen.” – Bantu Proverb

Travelling has a way of magnifying all human emotions, especially when you have an innate love towards a particular place! Our very own Terri Abadi shares her love for Africa with us here:

“The phrase, “follow your passion” is often thought to be nothing more than a cliché, one often repeated but seldom embraced. I feel blessed that over the last four years we have fostered a company which really is an embodiment of my one true passion!
My recent trip to Africa to further explore Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa reminded me why I love the continent of Africa so; what makes it so special and why it is deeply embedded in my soul.

Growing up in South Africa, I was enthralled by its breath-taking landscapes from a young age, and in particular the life that pulses through the bush. What makes the African wilderness so captivating to me can only be described as a feeling; one of being in complete and utter awe.
When I am there, inner peace permeates every fibre of my being, from the first sight of the amber rays spreading across the bushveld at dawn, all the way through to the last red glow after the suddenness of the sunset, with the soft chirp of a Scops owl calling from an acacia tree nearby or the muted roar of a male lion in the still night air.

Africa grips you in its wonder and you are left inextricably bound to it. Ever since I first visited the Kruger National Park and Botswana, it has pulsated in my veins like a river rushing in my blood.
The escape that the bush offers from the daily grind is unlike any other. Sitting in the middle of a herd of a thousand buffalo, or having a bull elephant stroll past within metres of your vehicle are the type of experiences to get pulses racing, to offer the type of thrill that exists nowhere else; the most addictive cocktail of anticipation, incredulity, freedom, wonder and awe.

Truly, there is nothing like the call of the fish eagle beckoning you to discover the secrets and wonders of the bush. If you visit, I promise that you too will fall in love Africa’s her hypnotic beauty.

She will completely transform the landscape of your dreams for a lifetime, in a way you never thought possible.

It will do for you what it has done for me: embed itself in your soul… And there will be no going back…

We can’t wait to share our love for Africa with you.”

by Terri Abadi

Introducing RockFig Safari Lodge

We would like to extend a warm welcome to the stunning Rockfig Lodge, the latest addition to our collection.

Nestled under the weeping boer-bean, leadwood, tamboti and jackalberry trees, rests a slice of South African paradise. Located in the world renowned Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, this is the ideal destination for families and group vacations. Sharing an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, this charming hideaway offers spectacular game viewing making sighting one of the Big Five is a usual experience and tracking wild dogs and white lions an added bonus!

A grandiose setting

A beautiful dining area enclosed with glass doors stacks up to integrate indoor living spaces and the great outdoors. Enjoy your meals overlooking the riverine landscape without having to leave your home away from home.  This wonderful lodge boasts architectural acuity that creates a spontaneous flow between communal and private spaces, and indoor and outdoor areas. The interior of RockFig Safari Lodge takes inspiration from Timbavati’s locale and luxurious bush setting evident in the colours and rustic furnishings. The designer has created a relaxed mood with an authentic outback feel emanating at all moments. This property is the perfect destination for guests of all ages with activities to enhance everyone’s experience and appreciation of this piece of heaven.

Game viewing

30 000 acres of African bush adjoins the superlative Kruger National Park. Without any fences bordering the two parks, the natural migration of wildlife is encouraged. This thriving, unspoiled wilderness area is home to a wide variety of wildlife: the Big Five are among the plethora of mammals you will see. RockFig Safari Lodge offers morning and afternoon game drives with professional guides and trackers who will guarantee you an incredible safari experience as the quiet corners of South Africa come to life. Taking the diverse age group of guests that visit, activities can be tailored specifically to you. If game drives aren’t intimate enough for you, RockFig can arrange a guided walking safaris where you will be able to stop and marvel at the abundance of beautiful birdlife, interesting insects, reptiles and amphibians. This is especially fascinating for those interested in the flora of the Timbavati.


You will have the chance to learn the different grasses and trees of the bush on your morning and afternoon/evening drives, and bush walks.  Not forgetting the wonderful photographic opportunities for when you are left without words trying to retell your experiences! Your guide and tracker will show you how to read the signs of the bush to foresee the movements and behaviour of birds and animals. Enjoy the company of other guests over sundowners as you recap on the days adventures, or if you prefer, a romantic bush dining experience or sunset picnic. Families with young children will enjoy time spent around the open boma giving guests time enjoy the experience of a traditional camp fire under a brightly lit sky. Nothing bonds families like a good meal; RockFig Safari Lodge is excited to introduce guests to a traditional South African potjie and braai, setting your table in the outdoors.

