Wildly romantic honeymoons and romantic escapes

As we gallop towards Valentine’s Day we thought it a fitting time to focus on some romantic holiday ideas. Whether it’s a honeymoon you are deliberating or simply a romantic escape to celebrate a special milestone, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here at Real Africa.

Undeniably romantic, Africa offers starry skies, wonderful candle-lit camps and incredible barefoot beach retreats. Add to that a bounty of wildlife and culture and you have the perfect romantic escape.

Ultimate off -the-beaten-track romance – it has to be Botswana

The Okavango from the air

Many of the lodges and camps we use in Botswana are small varying from 4 tents (Zarafa) to a dozen or so in the Delta and even in Chobe National Park, our preferred lodge, Muchenje, is hidden away in the quiet Forest Reserve in the west, on an escarpment overlooking the Chobe River and far from the crowds associated with Kasane. There are only 11 chalets, all with private decks and wonderful views over Chobe.

Chobe is an excellent option if you want to experience the natural wonders of Botswana but are on a tighter budget. You can combine Victoria Falls with a side-trip to Botswana’s Chobe National Park for a safari, which can easily be accessed on tarred roads from The Falls. This makes a great week long itinerary, and a stay at The Falls is romantic in itself. Chobe is impressive – it has the densest concentration of wildlife in Africa and is famous for its huge herds of elephants. To see a sample itinerary click here.

Another way to experience Botswana on a budget is to travel out of the peak season which runs from April to October. There is a safari special called Five Rivers which we get every winter and is offered on our newsletter and website for travel Nov to March – it always fills up within a week or so. There are also a number of lodges owned and managed by the same company which can be combined to make a cost effective itineraries  – these include Ker & Downey, Kwando, Footsteps Across the Delta and Desert & Delta among others.


But if you really crave isolation,  then it has to be Duba Plains (pictured above) on the western side of the Okavango Delta,  reputed to be the very best place to observe lion, and said to be Botswana’s most remote camp amidst a 77,000 acre reserve. Before last year there was a very large pride and you could often see lion and buffalo going head to head.
The camp advise us that the lion pride has now splintered so although you have a good chance of seeing big cats the real joy at Duba Plains is being at a traditional rustic tented camp in a remote and very beautiful part of the Delta with guides that really know their stuff. That’s what you pay for.

Mombo Camp, and Little Mombo (possibly Botswana’s most expensive camp) sit on Mombo Island on the northern tip of Chiefs Island in the Delta. This offers the best all year round game viewing. There are only 9 tents at Mombo (plus another 3 at Little Mombo). You’ll see big herds of game as well as an excellent chance of observing big cats – there are 7 prides of lion in the area.

Honeymoon idea: embrace adventure and join the Selinda Canoe Trail, exploring remote waterways and fly-camping on deserted islands beneath the stars. Combines brilliantly with a couple of nights in a luxurious lodge in the Delta.

New horizons – Zimbabwe

Yes, Zimbabwe is back on the holiday map and feedback from our senior consultant Lily who was there last year is that it promises a sensational trip for those with the time and budget. The infrastructure and distances involved means that most areas are best accessed by light aircraft, and the camps are certainly pricey due to their remote nature, but having said that, some have already established a reputation for superb guiding and warm hospitality.  Mana Pools is considered a real gem in southern Africa. You can explore by 4×4, by boat on the Zambezi and also walking. Please do ask to speak to Lily if Zimbabwe is of interest. You can see some sample itineraries and lodges here.

Honeymoon idea: Looking for a once in a lifetime experience? Consider Singita Pamushana, part of our Ultimate Collection.

Zambia – camping – but not as you know it!

For those who want a pristine environment then staying at a mobile camp in Zambia’s South Luangwa is as close as you can get. The camps are taken down at the end of the dry season in October leaving very little impact on the environment and put up again in April/May time. Sightings of wildlife in and around camp are excellent and these mobile camps naturally have a different feel to them.

Camps can be combined in a safari circuit – each one is different in its outlook and construction so they combine really well. You can even enjoy bush walks between them.

We all have our favourites camps but tend to use Robin Pope and Norman Carr properties for most of our clients. You can find out more here.

Honeymoon idea: enjoy the thrill of a big game safari in Zambia’s South Luangwa and then crash out on the shores of beautiful Lake Malawi for lazy days in the sun. See our Valley & Lake itinerary here.

