Inspiring african safaris
A trip to Botswana is a window into the Africa of old, where wildlife roams the streets of towns and ancient cultural customs are still practised. With 40-plus percent of the country designated as protected game-viewing areas, Botswana's safaris are wild, breathtaking and guaranteed to be jam-packed full of animals. In fact, the conservation-focused government is doing more than any other African country to protect its wildlife heritage. The Okavango Delta, Africa's largest wetland wilderness, is the crown jewel in any safari and teems with animals year-round. Much of the rest of the country is made up of the Kalahari Desert, with the Central Kalahari home to the ancient San people, whose culture is the oldest in the world.
Okavango Delta safari
The Okavango Delta is a fluke of nature. In fact, it shouldn’t really exist. Spilling out over the Kalahari Desert, the wetland was formed about 50,000 years ago, when a sudden tectonic shift in northern Botswana interrupted the Okavango River’s flow towards the ocean. Now, where once there was a parched desert, a myriad of floodplains, channels and palm-strewn islands exist, supporting some of the largest and most diverse populations of birds and animals in Africa. These islands are essentially great big time capsules, and exploring them on an Okavango Delta safari is like exploring natural history – a place unchanged for thousands of years and the very definition of "wilderness".
Experiences in Okavango Delta
Lodges in Okavango Delta
Routes in Okavango Delta
A protected wildlife area in northern Botswana, the Linyanti region is a veritable haven for animals. Massive herds of elephants call this area home, particularly along the permanent water sources in the dry season, as well as lion, hyena, leopard and plenty of zebra. Alongside fabulous game viewing, the region is characterised by its varied and incredibly beautiful scenery, from swampy marshlands and lagoons to glittering waterways, open grasslands and green forests. The Linyanti is one of the more remote regions in Botswana, with just a few outstanding camps and lodges to choose from, so you're guaranteed an authentic and very special safari experience.
Experiences in Linyanti
Lodges in Linyanti
Routes in Linyanti
If you love elephants (and who doesn't?), then the Chobe River should be top of your must-see list. The area hosts one of the largest concentrations of elephants in Africa, and a drive through the Chobe National Park ensures many sightings of these gentle pachyderms. The Chobe River makes up the northern border of Botswana and Namibia and winds through a vast open floodplain that supports incredible concentrations of wildlife such as wildebeest, buffalo, zebra, impala and, of course, the many predators that follow the herds. One of the best ways to experience the river is on a serene Chobe boat safari for an eye-level encounter with the beasts and birds.
Experiences in Chobe National Park
Lodges in Chobe National Park
Routes in Chobe National Park
Central Kalahari safari
The Kalahari may be a desert, but what a desert it is. The seemingly never-ending plains (50,000 square kilometres to be exact) dominate central Botswana and are part of the largest continuous sand basin on earth. Established as a sanctuary for the San bushmen in 1961, the reserve was, until very recently, closed to the public and even today only very few make it to this wild and untouched expanse of pristine land. But those who do embark on a Kalahari safari can look forward to remarkable sightings of the powerful black-maned lions of Deception Valley, interactions with fascinating San tribesmen and the most phenomenal stargazing on the planet.
Experiences in Central Kalahari
Lodges in Central Kalahari
Routes in Central Kalahari
The Makgadikgadi Pan in Botswana is essentially waterless and arid for much of the year, yet it remains one of the most beautiful, haunting and intriguing landscapes in Africa. Part of the Kalahari Basin, the milky white pan covers an area of 12 000 square kilometers—one of the largest salt pans in the world. With shimmering horizons that bend to infinity, this place is the definition of isolation. During years of good rain, the two largest pans—Sowa and Ntwetwe—flood and attract wildlife such as zebra and wildebeest on the grassy plains. Thousands of Flamingos colour the pale white at Sowa and Nata Sanctuary—a natural wonder that people come from all over to see.
Experiences in Makgadikgadi
Lodges in Makgadikgadi
Routes in Makgadikgadi
The Tuli Block is a wilderness gem tucked away on a narrow fringe of land on Botswana's eastern border. Consisting mainly of privately owned game farms, the area is renowned for its black-maned lions, leopard and cheetah lurking between the gigantic nyala trees and sick-looking yellow fever trees on the river banks. The characteristic baobabs are ubiquitous among the rocky outcrops, while wildebeest, kudu, eland and waterbuck migrate through the area. Keep an eye out for the rare ginger Pel's fishing owl that sits above pools and rivers at night. This an old haunt of the ancient San bushmen, whose paintings coat the walls and overhangs of the Kopjes.
Experiences in Tuli
Lodges in Tuli
Routes in Tuli
It’s definitely not the first country mentioned in the travel brochures, but after more than its fair share of political problems and strife, Chad's current relative stability has allowed it to open up to intrepid safari goers. But why on earth would you want to visit? Well, there are mind-boggling concentrations of wildlife in Zakouma National Park, ethereal landscapes that could belong on a different planet and an energetic and eccentric capital city. We won't beat about the bush – a Chad holiday is not for the faint-hearted. The country is hot, dry and difficult to negotiate. But the true magic lies in experiencing a place so staggeringly unknown and remote that few people will ever have the chance to visit.
Zakouma National Park Safari
Chad is the very definition of extraordinary – extraordinary travel, extraordinary people and, in Zakouma National Park, extraordinary wildlife. Declared a national park in 1963, Zakouma suffered rampant poaching during Chad’s civil wars. Enter magnificent conservation organisation African Parks in 2010, and thanks to their formidable work, Zakouma is now a wildlife hotspot – and what a hotspot it is! The big boys of the park are elephant, which roam happily alongside endemic Kordofan giraffe, herds of roan antelope, buffalo and predators such as lion, leopard and hyena. It’s a place of surprising abundance, particularly when it comes to birdlife, and it’s not unusual to see millions (literally!) of quelea and great flocks of black crowned crane.
Experiences in Zakouma National Park
Lodges in Zakouma National Park
Routes in Zakouma National Park
Africa’s second-largest country and bordered by no fewer than nine nations, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the beautiful, mesmeric, enthralling heart of the continent. Its turbulent history, from the bloody reign of Belgium's King Leopold to Mobuto Sese Seko’s military dictatorship, is no secret, but for now the country is enjoying a period of relative stability, with tourism providing a much-needed beacon of hope. And that's really good news, as this is a place that truly is worth discovering. With steaming jungles sheltering mountain gorillas, crystal-clear lakes amid smoking volcanoes and urban-cool cities with the continent’s best music scene, a DRC holiday is not to be taken lightly. But, boy, it’s one that you'll never forget.
Virunga National Park Safari
The Virunga Mountains; cloud-grazing massifs, shrouded in equatorial jungle and an almost permanent veil of lingering mist and home to almost a third of the world’s remaining mountain gorillas. Straddling three countries in total (Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC), the protector of the Congolese section of the range is Virunga National Park, a bewitching and extraordinary place with a landscape unlike any other on the continent. With around five habituated families, most visitors make the journey for a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla encounter. Locking eyes with one of these gentle giants is, quite simply, astounding. And to do it in this spectacular park? Literally life-changing.
Experiences in Virunga National Park
Lodges in Virunga National Park
Routes in Virunga National Park
Cast aside everything you thought you knew about Ethiopia and start from the beginning. The oldest, independent nation in sub-Saharan Africa, the country was Christian before much of Europe and its cultural identity is peerless, beautiful and enchanting. Today, the economy is developing quickly and international visitors are beginning to trickle in but the experiences are still timeless and quite unlike anything else on the continent. Ancient treasures and medieval monuments rub shoulders with breath-taking national parks home to rare and endemic species, and in the south, you’ll find fascinating indigenous groups that offer a glimpse into a forgotten realm. But be warned – one trip will lead to a love affair that will bring you back again… and again.
In a country of towering highlands and places that seem to disappear they’re so far below sea level, the Simien Mountains belong firmly in the first category. Dizzyingly high escarpments compete with jagged volcanic peaks to touch the sky and the chief sentinel, Ras Dashen, is the third highest mountain in Africa at 14,901 feet. This high up, the views stretch for hundreds of kilometres in either direction and the treks and guided walks (whilst not for the faint-hearted) are mind-bogglingly brilliant. When you’re not gazing at the scenery, keep a look out for the walia ibex (a wild goat), the very rare Abyssinian wolf and plenty of shrieking Gelada monkeys, all endemic to Ethiopia.
Experiences in Simien Mountains National Park
Lodges in Simien Mountains National Park
Routes in Simien Mountains National Park
Whether you spend an hour, a day or a week in the incredible Omo Valley, the kaleidoscope of tribal people, the cultural traditions and the starkness of the environment make for an experience that is, quite simply, unforgettable. The area is home to the most remarkable indigenous groups in Africa; from the masters of body decorating, the Hamer, to the crocodile-hunting Dassanech and the lip-plated Mursi, each group is distinctive and their cultural traditions, fascinating. In our crazy, modern world of technology and speed, this is the sort of place that changes you and gets truly under your skin…
Experiences in Omo Valley
Lodges in Omo Valley
Routes in Omo Valley
If there’s one place you might have heard of in Ethiopia, it’s the rock hewn churches of Lalibela – but nothing can prepare you for the moment you see them with your own eyes. Built in the 12th century as a ‘Second Jerusalem’, the 11 spectacular churches were carved by hand into the pastel-red mountains and connected by a warren of tunnels. Each is uniquely extraordinary, delicate yet majestic, and perfectly preserved. Today, the atmosphere is an intoxicating blend of awe and reverence, amplified by the thousand-strong crowds of monks, nuns and worshippers visiting on pilgrimages. This really is Christianity in its most raw and immense form.
