Birding in Mana Pools

Are you planning your post-lockdown travel itinerary? If you’ve decided on the far north of Zimbabwe, Mana Pools is the perfect destination for travellers who appreciate and are seeking a great diversity of bird species. This already bucket-list worthy destination has over 380 recorded bird species, spread across more than three different habitats from woodlands to plateaus and savannah areas.

Mana Pools National Park includes the south bank and islands of the Zambezi River, which forms the border with Zambia. The park is known for its incredible wildlife… and the exquisite river and vast flood plains. It is on every safari-lovers bucket-list as it is remote, it’s teeming with animals, the scenery is exquisite, sunsets breath-taking… need we say more – it really is Africa at its best.

Some of the avifauna you can expect to lay eyes on are Waterbirds along the banks of the Zambezi River, the Southern carmine bee-eaters during April to November, the African skimmer, Pel’s fishing-owl and Lilian’s lovebird among others.

The best time to feast one’s eyes on the abundance of colours and sounds is during the dry season – April to November – when both resident and migratory birds are plentiful. Although birding in Mana Pools is good year-round, the dry season is when local species begin nesting.

Plan your trip to coincide with the best wildlife viewing which is from June to October to make the most out of your time in this beautiful region. At this time animals congregate around water sources and large numbers of elephants and buffalo can be seen more frequently.

The Zambezi River is known to have luxury safari accommodations nestled along its banks and relaxing boat safaris cruising its waters. The river attracts a variety of waders, including:

Spur-winged Plover,
Green Sandpiper,
Common Ringed Plover,
Grey Plover,
Caspian Plover,
Common Redshank
and Bar-tailed Godwit

Zambezi Crescent, Victoria Falls River Lodge, Zambezi River, near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

Plan a walk along the river or take a canoe/boat trip and try to spot the Afrian Skimmer – breeding along the sand banks from May – November. During Spring, Southern Carmine Bee-eaters excavate their nest holes in the river banks.

Other species to keep an eye out for are:

Mottled & Bohm’s Spinetail,
Horus Swift,
White-browed Coucal,
Western Banded Snake-Eagle,
Rufous-bellied Heron,
and Collared Pratincole.

Back at your camp, look out for the Purple-banded Sunbird or White-bellied Sunbird before heading out for your drive through the woodland.

James Hendry is Now Married

We’re back with the follow-up to our most loved blog – Is James Hendry married? Unfortunately (for his die-hard fans), our dear friend, ranger and Wild Earth-star is now married. Iconic Africa catches up with him about his better half, his beautiful wedding and life in the bush during lockdown. Scroll down to see what he has to say and don’t forget to catch him on his live safaris here.

Q: Can you tell us who the lucky lady is?
A: Lucky is an entirely subjective term. The poor girl Who has acquiesced to hanging around me until one of us shuffles off this mortal coil, is Kirsten Hendry (née McLennan-Smith).

Q: Where did you meet her?
A: She was a director of the wild earth shows and as such used to be in my ear more or less permanently. This was excellent preparation for marriage.

Q: Where did you have your wedding?
A: At a place in the KZN midlands called Brahman Hills…there were many cattle and much fun was had by all except my nephew and mother in law who got gastrio but that’s not a story for here.

Q: What was it like?
A: Terrifying, wonderful, permanent

Q: Can you give us an update on what you are doing now?
A: We (my good wife and I) are trying to create and sell wildlife shows with a humorous bent to broadcasters. Mostly I’m trying to keep my wife sweet (she is a redhead so I must tread carefully)

Q: Tell us a little about the Wild Earth journey over the last 3 months?
A: Lockdown WildEarth was an extraordinary honour…being part of the show during this unprecedented human crisis felt important because we were taking the healing power of nature into peoples homes. This is the fIrst time in history that the human species as a whole has faced the same immediate threat. I think people took comfort from the unchanging ways of nature…perhaps made them see that ‘this too shall pass’

Q: What was your best sighting during this time?
A: An elephant sighting one Sunday afternoon where a young bull spent ten minutes feeding just 2 meters from me. He was so close I couldn’t take a picture. He was so relaxed that it brought tears to my eyes…his inviting me into his space was profound.

Q: Are there any other dashing guides that your fans should keep an eye out for?
A: No. I will become jealous.

Q: Any tips for your fans who are really missing the bush right now?
A: Watch WildEarth…I’ll be back on the 21st of June. Go into the Garden and watch the birds…there is a whole wilderness suspended above our cities in the trees. Appreciate the indomitable spirit of the grass pushing through the pavement or the gecko on your wall.

Q: Where to next for James Hendry?
A: You’ll have to ask my wife.

If you’d like to see more of him… and his work, visit his Instagram and Facebook pages 🙂

Help Kicheche’s Conservancy Guardians Protect our Wildlife

“…Our conservancies need you now more than ever.”

Iconic Africa would like to invite you to help us support an incredible initiative that is doing great work for wildlife and communities in Africa. We really believe in what Kicheche is doing and encourage you to get involved if you are interested and able to.

The coronavirus pandemic has left nothing untouched. People, countries, economies, tourism and wildlife have felt the effects of this catastrophe.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation. But since the global collapse of tourism, the funding of these conservancies has sharply declined and the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bushmeat hunting and encroachment is returning and growing rampantly.

Kenya’s Community Conservancies are a sustainable model of wildlife conservation and a benchmark for tourism. Many of you have appreciated the biodiversity and the variety of species supported by these protected lands first-hand, returning year after year to get your safari fix, from the hills and plains that have become your own backyard.

25% of their revenue funds the guardianship, protection and maintenance of 250,000 acres of the finest wildlife habitat in the world, but since the global collapse in tourism, that funding has sharply declined.