Other suggestions for getting off the beaten track in Africa…

Have you considered Mozambique? Ibo Island Dhow and Lodge Safari

Being partial to boats, being barefoot, water and islands the Ibo Island Dhow Safari is right up there on my wish list. If you like your holiday to have a balance of activity and downtime then this combination of dhow and lodge safari could be perfect for you.

Ibo Island lies in the incredibly beautiful Quirimbas Archipelago in Mozambique. The crystal clear waters lap sun-drenched white sand beaches.  Beautiful coral reefs teem with life from turtles and rays to spectacular reef fish such as parrotfish, groupers and batfish. Common, bottlenose and spinner dolphins can also be seen while humpback whale sightings are good between June and December. Turtle nesting generally occurs on beaches between October and February.

This 7 night module ex Pemba includes 4 nights island hopping and 3 nights at Ibo Island lodge itself. You island hop on a traditional Arab 12 metre dhow looked after by a Mozambican skipper, crew and chef. The dhow has been modernised and has an engine as well as sails giving lots of flexibility. You don’t sleep on board but camp ashore in some wonderful deserted spots.

Days are spent barefoot, exploring by kayak, swimming, snorkelling and sailing and by night you star gaze and cosy up by the camp fire to feast on freshly caught seafood prepared by the chef. The crayfish comes highly recommended! Ibo is one of 32 islands in the archipelago so there is no shortage of beautiful beaches and sand banks to explore.Camping ashore involves comfortable 2 person 3x3m walk-in dome tents with safari style stretcher bed with 2 in memory foam mattress and  insect screen. Mobile eco camp bathrooms are set up for you, with  traditional bucket showers and bush loo.

Ibo Island Lodge won the Best Marine Safari Property Award in the 2014 Safari Awards. The lodge itself, where you spend the final 3 nights, comprises three historic 150 year old mansions which have all been lovingly restored to their former glory. The luxury lodge sits in lush gardens with a pool. Each of the ensuite air-conditioned 14 rooms have been individually designed and enjoy wide airy verandahs to soak up the ocean views. The roof top restaurant is a wonderful place to enjoy a sundowner and watch the sun set. The island, which was an important trading post and which our senior consultant Lily has been lucky enough to explore is a real fairytale destination with a 200 year old historic town, 16th century fort,  crumbling ruins, wonderful architecture and small communities. The island’s interesting history as a result of being split between Portuguese and Omani-Arab rule for several centuries means there are many interesting forts and buildings amidst the fig trees and bourgainvillea to explore.

You can join scheduled departures with a maximum of 7-10 guests. There are also private departures (please ask) so as well as appealing to groups of friends and families, this is a great option for a honeymoon or romantic break. You can choose to lose yourself amidst a group or set sail exclusively.

You can see a day to day itinerary and find out more here.

Honeymoon idea: this 7 night dhow and lodge safari works brilliantly well when paired with South Africa since flights to Pemba naturally route via Johannesburg – depending on how much time you have, you could add  a 4×4 safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, staying in a beautiful tented camp like Honeyguide Mantobeni. The best time to safari in Kruger is during the dry winter months between May and November – and this is also the optimum time to be island hopping in Mozambique. There are many wonderful properties in Mozambique, some can be accessed more readily than others, for example Machangulo and White Pearl. Please do ask us for details.See a sample South Africa and Mozambique itinerary here.

Kenya – the quest to get off the beaten track!

Alex Walker’s Serian sits in the private Mara North Conservancy, bordering the famous Masai Mara National Park. For a stylish safari which embraces authentic Africa then Serian is a superb choice. Many of our clients combine Serian with either Borana on the Laikipia Plateau and/or Saruni Samburu further north – both fabulous and very much off the beaten track.  Our In Style sample itinerary combines Tortilis Camp in Amboseli with Borana in Lewa Downs and Serian in the Mara and can of course be adapted to suit you.

We also offer a week in the Mara for those who don’t want to move around too much and for whom the primary focus is wildlife.  You can combine Alex Walker’s  Ngare Serian camp with the Nkorombo mobile camp and a night in the ‘Nest’ – a treehouse overlooking the river – a fabulous safari combination. Serian also employs local Masai guides which enhances your experience with a cultural element. See a sample itinerary here.