Experiences in Lalibela
Lodges in Lalibela
Routes in Lalibela
It’s safe to say that not many make the six-hour journey to the southeast of Addis to the Bale Mountains, but those that tackle the vertiginous roads are rewarded with scenery of the staggering kind. From deep gorges, fairy-tale glacial lakes and clouded forests to undulating hillsides peppered with juniper trees, the landscape was shaped by volcanic fires and glacial ice – just a hint toward the drama that’s in store. The next drawcard is the wildlife. The mountains are home to one of the highest incidences of endemic species in the world, including the Bale monkey, the giant mole-rat and almost half of the remaining population of Ethiopian wolf.
Experiences in Bale Mountains
Lodges in Bale Mountains
Routes in Bale Mountains
For anyone with an iota of interest in history, the royal city of Gondar is a must-add to the list of Ethiopian sights. The capital for much of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Gondar was home to many of the county’s most famous (and ruthless) kings and emperors, warlords and courtiers who built a succession of impressive castles and churches connected by a series of secret tunnels. The striking melee of Portuguese, Indian and local architectural styles is stirringly majestic and whilst walking around the Royal Enclosure, it’s impossible not to imagine the tales of conspiracy, battle and brutality that took place inside the crumbling walls…
Experiences in Gondar
Lodges in Gondar
Routes in Gondar
Most spots in Ethiopia will make you wonder whether time travel has been invented, but Axum (or Aksum) really is like stepping into the pages of the Old Testament. The fourth-century capital was said to be founded by the great, great grandson of Moses and in its heyday, the empire was one of the four great powers in the world. Today, the small town is most famous for the magnificent granite obelisks, dating from around 300AD, the Queen of Sheba’s palace and swimming pool, and the church of St Mary of Zion. And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also said to be the resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, one of the most precious relics of Christianity.
Experiences in Axum
Lodges in Axum
Routes in Axum
Experiences in Bahir Dar
Lodges in Bahir Dar
Routes in Bahir Dar
In some ways, Addis is the epitome of an African capital city – loud, bustling, a little bit eccentric and home to a market to rival all others – but in others, it’s completely different. Take the amazing jazz scene, spilling out of trendy cafes and bars that also serve some of the best coffee in the world; or the hidden boutiques where you can shop for traditional shawls and baskets; and then there’s the National Museum, home to 3.2 million-year-old ‘Lucy’ and a melee of other treasures. So, even if you’re only really here for the airport, take a couple of hours to explore - you never know what you might come across.
Experiences in Addis Ababa
Lodges in Addis Ababa
Routes in Addis Ababa
Famously known as the hottest place on earth, the Danakil Depression is a surreal landscape of salt-pans and wavering mirages punctuated by bubbling volcanoes, steaming springs and psychedelic lava lakes. At first glance, you would be forgiven for thinking that nothing could possibly survive in this surreal, otherworldly realm – but you’d be wrong. The Afar people, famed for their ferocity, have long called the region home and the sight of them moving across the plains, digging for salt, is mesmerising. Danakil is the sort of place that takes everything you’ve ever known to the extreme, and whether you spend a week camping your way across the desert or simply visit for a day, it’s an adventure that you’ll never, ever forget.
Experiences in Danakil Depression
Lodges in Danakil Depression
Routes in Danakil Depression
Whilst Ethiopia as a country isn’t exactly ‘on the beaten track’, if you really want to get away from the tourist-trodden trails, head to the Gheralta Mountains of northern Tigray. A treasure trove of historical and cultural customs, the 200 churches carved high into the rock are the real treat and far less visited than their more famous counterparts in Lalibela. The striking landscape also lends itself perfectly to a spot of walking and trekking; options include vertiginous hikes to the churches buried deep in the hills or more sedate strolls to intricately-painted monasteries. Accommodation-wise, most hotels are based in the towns of Mekele and Hawzen, both excellent bases for a historical exploration of the region and trips to the otherworldly Danakil Depression.
Experiences in Gheralta
Lodges in Gheralta
Routes in Gheralta
Kenya is the original safari destination. Home of the famous Masai Mara, the country has a decades-long history as the place to see the epic annual wildebeest migration. Sightings are certainly spectacular as the plains become flush with a moving melee of black ungulates, followed closely by lions and cheetahs who pick off the young and weak. Alternatively, a Kenya safari could take you north to Samburu, with its arid thornveld and amazing leopard sightings, or to Amboseli, with its stunning views of Kilimanjaro, or even to the picture-perfect beaches on the Indian Ocean coast. We could send you to Kenya for months and you wouldn't be able to see it all.
Masai Mara safari
The famous Masai Mara needs little introduction. Spanning an area of 1500 square kilometres in southwest Kenya, the reserve forms part of the Greater Serengeti savannah ecosystem, offering some of the best game viewing in the world. This is where vast assemblages of antelope are chased by more predators than you could ever imagine; where endless plains meet endless skies; and where the wildebeest of the Great Migration plunge furiously across the Mara River in their annual trek. Whatever you wish to tick off your safari bucket-list, the Mara will certainly not disappoint.
Experiences in Masai Mara
Lodges in Masai Mara
Routes in Masai Mara
Amboseli & Chyulu Safari
Quite literally a green emerald jewel in the dusty crown of Southern Kenya, Amboseli is up there with Africa’s elite game-viewing destinations, especially when it comes to elephants. This is where herds of magnificent tuskers roam across a backdrop of striking Kilimanjaro views and where wildebeest and zebra pass undisturbed across the open plains. Next door are the Chyulu Hills, an oasis of green dominated by towering volcanoes and sparkling hot springs and although the game is generally quite shy, the area is an excellent safari companion alongside Amboseli.
Experiences in Amboseli & Chyulu Hills
Lodges in Amboseli & Chyulu Hills
Routes in Amboseli & Chyulu Hills
Wild, rugged and enticingly empty (of tourists that is, not wildlife) Samburu National Reserve is a place of baked red earth, extraordinary vegetation and unsurpassed beauty. Cleaved in half by the Ewaso Nyiro river, there’s more water around than you might think, given the stark landscape, and the ribbons of green that hug the winding waterway attract elephant, buffalo and zebra. Look a little bit harder and you’ll find lion reposing in the shade of the golden tamarinds and leopard darting amongst the acacias. This is a desert wilderness that is absolutely worth discovering, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Experiences in Samburu
Lodges in Samburu
Routes in Samburu
Msambweni Beach Holiday
There’s a long gravel road that runs down Kenya’s south coast. It starts in Mombassa, winds past Diani and eventually peters out a little further ahead, in an ethereal place where the landscape becomes more rural, the sea more turquoise (really) and the mangos more juicy. And that place is Msambweni; a charmingly picture-perfect fishing village and guardian of one of the most unspoiled beaches on the Kenyan coast. You won’t find any enormous, tourist-loving hotels or lukewarm buffets here either – just a handful of eco-chic hideaways and a wildly, purely tropical stretch of sand. And did we mention that the diving is pretty good too? Sounds like our kind of place…
Experiences in Msambweni Beach
Lodges in Msambweni Beach
Routes in Msambweni Beach
At the far end of the eastern escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, in the shadow of snow-capped Mt Kenya and stretching over an area the size of Wales (but probably prettier), is the Laikipia Plateau. Laikipia isn’t actually one reserve but a patchwork of private ranches, conservancies and farms covering arid plains, tangled grassy thickets and pulsing rivers. Not only does the area boast some of the highest wildlife densities in the country, including endangered species, but it’s also a beacon for ground-breaking conservation projects. Combine this with some stunning private houses and camps and Laikipia is hard to beat.
Experiences in Laikipia
Lodges in Laikipia
Routes in Laikipia
Meru National Park Safari
Made famous in the 1970s by Joy and George Adamson and Elsa the lioness, and celebrated for the hordes of game and endless horizons, Meru’s reputation was marred by devastating poaching in the late 1980s. Thankfully, animal numbers are on the rise and there’s even black rhino to be found roaming the rich, grassy plains and lurking in the tropical riverine forest. Despite its riches to rags and back to riches story, Meru is still very much off the beaten tourist track in Kenya, which in our eyes, makes it the perfect time to visit.
Experiences in Meru National Park
Lodges in Meru National Park
Routes in Meru National Park
Lewa Downs Safari
Lewa’s story begins in 1977 with a man called Ian Craig and a small cattle farm where wildlife roamed free. In the 1980s, as a result of rampant poaching, 5,000 acres was dedicated as a rhino sanctuary, soon increasing to 10,000, before the entire 45,000 acre farm was turned into Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in 1995. Today, the conservancy is a critical part of Kenya’s conservation efforts and the pretty landscapes of gently undulating hills, savannah and patches of swampy papyrus hide an abundance of animals, including some of the rarer Northern species. And if it’s good enough for a royal proposal…
Experiences in Lewa Downs
Lodges in Lewa Downs
Routes in Lewa Downs
Lake Naivasha safari
Only a short drive from the crowded capital, you might be excused for thinking you’ve hopped across a couple of borders when you catch the first glimpses of the shimmering expanse of Lake Naivasha. Here, pink-eared hippos peer out over the surface, lily-trotters dart around gnarled acacias, and antelope graze lazily on the banks. The lake itself is one of two permanent lakes in the Rift Valley and is also the highest at an altitude of 1890m. Today, it provides crucial irrigation for the battalions of fragrant rose farms that line the roadsides and attracts safari-goers looking for a slower pace of still excellent game viewing.