Without your support, the ever-lurking menace of poaching, bush-meat hunting and encroachment cannot be kept at bay. Currently, conservancies of Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Mara Naboisho and Ol Pejeta need you more than ever.

‘Nature never halts’ is a common phrase but if threatened, it just might.

The solution

Kicheche and their neighbouring communities are working tirelessly on a plan for the next year, to ensure that their conservancies remain secure and intact despite the dramatic drop in tourist arrivals.

CONSERVANCY GUARDIANS

They have initiated the Conservancy Guardians appeal, concentrating solely on covering critical conservancy costs: rangers salaries, welfare and medical, predator monitoring and patrol costs.

CREDIT THE CONSERVANCY

This scheme assists in underwriting conservancy land leases for a year, so the priceless conservancy birthright remains intact. By paying a conservation contribution of $750 (or more) now, you will receive a credit of the SAME value on your next Kicheche safari.

Kicheche has been at the vanguard of these Conservancies since inception and in this moment of need is backing them wholeheartedly.

Almost a thousand acres are now protected for a year. One camp cannot protect it all but every acre is priceless.

A message from Andrew Obaga, Kicheche Laikipia manager.

How you can help:

Protect an acre now

Contribute to the conservancies now

South African Safari Specials for Locals

South Africans, are you ready for the ultimate safari special?

Let us show you another beautiful day in Africa with these irresistible Winter 2020 bush deals! We have undoubtedly faced a challenging start to the year – as individuals and as a country, but we are hopeful that there will be a time to return to Africa’s wilderness soon… While we give you time to plan and pack, we give nature and wildlife time to heal and rest until we can relish our beautiful country again, spend time with the Big 5 and support and visit amazing destinations that perhaps aren’t normally so accessible to locals.

We are committed to working closely with our partners to support and stimulate local travel as and when restrictions allow. So we have put together these amazing once-off offers that will allow local travellers to make the most of the incredible natural beauty and diversity we have on our doorstep.

Get to know your country better and indulge in much-needed 5-star service with these amazing city to bush escapes created just for you!

 

  1. The More family are offering up to 70% off at the exquisite Lion Sands lodges. Book now & travel after lockdown. *At Narina Lodge, each suite has an expansive wooden deck centred on a private plunge pool. A cooling soak in the heat of the midday, a gin and tonic at your side, a buffalo bull chewing in the deep shade below, a flock of green pigeons squabbling over figs in the boughs above, will immerse you in the wilderness until you feel like a part of it – which of course you are. *Tinga lodge is a cathedral tribute to the Kruger. The double volume, cathedral-like main area opens out onto an expansive deck overlooking the Sabie River. When you return famished from morning game drive, you can devour a delectable breakfast array on the deck while the elephants wander past in the lazy heat. In the evening, put your feet up next to the lounge fire with an excellent glass of South African wine as you contemplate the wonders you experienced on drive.

  2. The Royal Portfolio is committed to supporting local travel with 50% off at La Residence & Birkenhead House after lockdown.*Perched amongst the vineyards, on the slopes of the beautiful Franschhoek Mountains is the pinnacle of luxury and unrivalled piece of heaven – La Residence. Voted Conde Nast’s No 1 Hotel in the World in 2013 amongst a myriad of other awards, La Residence is a must for any bucket list. Tuscan inspired, the horse-shoe shaped manor wraps around an exquisitely manicured courtyard, decadent pool and endless panoramic wineland backdrop. *Birkenhead House is perched on a cliff overlooking magnificent Walker Bay in the little seaside town of Hermanus – gateway to the garden route. The bay is fringed with pristine white sand beaches and secluded coves while in the water surfers carve the waves and, for several months of the year, hundreds of southern right whales call the waters of the bay home.

  3. Marataba Safari Lodge is offering a once-in-a-lifetime 70% off! Why not escape with your family & indulge in much-need 5-star service after lockdown? Marataba-Safari-Lodge-Dining-Area*Marataba Safari Lodge is the ideal location for a romantic wedding or a honeymoon, or even just for an intimate escape with your loved one. The Lodge is very convenient as it’s located in a malaria-free zone and is only four hours away from Johannesburg—perfect for a quick escape to the bush!

  4.  The Outpost in Kruger National Park is offering locals a massive 60% discount for the upcoming months. *The Outpost’s awarded architecture accommodates 24 guests in 12 stand-alone luxury spaces cantilevered over the Luvuvhu river valley – connected to the central lodge area by a raised walkway. Enjoy 180˚ views of the African wilderness and fall asleep to the open-air sounds of the African night.

  5. Book a safari now with 50% off at Phinda Forest & Mountain Lodge. *Set deep in the heart of a rare and beautiful dry sand forest, the andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge fuses spectacular design with the ultimate in conservation principles. 16 handcrafted, minimalist, glass-encased suites are built on stilts among the trees and boast luxurious en-suite bathrooms and viewing decks where guests can take in the sight of graceful nyala and duiker in the shade of the forest. *Poised majestically on the crest of a mountain, Phinda Mountain Lodge commands dramatic vistas over the surrounding landscape. Balanced between soaring views of the scenery below and the endless blue of the African sky above, each suite opens onto a breathtaking panorama.

  6. Escape to your own private wilderness at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve with 60% off! *The lodges at Kwandwe are intimate, relaxed and trendy with décor inspired by the vibrant colours and textures of the nearby villages.

Enquire HERE now.

Okavango Delta – 10 Things You Didn’t Know

The Okavango Delta is one of Nature’s real masterpieces. Created as the Okavango River dissipates into the parched Kalahari Desert, adventurous travellers can explore the magic of this vast eco-system by mokoro, on foot or on a game drive during an Okavango Safari.