Ngare Serian is a permanent camp set up on the Mara River with just six specious marquee  guest tents on hardwood decks. You access the lodge by a rope bridge.  The Nest suspended in an Elephant Pepper tree, is a treehouse over a salt lick on the Mara River, which you can walk to, guided by a Masai guide. The Masai keep watch from a distance while you enjoy fairytale privacy, game viewing, supper and a night under the stars. The treehouse is equipped with night vision camera, safari bathroom and a very comfortable nest for two. The Nkorombo mobile camp offers a different experience again, with just 5 traditional Meru style tents with ensuite facilities consisting of a bucket safari shower and flush loo. The salt lick harbours a variety of wildlife including black rhino, leopard and lion and gets you really close to the action.

Honeymoon idea: ask us about pre-booking a dawn hot air balloon flight over the Masai Mara, settling back down on the plains after an hour’s flight to a champagne bush breakfast.

There are more economical options in the private concessions bordering the Masai Mara. Karen Blixen Tented Camp sits on the banks of the river with 26 ensuite tents for example. You get all the benefits of being in a private concession but can keep costs down by staying at a slightly larger camp.

Very few visitors to Kenya get to explore the north – both Samburu and the Mathews Range  offer a fantastic experience and wonderful options for you. These areas offer a different more arid landscape, the Samburu people and their culture and a stay here combines perfectly with the big game of the Mara. Sarara Camp is our most northerly camp and really embodies off the beaten track.

Tanzania – Southern Parks and Islands

For a first time in Africa then Tanzania’s Northern Circuit is hard to beat, giving you that dense concentration of animals, diverse landscapes and a superb choice of camps and lodges.

But if you long to get off the beaten track and to see a quieter Africa then the Southern Parks of Selous and Ruaha can reap real rewards. We recommend you spend longer in each destination, 4 nights is a good amount of time in each park,  as the wildlife is certainly more challenging and unpredictable being spread out over a vast area. The best wildlife viewing is usually during the dry months of May to November time when wildlife concentrates around the water sources.

Ruaha is actually Tanzania’s largest national park. The mighty Ruaha River snakes along the southern border, with baobabs and floodplains fanning out from the river. You also have rolling hills. You fly into Ruaha from Dar es Salaam, a 3 hour flights, and then enjoy game drives from the camp/lodge you are staying at which can normally be accessed within an hour of the airstrip. This gives you an idea of the remote nature of the camps.

In Ruaha, if you really want to embrace the wild and remote nature of Ruaha, we recommend the small mobile tented camp, Kwihala by the Mwagusi Sand River. With just 6 tents Kwihala combines understated luxury in a very wild and beautiful environment. You have lots of comfort and a high level of service but its not flash or over the top. Tents have ensuite bathrooms with safari bucket showers (hot water!) and flush loo. Part of Asilia Camps, Kwihala gets incredible feedback with guiding at an exceptional level. You are unlikely to come across other safari vehicles and the area feels truly untamed. You can explore on foot, and enjoy game drives by day and night. This sort of rare environment does come at a price but you really do have a special experience.

If you prefer something more permanent and slightly less wild feeling, then the long established and more affordable Ruaha River Camp, run by the Fox family, would be our recommendation. It was the first camp in the park and gives you a very personal service even though perhaps looking slightly dated these days. There are 20+ individual stone and thatch riverside Bandas set over a hillside looking out over the Great Ruaha River and linked by two central mess areas. The bedroom and bathroom are really spacious. The Foxes’ children were raised here and so they are geared up for family stays. The location is really good with wildlife attracted to the river and it is not uncommon to find elephants strolling amidst the camp. Ruaha River Camp tends to be a more realistic option for many of our clients seeking the remote reaches of the southern parks but not wishing to completely blow the budget.

You can fly from Ruaha to the Selous, Tanzania’s other southern star. Selous Game Reserve is twice the size of the Serengeti with the Rufiji River at its heart and creating a network of swamps and channels. Virtually all of the lodges are in the northern tip of the reserve. We tend to use Rufiji River Camp, just inside the gate and again the original camp built by the Fox family, because of its superb location right on the river. You can explore by 4×4 here and by boat, a wonderful option. The camp is smaller than the one in Ruaha with just a dozen or so tents strung along the river bank with great views.

We also offer one of the newer lodges in the Selous, Azura Selous, formerly known as Amara Selous when it opened in 2010. There are only 8 tented rooms and the feel is smart and sophisticated. The location on the river is good although the camp is situated further west than the Rufiji Camp which is in the plum position for the densest wildlife. We know that Azura are keen to make Azura Selous a real beacon for expert guiding and hospitality and we look forward to seeing how they develop the camp. The manager is a keen photographer and knows where to go when!