Experiences in Lake Naivasha
Lodges in Lake Naivasha
Routes in Lake Naivasha
Mathew's Range Safari
Located in Kenya’s Northern Frontier, the name may sound rather tame, but 'tame' is one thing Mathew’s Range is not. Definitely in the running for one of the continent’s wildest and most remote areas, this is a place of prehistoric gorges, dense forest and jet-clear streams tumbling over craggy peaks. Most people visit for the phenomenal walking but there are a number of species around, and oryx, gazelle and Grevy’s zebra can be seen grazing alongside squat cattle and their distinctive Samburu owners. Mathew’s Range takes ‘off the beaten track’ to another level, but that extra kilometre is certainly worthwhile…
Experiences in Matthew's Range
Lodges in Matthew's Range
Routes in Matthew's Range
Diani Beach Safari
Just south of the sultry city of Mombassa, Diani’s flawless, postcard-perfect beach is easy to get to and the perfect place to cast off your safari khakis and indulge that inner beach goddess (or God). A laid-back melee of boutique hotels, private houses and castaway-chic retreats, the resort is substantially more sophisticated then some others on the coast, but still perfectly charming. By day, life is all about the warm, turquoise seas with kitesurfing, paddleboarding, snorkelling and sailing on offer. By night, head into town for colourful cocktails as the sun sinks and take your pick of the fabulous restaurants and bars.
Experiences in Diani Beach
Lodges in Diani Beach
Routes in Diani Beach
It may have its challenges, but scratch the surface a little harder and we guarantee you’ll find something you like about Nairobi. The de facto first city of East Africa is a buzzing metropolis of fashion, art and design and a mosaic of vibrant cultures that is most certainly open to visitors. Explore the trendy Westlands area, full of hip restaurants and funky boutiques, venture to the leafy suburb of Karen for some colonial charm or tread the pavements of the CBD for some of the continent’s finest museums. This is one of Africa’s most dynamic cities and we reckon it’s really quite cool.
Experiences in Nairobi
Lodges in Nairobi
Routes in Nairobi
Tsavo National Park Safari
Tsavo East and West National Parks cover a massive 21 000 square kilometres of vast red-soiled, acacia studded wilderness. Combined, the parks make up one of Kenya's biggest protected areas and is home to some of the largest herds of elephant in Africa. The red dust gives the elephants a famously dark red glow from the mud, as they roam the plains and rolling scrub-covered hills. Tsavo is also a big cat haven, with lion, leopard, cheetah, and serval in abundance. With very few lodges, a visit to this area is an escape into the wilderness, and a truly exclusive experience away from the crowds of the Mara and other more densely populated regions. Tsavo-East is also a fantastic place for photographers with its fabulous light and unbelievable views, in particular the Mudanda Rock, Lugard Falls and Yatta Plateau. And once you have got your fill of Tsavo's incredible wildlife, it's a short hop to the beautiful beaches of southern Kenya.
Experiences in Tsavo National Park
Lodges in Tsavo National Park
Routes in Tsavo National Park
Mount Kenya Safari
Often left in the shade by older sister Kilimanjaro, Mt Kenya has gained a loyal following of intrepid mountaineers and climbers in recent years and quite rightly so. The second highest mountain on the continent, the twin peaked sentinel stands proudly on the equator, rising dramatically from the rolling plains in a profusion of rugged cliffs and glacial spikes. A climb to the top reveals a stunning landscape of dense forest and rare Afro-Alpine woodland, dotted with sparkling tarns and tropical plants. What Kili steals in height Mt Kenya more than makes up for in sheer beauty.
Experiences in Mount Kenya
Lodges in Mount Kenya
Routes in Mount Kenya
Lamu Island Holiday
Lamu Island, part of the larger Lamu Archipelago, is tucked away at the northernmost point of Kenya’s enviable coastline. Very possibly Africa’s ultimate beach hideout, the island is sultry and spicy, bohemian and charming and totally, magnificently contradictory. In Lamu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site of Arabic, Omani and Portugese influences, winding, donkey-filled alleyways lead to elaborate mosques and ornate mahogany doors, perfect for getting lost in. Yet just around the corner are the raw, untouched beaches of Shela, kissed by the turquoise waves of the Indian Ocean and ideal for doing absolutely nothing. And both are just as wonderful as the other.
Experiences in Lamu Island
Lodges in Lamu Island
Routes in Lamu Island
Lake Nakuru Safari
Emerging from the shadows of the Great Rift Valley and flanked by craggy escarpments, emerald forests and a waterfall or two, it's Lake Nakuru. Flamingo might spring to mind and quite rightly so - countless nature documentaries have shown the fluorescent clouds of a million pink birds soaring high above the soda lake. Sadly, due to rising water levels, the flamingo population isn’t as high as it once was, but all is not lost. With buffalo, leopard, elephant, black and white rhino and lion all calling the park home, pods of harrumphing hippo in the northern section of the lake, and tens of thousands of glorious water birds in residence, there’s not a moment to get bored.
Experiences in Lake Nakuru
Lodges in Lake Nakuru
Routes in Lake Nakuru
Aberdare National Park Safari
Lying within easy striking distance of Nairobi, Aberdare Park is a world away from the wide savanna-lands of Kenya's other protected areas. It's an ethereal place of dense rainforest and lush grasslands cut through by wide rivers, ravines and 300-metre-high waterfalls. The park is one of the smallest on the continent, but don’t let that put you off. In its forests, colobus and vervet monkeys swing through the branches, and rare bongo, bushpig, giant hog and black rhino snuffle in the undergrowth. You'll find Africa's classics too – lion, buffalo and elephant. HRH Queen Elizabeth has visited; so should you...
Experiences in Aberdare National Park
Lodges in Aberdare National Park
Routes in Aberdare National Park
Lake Turkana Safari
Sitting at the very northern end of Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, Lake Turkana shimmers in the heart of an otherworldly landscape that would look more at home on the Moon than planet Earth. It’s the world’s largest desert lake, and its waters stretch seemingly never-ending into panoramas of blackened lava and dramatic calderas. Northern Kenya is remote, and undoubtedly difficult to get to – the best way is probably by helicopter, unless you’re feeling very intrepid – but those who do make the journey are rewarded by visions of one of the most intense and untamed areas left in Africa.
Experiences in Lake Turkana & Surrounds
Lodges in Lake Turkana & Surrounds
Routes in Lake Turkana & Surrounds
It might be Kenya’s second largest hub after Nairobi, but Mombasa really couldn’t be more different. Yes, it’s chaotic, frenzied and maybe even a little bit grimy, but that just adds to the charm of this ancient island city. Historically, Mombasa was the most important port on the East African coastline, where merchants traded spices and gold from far off lands for ivory. Today, it’s a true Swahili town, and the blend of Arabic, Indian and African influences is intoxicating. But if you're looking for white sands and swaying palm trees, then head north or south of the city to the string of idyllic Indian Ocean beaches, and leave the bustle well and truly behind.
Experiences in Mombasa
Lodges in Mombasa
Routes in Mombasa
Watamu & Surrounds
Little, laid back and gloriously low key, Watamu is a slice of unadulterated tranquillity on Kenya’s Indian Ocean coast. This isn’t the place to come if you’re looking for the razzmatazz of glittery hotels and cocktail bars – you’re more likely to find old men playing games of bao and untethered donkeys trotting down the village streets than people sipping piña coladas. But the beach is blindingly white and beautiful, and the Watamu Marine National Park offers sublime diving and snorkelling among pristine coral and multi-coloured fish straight out of Finding Nemo. Don’t miss seeing the Gedi Ruins, a mysteriously abandoned Swahili city, or Mida Creek, a tangle of mangroves and tidal wetlands with a profusion of feathered wildlife.
Experiences in Watamu & Surrounds
Lodges in Watamu & Surrounds
Routes in Watamu & Surrounds
If we could say one thing about Lesotho, it would be that it’s astoundingly underrated. The tiny kingdom is in fact an independent country surrounded completely by South Africa, yet the two couldn’t be more different. Lesotho is a wild, mountainous place (the lowest altitude is 1000 metres above sea level, believe it or not!), with superlative-laden alpine scenery around every precipitous corner. Most travellers on a Lesotho holiday explore the country on multi-day treks through its dramatic hills and traditional villages, on foot or atop a hardy pony. But if you have a day or two either side, don’t leave in a rush – this is a place for taking it slow and enjoying the legendary hospitality and culture of the local Basotho people.
If we could say one thing about Lesotho, it would be that it’s astoundingly underrated. The tiny kingdom is in fact an independent country surrounded completely by South Africa, yet the two couldn’t be more different. Lesotho is a wild, mountainous place (the lowest altitude is 1000 metres above sea level, believe it or not!), with superlative-laden alpine scenery around every precipitous corner. Most travellers on a Lesotho holiday explore the country on multi-day treks through its dramatic hills and traditional villages, on foot or atop a hardy pony. But if you have a day or two either side, don’t leave in a rush – this is a place for taking it slow and enjoying the legendary hospitality and culture of the local Basotho people.
Experiences in Lesotho
Lodges in Lesotho
Routes in Lesotho
The world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar is more like a mini continent. Its remarkable ecosystem supports large numbers of bizarre creatures, and an incredible 80 percent of the critters that call the forests home are endemic – they are not found anywhere else in the world. From lemurs to dancing sifakas and every rainbow-coloured chameleon in between, Madagascar is a wildlife-lover's dream. And then there are the landscapes – eccentric, colourful and full of contrasts, from tropical jungle and parched desert to grassy plateaus and spiny forests. Add a blend of African, Asian and European cultures, and the country becomes one in a million. A Madagascar holiday may cost more than other destinations on the continent, but it’s worth every cent.