Safari romance

RockFig Safari Lodge is a family orientated property but conserves that safari romance one can only expect out in Africa’s open plains. With only eight guests at a time, you are assured privacy. The perfect destination for some R&R, you will be woken by that first ray of morning light atop pure cotton linen. Stretch out on to the deck before taking an outdoor shower or rest those shoulders in a wonderful bath using the exclusive Terra Firma Range. Head out for a couples massage or spend the day exploring the vast plains from the sky in a helicopter or hot-air balloon.  If you’re feeling more romantic than usual, book a horse ride nearby and gallop in to the distance.

Private and exclusive

RockFig Safari Lodge is positioned near the banks of the dry Nhlaralumi River amongst high arching riverine trees. Poetically secluded, this rustic colonial-African style camp rests on guests enjoying simple comforts in five star settings. Taken straight from a novel, each bedroom has screens on the windows and doors, an overhead fan for those warm summer days and a grand net over the bed. In your free time you can relax at the rock pool, with thirsty elephants, buffalo and giraffes in sight who frequent the nearby waterhole.The private lodge offers the ultimate safari retreat: with its breath-taking surroundings, own vehicle and professional game ranger, as well as a fully kitted kitchen. This lodge is the crescendo in time-out destinations!

Getting there

RockFig is just over a five-hour drive from Johannesburg airport. However, Iconic Africa recommends an easy flight to Hoedspruit Airport, a short 45 minute drive to RockFig, connecting you easily from both Johannesburg and Cape Town. RockFig also has its own private airstrip for guests who wish to fly directly to the camp via a scheduled charter by Federal Air landing 5 minutes away from the lodge.

Africa is our playground, contact Iconic Africa now and let us tailor make your bespoke African adventure for you!


Property of the Month – Tswalu Kalahari

Nestled at the base of the Korannaberg lies this month’s property of the month – Tswalu Kalahari. This beautiful – and South Africa’s largest – private game reserve envelopes 240 000 acres of pristine wilderness. Owned by Nikki and Strilli Oppenheimer, the sheer magnitude of the reserve bares testament to the family’s commitment to authentic conservation and opulent luxury.

Don’t let its position sway you! Tswalu makes up the south-east tip of the Kalahari, and just south of the Botswana border, this reserve offers a flourishing habitat for both humans and animals alike.  Out in the wild, the game viewing is breath-taking 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.

Motse Lodge boasts extraordinary views of the Kalahari plains stretching out endlessly to the west. The expansive decking, sumptuous lounge and well-stocked mezzanine library offer spaces for quiet contemplation and reading after a day out in the wild. The large infinity pool is an excellent place to sip a gin and tonic in the midday sun while the drama of the Kalahari unfolds all around.

The lodge sleeps just 24 guests in ultimate comfort. Each secluded stone and thatch bungalow is a testament to taste and elegance with antique furniture and rare African artefacts. The suites have huge bedrooms with fireplaces for chilly desert nights; vast bathrooms with indoor and outdoor showers; elegant dressing rooms and spacious study areas. The warm hues reflect the beautiful shades of the wilderness outside encouraging you to feel totally relaxed and at one with the environment. The private sundeck with views of the camp waterhole are magnificent spaces to soak up the peace of the Kalahari.

Situated some distance from Motse Lodge, in a valley of its own between two mountain ranges, is Tswalu Tarkuni. This ultimate secluded luxury offers a stunning thatch and stone villa with 5 suites. The private suites accommodate up to 10 guests, while the main house comes with its own cavalry; a chef, guide, house manager and a private game drive vehicle.

The style mirrors both Motse Lodge and the Kalahari Desert. Playing with colours, the interiors have red clay finishing and enormous pivot fire places. There’s a guarantee that you will feel coupled with the outdoors under seismic hollow ceilings and next to raw stone walls creating a distinctive aesthetic beautifully suited to the Kalahari’s flair and grace.

Tarkuni’s en-suite bedrooms are big enough to lose your thoughts in it. The open-plan area has fantastic views of the Kalahari and the desert-chic style continues from the bedroom to the bathroom. From the colour scheme to the furniture and decor, it is as though the fixtures have been choreographed into place.

Most of the staff at Motse have been there for over 15 years and so know just how to make your experience just that much more special. Whether it’s by making a glorious fire for you in your room, treating you to an unforgettable massage or to the exclusive “Mocha-choca-rula” on your early morning game drive.

