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.

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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.

In Pictures – River Lodge, Lion Sands 

Lion Sands is a quintessential African safari icon and River Lodge is its most welcoming gem. It is the ultimate source of rejuvenating wilderness energy and sublime personal service in a setting that defines South African safari. The More family has owned this wilderness haven in the world-renowned Sabi Sands Game Reserve for four generations. They are committed to family values, authentic conservation and are constantly pushing the envelope of what a luxury safari means.

On the banks of two great rivers is one of the most game-rich regions of the greater Kruger National Park. River Lodge is in the heart of the action – without leaving the comfort of your opulent suite, you can watch elephant bulls, tossing cool mud over their flanks, or wizened old buffalo lying in muddy pools, their scars and expressions bearing testimony to the trials of a life well-lived in the wild. Not only is this wonderful property famed for its remarkable leopard viewing, but is considered a sumptuous home away from home. 

The main lounge and bar offer you a friendly haven of relaxation on cosy sofas with some excellent books. Out on the main deck, you can drift with the gentle breeze on the sumptuous sofas and indulge in gastronomical delights. 

But the ultimate night time experience at River Lodge is an evening in one of the simplistically sophisticated tree houses. The treehouses are havens under the stars set high above the ground in amongst the trees – completely safe from the animals of the night. You’ll sleep in four-poster luxury and freshen up in the seclusion of a suspended, open-air bathroom. 

But don’t take our word for it – take a look at our hand-picked images of this breath-taking property below…

The Perfect Valentine’s Day Tour 

Before you know it, the much anticipated Valentine’s Day will be here and many of you will need some great ideas for some extra-special quality time with your loved one… Luckily, Africa is the continent of safari, wilderness and adventurous escapades infused into an unmistakable romantic destination. We’ve put together a special tour for you so that you have to worry about one less thing – Iconic Africa’s Royal Romance is the perfect gift or gesture for your special partner this Valentine’s Day… Don’t waste time planning the perfect escape for two – we’ve done it for you! 

It 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. View the full interactive itinerary below: 

  • DAY 1-4: EDWARDIAN PASSION, LUXURIOUS EXTRAVAGANCE

Ellerman House is a sumptuous Edwardian mansion resting on Lion’s Head Mountain, above the ultramarine waters of the Atlantic stretching to the meet the depthless African sky.

No expense has been spared, it truly is a Relais&Chateaux haven of unparalleled luxury.

Ellerman House boasts arguably Africa’s greatest art collection as well as a world-class wine selection and cellar.

Cape Town’s endless sights, activities and beauty will keep you enthralled for months on end.
Accommodation: Ellerman House

  • DAY 4-6: AFRICA’S MAJESTIC WINELANDS

Nestled in the vineyards and plum orchards of Franschhoek, La Residence is the most gorgeous boutique hotel in the most picturesque valley in South Africa.

A benchmark to luxury and comfort and created with exquisite detail and love.

The hotel is infused with colour, fabulous antiques, luxurious finishes and vaulted ceilings from which Indian chandeliers twinkle.

The little village of Franschhoek is the undisputed culinary capital of South Africa and boasts great exceptional wine and delicious food.
Accommodation: La Residence

Premier Golf and Safari Tour La residence

  • DAY 6-9: AFRICA’S WILD ROMANCE

At Royal Malewane, a private concession bordering the world-famous Kruger National Park the Biden’s Royal Portfolio has achieved perfection again.

A marvel of wilderness romance and seclusion that blends seamlessly into this ancient land.

Gourmet, starlit dinners under the giant Leadwood trees.

The Royal Malewane Spa is world-renowned and the ideal way to unwind with a unique healing African treatment.

Royal Malewane’s guides and trackers are some of the most highly qualified in Southern Africa.
Accommodation: Kruger National Park Private Concessions

  • DAY 9-11: THE ROYAL VICTORIAN FALLS RETREAT

Royal Chundu is Zambia’s first Relais & Chateaux property – defined by the sumptuous luxury that blends seamlessly into the private stretch of the Zambezi River Bank.

Island Lodge is set on its own private island in the languid waters of the Zambezi, offering just four exclusive and indulgent villas.

Each palatial haven boasts a private deck suspended over the river.

The outdoor bath is a fantastic space to soak up the night sky while on cooler nights, keeping cosy in the plush lounge before retiring to your extravagant bed.

A little downriver from Royal Chundu, the Zambezi falls over the Victoria Falls to create one of the greatest demonstrations of nature’s power on planet earth.
Accommodation: Royal Chundu. 

Click here for the full tour. 

Zambia’s Adrenalin Factor 

If you’re looking for those specific activities that will add that wow-element to your next trip to Victoria Falls – there’s no better combo than a helicopter flight, swimming in Devil’s Pool and taking a Livingstone Island tour to experience the ultimate rush, see the endless landscape from the sky and truly appreciate one of the worlds 7 natural wonders.