Nosy Be Holiday
The turquoise island of Nosy Be is home to some of the country’s most luxurious resorts and top beaches. Despite being Madagascar’s “busiest island” it’s still magically quiet! If you are on the search for hidden gems you are certainly in the right place; surrounding Nosy Be are a number of smaller islands, hidden coves and secret reefs just waiting for enthusiastic divers. Or, if you fancy keeping your head above water then strap on your walking boots and explore the tropical jungle that is Lokebe Nature Reserve in search of lemurs, chameleons and a kaleidoscope of birds.
Experiences in Nosy Be
Lodges in Nosy Be
Routes in Nosy Be
Ankarana Reserve Safari
If you are looking for primates you are sure to find them in Ankarana, which has the highest primate density in the world. That means lemurs, mongooses, fossa, tenrecs and civets almost everywhere you look. And if that isn’t enough, then you should also know that this is undeniably one of the best hiking destinations in Madagascar; tropical jungles and limestone spires (the tsingy) reach for the skies atop the largest underground cave network in Africa where you can find the world’s only population of cave-living crocodiles. Don’t forget your flashlight!
Experiences in Ankarana Reserve
Lodges in Ankarana Reserve
Routes in Ankarana Reserve
Nosy Boraha Holiday
Previously Ile Sainte-Marie, Nosy Boraha was once home to many a happy pirate. But despite its shady past, it is now a paradise for visitors in search of a beach break far from the madding crowds. It’s wet and wild mess for most of the year, but between July and September the waters around the island come alive with humpback whales who breed and calve in the warm Indian ocean waters. So, don your rain coats because you sure don’t want to miss that!
Experiences in Nosy Boraha
Lodges in Nosy Boraha
Routes in Nosy Boraha
Ranomafana National Park Safari
This beautiful park is part of the Rainforests of Atsiranana, a world heritage site and its thick forest canopy is a haven for an impressive twelve species of lemur including the rare golden lemur and the greater bamboo lemur. Take a few hours, or a few days and strap on your hiking boots for spectacular scenic treks through this ancient leafy wonderland.
Experiences in Ranomafana National Park
Lodges in Ranomafana National Park
Routes in Ranomafana National Park
Isalo National Park Safari
Isalo National Park, in Southern Madagascar is said to be the island’s most beautiful park. It’s easy to see why; a hike up to the Canyon des Singes will certainly get you panting but that’s a small price to pay for the watercolour views, which are nothing short of breath-taking. The forest itself is Madagascar’s stage and ring-tailed lemurs leap through the trees and sifakas dance alongside you all the way to the crystal waters of "la piscine naturelle”.
Experiences in Isalo National Park
Lodges in Isalo National Park
Routes in Isalo National Park
Sprawling over the rippling hills of central Madagascar, capital city Tana (as it’s affectionately known) is a colourful riot of red roofs, grandiose colonial architecture and towering buildings, all surrounded by mosaics of rice paddies and fields. And yes, it’s as spectacular and chaotic as it sounds! Don’t be put off by the heaving traffic - the city really is worth a wander, from the markets bursting with Malagasy treasures to the unique tiered streets. And if you’re looking for a good meal before you head off on your travels, you could do worse than Tana – several of the restaurants rival Europe’s best and are a mere fraction of the price.
Experiences in Antananarivo
Lodges in Antananarivo
Routes in Antananarivo
Fort Dauphin Holiday
Fort Dauphin, Taolagnaro, Tolanaro – however you know it, this south-easterly region is Madagascar rolled into one bizarrely brilliant ball. Base yourself in the peninsula town of Fort Dauphin, where tales of shipwrecked pirates abound and the seafood is absurdly good, before venturing further inland to the surreal landscapes hidden within. Explore the spiny forests and exotic flora of Mandrare, trek for lemur darting amongst the treetops, discover the culture of the nomadic Antandroy people and, if you get your timing right, watch the whales dancing in the waves from the pristine beach at Manafiafy.
Experiences in Fort Dauphin
Lodges in Fort Dauphin
Routes in Fort Dauphin
Diego Suarez Holiday
If you’re travelling to northern Madagascar, chances are you’ll find yourself spending a couple of nights in the genteel town of Diego Suarez (officially Antisaranana since 1975), and that’s not a bad thing. The surrounding ring of rolling hills and the Rio-esque Sugarloaf mountain give you plenty to flash your camera at, and the deep-water harbour is one of the most beautiful in the world. With its wide colonial streets, lined with fragrant stalls of vanilla pods and home-brewed rum, impressive buildings and melting pot of cultures from Creole to Chinese, the town itself is colourful, compact and a whole lot of fun. Just don’t try to do anything between 12pm and 3pm when the locals retreat for their well-earned siesta…
Experiences in Diego Suarez
Lodges in Diego Suarez
Routes in Diego Suarez
Welcome to Anjajavy, an idyllically remote nature reserve on Madagascar’s north-western coast. Perched on the very end of a spindly peninsula, the reserve is only accessible by air and getting there is anything but simple (is anything in Madagascar?!). Encompassing lush deciduous forests and floating mangroves, wild beaches and azure waters, Anjajavy is home to some of the island’s most fascinating wildlife. Look carefully, and you’ll spot no less than five species of lemur (including the Coquerel's sifaka), leaf-nosed bats and lumbering tortoises, bushpigs and chameleons. And after all that excitement, kick back and relax on a private beach and watch the pirogues drift into the sunset. There’s no reason not to fall in love with Anjajavy.
Experiences in Anjajavy Reserve
Lodges in Anjajavy Reserve
Routes in Anjajavy Reserve
Lemurs. Not found anywhere else in the world, these charismatic primates abound in Madagascar, and the best place to see them? Andasibe. Probably the most popular wildlife destination on the island and covered in a thick blanket of montane rainforest, a trip here will uncover 13 lemur species, including the brown, grey bamboo and woolly lemurs, as well as dazzling rainbow-coloured chameleons and a host of kaleidoscopic butterflies. But what’s really special about Andasibe is the Indri (or Perinet) Special Reserve, home to the world’s largest lemur, the Indri. Waking up early in the morning and following their haunting, whale-like calls through the trees is an experience unlike any other...
Experiences in Andasibe
Lodges in Andasibe
Routes in Andasibe
Tsingy De Bemaraha
Venture into Madagascar’s newest national park (it was only opened to the public in 1998) and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tsingy, and you’ll uncover a world beyond your wildest dreams. There’s razor-sharp rocks, plunging canyons and 11 (very hardy) species of lemur but as the name suggests, the park is most famous for its ‘tsingy’ - sharp, limestone pinnacles that reach almost 150 feet into the air, carved out by years of monsoon winds and tectonic activity. Although much of the landscape is impenetrable, enlist a guide to help you navigate the ropes, walkways and chains and gaze down at the incredible spread below. It really is worth the effort.
Experiences in Tsingy De Bemaraha
Lodges in Tsingy De Bemaraha
Routes in Tsingy De Bemaraha
Dubbed the friendliest country in Africa, Malawi offers holiday a holiday that is the perfect add-on to any southern African safari. For a good dose of R&R, head to Lake Malawi. Known as the "Lake of Stars", the shimmering expanse of water is one of the largest lakes on the continent – so big, in fact, that you'd be forgiven for thinking you were beside the Indian Ocean. Here, it’s time for freshwater diving, snorkelling, fishing, kayaking or just some good old-fashioned beach time on the sandy shores. For something more active, the dramatic peaks of Mount Mulanje and the Zomba Plateau in the south provide incredible hiking opportunities. Venture further north to the Nyika Plateau and some beautiful walking trails through the rolling grasslands.
Lake Malawi Holiday
Legend has it that when the explorer David Livingstone arrived on the shores of Lake Malawi, he observed thousands of lanterns on fishing boats shimmering across the vast expanse of water, and called it "The Lake of Stars". Today you might not find quite as many fishing craft on the enormous, freshwater lake, but you will find hundreds of colourful cichlids flitting beneath the gin-clear water, crescents of golden-sand beaches and a smattering of idyllic lodges cocooned on the shoreline. Snorkelling, diving, boating and kayaking are all on offer to pass your days, or you can simply sit back and gaze at the sun-dappled lake in all its calm, serene and peaceful glory.
Experiences in Lake Malawi
Lodges in Lake Malawi
Routes in Lake Malawi
Liwonde National Park Safari
For a dose of traditional safari in the "Land of the Lake", make a beeline for Malawi’s most famous wildlife area, Liwonde National Park. An eccentric mix of classic Zambia (think stout sausage trees, palms and baobobs) and a little bit of southern Tanzania (swampy lagoons and pretty reed-beds), the park is not a tick-off-the-Big-Five sort of place. Instead, you’ll find yawning hippo and snoozing crocs on the banks of the Shire River, and sable, oribi, zebra and kudu roaming the plains. Leopard and lion make up the predator quota and excitingly there’s an excellent number of elephant, and even black rhino. And the icing on the cake? Liwonde is a birding paradise.
Experiences in Liwonde National Park
Lodges in Liwonde National Park
Routes in Liwonde National Park
Nyika National Park Safari
The primary reason not to ignore the north of Malawi, Nyika National Park is unlike anywhere else on the continent. Covering much of the Nyika Plateau (a staggering 2500 metres at its highest point), the bucolic landscape of rolling hills, dreamy views and flower-strewn grasslands is breathtaking. You’ll find a good spread of wildlife dotted across the hills and valleys, including zebra, eland, roan, elephant and even leopard, and traditional 4x4 game drives are an excellent way to explore. But if there’s one thing not to miss, it’s the world-class walking and hiking – truly the best way to witness the stunning flora at the closest of quarters.