Botswana-Safari-Okavango-Safari-Banner-04

Before we start learning amazing facts about this vast inland river, let’s start off simple…

  1.   What is the Okavango Delta?

It is a swampy inland, a vast inland river in Northern Botswana.  Doesn’t sound appealing, right? Wait until you read what this incredible grassland has to offer.

  1.   A World Premier Wild Area

The Okavango Delta’s lush vegetation from seasonal flooding provides a safe haven to a variety of game. It is home to some of the world’s most endangered large mammals species.  The wildlife includes cheetahs, black and white rhinoceros, the African wild dog and lions.

  1.   There is a large variety of flora and fauna

The Delta’s hosts roughly 1061 plant varieties, 89 fish species, 64 various reptiles, 482 species of birds and 130 mammals.

  1.   The Delta has over 150 000 islands

The Okavango Delta has islands scattered throughout the plains.  The Chief Island is the largest, at 70km long and 14 km wide. It was once a prime hunting spot but is now the best place to spot wildlife.

  1.   The Delta is kept wild

Botswana government has implemented restrictions on the number of tourists that are allowed to enter the Okavango Delta.  This, in turn, has kept the vast plain truly wild and remote.

  1.   It is the 1000th UNESCO World Heritage Site

This decision came on 22 June 2014, because this delta is not only one of the largest inland deltas in the world.   But it is one of the new major systems that do not flow into the sea. 

  1.   The Delta is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa

In February of 2013, the Okavango Delta was officially added to the list.  After reading all these facts, it’s hard to argue with the decision.

  1.   Animals aren’t the only habitants

In and amongst all the wildlife and greenery, the Hambukushu, Dcerika, Wayeyi, Anikhwe and Bugakhwe live.  They range from hunter-gathers to fisherman and farmers.

  1.   Travelling by Mokoro

The best way to travel around the Okavango Delta is on a traditional Mokoro – a dug-out canoe.  Most of the lodges in the Delta cater for Mokoro rides, where you will get up close and personal with smaller creatures that you may have missed in a vehicle.

  1. The Delta grows!

When the floodwaters from the Angolan Highlands in the dry winter months, the delta increases up to threefold in size!  Between March and August, the Delta can reach up to 15,000km2.

Traveller Review – Becky Rasor

Iconic Africa Traveller, Becky Rasor recently returned from her first time visiting Africa! 

Her mum Danae Prousis took Becky, her sister Katherine and brother Greg on their first safari. This wonderful family quickly created lasting memories in the bush, met new people, and built relationships in such a short time at each location. They had an adventurous trip, visiting Arusha National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, Southern Serengeti, the Masai Mara, Nairobi and Aberdare.  Becky has been kind enough to chat to us about her time in Africa – here’s what she had to say: 

Q: Was this your first time to Africa? 

A: Yes!

Q: What was your first impression? 

A: The most stunning landscapes and kindest people.

Q: What surprised you the most about it? 

A: I didn’t expect to develop close relationships in such a short time with the different people I met along our journey. They are so proud of their country and make you feel like family. It’s a level of service and care that is difficult to replicate elsewhere.

Q: What is your favourite memory/experience at Giraffe Manor? 

A: Feeding the giraffes! One of the most special experiences. I also loved that the dinners were group dinners with other guests at the manor.

Q: Where in Africa do you want to safari next and why? 

A: Rwanda to see the gorillas.

Q: What did you spend most of your time doing while on safari? On game drives, cultural experiences or relaxation and self-care? 

A: Most of our time was spent on game drives admiring the beautiful landscapes and animals.

Q: Describe your trip to Africa in just 5 words? 

A: The trip of a lifetime.

Q: When do you think you will next visit Africa? 

A: Hopefully in the next five years 

Q: If there’s anything you could tell people who have never visited Africa what would it be? 

A: Visiting Africa helped to bring me back to reality and put things into perspective. You have a moment where it’s just you and nature and nothing else matters. I think everyone deserves that opportunity to reconnect with themselves and the world.

Top Game Parks in Africa 

Are you returning to Africa on safari or visiting us for the first time? Choosing which country to safari in can be an intimidating task, and deciding on a national park can be an even bigger conundrum. Africa is the world’s second-largest continent and is famous for its luxury safaris. Surrounded by adjacent islands, Africa offers a plethora of tour options and premier national parks, ideal for game viewing, adventure activities and hosts a number of luxury accommodations. 

These national parks are the epitome of how you have always imaged Africa, each offering something different, yet equally worthy of your stay. Many have private game reserves within the park ready to give you the experience of a lifetime and satisfy your travel cravings as you marvel at the unimaginable vistas. We have compiled a bite-size list of our favourite national parks in Africa to make your work less and choice easier. 

 

Botswana

Okavango Delta – Take a canoe trip down the channel with your loved one and try spotting elephants along the banks. Lodges in the Okavango Delta offer wonderful activities such as water safaris, game drives, boat rides and fishing. 

Botswana Safaris Okavango Safaris Okavango Delta

Chobe National Park Experience one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa. See giant elephant herds and the rest of the big five as they roam along the banks of the Chobe River on your Botswana Safari. Famous for its jaw-dropping predator sightings Chobe is not to be missed!

Kenya 

Masai Mara National Reserve – Wherever you go in the Mara, the one certain thing is that you’ll see an astonishing amount of game, often in one place at one time. This exquisite ecosystem boasts one of the highest densities of animals in the world with 95 mammal species and 570 bird species recorded. You may think you’ve seen it all, but I can guarantee you that a visit to the Masai Mara is the safari of a lifetime. From the mating habits of lions to the displaying characteristics of the crowned cranes, to the quirky behaviour of the male wildebeest, to the idiosyncrasies of the local Maasai people. 