Make sure you go on at least one day’s horse safari, ask for a “Dune Dinner” (a special culinary treat in the middle of the bushveld) or for a night’s stay at the Malori Star-Bed the exclusive, private suite that lets you sleep under the stars! For more on this once-in-a-lifetime destination click here. 

Why Celebs Love South Africa

Africa invites millions of tourists from all over the world each year. Voted a haven for relaxation, romance and adventure, she has drawn in celebrities who have undoubtedly fallen in love with our beautiful continent! South Africa in particular has offered breath-taking sights and landmarks, remarkable influential leaders, delectable local cuisines and not forgetting indigenous wildlife and flora. Needless to say, with such a beautiful country, and all it has to offer and surprise us with, it would be impossible for our favourite personalities to ever forget how it has made them feel… With some help we have put together a list of our top seven singers and actors who have visited or were born in South Africa and see what they had to say:

Waka Waka, eh eh. Nobody will forget Shakira’s world-class performance with Freshly Ground in Soweto during the 2010 soccer World Cup. Likewise, Shakira will never forget South Africa:

“I’ve learnt to see Africa with new eyes, from the perspective of a continent that has given the world so much, that has nourished it like a mother nourishes her child. A continent full of colours, feelings, smiles, and kids with enormous talent that are just waiting for the chance to shine…”

Speaking of musicians, Jared Leto has taken inspiration from South Africa:

“We have been very lucky in that we have toured South Africa twice, and plan on coming back. We’ve been inspired to write songs there, and recording there was an experience to be remembered.”

Chitwa Chitwa GAme Lodge SAbi Sands Iconic Africa

Born in Johannesburg, musician Dave Mathews has an organic love for this beautiful country:

“You find these cultural collisions that result in art and music and it’s pretty amazing.”

After visiting exquisite countries such as Zimbabwe and Egypt, Will Smith claimed that:

“It’s really beautiful. It feels like God visits everywhere else but lives in Africa.”

Having visited Africa enough times to count on both hands, Leonardo DiCaprio is no stranger, especially in South Africa. During his time spent filming Blood Diamond, he said:

“I saw a pack of 35 lions eat a wildebeest carcass and swam with giant manta rays. That was unbelievable. Africa’s natural beauty is unmatched.”

Dulini Lodge Lion

Actress, singer and author, Taraji P Henson has found South Africa’s food extraordinary:

“I love South African food because it’s flavourful, your taste buds dance, you just never know what combinations… very spicy. I love food that you can taste”.

Last but not least, Tom Hiddleston is well travelled but South Africa holds a special place in his heart. He described his time spent here as:

“I feel as though a cardboard box of my own reality has been flattened and blown open. Now I can see the edge of the world”.

With this much love for South Africa, we cannot wait to see them return and welcome others to our shores soon!

A Collection of Leopards in Trees – Limited Edition

There’s nothing quite like the utter excitement, pure adrenalin and overwhelming joy that is felt when getting up-close-and-personal to a leopard – especially when in a tree. James Tyrrell, friend, safari guide and expert photographer knows this feeling all too well and has captured it expertly here:

For more of James Tyrrell’s incredible photographs follow him on Instagram @jamotyrrell.

Top Videos of the Month

Whether it’s an adorable baby elephant rolling around, an aerial exploration of Zimbabwe, a road block of lion cubs or a journey through the captivating Cape… we’ve selected some of this month’s top videos for you here.

  1. This video will make you want to go to the Mother City in no time! Thanks for sharing Must Do Travels

I want to go to Cape Town! 🇿🇦

I want to go to Cape Town! 🇿🇦

Posted by Must Do Travels on Saturday, 11 August 2018

2. This is the kind of road block we don’t mind… Thanks for sharing Barcroft Animals

Cute Lion Cubs Cause A Roadblock In South Africa

In honour of #WorldLionDay, here are some adorable lion cubs causing a road block with their games.

Posted by Barcroft Animals on Wednesday, 10 August 2016

3. Zimbabwe looks incredible because it is incredible. Thanks for sharing UNILAD Adventure

Zimbabwe Looks Incredible

Tag someone who would love to explore Zimbabwe! 🐘😍

Posted by UNILAD Adventure on Wednesday, 8 November 2017

4. Adorable baby elephant rolling around and having the best time! Bound to make you smile… Thanks for sharing @Scary Mommy.

Sharing A Bed With A Toddler

Don't ask me why I look tired.