Experiences in Nyika National Park
Lodges in Nyika National Park
Routes in Nyika National Park
Sprawling, a little chaotic and seemingly never-ending, Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe has a dynamic atmosphere that's a far cry from the laid-back vibe pervading the rest of the country. But then, that’s what a capital city is all about! It’s a city of two halves – the Old Town and the New Town. The former is a medley of residential and commercial buildings, lively restaurants selling every type of food imaginable, and bustling markets selling even more. By contrast, the New Town is the commercial centre, with gleaming offices and high rises. Dotted around both halves are restaurants of the hidden gem variety, beautiful green oases and a couple of elegant boutique hotels, which make a visit wonderfully worthwhile.
Experiences in Lilongwe
Lodges in Lilongwe
Routes in Lilongwe
Majete Wildlife Reserve Safari
If you were to find yourself in what is now Majete Wildlife Reserve in 2002, you wouldn’t have found very much: desolate landscapes, plenty of poachers and certainly not a sniff of an animal. Then, in 2003, along came the magnificent non-profit organisation African Parks, which has introduced more than 2500 animals to the rugged wilderness. In 2012, the reserve became the first in Malawi to house all members of the Big Five. Today, alongside elephant, buffalo and big cats, you’ll find sable, eland, zebra and hippo, enthusiastic guides with the biggest smiles on the continent, and a swanky new camp to complete the experience.
Experiences in Majete Wildlife Reserve
Lodges in Majete Wildlife Reserve
Routes in Majete Wildlife Reserve
Mulanje and the Highlands Holiday
Imagine a sea of rolling tea fields dotted with pretty colonial houses, and pristine lowland forests watched over by towering mountains wrapped in wispy clouds. No, we’re not in Kenya – these are the Southern Highlands, Malawi’s answer to Out of Africa. The glimmering mountains are the Mulanje Massif, proclaimed a forest reserve in 1927, and home to exceptional walking, cycling, climbing, trekking and horse-riding trails. If that all sounds a bit strenuous, then the beautiful tea plantations provide the perfect antidote. Who’s for croquet on the lawn and a decadent afternoon of tea and cakes?
Experiences in Mulanje & the Highlands
Lodges in Mulanje & the Highlands
Routes in Mulanje & the Highlands
Lake Malawi aside, what else might you stumble across in southern Malawi? Let us introduce you to Zomba, a spectacular mountain and forest reserve dominated by Zomba Plateau, a statuesque 1800-metre monolith. The massif might not be as dramatic as Mount Mulanje, but it's hard to beat for a spot of leisurely hiking and outdoor exploring. Meander along the trails that crisscross the summit; enjoy the views of old Zomba town below; cycle through the trees (admiring the large tracts of cedar, pine and cypress); and cool your toes in the clear waterfalls. Or fish in the trout dams. Who needs a lake?
Experiences in Zomba
Lodges in Zomba
Routes in Zomba
If you’re venturing to the south of Malawi, you may well find yourself in the gentle town of Blantyre. Named after the Scottish birthplace of explorer David Livingstone, there’s not much to differentiate the historical town from any other in Africa, but we rather like it. It could be its handsome backdrop of verdant hills and misty mountain peaks. Maybe it’s the laid-back atmosphere and intriguing history, or even the excellent choice of restaurants and guesthouses. Whatever its appeal, you’re sure to find something in Blantyre to pass a day or two – you may just fall for its charms too.
Experiences in Blantyre
Lodges in Blantyre
Routes in Blantyre
Dreaming of powder-white sand, swirling sapphire waters and a cocktail glass of something exotic? Then look no further than Mauritius, the Indian Ocean’s palm-fringed superpower and original beach paradise. As well as sun-lounging and cocktail-sipping, there are plenty of adventures to be had and lush tropical rainforests, spectacular steep-rising mountains and epic waterfalls crying out to be explored. If the ocean is more your thing, diving and snorkelling in pristine underwater gardens alongside a kaleidoscope of tropical fish is next-level fabulous, not forgetting the waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking, windsurfing… Whatever happens, we guarantee that you will never be bored on a Mauritius holiday.
Dreaming of powder-white sand, swirling sapphire waters and a martini glass of something exotic? Then look no further than Mauritius, the Indian Ocean’s palm fringed superpower and original beach paradise. As well as sun-lounging and cocktail-sipping, there are plenty of adventures to be had and lush tropical rainforests, spectacular steep-rising mountains and epic waterfalls cry out to be explored. If the ocean is more your thing, diving and snorkelling in pristine underwater gardens alongside kaleidoscopes of tropical fish is next-level fabulous, not forgetting the waterskiing, parasailing, kayaking, windsurfing… Whatever happens, we guarantee that you will never be bored in Mauritius.
Experiences in Mauritius
Lodges in Mauritius
Routes in Mauritius
Mozambique is not on the "traditional" African safari circuit, but that’s just one of the reasons we love it. Where else in the world can you combine a tropical beach getaway on the warm Indian Ocean with a spectacular wildlife safari, and all without the crowds? It can be expensive to travel to Mozambique, but the country’s unrivalled beauty and wildness make it worth every cent. White beaches fringed with thousands of mango trees, shocking blue seas filled with whale sharks and dugongs, and the stunning Gorongosa and Niassa national reserves are just some of the highlights you can squeeze in to a Mozambique holiday.
A world-class diving hotspot, a honeymoon haven and wild and spectacular beach getaway – Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago ticks many boxes. Declared a national park in 2000, the archipelago brims with dive sites that are among the best in the world, and rare dugong, seahorses, manta rays and whale sharks are regular visitors. This is the place for first-timers or experienced divers to take the plunge! Explore the long remote beaches, untouched by man for years; visit the charming lodges; and enjoy easy, laid-back island living. Bazaruto is the perfect addition to a southern Africa safari, we think you’ll agree.
Experiences in Bazaruto
Lodges in Bazaruto
Routes in Bazaruto
If you’re still deciding whether to visit the Quirimbas, here’s our shortlist to help you make up your mind… Firstly, it’s astoundingly beautiful—32 white-hot atolls, ranging in size from tiny coral sandbars to larger inhabited islands, ringed by intricate patterns of dense mangroves and the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. Which brings us to the second reason; the waters. Vamizi and Quilalea are among the top diving spots in the world with 350 species of tropical fish calling the pristine reef home as well as humpback whales, turtles and the enigmatic dugong. And the third? No one else knows about it, so if you hurry, you’ll have this charming paradise all to yourself…
Experiences in The Quirimbas
Lodges in The Quirimbas
Routes in The Quirimbas
Benguerra Island holiday
The beautiful Benguerra Island is a tropical gem off the coast of Mozambique. Declared a National Park in 1971, the island is the second largest of the Bazaruto Archipelago and home to Africa's only population of the rare dugong. The island is also rich in wildlife, with over 140 bird species in the forests, wetlands and freshwater lakes in the interior. The warm waters beyond the shore are also brimming with fish and stunning corals. There are activities to keep to having fun for days: Sail a traditional Dhow boat, enjoy a dive in the warm, clear water; snorkel, or take part in an epic deep sea fishing adventure.
Experiences in Benguerra Island
Lodges in Benguerra Island
Routes in Benguerra Island
This sprawling port city is Mozambique's economic centre with a warm and throbbing heart. The city's trade history brought cultures from all the corners of the earth. While the most dominant are the Bantu and Portuguese, there are also Arab, Indian and Chinese footprints. The downtown neighbourhood, Baixa, is lined with jacaranda trees and pretty colonial Portuguese architecture, with its wrought-iron balustrades, is most striking. Beyond, Indian traders sell spices in side streets and fishermen trade in the broad coastal boulevard. Relax in shady street café's by day and live the legendary music bars by night.
Experiences in Maputo & Surrounds
Lodges in Maputo & Surrounds
Routes in Maputo & Surrounds
The expression "Africa time" was probably coined in Vilanculos, a tiny, tropical village on Mozambique’s southern Indian Ocean coastline. It’s unapologetically laid-back, things definitely don’t get done on time and it’s the best antidote to big-city life that we could imagine. A lot of people skip through Vilanculos on their way to the Bazaruto Archipelago, but there are excellent reasons to stay put for a while. How about colourful market stalls to explore and friendly restaurants selling fresh crab to nibble on? Maybe a dhow safari through the pristine marine national park, and some damn fine lodges to stay in, spilling out onto the squeaky sand beach? Yes please!
Experiences in Vilanculos
Lodges in Vilanculos
Routes in Vilanculos
Ponta Do Ouro Holiday
Spend your days snorkelling and surfing, and then dance the night away in the funky town.
Experiences in Ponta Do Ouro
Lodges in Ponta Do Ouro
Routes in Ponta Do Ouro
Xai Xai Holiday
On the road north through Mozambique, about 100 km past Maputo, the cashew-nut sellers come out in force. Then you’ll see the piri-piri stalls selling hundreds (and hundreds) of bottles of Mozambique’s iconic hot chilli sauce. And then comes Xai Xai. Unless you’re looking for some fuel and a sugary drink, give the town a miss and head straight to the powdery sands of Praia de Xai Xai. This is rustic Mozambique at its best, where charming, ecofriendly hotels overlook wild and wonderful beaches, and the scenery is absurdly breathtaking. Spend your days diving and fishing the deep waters, picking coconuts and bartering with locals for avocados, or simply wander the long beaches, sand between your toes and the wind in your hair.