Choose between 1 of 5 of our spectacular accommodations

Rwanda 

Volcanoes National Park – Although the lush green forests of Rwanda offer a challenge for adventurous guests, a gorilla trek is certainly a magical experience and one that is not to be missed. Encounters with these majestic animals in Volcanoes National Park is exceptionally and powerfully moving.

Stay at Bisate Lodge

South Africa

Madikwe Game ReserveMadikwe is widely recognised as one of the premier luxury safari destinations in Southern Africa. Madikwe Private Game Reserve has become world-famous for its Lion, African Wild Dog and Big 5 viewing.

The Kruger National Park – The Kruger National Park is the largest reserve in South Africa. Visit Sabi Sands, Timbavati Private Game Reserve or Kruger National Park Private Concessions for a guaranteed incredible safari and luxury accommodation. 

Tanzania 

Serengeti National Park – Here you can find the Big 5 on your classic safari, elusive big cats and witness the Great Migration all while staying at one of these beautiful accommodations. 

Ngorongoro Crater – The Ngorongoro Crater is an iconic natural wonder of the world. Once an enormous volcano, it is now the world’s largest intact caldera volcano formed over 2 million years ago. This phenomenally game-rich crater is an ecosystem within itself and is a fertile paradise for plains game and predators alike. 

Zambia 

Liuwa Plain – the Liuwa Plain offers unrivalled access to incredible wildlife, bird-sightings and wildflower blooms that you will see on any day and night game drives, walking safaris, or bird watching. However, the real magic of Liuwa Plain is the 30 000 – 40 000 wildebeest seen in the area from June when they start their migration from the area around camp to the north of the National Park. 

Stay at King Lewanika  

Lower Zambezi – This spectacular region draws travellers in with its world-famous composite of abundant wildlife, natural beauty and bucket-list-worthy activities such as fishing, canoeing safaris and sleep-outs.

Stay at Chongwe 

Chongwe Zambia - Tempt your taste buds with Zambia_s fine cuisine

South Luangwa National Park – South Luangwa is Zambia’s premier national park and wildlife destination. It is one of the greatest wildlife sanctuaries in the world, covering 9,050 km2. The park is unfenced and bordered by a steep escarpment to the west and by the Luangwa River to the east.

Stay at Mchenja Bush Camp.
Mchenja Zambia South Luangwa - The style and comfort of the suites make you feel like an early explorer on an authentic safari

If you’ve already decided where you want to safari on your next trip to Africa, enquire about an itinerary with one of our team members here.

Iconic Africa’s Valentine’s Special 

It’s absolute perfection!

STAY 3, PAY FOR 2 at Narina & Tinga Lodge this Feb & March only! 

Many have been contemplating the much anticipated Valentine’s Day that has quickly crept upon us once again. 

At Iconic Africa, we understand the need for spontaneity, romance and a true African adventure, so we have crafted this exclusive deal to make this the perfect start to 2020 for you and your loved one. 

With just two weeks to plan the perfect romantic gesture, Lion Sands has reminded us to do something special this year. Let the new decade spark a different kind of romance in Africa’s idyllic bush with a heart-stopping deal at both Narina and Tinga lodges. And if you’ve left the planning too late, Lion Sands is extending the romance into March with this Stay 3, Pay for 2 offer. 

Leave the heart-shaped balloons and red and white merchandise behind and escape into the pristine African wilderness where, sunsets, G’s & T’s, rose petals and candlelit dinners await! 

Narina Lodge 

Look forward to enchanted starry skies and starlit evenings at Narina Lodge. Prepare yourself for a completely luxurious and peaceful bush immersion as you try to spot the infamous leopard before outdoor dinners and foot safaris that provide the most humbling experience as you see some small and large mammals from the vantage of the ground. The open-plan lounge and dining area in the main area perfectly blend into the lush green banks of the river shaded by fig, ivory and jackalberry trees. You will know, see and feel no boundaries between your luxury accommodation and the fierce, raw and beautiful African terrain surrounding you. 

You can look forward to unimaginable opulence at Narina Lodge. 

The nine Narina suites, linked by suspended wooden walkways, are private sanctuaries of sublime comfort and design brilliance. The bathtubs lie beneath huge glass windows suspended over the river. The experience of relaxing in the bath while a herd of elephants, lit by the full moon, splashes in the river below is complete transcendence.

You can rest on your bed while keeping an eye out for the animals feeding on the riverbank before the soft cicada lullaby sends you into a restful sleep. In the lavish lounge, you can drink your favourite pre-dinner tipple while reading one of Africa’s tales of adventure.

Tinga Lodge 

Are you ready for a spellbinding experience? Tinga Lodge is a private lodge situated in the Kruger National Park and offers the ultimate romantic getaway! Celebrate the heritage of the Kruger in luxury in one of its 9 secluded private suites resting along the banks of the Sabi River. Oscillate between magnificent Sabi River views and spotting Africa’s most secretive cat hiding amongst the treetops. 

Book the indescribable treehouse experience:

Tinyeleti treehouse is a bedroom without walls, high off the ground. It is the ultimate way to spend a wild night out suspended beneath the Milky Way in complete safety and seclusion. Your ranger will drop you off at sunset with a picnic basket full of delicacies to enjoy as the African night surrounds you with sounds of – crickets, frogs, cicadas, hyenas, owls and, of course, regal lion roars. When tiredness overcomes, you can freshen up in the simple open-air bathroom and then allow sleep to gently take you while staring up at the stars from the comfort of your sumptuous four-poster bed.