See a sample southern Tanzania itinerary here.

Just as the Southern parks are less explored than the Northern parks, so is the southern coast and islands. Zanzibar attracts the vast majority of visitors attracted by the Spice Islands lush interior, atmospheric Stone Town with its magical architecture and markets. Very few people seem to make it to the quieter island of Pemba and Chumbe, both reached via Zanzibar but a very different prospec, or to the wondrous beaches and islands further south and accessible from Dar es Salaam.

Lazy Lagoon is a beach resort set on Bagamoyo island in the Zanzibar Channel around 80 km north from Dar . You reach the island by boat. It hit the headlines when Boris Johnson holidayed here and subsequently floated out into the Indian Ocean on his lilo! There are only 12 private beach bungalows or bandas with thatched roofs right on the beach with super ocean views – a great place to unwind.

While the alternative Mafia Island is accessed by a flight from Dar and is the Africa of old with sandy streets, overgrown ruins, few visitors and surrounded by a sensational marine reserve. We are fans of the laid back and rustic tree houses at Chole Mjini, or for more traditional comforts,  Pole Pole. Many people forget that you can enjoy white sand beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean at exceptionally good value by heading to the beaches south of Dar. This maximises holiday time by cutting out long journeys and makes great use of your budget. We love Protea Amani Beach and Ras Kutani.

Honeymoon idea: explore Pemba and enjoy the best of barefoot luxury with a stay at Fundu Lagoon. The small and laid back island of Pemba is Zanzibar’s sleepy and very beautiful neighbour.

South Africa Desert Dreaming – Tswalu Kalahari

South Africa offers a myriad romantic choices suitable for all levels of budget – from small guesthouses with individually styled rooms and lush gardens in the heart of the Cape winelands (we like Wedgeview and Akademie Street) to cool tented camps in Kruger, like Honeyguide Mantobeni.

There are places just perfect for romance, for that special occasion, like Grootbos on Walker Bay, or Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the Drakensberg Mountains with its sumptuous food. Very much off the beaten track in the midst of the Kalahari is Tswalu Kalahari, a very special safari lodge. Tswalu has it all – it has the dramatic landscape, it has the wildlife. Service is impeccable, food delicious and the 8 suites at The Motse are beautifully appointed with open fires, indoor and outdoor shower and private sundeck overlooking a watering hole.  It is so off the beaten track that many would struggle to pinpoint its positon on a map…

Honeymoon idea: combine the Kalahari with the Cape for a week of pure luxury. See sample itinerary here.

We want to be alone…

Africa’s most exclusive destinations

The number one question at travel shows from prospective clients looking at honeymoon options is: will it be busy? In answer, it depends very much on your budget and the season you wish to travel. Africa has plenty of places where you can escape the crowds; the most exclusive destinations being Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Here you can really relish space. Camps are small, with only half a dozen or so tents,  and are located in remote and vast wild areas which need to be accessed by a light aircraft more often than not.  The emphasis is on the quality of experience with guiding exceptional.

Avoid the crowds and travel in the Green Season

If you are happy to travel out of peak season you can look forward to a real treat. The rains in Africa are often referred to as the Green or Emerald Season and although you can expect thundery showers every afternoon (perfect siesta time…) you can also expect to see wonderful dramatic skies, nursery herds, with many of the animals having calves and pups at this time of year , and a lush landscape with flowers on the plains and trees in fruit. To get a flavour of the Green Season check out this new’s post on Zambia.

Seek out quiet corners

Even in the world-famous Masai Mara in Kenya, it is possible to find hidden gems – there are private concessions surrounding the main national park where visitor numbers are strictly monitored.  These concessions, which you fly-in to, have a handful of small secluded camps tucked away along a river’s edge or in a quiet grove, like Alex Walker’s Serian. In the Mara North Conservancy for example,  there is a ratio of just 1 guest to 350 acres allowing the camps here to offer a premium safari experience and a chance to escape the crowds associated with certain times of year in the main national park where larger lodges operate at maximum capacity.

We would urge you to be realistic in your expectations and to discuss your requirements fully with us so we can advise accordingly – if you are heading to East Africa to witness the Great Wildebeest Migration then do not expect to be alone!

Please note: all of the suggestions made here can be tailored to suit you and to make a complete itinerary including flights from the UK.

To find out more about any of the properties or holiday ideas here please call us on 01603 283 517.

Because many of the camps and lodges detailed are very small, the most important thing is to contact us as early as you can in order to avoid disappointment!

By Sara White

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Top Ten Island Getaways in Africa and the Indian Ocean (Part 1)

Are you sitting at work dreaming of escaping to a tropical island in the sun? Forget the Caribbean, Africa has some truly gorgeous island getaways just right for escaping the cold winter or a wet summer. Some are tiny with just a handful of rustic hideaways whilst others are much larger and more established with lots of luxury hotels, fantastic water-sports and world class restaurants.  All of them have sublime scenery; some have dramatic rocky coves whilst others have dreamy beaches with white sand and turquoise waters. Here are the first 5 in our top 10 as voted by the Real Africa team.

Mfangano Island, Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Mfangano Island is found at the eastern end of Lake Victoria and it is one of the team’s favourite islands. The island is a great combination of beautiful scenery, laid back African atmosphere and great wildlife. You can while away many hours just relaxing on the island watching the incredible birdlife or going fishing for your supper. It is also home to one of our favourite camps run by the team behind Governors Camps.  Mfangano Island Camp is a luxury, island hideaway lodge lapped by the waters of Lake Victoria, shaded by giant fig trees, and a secluded atmosphere. There are beautiful lush gardens set on a private bay with enormous boulders which sit at the water’s edge providing a perch for cormorants or giant monitor lizards to sun themselves. You will feel a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life on Mfangano.

Ibo Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Our intrepid explorer Lily nominated Ibo Island as one of her favourites having travelled to Mozambique last year. Ibo Island is part of the famous Quirimbas Archipelago which nestles in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of northern Mozambique. Once Mozambique’s mighty trading centre, Ibo Island has remained all but forgotten to the outside world for almost a century. Wander around this colonial little island town and hear tales of pirates and prisoners, turtle shells and silver. Explore old forts and ancient romantic buildings where you can almost feel the history come to life. Ibo is home to some wonderfully majestic historical architecture, some beautifully restored and some left as atmospheric ruins. Add to this almost dazzlingly white sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters, mangrove swamps and quaint fishing villages, giant sand dunes and lush greenery and you have a real paradise. Mozambique and the waters off Ibo Island are also famous for their pristine coral reefs and incredible marine wildlife including manta rays, rare dugongs, a variety of dolphins and all sorts of species of whales. We offer holidays to Ibo Island Lodge which is an award winning beach hotel with a fantastic location and stylish luxury accommodation.

Pemba, Tanzania

Pemba is a small island off the coast of its larger and more famous neighbour Zanzibar. Its remote location and small size has meant that it remained an untouched and pristine island of great beauty and history. The lush mosaic of forests, swamps, mangroves, and gently undulating hills combined with stunning hidden beaches and quiet lagoons makes for a serene and beautiful island getaway. The history of the island is told in the scattered ruins of mosques and tombs hidden away in the forest, some of which date back to Arab colonisation in the 17th century.

Likoma Island, Lake Malawi, Malawi

Likoma Island is another very popular destination amongst the team.  It is unusual in that it actually sits in Mozambican waters but is still part of Malawi. Likoma has a gentle, pretty landscape made up of rolling grassland dotted with trees, secluded coves and beaches and stunning views over to the mainland. There are a handful of hotels on the island but very little traffic as there are no paved roads and people travel by boat.  The waters here are crystal clear and warm making it perfect for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, fishing and sailing. The waters of the lake are also home to wonderful birdlife and the whole atmosphere is very peaceful indeed. We offer stays at the wonderful Kaya Mawa which is a 5 star luxury lodge with incredible views, secluded beaches and gorgeous rooms. It was voted by Conde Nast as one of the top ten most romantic places in the world.

Mafia Island, Tanzania

Another small island off the East African coast and part of the Zanzibar archipelago, Mafia Island is a proper Robinson Crusoe desert island. It is a place to get away and soak up nature in all its finest. Mafia Island’s coral reefs are renowned as an excellent, world-class diving destination. Scientists have confirmed that Mafia has some of the richest reefs in the world, with an unparalleled variety of hard and soft corals and diversity of tropical fish. If you are not one for diving you can explore the island’s nature trails and discover the hidden ruins of lost buildings reclaimed by the jungle. However it is really the gloriously pristine white sandy beaches lapped by gentle warm waters which you tend to have all to yourself that attract most people to Mafia Island. It is wonderfully peaceful and calming and a perfect place to relaxing. We offer a fantastic little rustic retreat called Chole Mjini if Mafia Island sounds the place for you.