Experiences in Xai Xai
Lodges in Xai Xai
Routes in Xai Xai
With more than a millennium of history under its belt, the waterside town of Inhambane is one of the oldest in Mozambique. Part colonial relic, with its jumble of eccentric Portuguese and Arabic architecture; part European seaside resort, thanks to its café-lined streets and Mediterranean climate, the sleepy town is also unmistakably African and totally charming. When you’ve finished wandering the streets, the beautiful bay offers up several surprises, from waters filled with manta rays and rare dugong to secluded sandy beaches and wild coves. On the other side of the peninsula, behind the coconut groves and cashew fields, you’ll find superb diving at honeymoon favourite Barra, and sweeping, story-book beaches at Tofo.
Experiences in Inhambane
Lodges in Inhambane
Routes in Inhambane
Gorongosa National Park Safari
Gorongosa has been through a lot in its relatively short life as a national park. Once one of Africa's finest, with superb populations of predators and herbivores, the sanctuary has been decimated by civil war, recovered, fallen foul of unrest again, and has even been a playground for Hollywood actors. So what’s happening now? Gorongosa is currently undergoing a complete transformation under the auspices of the Carr Foundation, a US not-for-profit organisation, in partnership with the Mozambican Government. Expected to take 20 years to complete, the project is still in its early stages, but Gorongosa already boasts good populations of oribi, waterbuck, warthog, sable, elephant and lion, among others – we can only hope it gets better and better.
Experiences in Gorongosa National Park
Lodges in Gorongosa National Park
Routes in Gorongosa National Park
Not to be confused with Pemba island in Tanzania, this Pemba is a small, colonial town in northern Mozambique. The gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago and Niassa Reserve, it's a regular one-night stopover for travellers, but we think it's worthy of a night or two more... Firstly, the Bay of Pemba is magnificent. One of the deepest natural harbours in the world, it’s lined with cotton-candy sand (Wimbe Beach is the loveliest) and a smattering of beachy, barefoot lodges. The translucent waters are a hotspot for diving, snorkelling and, further afield, big game fishing. And if you need one more reason, a stroll around Paquitequette, the town's colourful Muslim Quarter, provides a peep into traditional Mozambique.
Experiences in Pemba
Lodges in Pemba
Routes in Pemba
Niassa National Reserve Safari
From the Quirimbas Archipelago, it's a mere hop, skip and jump across to the mainland to visit Mozambique’s Niassa Reserve – one of Africa’s largest conservation areas, and one of its best kept secrets. Now, the Serengeti this is not; no antelope hordes stream across the plains, and no big cats lurk around every corner. But that’s not the point of Niassa. A safari here is about discovering endless, untouched landscapes and a feeling of remoteness unlike anywhere else in the world. That’s not to say you won’t add a few ticks to your wildlife list – at the last count, there were 12,000-plus elephant and 6,000 buffalo, plenty of lion, leopard and hunting dog and three intriguing subspecies, the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra and Johnston’s impala.
Experiences in Niassa National Reserve
Lodges in Niassa National Reserve
Routes in Niassa National Reserve
Lake Niassa Holiday
You would be excused for thinking that Lake Malawi was, well, Malawian, but the crystal-clear lake actually forms the border between Malawi and Mozambique’s most north-westerly point. Lake Niassa is the name Mozambicans call this iconic body of water and, although the Malawian side is far from busy, the Mozambique shores are remote, underdeveloped and pristine. Crescents of squeaky sand give way to translucent waters flooded with colourful cichlids and, on land, prehistoric granite boulders rub shoulders with towering baobabs. Accommodation is of the barefoot, hammock-swaying variety and there’s not much of it around either, keeping this halcyon paradise hidden from those who don’t know where to look.
Experiences in Lake Niassa
Lodges in Lake Niassa
Routes in Lake Niassa
Limpopo National Park Safari
Connected to the ever-famous Kruger National Park in South Africa, making one of the largest conservation areas in the world at 35,000 square kilometres (known as the Great Transfrontier Limpopo Park), Mozambique’s Limpopo National Park has been largely off limits in recent years. But not any more. Limpopo is a magical and wild place, where raw and real experiences reign supreme – think tracking lion through the tangled vegetation, watching trunk-swinging, ear-flapping elephant at close quarters, and spotting mysterious birdlife high in the trees. Wildlife densities might not be quite at the staggering numbers of the Kruger, but 6000-plus four-legged creatures have crossed the border from Kruger, and the mighty Shingwedzi River draws animals from far and wide. Really, Limpopo will only get better and better…
Experiences in Limpopo National Park
Lodges in Limpopo National Park
Routes in Limpopo National Park
You may never have heard of northern Mozambique’s Nampula Province, but don’t let that deter you from visiting. In fact, we’ve got two very, very good reasons why it should be on your travel list. The first is the scenery. Inland, you’ll find verdant landscapes dotted with koppies and rising mountains. Head to the coast, and you’ll find yourself on a rugged tropical coastline, dotted with traditional fishing villages and a couple of fabulous lodges for the best kind of off-the-beaten-track beach holiday. And our second reason is Ilha de Mozambique. Three kilometres offshore, the island is Mozambique's old capital, and the country's only UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a warm, welcoming and sunny sort of place, full of splendid buildings, quirky streets, and children asking the strange visitors for ‘Photo?’. We love it already!
Experiences in Nampula & Surrounds
Lodges in Nampula & Surrounds
Routes in Nampula & Surrounds
There's something special about Namibia. Perhaps it's the arid nothingness of the blood-red deserts or the stark beauty of the Skeleton Coast? Maybe it’s the endless salt pans, the glorious wildlife or the towering dunes of Sossusvlei? Whatever the potion, those who embark on a Namibia safari are changed forever, and return again and again. Quad bike in the roaring dunes of the Namib Desert in the southeast of the country, visit star attraction Etosha National Park in the north or self-drive the length of the country along the eerie Skeleton Coast – an extraordinary experience, and a way to truly feel the soul of Namibia.
Known for its blood-red sandy vistas, Namibia also has its fair share of big beasties and there’s no better place to spot them than in Etosha National Park. Characterised by an expansive, glittering salt pan the size of Holland, Etosha is a photographer's dream. Wildlife congregates around the few waterholes in the south, making game viewing delightful and really rather easy – simply stop the vehicle and wait for the animals to arrive, in their thousands. During the rains, the pan morphs into a luscious lagoon, attracting flamingo and pelican in their droves. This is one of the continent’s wildlife-viewing hotspots, where mesmerising sightings against a startlingly beautiful landscape are a given.
Experiences in Etosha
Lodges in Etosha
Routes in Etosha
Watching the sun rise over Sossusvlei is one of those experiences that just changes you. As the light creeps slowly above the horizon, it catches the tips of the great red dunes, casting magnificent shadows on the desert floor. Located in the Namib-Naukluft Park, the largest conservation area in Africa, Sossusvlei's great dunes seem to rise up magically from the dry pan. Spend the day walking up to the crests for epic views, or take a drive along the main road and watch oryx and zebra making their way below the towering walls of sand. At night, the Milky Way above Sossusvlei is brighter than anywhere else in Africa (honestly).
Experiences in Sossusvlei
Lodges in Sossusvlei
Routes in Sossusvlei
Choosing the most scenic area of this stunning country is near impossible, but we think Damaraland might just edge the title. This is Africa at its unlimited, rugged best; a place where mysterious flat-topped lava mountains and eerie petrified trees cast shadows across the blood red terrain and where colossal granite boulders, covered in hundreds of ancient drawings, stand like proud sentinels. And in the heart of this seemingly inhospitable landscape are herds of mountain zebra and gemsbok, black rhino and the remarkable desert elephants. Although parts of the land have been designated ‘concession areas’ tourism is still limited, making a visit to this unspoiled corner even more spectacular.
Experiences in Damaraland
Lodges in Damaraland
Routes in Damaraland
Skeleton Coast Safari
Looking down over the enormous bleached whalebones and crumbling shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast’s ghostly north shore from the window of a light aircraft is, quite simply, mind-blowing. This is the “Land God Created in Anger” as it's known by the San bushmen and it certainly seems at first glance that nothing could possibly survive. But look again and you’ll discover tiny plants flourishing in the sand, giraffe and springbok along the coastal riverbeds and, of course, the remarkable desert elephants. If your bucket list includes somewhere utterly remote with a good dose of epic wildlife and astounding scenery, then the Skeleton Coast National Park is the place for you.
Experiences in Skeleton Coast
Lodges in Skeleton Coast
Routes in Skeleton Coast
Namibrand Nature Reserve Safari
Our hottest tip for Namibia: sneak past the hordes of tourists at Sossusvlei and head straight for the NamibRand. Hauntingly and achingly beautiful, the 200,000 hectare private reserve is home to some of the country’s greats: enormous, blood-red sand dunes, towering mountains and wide grassy plains dotted with curious fairy circles (really!). The result of landowner Albi Bruckner’s dream to extend the desert frontiers of neighbouring Namib-Naukluft, the reserve is actually a fence-free collection of integrated farms and a sanctuary of low-impact, high-quality tourism. And with each lodge limited to only 20 beds (and staying that way for the foreseeable future), you won’t bump into the masses even if they do find about it…
Experiences in NamibRand Nature Reserve
Lodges in NamibRand Nature Reserve
Routes in NamibRand Nature Reserve
Fish River Canyon Holiday
Grand Canyon, eat your heart out… there’s nothing on earth quite like Namibia’s Fish River Canyon. Taking geography to the extreme, the canyon measures a staggering 160km in length, 27kms wide and reaches a dramatic 550 m depth in the inner canyon. At the base, the Fish River itself winds a serpentine route through crumbling rocks, plunging gullies and ancient chasms. It’s no exaggeration to say that this is possibly some of the harshest terrain on the continent and hiking is demanding yet mind-blowingly rewarding. Forming part of the Ai-Ais National Park, a trans-frontier conservation area that’s home to klipspringer, zebra and a multitude of baboons, this is a canyon that’s like no other.