Don’t put off planning a romantic getaway with your loved one. We’re here to do everything for you, all you have to do is pack your bag. Celebrate each other this Valentine’s Day in Africa with safaris, wildlife, adventures, spectacular views and SO much more. 

 

 

 

Experience of the Month – Safari with a Purpose 

This month’s top and not-to-be-missed experience is a Safari with a Purpose. Embark on a journey with meaning… with one of four hand-crafted adventures. Submerge yourself in something bigger. Wander off the beaten track, interact with indigenous tribes, help conserve Africa’s wildlife and give back to wonderful projects so that the world can, in turn, give back to you. Iconic Africa, in partnership with Wilderness Safaris, would like to offer the discerning traveller the opportunity to find their travel purpose in Rwanda, Seychelles, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa by taking part in a world of philanthropy, conservation, wildlife, culture and adventure. 

Whether it’s working with endangered mountain gorillas, collaring wild dogs or elephants or conserving sea turtles – we’ve got just the thing for you here:

Great Apes and Rainforests: Experience behind-the-scenes conservation work in Rwanda; meet the Endangered mountain gorilla and help habituate chimpanzees for future ecotourism.

Travel With Purpose Gorillas

Paradise with Purpose: Explore one of the most beautiful islands on earth while actively participating in a survey and ringing of the Seychelles white-eye population and translocating some of the North Island population to other islands to further protect the species.

Travel With Purpose Turtles

Kenya Natural Wonders: Experience the Great Rift Valley, a dormant volcano, a vital water tower and learn more about the rare and elusive Critically Endangered mountain bongo.

Travel With Purpose Rift Valley Children

Hwange Elephant Collaring: In west Zimbabwe, amongst its grasslands and mopane woods are large herds of elephant. Help collar elephants, count wildlife, discover anti-poaching patrol, and meet neighbouring communities.

Travel With Purpose Elephants

Enquire about adding one of these experiences to your itinerary with one of our team members. You can have a magnificent time with plenty of adventure and also leave a positive impact on the place you’re visiting at the same time.

 

  

Iconic Africa partners with African Conservation Expeditions 

Iconic Africa is proud to partner with African Conservation Expeditions, a first of its kind initiative that combines real conservation work with high-end luxury safaris. 

This unique conservation company was established by well-known conservationist, Cole du Plessis, and Wallabies rugby legend, Dane Haylett-Petty. The motivation that drives this initiative is the raising of funds for the critical, ongoing conservation work needed to save some of Africa’s most endangered species.

The expeditions are hosted by conservation specialists who introduce guests to the areas where intervention is necessary to sustain Africa’s most wild and threatened species. 

The current focal points include the Kalahari region, North-West, Limpopo and the Greater Kruger National Park. The extent and diversity of these areas ensure that each expedition is both unique and thrilling.    

50% of the proceeds from these expeditions are directed to the Endangered Wildlife Trust – an NGO that has dedicated over 45 years to saving Africa’s wildlife and habitats.

African Conservation Expeditions focuses on threatened species that include: African Wild Dog, Lion, Black Rhino, White Rhino, Cheetah, Elephants and Pangolins. Most threats are human-induced and involve poaching, disease, persecution and roadkill.

Step into an action movie as you help monitor and observe; fit tracking collars onto key individuals; administer vaccines; collect genetic samples, and removing snares where necessary. 

Once the conservation objectives are achieved, guests have plenty of time to relax, reflect on their experiences, and enjoy the facilities of some of the most exclusive and most luxurious lodges South Africa has to offer. The luxury of the rooms, the exquisite food, the beautiful views and the inviting swimming pools create the ideal atmosphere for some well-deserved relaxation. 

Contact the Iconic team to find out more on how you can help make a difference to wildlife on your next luxury safari in Africa here

Iconic Africa’s Top 10 tours for 2020

There are so many different holiday-makers, from couples seeking a luxury escape, families that need different ages catered for and solo travellers seeking adventure. And… so many variables to consider – connecting flights, accommodation, activities and so on and so on! Taking time to plan your vacation shouldn’t feel like more effort so Iconic Africa has done all the hard work for you and put together some fantastic tours that have the perfect itinerary waiting. We have chosen our top ten tours for 2020 right here: 

 

JOHN’S GREAT VALUE GOLF & WINE SAFARI

Iconic Africa Director, John Holley’s two passions in life are golf and the bush. Most of his childhood was spent doing one or the other and many memories made while either teeing off at sunrise or toasting to the sunset with an ice-cold beer at a waterhole.  On that note – another great love of his is wine so a combo of golf, bush and wine… really is (in his mind) heaven! John has put together this incredible Golf & Wine Safari from all of his favourite destinations just for you. Get up close and personal with the magnificent Big Five; tee off on some of South Africa’s most impressive golf courses; discover gourmet restaurants and taste the finest wines that the Cape Winelands has to offer. Click here for full interactive itinerary.

Value Golf And Wine Tour South Africa 2A

LUXURY LONDOLOZI AFRICAN ADVENTURE

Iconic Africa has crafted the perfect mix of the ultimate in African luxury destinations to bring you the Luxury Londolozi African Adventure.  You’ll begin your trip in the Cape of South Africa at the Cape Grace – in the heart of the world’s most beautiful city and then visit La Residence perched on the slopes of the Franschhoek Valley on the world’s most beautiful wine-lands. From there you will travel to the magnificent Londolozi Founders Camp in the exquisite Sabi Sands and then on to  Zambia where you will experience the majesty of Victoria Falls from The Royal Livingstone and lastly to Jao Camp in the midst the wilderness wonderland of the Okavango Delta. Click here for full interactive itinerary.

SAFARI AND ISLAND RETREAT

Southern Africa offers some of the most spectacular coastlines the world over. Iconic Africa has picked boutique luxury on the shores of the raw wild Atlantic and floating in the tropical serenity of the Indian Ocean. Cape Cadogan nestled on the northern slopes of Table Mountain, offers relaxed, family-owned style and luxury – a perfect base from which to explore the awesome beaches, gastronomy and viticulture of the Cape. Azura Benguerra, in the cobalt warm waters of the Indian Ocean, offers a new level of fresh sophistication, seclusion and serenity on pristine beaches and unspoilt reefs. In between these, Londolozi Private Granite Suites offer you discerning and opulent hospitality combined with the world’s best leopard viewing. Click here for full interactive itinerary

AFRICA’S CAPE OF DESIRE

Africa’s Cape of Desire, as its name suggests, is a grand tour of this inspirational region at the base of the African continent. From cosmopolitan Cape Town – with its trendy bars and restaurants, world heritage sites, pristine beaches, sense of history and natural beauty – to the Winelands of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek – the undisputed culinary capital of South Africa and where South Africa’s world-famous wines are conjured from the Cape terroir – to the coastal sanctuary of Hermanus set on the magnificent cliffs of Walker Bay – world-renowned for its frolicking southern right whales and, for the more adventurous, a place to dive with Great White Sharks; The Cape of Desire offers you the most sumptuous luxury and astonishing natural wonder that only the tip of Africa has to offer. Click here for full interactive itinerary

AFRICA’S FAMILY GETAWAY

Africa’s Family Getaway is the ultimate luxury bespoke family holiday. It is full of excitement, adventure and fun while maintaining an indulgent level of sumptuous luxury. 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 the 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. Click here for full interactive itinerary

THE ROYAL ROMANCE

Africa is the continent of safari, wilderness and adventurous escapades but infused into all of this is an unmistakable and ancient romance. Iconic Africa’s Royal Romance combines the beauty, wilderness, adventure and pioneering excitement of Africa with four destinations that define supreme luxury permeated with complete privacy and opulent romance. Ellerman House is the definition of modern sophisticated living on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, the marvels of Cape Town all around. La Residence is the jewel of Franschoek – abject indulgence suspended in an impossibly beautiful valley of vineyards. Royal Malewane is impeccably tasteful grandeur surrounded by the majesty of the African wilderness. Royal Chundu is the ancient mystery and magic of the Zambezi in luxurious island seclusion. Click here for full interactive itinerary

LUXURY VIC FALLS & BOTSWANA

In the Luxury Vic Falls & Botswana Safari, Iconic Africa has created the ultimate safari for those wishing to explore Victoria Falls, one of the original natural wonders of the world, and Botswana’s unbelievable wildlife areas. The Elephant Camp –has breath-taking views of the Victoria Falls’ spray and the spectacular gorges which separate Zimbabwe and Zambia. It is a luxury, intimate lodge under canvas within easy reach of Victoria Falls and all its attractions and activities, yet secluded in its own private game reserve. Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero Lodge is situated in Chobe National Park which boasts the largest remaining population of the iconic African elephant. Botswana’s only fully serviced safari spa offers sweet repose in the heat of the midday. Selinda Camp is found in the Selinda Reserve of northern Botswana along the eastern banks of the Selinda Spillway, near the confluence of the Linyanti, Savute and Kwando Rivers. At the peak of the dry season, this concession boasts elephants by the thousands and regular sightings of the Selinda pack of African wild dogs.  Click here for full interactive itinerary

Selinda Explorers Camp

AFRICA’S LUXURY SAFARI CLASSIC

In Africa’s Luxury Safari Classic, Iconic Africa handpicks the quintessential essence of luxury southern Africa – the boutique opulence, the Out of Africa safari experience and the adventure of legend. The Cape Grace – in the heart of the world’s most beautiful city – is bountiful comfort while the city has natural beauty, gastronomic delight and heart-wrenching history in abundance. Lion Sands Ivory Lodge is a sumptuous safari in the world-famous Kruger National Park. The Royal Livingstone Hotel, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi, in the spray of the Victoria Falls is a luxurious launching pad for the natural spectacles and adventures of the falls.   Click here for full interactive itinerary

LUXURY EAST AFRICAN ADVENTURE

This tour as its name suggest is a grand tour of East Africa. From the colonial opulence of Hemingways Nairobi to the breathtaking views and exceptional service at Angama Mara, to the ultimate safari at Singita Faru Faru, to the pearly whites sands of andBeyond’s Mnemba Island Lodge in Zanzibar. Only the very best in East African hospitality, classic safari experiences, sumptuous luxury and unbelievable wildlife encounters await you.

JOHN’S PREMIER WINE & GOLF TOURS

Iconic Africa Director, John Holley’s three passions in life are golf, the bush and wine – 3 of life’s finest treats! He’s been lucky enough to spend much of his life dedicated to these 3 passions and exploring all that South Africa has to offer – which fortunately for him – is a great deal! He’s hand-picked his favourite destination and put them together for you here in his ultimate golf and wine safari. Explore the historical panorama route, the sensational Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park, the Mother City, the coastal town of Hermanus and the rolling hills in Franschhoek and George.  These will no doubt be some of the best 15 days of your life – and full of wine, wildlife and golf they will be! Click here for full interactive itinerary.

Premier Golf and Safari Tour Fancourt

Fly Direct from JFK to Cape Town

Cape Town has always been a popular travel destination – here’s why! This beautiful city has been voted Best City in the World for 7 consecutive years by thousands of Telegraph readers. 

Located in one of the top countries in Africa for safari, vacationers come from all over to stopover in Cape Town for the luxury accommodation, plethora of eateries and coffee shops, the beautiful beaches and endless sightseeing.