Posted by Scary Mommy Time Out on Wednesday, 18 July 2018


The Wonder of Wild Dogs

If you had to ask any traveller heading to Africa on safari which animal they desire most to see – I bet you African wild dogs wouldn’t be in the top three. Lions are usually right number one on the list, even though they are spectacularly lazy animals.

Selinda Camp Botswana Wild Dogs

But ask any game ranger, safari guide or conservationists – the African wild dog should be on everyone’s ‘must-see’ list and is probably their favourite animal to observe in the bush. The African wild dog, also known as the painted wolf, has immeasurable amounts of energy and are extremely social animals. Both adults and pups enjoy playing and even their relaxation time is exciting to watch and involves some sort of frolicking. They cover great expanses every day and are the most frequent hunters.

African wild dogs may not be as well-known as the regal lion or the majestic elephant among tourists and may even be misunderstood. But they are certainly appreciated and adored for their unique characteristics and nature. Sighting aLycaon pictus is rare outside of certain areas and should be considered a highlight for every visitor. Here’s why:

Firstly, there are approximately only 5 000 African wild dogs left making them critically endangered. This is despite the fact that they are Africa’s most successful hunters attaining 50% more preys than lions.

These amazing statistics can be directly attributed to their individual and pack coordination. They are some of the best communicators and constantly let one another know their location and that of the prey, allowing them to quickly adapt while hunting.

They are rarely sighted because they are most active in the early morning and evening or when the moon is at its brightest.

African wild dogs are constant wonderers and their home or territories can range up to 1,500 km2. 

On your next game drive, if you are lucky enough to spot an African wild dog, impress your fellow travellers with some of the reasons why we love the painted wolf:

Their mottled fur is like their very own finger print. No two dogs have the same coat and the unique pattern makes it easy to spot individual dogs.

African wild dogs have large ears that resemble rounded satellite dishes. The ears have numerous muscles that allow the dogs to swivel them to pick up the faintest sounds.

Their long legs, slender build and rapid muscle recovery ensures their successful hunt rate.

But it’s not only their physical build that ensures they are formidable hunters.

The act of hunting is the most spectacular activity of the wild dog. Here you will not only see their sociable nature but the importance of the pack. Pups that can eat solid food will be given priority to hunt, even over the alphas. But before they can hunt, the pups have a playful ceremony that bonds them and initiates the hunt. They circle the pack, vocalise and touch until the excitement overcomes them.

Wild dogs are not only emotionally competent and intelligent, they are extremely cooperative. While some dogs run ahead and keep close proximity to the prey, others will follow behind and tag team when the lead dogs are exhausted. Once securing the prey, it is shared among the pack, even with those who never helped hunt.

They say it takes a village to raise a kid, and it does – even in the animal kingdom. Pups take preference over even the Alphas and all pack members take responsibility for and help raise the pups.

We are all equals, and this extends to the wild dogs pack. Below the alpha male and female, there is no significant hierarchy.

Unlike other social mammals, the females move from one pack to another when they reach sexual maturity at around 14 – 30 months of age. They will leave the male dogs behind to look after the rest of the pack and form the core of the social group.

Another way African wild dogs communicate besides vocalisation is through body movements. If their tail is tucked between the legs it signals fear and submissiveness. But if the dog has an upright posture with its tail curled over its back it means it is sociable and friendly. Hardly an aggressive animal, this can be gestured by a rigidly upright posture.

If we’ve managed to persuade you that seeing wild dogs should be on your bucket-list – let us know and we will help you make this dream come true!


Top 5 Reviews of 2018

“To travel is to live!” Hans Christen Anderson

A big thank you to all our travellers who’ve reviewed us this year!

We do everything in our power to make your dreams come true and there’s nothing better than when they do…

Here are our top five reviews from 2018:

Iconic Africa produced and delivered the ultimate Africa experience. Nobody knows Africa better and can genuinely offer expert comments from their own experiences with accommodation and transport. Our travel consultant Bev was truly exceptional. She leaves nothing to chance and I am so lucky to have had her organise my trip last year and again this year. I would highly recommend Iconic Africa to all who consider a trip to Africa.

-Di Lewis

European Roller Walking Safaris Birds Iconic Africa

Wow!!! From help with the booking to the actual holiday- Even checking we had got back to England safely! Had a fabulous time.

Thank you Lauren and Julia Fryer.

Everything planned and delivered by Iconic Africa was excellent and exceeded our expectations by far. Bev van Schoor was wonderful and just so easy to work with in every respect.