Experiences in Fish River Canyon
Lodges in Fish River Canyon
Routes in Fish River Canyon
If south Kaokoland was a fictional land, it would be an oasis of vibrant green grass, brilliantly clear water and shady palms. But it’s actually real. And the reason for this luscious-ness? The Kenune, a perennial river in the south and the main attraction for the desert elephants (and the odd kayaker). North Kaokoland is Namibia like we know it; arid and virtually empty but still stunningly beautiful and home to the Himba, the ochre-skinned indigenous tribe of northern Namibia and southern Angola. Also worth a visit is Van Zyl’s Pass, a 12 kilometre series of hair-raisingly challenging twists and turns, designed to strike fear in the heart of any 4x4 owner. We say, let’s give it a go!
Experiences in Kaokoland
Lodges in Kaokoland
Routes in Kaokoland
Kalahari Namibia safari
Africa’s first multinational park, sweeping magnificently over Botswana, South Africa and Namibia, the Kalahari is timeless, magical and totally mystifying. Endless landscapes beckon you to a surreal Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience where trees and bushes loom large and the rocky shadows stretch to the horizon. But it’s not all blood-red dust and fiery sand dunes here; for much of the year, a luxuriant carpet of rich green grass springs up through the sands and ephemeral rivers trail quietly past enormous acacias. And the wildlife! From cheetah to caracal, lizards to lappet-faced vultures, they can all be found here, against a backdrop of pure Kalahari magic.
Experiences in Kalahari Namibia
Lodges in Kalahari Namibia
Routes in Kalahari Namibia
With more than a smattering of European influences from the homely Konditoreis on every corner to the striking (and rather surprising) Germanic castles that punctuate the skyline, Windhoek is Namibia’s well-groomed capital city. At almost the exact geographical centre of the vast country, the leafy streets are an ideal stopover after a long journey; spend an afternoon shopping for curios in the airy Post Street Mall or wander through Zoo Park and enjoy your strudel in the shade of the trees. This is relaxed city-life at its best and a couple of days here are pleasant, stress-free and always fun.
Experiences in Windhoek
Lodges in Windhoek
Routes in Windhoek
Swakopmund is a coastal city and popular beach resort in the Namib desert. The influence of Swakopmund’s German colonial history lingers in the architecture and overall “Gemütlichkeit” of the town. For the adrenaline junkies among us, there’s plenty of adventure sports on offer -- from quadbiking to sandboarding to skydiving, as well as horseback riding and surfing opportunities.
Experiences in Swakopmund
Lodges in Swakopmund
Routes in Swakopmund
An undulating landscape of gently rolling hills, a light smattering of lush, green woodland and a few commercial farms thrown in for good measure. No we’re not talking about Scotland; this is Erongo, a remarkably picturesque piece of Namibian countryside between Windhoek and Swakopmund (and, handily, an excellent stopover if you’re on your way to or from Sossusvlei). Without doubt, the star of the show is the Erongo Mountain Range – 60 million year old granite gargantums rising to almost 2300 metres and home to ancient bushmen rock art, scurrying dassies and excellent hiking. And a close second is Erongo Wilderness Conservancy, an impressive amalgamation of bush, mountain and desert ecosystems with a healthy dose of wildlife.
Experiences in Erongo
Lodges in Erongo
Routes in Erongo
Filled with the heady scent of bougainvillea and jacaranda (well, in September, anyway!), Otjiwarongo is most famous for two of the country’s leading cheetah conservation projects – Africat and the Cheetah Conservation Fund – both of which welcome visitors. Also nearby is the Waterberg Plateau, an enormous red sandstone table formed some 200 million years ago and looming 150 metres above the desert plains. Take advantage of the wilderness trails and explore the area on foot, keeping an eye peeled for the endangered species that call the park home – roan, sable and black and white rhino to name but a few. Thought Namibia couldn’t get any better? It just did…
Experiences in Otjiwarongo Area
Lodges in Otjiwarongo Area
Routes in Otjiwarongo Area
Experiences in Twyfelfontein
Lodges in Twyfelfontein
Routes in Twyfelfontein
Rich and tropical, lush and wet… are we still in Namibia? Yes, the Caprivi Strip to be precise, Namibia’s spindly north-eastern ‘finger’ that touches reaches out across the top of Botswana and to the mighty Zambezi River. Criss-crossed by the Okavango, Linyanti and Chobe rivers, the area is dotted with waterfalls and crashing rapids and home to an excellent selection of water-loving species including hippo and buffalo, crocs and waterbuck, and a phenomenal variety of birds. Now in the hands of a particularly progressive group of conservationists, the wildlife is only getting better and, combined with a smattering of hip lodges and several unknown but utterly fantastic parks, the Caprivi is a destination and a half.
Experiences in Caprivi
Lodges in Caprivi
Routes in Caprivi
Republic of the Congo Holiday
The Republic of the Congo, also known as the Congo, and not to be confused with neighbouring DRC, is a hidden green land of hot and steamy equatorial forest. Part of the larger Congo Basin, the rainforest is the second largest in the world, and 1000 bird species, 10,000 plant species as well as forest elephant, buffalo and rare bongo shelter among its ferns. But the biggest draw is the western lowland gorilla, and intrepid travellers who make the journey are rewarded with the most thrilling of sightings. Still not convinced? Well, what if we told you that the Congo is a calm, ever-stabilising nation that is truly on the cusp of becoming one of the finest ecotourism destinations in Africa?
Odzala National Park Safari
Ask any tourist headed to the Republic of Congo where they're going, and they'll most likely tell you they’re making a beeline for Odzala National Park. Located in the country's northwest, Odzala is a phenomenal 13,600 square kilometres of pure equatorial forest, divided by ribbons of rivers and marshy clearings. Rejuvenated by the Congo Conservation Company together with NGO African Parks, the sanctuary is a refuge for critical and endangered flora and fauna, including forest elephant and buffalo, and is home to several families of habituated western lowland gorilla. Today, hardy travellers can go gorilla tracking on foot and explore the forest on walking and water safaris, making a safari in Odzala one of the most unique there is.
Experiences in Odzala National Park
Lodges in Odzala National Park
Routes in Odzala National Park
Reunion Island Holiday
If you thought all tropical islands were the same, think again and take a peek into the kaleidoscopic world of Reunion Island. A tiny speck between Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, it might not look like much on Google Maps, but its diminutive 2500 square kilometres pack a real punch. Three sensational "cirques", formed by ancient collapsed volcanoes, plunge into the centre; the active Piton de la Fournaise towers high into the sky; emerald forests give way to sparkling waterfalls; and shimmering, sandy beaches rub shoulders with vibrant towns. Plenty for outdoor-lovers then, but with a heady mix of French, Creole, Indian and Chinese cultures that appear in everything from the food to the architecture, and good dose of chic beachside R&R, a Reunion Island holiday couldn’t possibly disappoint anyone.
Reunion Island Holiday
If you thought all tropical islands were the same, think again and take a peak into the kaleidoscopic world of Reunion Island. A tiny speck between Mauritius and Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, it might not look like much on Google Maps but its diminutive 2500 square kilometres packs a real punch. Three sensational ‘cirques’, formed by ancient collapsed volcanoes, plunge into the centre whilst the active Piton de la Fournaise towers high into the sky, emerald forests give way to sparkling waterfalls and shimmering, sandy beaches rub shoulders with vibrant towns. Plenty for outdoor-lovers then, but with a heady mix of French, Creole, Indian and Chinese cultures that appear in everything from the food to the architecture and good dose of chic beachside R&R, Reunion couldn’t possibly disappoint anyone.
Experiences in Reunion Island
Lodges in Reunion Island
Routes in Reunion Island
Although never forgotten, the tiny landlocked country of Rwanda has come a long way since the genocide-ridden days of the 1990s. Today the Rwandans are a united nation, full of open smiles and genuine warmth, and are keen to show their gem of a country to anyone who’s thinking of a Rwanda safari. And with vast tracts of unspoilt, luscious vegetation, spectacular sightings of iconic mountain gorillas in the mist, dense jungle forest and a healthy dose of culture and promise in Kigali, there’s plenty to show off and a lot more than first meets the eye.
Volcanoes National Park Safari
Straddling the border of Uganda, DRC and Rwanda, the Virungas are the luscious, magical and utterly spellbinding home of 480 mountain gorillas (sadly, that's more than half the world’s remaining population). On the Rwandan side, the Parc National des Volcans, or Volcanoes National Park, is the place to go for face-to-face encounters with these wonderful primates – an experience worthy of every superlative in the dictionary. But don’t stop at the gorillas; the Virungas are also home to the rare golden monkey and offer a variety of excellent climbing and trekking options, both deserving of an extra linger.
Experiences in Volcanoes National Park
Lodges in Volcanoes National Park
Routes in Volcanoes National Park
Nyungwe Forest National Park Safari
Nyungwe National Park is Rwanda's most important area of biodiversity, and is currently the highest priority for forest conservation in Africa. A pretty good claim to fame, and for good reason too. The vast rainforest is truly enchanting: dense stands of mahoganies tangled with ancient ferns tower overhead; herbaceous plants and cornucopias of colourful orchids and butterflies charm every sense. As for wildlife, more than a quarter of Africa’s primates live here. The big drawcard is chimpanzee trekking, but 400-strong troops of monkeys, baboon, mongoose, otter, bushpig, civet and genet also deserve your attention. And don't forget East Africa’s highest canopy walk – a metal bridge suspended 50 metres above the forest floor, offering vertiginous views of the enchanting scenery.