But the journey from the U.S. to Cape Town has always been quite long and often required a lengthy stopover.

But no longer! United Airlines now offers new direct flights between New York and Cape Town with flight plans running from 15 December 2019. This is a paramount moment for the Western Cape as the United States is one of the Western Cape’s biggest tourism markets. 

Now you don’t have to wait to see Table Mountain, Camps Bay beach strip,  tandem paraglide off Lion’s Head or visit dozens of tourist hotspots! With United Airlines’ introduction of the first long-haul flight between the U.S and Cape Town, holiday-makers will find their journey much quicker and simpler. This new 3-times-per-week direct flight will reduce travel time by at least 4 hours and have you photographing the contrasting sceneries in no time.

If long flights and unnecessary layovers have kept you in two-minds – now is your chance to book your seat. Be one of those passengers directly on their way to Cape Town International Airport and book Africa’s Cape of Desire tour. As its name suggests, it is a grand tour of this inspirational region at the base of the African continent. From cosmopolitan Cape Town – with its trendy bars and restaurants, world heritage sites, pristine beaches, sense of history and natural beauty – to the Winelands of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. 

Jake Cefolia, United’s senior vice president of Worldwide Sales, said ‘We look forward to offering our customers easier access to South Africa’s growing tourism industry and enabling business opportunities between the United States and the Western Cape’s technology sector.’

Find return ticket prices from United Airline’s website.

Top 10 items to take on safari with you

Planning an exciting safari trip? Going on safari can be a thrilling experience, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you forget any of the essentials.  Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered with our list of the top ten items that you should always take on safari with you! Follow this list and you’ll be good to go!

*Remember to bring all your important documents. Yes, this may seem obvious but trust us, sometimes in the chaos and excitement of packing for your trip, your important documents can get left behind. This would be disastrous and could result in your whole safari trip being cancelled. The important documents to remember are your passport, your itinerary, and your travel insurance documents. Don’t forget your animal spotting guide, too! Although it’s not the end of the world if you forget this, it does make the safari experience that much more fun and exciting.

*Bring any prescription medication and, of course, your prescription glasses or contact lenses. Make sure you go to the pharmacy prior to your adventure to make sure that you have enough prescription medication to last for your whole trip. There won’t be pharmacies in the bush, and while you might be able to scavenge a pain killer, you certainly won’t be able to find your personal prescription medication. Don’t forget your prescription glasses! You don’t want to have to squint your eyes each time you see an animal-shaped boulder or log. 

*Don’t forget to bring along any medicine that you think you might need. If you’re susceptible to an upset stomach, bring along some valoid and Immodium just in case you might need it. Headache tablets are always in demand so bring some of those along too. Remember to pack in your sunblock—the African sun is no joke!

*Bring along your camera, camera phone, and binoculars. You need to be able to capture your beautiful safari moments so a camera or camera phone is essential. Binoculars are always very handy and shouldn’t be forgotten at home. They’ll help you spot animals in the far off distance.

*Don’t forget extra batteries, important chargers, and memory cards. If you’re going to be taking lots of pictures, it is very important that you bring extra batteries with you on your safari trip. Make sure you have ALL of your chargers ready before you leave. Extra memory cards are useful when your camera suddenly, and inconveniently, runs out of memory.

*Bring the RIGHT clothes. Don’t choose brightly coloured clothing—rather go for neutral colours, and make sure that your clothes are PRACTICAL and COMFORTABLE. Leave your high heels at home and opt for some cute trainers instead. Pack in a lightweight jacket that you can wear in the early hours of the morning—yes, Africa is blazing hot during the day, but it cools down significantly in the evenings. Invest in a good safari hat that will offer you maximum protection!

*Pack in a torch. It gets VERY dark in the bush so packing in a torch is always advisable.

*Why not bring along a travel diary or journal? You can jot down all of your wonderful experiences each evening so that you have a clear record of what you did on safari. It will make for wonderful reading when you get back home!

*Leave the expensive jewellery and watches at home! Bringing along these items is a bad idea and completely unnecessary. Eliminate the risk of theft or of losing your valuables by just not bringing them.

*Wet wipes and hand sanitiser. There may not be a place for you to wash your hands while you’re on a game drive. Pack in your hand sanitiser (make sure it’s antibacterial) and wet wipes for a quick hand wash or face wash on the go. It also doubles up as toilet paper if you run out!

A Whirlwind Adventure

Deborah and Jim Mills have just settled back in New Zealand after an unforgettable trip to Africa. They went on a whirlwind adventure from North Eastern Tanzania to the award-winning Londolozi. They certainly had a magical trip and plan to return in 2021. Deb and Jim have very kindly shared some of their experiences from their trip and a few tips for those visiting soon:

“Iconic Africa did it again! A trip to Africa that felt like something out of a National Geographic production. Absolutely awesome.” – Bev Mills 

“We fell in love with the bush 12 years ago in the Sabi Sands on an excursion offered after a conference. Our first sighting was a giraffe ambling across the road, later came the elephants, leopards and lions. We only stayed four nights, but immediately began to plan our return. While sitting in the Federal Air terminal, I picked up a book, “I Speak of Africa” by Shan Varty and Molly Buchanon, and I was hooked. It was clear that Londolozi had to be part of our next trip, and it has continued to be the anchor to our travels on each of our visits. It was at Londolozi that we met John Holley, now of Iconic Africa, who introduced us to the fabulous bush, as well as South African hospitality. Subsequently, the Iconic Africa team has planned many more adventures for us, always choosing the perfect lodges and locations.