A big thank you to Terri and team for an unforgettable Safari. We will most definitely be back!


From the second Iconic Africa contacted us and helped us put this trip together it has been seamless, easy, uncomplicated and beyond our expectations of what to expect from our first trip to Africa. The people who met us, cared for us and guided us were the most courteous, hospitable and professional people I have ever met. That includes every person that touched us at Iconic Africa. They responded to every query, email and phone call promptly and with the information and help we needed. The pace of our trip was well thought out and helped us see everything and do everything we wanted to do.

It couldn’t have been a more perfect trip. I can’t thank Iconic Africa, Julia and Lauren Fryer for making it happen! I will shout from the rooftops their praises and will definitely call them for our next trip back to Africa…because that is going to happen!


Wow !!! From help with the booking to the actual holiday- Even checking we had got back to England safely! Had a fabulous time. Thank you Lauren and Julia Fryer .


To Kate, Wendy, Se, Geoff, Di and all our other travellers – thank you for taking the time to share your experience and trusting in us to make your African adventure an iconic one. It has been a pleasure attending to you and your familes and sharing in the experience. We look forward to meeting you again in the future!



Property of the Month – The Silo Hotel

The newly opened Zeitz MOCAA gallery facilitates and represents local talent and emerging African, South African and African-heritage artists. The museum collects, preserves, researches and exhibits art pieces from the 54 states in Africa and artists who live elsewhere with African heritage such as African-American, Afro-Brazilian, and many others. The institution has nine floors, seven that is open to public. Above here, with magnificent panoramic views of Africa’s most beautiful city rests this month’s property of the month – The Silo Hotel.

The Silo Cape Town Hotel The Willaston Bar Restaurant

The significance of this outstanding hotel lies in its history and transformation. For some it may seem like yesterday, and others a lifetime ago that this futuristic hotel was once a grain silo. The grain silo was erected in 1924 and at that time, it was the tallest building in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. In 2001, the grain silo was no longer operational and closed its doors.Architect, Thomas Heatherwick had a dream to transform the old silo into the grandiose hotel that it is today.The actual silos have been converted into the contemporary art gallery – Zeitz MOCAA and the elevator tower has been reconstructed into The Silo Hotel. Heatherwick has made minimal structural changes to the building except for the change to the exterior windows. The existing building pays tribute to its historical and cultural significance but the addition of spectacularly extraordinary glass windows which have been designed to protrude outwards. At night, this outstanding design transforms the hotel into an eye-catching beacon that radiates warm light over the exquisite harbour below.

The Silo Cape Town Hotel Rooftop Dinning

The Silo Cape Town Hotel Granary Cafe


Stay in one of Cape Town, South Africa and the world’s most unique hotels. From its exterior lure to the cutting edge interior design and extravagant luxury, this gorgeous converted hotel has all the qualities and characteristics of cinematic opulence. Liz Biden, owner of The Royal portfolio has once again added exquisite pieces of furniture to the accommodation. Playing around with wood colours and fabric textures, this hotel emanates sophistication, elegance and architectural grandeur. This hotel is part of the family owned and run iconic collection of private hotels and residences where guests can once again admire Cape Town’s beauty – this time from a great height while still feeling as though they are a part of the hustle and bustle of the city that lies below. The hotel is remarkable in every sense, offering iconic views to accompany outstanding cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner – for more on this iconic property click here. 


South Africa’s “Small Five”

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

Ivory Lodge Lions Sands Lion Kruger Park Safari

Buffalo Walking Safaris Iconic Africa

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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


Ivory Lodge in Pictures

Ivory Lodge promises unprecedented exclusivity and complete privacy. As one of only two luxury lodges to embrace the majestic Sabi River, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge holds a high esteem as a luxurious accommodation that offers riveting privilege to guests who can explore every recess of the surrounding beautiful landscape without disturbance.

Such solitude makes Lion Sands Game Reserve and Ivory Lodge an exceptional choice and uniquely relevant in the luxury safari industry. Winning recurring international awards, this exquisite property is an obvious choice for remedying a tired soul with its healing ambiance.

Even those who have visited and experienced Ivory Lodge’s restorative character or known its landscapes for generations cannot get accustomed to its splendour or capture its overwhelming beauty in words. The precise memory of an unforgettable experience will forever remain in hearts, not in photographs.

Even pictures cannot do justice to its enriching effects, but we have hand-selected a few of our favourite to paint a picture for you here: