We know everyone loves their old favourite lodges - who could forget that incredible view from the rustic Tarangire Safari Lodge in Tanzania, Tarangire park's first permanent lodge? Or the afternoon tea at the grand colonial Victoria Falls Hotel, just a stroll from the Falls and an elegant stopover choice between safaris in Botswana or Zimbabwe. For anyone that's had the joy of breakfasting with Rothschild giraffes at Giraffe Manor in Kenya - we hear you, new isn't necessarily better.
Here at Real Africa we all have our own special memories of iconic properties which have helped to shape our experience of Africa - and many of these historic properties have done great things for the local community and for conservation. But every now and again there's an innovative new property which comes along to rival the classics. Here we look at what's new in the safari world and what you can look forward to experiencing in the coming year.
For us, more than ever, in addition to ensuring you have a spectacular holiday, we want your safari to serve a purpose and for your visit to benefit the local community and to help to conserve precious wildlife.
1.Asilia - new space age camp in the remote Ngorongoro Highlands keeps guests cosy in Tanzania
Asilia’s wonderful new safari pods, modelled on Maasai huts (and given a futuristic vibe) are located around 45 minutes north of the Ngorongoro crater on the remote and beautiful forested slopes of the Ngorongoro Highlands, close to Olmoti Volcano, around 300m above sea level. Guests can enjoy superb comfort with wood burners in the suites, hot water bottles and cosy fur throws and sheepskins. Activities range from walking in this pristine land to visiting the crater and enjoying the wildlife which abounds in this area. Asilia is committed to creating viable conservation economies.
2.Six Senses Seychelles – much anticipated Zil Pasyon opens on beautiful Felicite Island
Reached by boat from Praslin, or by helicopter transfer from Mahe, the much anticipated Six Senses Zil Pasyon offers 17 private residences and 28 one and two bedroom pool villas on the beautiful island of Felicite with its huge granite boulders and white sand so typical of the Seychelles landscape. Turtles nest on the shores of Grand Anse between October and January, hatching between December and March while migrating birds are present from April/May time until October. The surrounding waters teem with life making this a fantastic choice for a wild escape. An aim of this island paradise is habitat restoration, supporting threatened ecosystems by ridding the island of invasive species and creating genuine conservation value by propagation of rare local plants. The resort manages its own reverse osmosis plant and crystal water refinery, producing high quality drinking water without the use of plastic bottles. A chicken farm and an organic garden also support the ultimate aim of self-sustained food and beverages on the island, drastically reducing the environmental footprint.
3.Thanda - island retreat just off the coast of Tanzania welcomes first guests
Thanda has been the private island retreat of a Swedish family, the Olofsson's for years but it was only in 2016 that the 8 hectare island which is surrounded by a coral reef, welcomed its first guests. Thanda is set within a marine reserve very close to the island of Mafia, 16 nautical miles off the coast of Tanzania. Waters here attract whale sharks who migrate right past the island between October and February. Endangered dugongs can occasionally be seen too, along with Green and Hawksbill turtles who nest on the beaches and a multitude of other marine and bird life. The beautiful 5 bedroom beach villa is available for exclusive use. Thanda works in partnership with Sea Sense and the Tanzanian Marine Parks on a range of marine conservation and education programmes in the region. These include research and conservation projects on the sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins, whale sharks, coral reefs and marine reserves.
>>>Find out more about beach escapes here. We are now offering beach escapes in the Seychelles and Mauritius as well as Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. New beach holidays being added regularly.
4.Saruni Rhino – helping black rhino to re-establish in Sera Conservancy, Kenya
Saruni Rhino is due to open in February 2017. In partnership with the Northern Rangelands Trust this new, ground-breaking project will see eleven black rhino translocated from Lewa and Nairobi National Park to the northern frontier. Guests will be able to learn about the rhino and also to track them on foot with experienced rangers while staying overnight. Once the rhinos have established territory, tracking devices will no longer be required providing guests with an even more wild experience and a fascinating insight into their conservation and protection. Guests can also visit the Singing Wells, the new Reteti Elephant Sanctuary and 50 Wells, where the sand grouse come to drink, as featured in the recent Planet Earth 11 series so spectacularly on the BBC.
5.Qorokwe – new Wilderness safaris camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta
This new nine bedroom tented camp was due to open at the end of 2016 but has been delayed to sometime in 2017. We can’t wait to find out more. Based on the strengths of the Wilderness portfolio we know it will be something special! At this stage we know the nine luxurious tented suites overlook a hippo lagoon in the private Qorokwe concession (260,000-acres) in the Okavango which borders Chitabe. We hear there may be special conservation activities linked to the Bayei community.
6.Duba Expedition Camp and the all new Duba Plains Camp from Great Plains Conservation – the Okavango’s most remote camps unfurl their canvas
The wonderful Duba Plains camp, known as the most remote camp in Botswana’s northern Okavango has been completely remodelled and will be unfurling its canvas to welcome new guests from March 2017. There will be five tented rooms plus one tented two bedroom suite. Each tent will have a lounge area, with place to write and do your photographic downloads, as well as the opportunity for private dining in your tent. Each will have a private verandah plus beautifully appointed en-suite facilities consisting of flush loo, double basins and indoor and outdoor showers and luxurious baths. Ceiling fans and careful design maintain comfortable climate for rest and relaxation. Guests will be able to enjoy their own private plunge pool and outdoor under cover sala/day rest area. The main area will consist of a large raised dining room, and comfortable lounge with private dining areas, wine cellar and library, with ample space for guests to either get away and be private or be all together if they want to. The nearby Duba Expedition Camp opened in 2016 and has six stunning tented rooms.The not for profit Great Plains Foundation work to conserve Africa's great plains, and the wildlife we all love to see there. Projects include Rhinos without Borders - an ambitious translocation of rhino from South Africa to Botswana, which your safari stay will help to support.
7.Limalilo Lodge, Ethiopia – rooms with a view in the Simien Mountains
Limalilo opened in 2016 in the Simien Mountains of Ethiopia. The lodge sits on an escarpment with commanding views over the Mountains. There are only 12 rooms here and the focus is very much on community and conservation. Many of the staff come from the local community and the lodge is working in partnership with African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) to develop a conservation fund - every guest pays a $10 per night conservation fee - which we will be invested in conservation activities in and around the National Park. The lodge is a welcome addition to the highlands and sets a new level of luxury for Ethiopia offering a far more stylish and contemporary look and feel.
8.Mambeti, Liuwa Plains , Zambia – the path less travelled
This lodge on the Liuwa Plains of Zambia is the newcomer to Norman Carr’s portfolio and is being opened in partnership with African Parks, a non-profit organisation that takes on total responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. Designed by Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, the architects who designed Chinzombo, the lodge is located on the upper Munde stream, a site chosen for its sweeping vistas and complete wildlife immersion, and comprises six luxury villas including a two bedroomed family villa, with the capacity to accommodate a total of 15 guests. Liuwa Plain is situated on the upper Zambezi flood plains of western Zambia and is bounded by the Luambimba and Luanginga Rivers. In addition to its famed lions, Liuwa is home to the second biggest wildebeest migration in Africa, recovering cheetah numbers, a burgeoning hyena population, wild dogs, abundant zebra, buffalo, red lechwe and tessebe herds and more than 300 bird species. It is not uncommon to see millions of pratincoles and spectacular kaleidoscopes of crowned cranes and endangered wattled cranes which start flocking at the onset of the rains. Wonderful.
9.Year of the mobile? Keep on moving in 2017.
Ok, so it’s not a new concept in any way but did you know that many of Africa’s mobile camps have had a bit of a face lift in recent years? Mobile camps are seasonal camps, put up and taken down again leaving very little impact on the environment. In Kenya and Tanzania there are wonderful mobile camps which follow the Great Migration, in Zambia you can enjoy walking safaris between mobile camps and in Botswana too, there are mobiles which take you right into the heart of the action to pristine areas. Some of these camps now have flush loos and much improved safari showers, wonderful food and drink and certainly some of the best locations and guides. For those who enjoy sleeping under canvas this is the real deal.
10. Four Seasons Desroche Island, Seychelles – a little slice of paradise (remodelled)
You’ll have to wait until the end of the year for the unveiling of the new Four Seasons Resort Seychelles at Desroche Island. We hear the island is undergoing a complete transformation. On the outer edge of the Indian Ocean’s archipelago, Desroches Island is located among the Amirantes Islands, a 35 minute flight southwest of Mahé, the capital and largest island in the Seychelles. Boasting 14 kilometres of pristine white-sand beaches, lush coconut groves, crystal clear waters and vibrant coral reefs, the island is a remote and tranquil oasis just five degrees south of the equator. There will be 40 exclusive beach suites and 11 private residence villas. With direct access to unspoiled beaches and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean, the Resort’s suites will also feature private plunge pools, tropical gardens and luxurious outdoor living spaces. We are excited to hear there will be a Marine Conservation Discovery Centre and Giant Tortoise Sanctuary. In the meantime you will have to make do with Four Seasons Mahe (pictured)! Let’s face it - not a bad proposition!
What else to look out for in 2017
Please call us on 01603 964 730 or email email@example.com if you would like any help or advice planning your Africa adventure - be it to one of these fabulous new properties or to some of the more established lodges already featured in our online portfolio. All quotes are on a no-obligation basis. You can browse some of our lodges in our Lodge Libary here.
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