Our trip this year in late July, early August, to Tanzania and South Africa was spectacular. We stayed at the Arusha Coffee Lodge, the Mara River Camp and Faru Faru in Tanzania, and Tswalu and Londolozi in South Africa.

There were so many highlights. The trip to Arusha National Park provided the opportunity to photograph the colobus monkeys, and to see an albino baboon. Our guide, Antony Kivuko, positioned us perfectly so that we could spend an extended period photographing the monkeys, with no one else around.

It was our second visit to the Mara River Tented Camp, and it felt like coming home. The people there are special. Herman Charles, our butler/waiter, was a pure delight, teaching us phrases in Swahili and treating us like members of the family. Benson Mboya, our ranger, got us into the perfect position for each of the crossings. The crossings were an amazing experience. We could not believe the number of wildebeest in the Serengeti, and we saw at least half of the three million. We felt like we were in a National Geographic moment. Another highlight was seeing a herd of sixteen elephants crossing the Mara River. After watching the frenzied crossing of the wildebeest, the elephants were majestic and graceful, a sight that we will never forget. For anyone who wants to see the migration and a river crossing, The Mara River Camp is the perfect location.

Faru Faru provides a great opportunity to see the Serengeti Plains. We would definitely like to stay there longer next time. There were two special sightings at Faru Faru, the tree-climbing lions and the zebra migration at the water hole. It is also a great spot to view cheetahs.

Tswalu is very different, with the red sand desert and rocky mountains. It is a great place to see pangolin, aardvark, bat-eared foxes and meerkats. They let you get out of the range rover and follow the pangolin and aardvark on foot. For the meerkats, you arrive early in the morning, just as they are beginning to come out of the dens and acclimate to the cold. You are also able to get out of the vehicle to observe and photograph them. Winter is a great time to go because the nocturnal animals are out earlier and are easier to find. Tswalu also has a number of wild dogs, as well as cheetah, lions and rhino.

Our final stop was Londolozi, which never disappoints. There were leopards everywhere, as usual. The leaves were not out on many trees, making it excellent for photographing leopards. Seeing the three Birmingham male lions, along with the Ntsevu lionesses and cubs walk by the land rover was breathtaking. On our last day, we had the opportunity to view a cheetah, much to the delight of all. Londolozi is still is the best for consistent wildlife viewing that we have experienced, in terms of both variety and density. However, it is not only the wildlife that makes Londolozi special. The people, the culture and the environment all contribute to the magic of the place. Our guide, Alex Jordan, is an excellent photographer and he gave us new tips and also helped us edit photos in the studio. Our tracker, Lucky, was excellent, always able to read the tracks and the signs to find the elusive leopard. Pioneer is our favourite camp, and Trevor and Tais made us feel right at home.

And lastly…

Bev Van Schoor of Iconic Africa has repeatedly developed itineraries that have exceeded our dreams, as well as our expectations. We are so thankful for Bev’s patience and attention to detail that makes this experience absolutely worry-free. Thank you, Bev. We are looking forward to our next adventure.”

A big thank you to Deb and Jim – we look forward to having you back on African soil in 2021…

Property of the month – Tinga Lodge, Lion Sands 

Iconic Africa loves Tinga for its authentic commitment to conservation and sublime safari experiences. Four generations of the More family have dedicated themselves to the superb legacy that is Lion Sands and Tinga Lodge. If you want a luxury family safari in iconic Kruger or the romantic adventure of a lifetime – look no further.

Tinga is a rare treasure – a private lodge and concession in the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The diverse 5000ha concession in this conservation icon is one of South Africa’s most game-rich regions and is a refuge to the highest concentration of endangered black rhino in Africa. Tinga is a luxurious celebration of Kruger heritage with nine spacious and secluded private suites nestled on the banks of the magnificent Sabie River.

The double volume cathedral-like main area opens out onto an expansive deck overlooking the Sabie River. When you return famished from morning game drive, you can devour a delectable breakfast array on the deck while the elephants wander past in the lazy heat. In the evening, put your feet up next to the lounge fire with an excellent glass of South African wine as you contemplate the wonders you experienced on the drive.

Luxurious Bush Living 

Tinga’s nine intimate, air-conditioned suites are opulent havens of seclusion and total solace. The generous bathrooms invite you to enjoy the indoor and outdoor showers. The spacious bedrooms and separate lounges face the verdant banks of the river and you can laze on your impossibly comfortable bed and look out into Kruger or contemplate a refreshing swim in your private plunge pool from the extravagance of the lounge sofa.

Tinga welcomes families with children over the age of six – there are specialised activities for children with staff dedicated to filling the enquiring young minds of budding naturalists.

Iconic Wildlife 

The 5000ha Tinga concession offers a number of rarities not found anywhere else. It is the only concession that boasts river frontage on two of the Lowveld’s iconic rivers – the Sabie and the Sand. The highest concentration of endangered black rhino in Africa is complemented by the excellent lion, elephant and leopard viewing. Buffalo herds drinking at the water’s edge are common and large packs of Africa’s painted wolves are regular visitors to the southern Kruger.

The indescribable treehouse experience

Tinyeleti treehouse is a bedroom without walls, high off the ground. It is the ultimate way to spend a wild night out suspended from the Milky Way in complete safety and seclusion. Your ranger will drop you off at sunset with a picnic basket full of delicacies to enjoy as the African night surrounds you with sound – crickets, frogs, cicadas, hyaenas, owls and, of course, regal lion roars. When tiredness overcomes, you can freshen up in the simple open-air bathroom and then allow sleep to gently take you while staring up at the stars from the comfort of your sumptuous four-poster bed.

One of our passionate consultants is standing by to connect you with this exceptional legacy in the heart of the Kruger National Park.