Choose between a 12-minute Flight of Angels or a 25-minute Zambezi Spectacular. The Flight of Angels was coined by David Livingstone when he first wrote about the surrounding area. Experience exactly what he felt when he wrote “a sight so wonderful that angels must have gazed down on it in flight”. Head towards Victoria Falls and fly in both directions as you find your perfect angle to film and photograph. Both air-tours provide the best viewing and photography opportunities that cannot be compared. Fly up the Zambezi River and over the Zambezi National Park as you head back towards the helipad. 

But 15-minutes might not be enough time in the sky – continue downstream over the Batoka Gorge, along the Zambezi River and navigate your way between steep cliffs and over Long Island before your Zambezi Spectacular flight comes to an end. Long Island is home to a great deal of big game and you will be able to see them clearly in the national park. 

If skimming just above turbulent water is not thrilling enough – try something more daring like swimming in Devil’s Pool. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is well-managed with safety being the top priority. 

Your guide will take you on a 5-minute boat ride along the Zambezi River – an exhilarating experience on its own, as you slipstream through rocky channels. Once you arrive on the island you are then led to the west of the island where you can jump into Devil’s Pool if you wish. The route directs you to swim slightly upstream in a very slow current. A safety rope is also in place as an added precaution. You then climb out on another rocky outcrop close to the edge of the Falls and the Devils Pool.

The Devils Pool itself is a deep natural pool that has been created by thousands of years of erosion, but what is unique about it is that there is a rock ledge on the lip of the Falls, where the water is only a few centimetres deep. You can now lie on this rock lip at the edge of the Devils Pool. 

The Devil’s Pool is available only when the water level is really low to allow for safe swimming. This is normally from late August to early January.

Once you return to Livingstone Island, you can take the season tour if the water level of the Zambezi River is low enough to allow safe access to Livingstone Island. The best time is from approximately late June to early March. 

For more on our favourite Victoria Falls destinations click here

 

2020 Top Travel Trends 

A lot can happen in a year – this is certainly true in travel trends across the world. Most of them for the better – such as more family vacations, reducing carbon footprints and taking things down a notch with the concept of ‘slow travel’. We bring you the 8 latest travel trends expected for the coming year as people transcend their comfort zone and prioritise international vacations…

 

Sustainable Travel in 2020 

This is the year where travellers and operators become increasingly conscious of their impact on the earth. With the growing concern of climate change, decreasing numbers of wildlife and community sustainability, Africa not only offers some of the world’s most pristine, untouched areas, but is active in the initiative to preserve these. This year the focus continues on conserving the land, the wildlife and local communities. This is the new standard within the safari industry without compromising luxury as seen at Singita Kwitonda Lodge. Almost a year old, Singita Kwitonda Lodge was designed in response to this purpose and its remarkable location offering environmentally-conscious luxury. 

Multiple Countries 

More travellers are spending less time in one country and coupling it with two additional countries to explore. They are looking at more cross-country tours that have short connecting flights and different experiences. 

andbeyond-chobe-under-canvas-game_drive-sunset

Culinary Adventures

While most travellers have previously considered accommodation, tourist attractions and transport; food and wine have become the deciding factor in many recent travel choices. Tasty local food and house wines are essential to planning a trip and more cooking classes, local dining and fresh produce markets will be booked and visited as part of the experience. This year travellers will go beyond 5-star restaurants and instead pre-book more authentic foodie tours. If you’re heading to Cape Town – Franschhoek should definitely be on your to-see list as this culinary capital surely knows how to tantalise tastebuds. 

Group Travel 

Taking heed from the solo travel trend, travellers are looking for people with the same interests to experience a country in a group. This offers the opportunity to meet new people who want to connect with like-minded individuals in a safe environment. Because of this, there is an increase in female-only travel groups and buddymoons and group bookings for friend-adventures. 

Slow Travel 

More of an antidote to the craze of every day, an increasing number of tourists are getting away to rejuvenate their mind, body and soul rather than tick off an action-packed itinerary that leaves little time for reflection. Some of the top activities being booked are bicycle trips through mountains and vineyards, visiting local markets and spending time in small towns such as Franschhoek. Others will opt for horseback rides or village tours that will keep them occupied and relaxed while escaping the reality they have momentarily left behind. 

Milestone Celebrations

More families and friends are booking out entire accommodations for weddings, anniversaries and special occasions. This is particularly the case with luxury safari destinations such as the Kruger National Park and Botswana. 

All about Aesthetic

When you step into an architectural masterpiece, you know it and it leaves you speechless for your entire stay. Increased bookings are based on the sensory overload of the accommodation such as Baraza, Tanzania where you will spend your free time taking in every little detail from the oriental-inspired pool courtyard to the carefully-chosen interior and decor. 

Zimbabwean Travel Back on the Maps 

Travellers are flocking to Zimbabwe as it has re-emerged as a top safari destination attracting even more tourists in 2020. Best known for its plethora of adrenalin activities and the majestic Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe has so much to offer – from romance to world-class game viewing and superb service.

Seize the day in 2020 and book your African adventure here and now!