If you fancy turning your daydreams into reality then give us a call and we can fix you up!

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park

Have you ever heard of a Peace Park? There are several in Africa but the biggest and most established is the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park in Southern Africa. This incredibly vast conservation area  stretches across three frontiers between Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa and is home to millions of animals.

This park was set up as a peace park to join  three countries together in an effort to protect the wildlife that roams across their national boundaries and as such it is one of the most successful conservation projects on the whole of the African continent. The park actually incorporates three seperate national parks; the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe and some of the areas in between.

Conservation Area:

At the moment it is in the first stage and currently it covers around 35,000 kms sq. The aim is to bring together some of the most exciting and well established wildlife areas in Southern Africa and  manage it as one single, integrated unit across three international boundaries, a tricky proposition! The next phase will to be to create a bigger transfrontier conservation area measuring almost 100,000 kms sq.  The larger transfrontier conservation area will include Banhine and Zinave national parks, the Massingir and Corumana areas and interlinking regions in Mozambique, as well as various privately and state-owned conservation areas in South Africa and Zimbabwe also bordering on the park.

Administration:

The adminstration and development of the park needs the various countries to agree unified policies and to co-operate over things such as fees and rates, border crossings, tourism strategy, conservation strategy, future funding and future development. This can only be done by running the park under a single management organisation and this has been done since 2002 when the park was finally created after years of planning.

History:

The park was originally discussed as an idea in a meeting between President Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and the president of the World Wide Fund For Nature (South Africa) in 1990.  The 1992 Peace Accord in Mozambique and the South African democratic elections of 1994 paved the way for the political processes to proceed toward making this idea a reality. Feasibility studies initiated by the World Bank culminated in a pilot project that was launched with Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding in 1996.  Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique signed a trilateral agreement in Skukuza, South Africa on 10 November 2000. The Skukuza agreement signalled the three nations’ intent to establish and develop a transfrontier park and surrounding conservation area that, at that time, was called Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezhou. Finally, on 9 December 2002, the heads of state of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe signed an international treaty at Xai-Xai, Mozambique to establish the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. Below is one of the first concept maps drawn up for the park in 1993.

Wildlife:

The park is important for several different reasons. It is vitally important to preserve some of the cultural sites such as the ancient cave paintings and the evidence of early man within the park.  The landscape and vegetation area are also vitally important to preserve. Of course one of the most important aspects is the conservation of the rare wildlife that lives in this area. In the GLTP there is a significant and viable populations of wild dog, white rhino and black rhino all of which are significantly endangered. Both these species are increasing steadily and increased range opportunities into Mozambique and Zimbabwe will enhance the conservation of these species and others. There are also significant populations of elephant, zebra, lion and spotted hyaena to be found in the park. As the park grows it will encompass and protect more endangered species and preserve more areas of environmental or cultural importance. It will also offer protected migration routes as most animals travel huge distances in search of either grazing or prey.

This is one of Africa’s great success stories. The park has taken a huge amount of time and effort whilst managing to overcome many hurdles on the way but it is now   a great success with plans to continue its expansion and development.

 

Posted by Ruth Bolton

 

 

 

 

 

Modern and Stylish Places to Stay in Africa

It’s not all thatched cottages and safari tents in Africa you know. There are plenty of uber-cool modern and stylish hotels for those of you looking for something a little less colonial and a little more 21st century.

Namibia:

Namibia is home to some of the most unique landscapes in the world. With plunging gorges, towering sand dunes, vast salt pans and a truly dramatic coastline this is the country for unusual scenery. It is also home to some unusual and unique accommodation. The modernist architecture really fits in with the sometime harsh and dramatic landscape around it where as something quaint and cosy would stick out like a sore thumb. A great place to stay if you like modern architecture is the Fish River Lodge. Set right on the edge of the famous Fish River Gorge (the second largest in the world after the Grand Canyon) the hotel is made up of 20 individual square shaped single level lodges offering both privacy and fantastic views to the guests. The rooms are furnished in a modern style with beds angled to view the gorge and its incredible sunsets. The main building is also modern in style with a large viewing deck and swimming pool all making the most of the breath-taking view.

Rwanda:

In the forests and mountains of Rwanda you can find the wonderful Shamwari Nyungwe Forest Lodge. This stunning luxury lodge, built to blend in with the surrounding environment, is situated in a tea plantation on the edge of the Nyungwe closed canopy rain forest. The decor is stylish and modern with all the comforts of an international hotel. The views from its elevated position are to die for including from the plentiful terraces and the fabulous infinity pool. This hotel makes an excellent base for hiking into the mountains to see the monkeys, chimps and mountain gorillas that live in this lush, green wilderness.

Mozambique:

Another place where you would not expect modern style accommodation is on an island in Mozambique.The White Pearl Resort Ponta Mamoli is a stylish, luxury, modern hotel. Nestled in a sheltered bay on Mozambique’s Lagoon Coast, poised amongst the dunes on timber stilts, their luxurious suites have been sensitively designed to take advantage of their beautiful natural setting. Cool, clean lines, contemporary furniture and a palette inspired by the surrounding coastal landscape, make for a stylish but relaxing beach retreat. This hotel really is for those looking for incredible contempory design in a stunning beach location.

South Africa – Cape Town:

And of course in the upbeat, exciting city of Cape Town there are plenty of modern options and even across South Africa you find wonderful modern places to stay. Hand-picked by our South Africa Manager we have several stylish and modern places to stay. In Cape Town you can stay in the Sugar Hotel and Spa which is centrally located in the heart of this vibrant city. A sophisticated mix of raw brick, woods, stainless steel, porcelain tiles and glass creates a modernist vibe at the hotel.

If you are looking for somewhere self-catering in Cape Town then are plenty of options including the sleek Lawhill Apartments. These are located right on the V&A Waterfront and every luxury apartment is designed for comfort offering the freedom of self-catering with the service of a hotel including a reception desk. All the apartments have their own balcony with luxurious outdoor furniture from which to enjoy the views of the marina, the canal and the One & Only Hotel. The communal pool and gymnasium are also made available for the enjoyment of all guests.

South Africa – Garden Route:

Further along the beautiful Garden Route you can find the stylish Quarters Hermanus (see photo at bottom)right on the historic harbour of the whale watching town of Hermanus. The hotel is white and clean lined with a lovely restaurant overlooking the waterfront and the guest rooms all have mountain or sea views. The hotel is located right in the centre of Hermanus which itself is the centre of the whale watching tourism industry and is a very pleasant and lively resort.

And further along the Garden Route is the stunning Robberg in Plettenburg Bay (see the top photo). The Robberg offers a variety of different accommodation including self-catering apartments and villas all built in a white clean lined modern style. Ideally located just five minutes from the bustling restaurants, galleries, coffee shops and bars of Plett’s Main Street, the Robberg is a tranquil beachside haven. This understated, private retreat boasts 5-star luxury accommodation, and is ideally situated, right on the Robberg’s beautiful Blue Flag Beach.

These are just a handful of some of the modern and stylish accommodation that can be found across Africa; from the big cities to sleepy towns, from the deepest bush to the highest peaks, from the verdant jungles to the beautiful beaches you can find somewhere modern and stylish to stay.

Posted by Ruth Bolton

Scare Yourself Silly!

Are you an adrenalin junkie? Do you like challenging yourself in new situations? Do you like trying out new sports and exploring new places? Africa is full of amazing places for the thrill-seekers amongst you!

Canoeing:

There are lots of different places to canoe in Africa but some of the best canoeing can be found on Africa’s Great Lakes including Lake Malawi. It is a fantastic way to explore the unspoilt beaches and stunning warm water and soak up the total peace and quiet of the place. If you want a bit more excitement then you can have fun in a dug-out canoe called a mokoro on safari in Botswana exploring the waterways of the Okavango Delta. Or if that’s not enough of a thrill you can spend your time dodging hippos on the mighty Zambezi! See our Selinda Canoe Trip for a fantastic camping and canoeing safari trip.

White-water rafting and kayaking:

Some of the best Grade 5 rapids in Africa are on the Zambezi river as it pours out of the awesome Victoria Falls on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. The huge river come pounding over the wide waterfalls but then squeezes into a narrow rocky gorge giving the water immense energy and creating some world class rapids. There are plenty of companies offering rafting trips of various lengths and level of skill around Victoria Falls.  Further afield you could also tackle the infamous Horrible Horace, the Whiplash and the Four-Man-Hole – legendary rapids and cascades for white water rafting and kayaking on the Tugela in the Drakensburg Mountains of South Africa. The Orange River also in South Africa offers some fantastic rafting and kayaking hotspots too.

Bungee Jumping:

And of course we couldn’t talk about adrenalin sports in Africa without adding in bungee jumping. Also at the world famous Victoria Falls you can do one of the world’s greatest bungees over the edge of Vic Falls itself. This was one of the earliest sites for bungee jumping after New Zealand and has been a long established attraction at the Falls. You can combine a trip here with a safari or with some white water rafting as there is plenty to see and do in the vicinity. Vic Falls bungee jump is definitely classed as one of the world’s best jumps and features on many a bucket list!

Diving with Rays:

Scuba Diving is exciting at the best of times but in the protected coastal waters of Mozambique you can go diving and swimming with some extraordinary animals. Whale sharks and manta rays are one of the huge attractions of the area along with the miles of unspoilt beaches and crystal clear warm waters of Mozambique. There are many dive centres and resorts  scattered along the coast of Mozambique but the main place for diving with manta rays and whale sharks is Tofo. This is the best place in the world for seeing these amazing creatures up close but the marine life in these waters is unbelievable. With some of the best preserved coral reefs and unpolluted waters Mozambique really is a diver’s paradise. 

Surfing:

The beautiful Garden Route along South Africa’s southern coast offers incredible scenery, quaint towns, a huge variety of marine life including whales and dolphins and on top of all that some world beating surf. There are several bays along the Cape’s south coast, east of Cape Agulhas, that produce consistent surfing conditions including Stil Bay, Mossel Bay, St Francis Bay, Jeffrey’s Bay and Algoa-Port Elizabeth. It depends on the weather conditions as to which has the best surf on the day but with the right wind direction and a good swell these are world beaters. Jeffrey’s Bay is famous for its almost perfect tube and the area is home to a strong surfing community and also hosts several different international competitions.

Diving with sharks:

If surfing seems a bit tame then how about cage diving and coming face to face with a Great White  off the coast of sunny Cape Town? This is becoming more popular year by year and there are now several different operators to choose from if you are brave enough! You can also take boat rides out to see the whales and dolphins from Cape Town. We have some fantastic accommodation on offer including top of the range luxury hotels, small boutique guest houses and self-catering apartments.

Mountain Biking and Mountain Climbing:

The Drakensburg Mountains are a stunning range set in the north east of South Africa. The area is famous for its stunning scenery and it offers all sorts of mountain based adrenalin activities including mountain climbing, horse-riding, mountain-biking, quad biking, white water rafting, hiking and abseiling. Many adrenalin enthusiasts regard the Drakensberg’s rivers, mountains and tracks as the ultimate adventure destination in the world. The mountains themselves are stunningly beautiful and well worth a visit just for the landscape alone. You can see even more during a hot air balloon flight or a trip in helicopter both of which are also available here. You can hire bikes in several different locations in the area and most hotels will also arrange this for you and you can choose from following the trails yourself or taking a tour with a guide who can really take you off-trail!

Dune buggies:

Where else could you get amazing dune buggy rides than in the stunning sand dunes and deserts of Namibia? Swakopmund is home to all kinds of adrenalin sports and you can find amongst other things on offer the chance to go dune bashing in some of the most unique scenery on earth.  Some of the sand dunes are quite rightly protected as sites of special importance but there are plenty of sand dunes available for exploring on dune buggies. You can also go sky diving, hot air ballooning, boat trips to the seal colonies, sandboarding, quad biking, sport fishing and night desert walks to name but a few!

Horse Riding:

Galloping through the waterways and wide open spaces of true wilderness, Botswana offers riders an incredible experience you just cannot get in the UK. Hundreds of miles of unspoilt wildlife and scenery and not another person to be seen in any of it. No traffic, no roads, nothing to hinder you from riding free as a bird. In Botswana you can ride through the stunning Okavango Delta and enjoy a horse-back safari which is a great way to get off the beaten track and see the wildlife up close. You can also do horse-riding in many other places including across South Africa and Namibia. RAW Botswana offer terrific horseback safaris – find out more here.

So instead of moaning about the rain the next time we have a wet bank holiday why don’t you book yourself a white-knuckle ride and scare yourself silly somewhere in Africa?!

Posted by Ruth Bolton