Experiences in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Lodges in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Routes in Nyungwe Forest National Park
Lake Kivu Hoiday
An enormous, freshwater lake in the heart of the Albertine Rift, Lake Kivu is bordered by Rwanda to one side, and the DRC to the other. The setting is dramatic and beautiful: steep escarpments and terraced tea plantations plunge into the glassy water, pretty islets and peninsulas are draped in thick forest, and crescents of golden sand peek out from under the greenery. On a journey from Nyungwe to Volcanoes National Park, pop in to one of the quaint resort towns of Gisenyi and Kibuye. Both offer good accommodation and some excellent swimming spots in the predator-free water, and a little "beachside" R&R in an otherwise landlocked country.
Experiences in Lake Kivu
Lodges in Lake Kivu
Routes in Lake Kivu
There are African cities, noisy, bustling and glorious in their own right, and then there’s Kigali. Having not only survived its turbulent political past, the capital has positively blossomed into one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan hotspots. Safe and clean (the last Saturday of every month is reserved for hedge-clipping, rubbish-collecting and other novel community activities), it’s also remarkably picturesque, surrounded by emerald-green hills and sweeping valleys. Our advice? Don’t just stop for a night on the way to or from a gorilla trek but spend a couple of days exploring the jacaranda-ed boulevards, aromatic food markets and cafes and the eye-opening (and appealingly sensitive) genocide memorials.
Experiences in Kigali
Lodges in Kigali
Routes in Kigali
Akagera National Park
In a country of neat, cultivated hills and forests of mountain gorilla, Akagera National Park is a fascinating contrast. The undulating plains and rolling grasslands are just made for game drives, whilst the Akagera River and surrounding juicy wetlands add a touch of something different - and the chance to see the rare shoebill stork. On the wildlife front, elephant, buffalo, zebra, giraffe and hyena are all in residence and new additions to the four-legged scene include lion and black rhino, reintroduced in 2015 and 2017. Managed by the ever-wonderful African Parks, the reintroductions were part of a larger conservation effort to restore Akagera to its pre-genocide glory and although wildlife numbers still aren’t as high as other safari-stalwarts in East Africa, it looks like it will only be a matter of time.
Experiences in Akagera National Park
Lodges in Akagera National Park
Routes in Akagera National Park
Sao Tome and Principe Island
A teeny-tiny, two-island nation, Sao Tome and Principe is the stuff of adventures. The tropical slivers of land with their jungled rainforest and golden beaches might look more at home in the South Pacific, but they are in fact in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Gabon in West Africa. Formed by volcanic activity, the islands were never really part of the African continent which in part explains their unique flora and fauna – think larger-than-life orchids, rare tree ferns and giant sunbirds. But what we really love is the chance to explore somewhere intoxicatingly different, where the blend of Portuguese and West African influences combine for an experience like nowhere else on the continent.
Sao Tome might be the larger of the two islands, but Principe is the name on everyone’s lips. The entire, 136-square kilometre island is in fact a UNESCO-recognised biosphere reserve and the ancient world of golden beaches, extinct volcanoes and lush forests is bewitching. So, what does one do in this enchanting, forgotten realm? On land, try a guided walk through the colourful ecosystem and learn a little of the history at the abandoned cocoa plantations, then take to the water and snorkel and dive in hidden coves and distant beaches. And whatever you do – leave your watch behind; this is life at its easy-going, chilled-out best.
Experiences in Principe Island
Lodges in Principe Island
Routes in Principe Island
With more than 115 tiny white islands glistening like pearls in the brilliant-turquoise Indian Ocean, the Seychelles brings a whole new meaning to the word "idyllic". The main islands Mahé and Praslin may offer high-octane glamour alongside endlessly perfect beaches, but the archipelago offers far more than first meets the eye. For back-to-nature experiences, try Fregate Island with its shuffling jumbo tortoises, Desroches to admire profusions of wild and colourful orchids or La Digue to spot the aptly named paradise fly-catcher. So, whether you’re looking for a sunlounger and a cocktail on the hour, every hour, or a Robinson Crusoe escapade, a Seychelles holiday should definitely be on your list.
With over 115 tiny white islands, glistening like pearls in the brilliant-turquoise Indian Ocean, the Seychelles brings a whole new meaning to the word ‘idyllic.’ Main islands Mahe and Praslin offer high-octane glamour alongside the endlessly perfect beaches, but there’s also more to the archipelago than first meets the eye. For back-to nature experiences, try Fregate Island with its jumbo tortoises shuffling along the beach, Desroches for the profusions of wild and colourful orchids or La Digue to spot the aptly names Paradise Fly-catchers. So whether you’re looking for a sun-lounger and a cocktail on the hour, every hour or a Robinson Crusoe escapade, add the Seychelles to your list.
Experiences in Seychelles
Lodges in Seychelles
Routes in Seychelles
South Africa safari
We can't say enough about South Africa – the country simply has it all. Exquisite beaches and vibrant cities (including Cape Town, a strong contender for the most beautiful city on the planet), wildlife parks and reserves, arid deserts, colourful cultures and a human history dating back millions of years. The only problem you may have is choosing what to fit into your South Africa safari, but we have a few recommendations. Drive the famous Garden Route – the wind in your hair as you wind along the coastal roads, hike in the towering Drakensberg mountains, wildlife watch in the king of nature reserves, Kruger National Park, or sit back and let the wine do the talking in the world-famous Cape Winelands.
Cape Town Holiday
Cape Town is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and to say we are glad to be based here is an understatement! Rising up behind the city bowl is unmistakable Table Mountain, source of beautiful views and endless hiking opportunities. Pound the quirky streets of the city centre for boutique shops, respected galleries and delectable restaurants, or peruse the V&A Waterfront for food with a view. More of a sand-between-your-toes sort of person? Head for the golden beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay, or south along the peninsula to Simonstown, with its naval history, bouldered beaches and more than a few penguins. Add gorgeous sunshine and welcoming people and you’ve got yourself a pretty spectacular holiday destination!
Experiences in Cape Town
Lodges in Cape Town
Routes in Cape Town
Cape Winelands Holiday
A trip to the Western Cape is not complete without a jaunt through the Cape Winelands. The only problem you may have is choosing where to go and which of the hundreds of truly fabulous options to choose! Closest to Cape Town is the Constantia Wine Route, encompassing nine farms in the beautiful southern suburb of Constantia. Venture further out to Stellenbosch for some of the oldest Cape Dutch farms and working vineyards in the region, or to the quaint, French settler town of Franschhoek for glitzy vineyards and mouthwatering cuisine. The Hemel en Aarde Valley near Hermanus is also stunning, and you might be lucky enough to spot a whale as you sip – or is that just too many glasses of wine?!
Experiences in Cape Winelands
Lodges in Cape Winelands
Routes in Cape Winelands
Kruger National Park safari
The incredible Kruger National Park is undoubtedly southern Africa’s most famous game reserve, well known for its outstanding variety of wildlife. It’s not just the national park that attracts attention either; the enormous private reserves around Kruger – the Sabi Sand and Timbavati to name a couple – are some of the most wildlife-rich areas in the world, packed to the rafters with prowling predators. If you have just a few days for a safari and want to see as much wildlife as possible, then these are the places for you. Here, accommodation ranges from uber-luxurious lodges to simple, tented camps. But whichever you choose, your Kruger safari experience is guaranteed to be one to remember.
Experiences in Kruger National Park
Lodges in Kruger National Park
Routes in Kruger National Park
Garden Route Safari
Imagine the best beaches in the world, and combine this with the Scottish Highlands (on a sunny day), throw in a smattering of French Riviera chic and finish up with some of Africa's most iconic wildlife and you have South Africa’s Garden Route. Stretching almost 300 kilometres from Mossel Bay in the west to Plett in the east, the lush coastline is a compilation of the country’s highlights. And it doesn’t end with the scenery. Activities are as varied as the lush topography – explore hiking trails in Wilderness, whizz through the forest canopy in Tsitsikamma, spot lions in Gondwana and drink cocktails in Plett … and that’s just the beginning.
Experiences in Garden Route
Lodges in Garden Route
Routes in Garden Route
Madikwe Game Reserve safari
Madikwe is one of those places that gets under your skin and makes you want to keep coming back. The dry red earth, thick acacia woodland and towering rocky inselbergs combine to create a dramatic landscape and the perfect backdrop for a safari. The reserve itself is packed with wildlife, including wild dog, cheetah (which, along with the Big Five, make up the famed "Madikwe Super Seven" ) and more unusual Kalahari species. Roughly four hours from Johannesburg by road and 30 minutes by plane, it's more accessible than many other parks and great value for money. Oh, and did we mention it’s one of the few places that’s totally malaria-free. Bring the family and enjoy!
Experiences in Madikwe Game Reserve
Lodges in Madikwe Game Reserve
Routes in Madikwe Game Reserve
Phinda Private Game Reserve safari
Phinda Private Game Reserve is a shining example of a sanctuary that has been reclaimed from cultivation and restored to its original wilderness. Located in lush and subtropical northern KwaZulu-Natal, 23 000-hectare Phinda incorporates seven distinct ecosystems. And that's why the animal viewing here is so good. You'll see the Big Five, giraffe, nyala, impala and warthog and many rarer and less easily spotted species, such as the elusive cheetah, nocturnal aardvark and greater bushbaby. For birdwatchers, there are more than 400 species. There are just a handful of lodges, so you won't have to jostle to see the sights.
Experiences in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Lodges in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Routes in Phinda Private Game Reserve
Hermanus is like Cape Town's little sister—and she is a beautiful little sister at that. Just 100 kilometers from Cape Town, Hermanus sits on the Indian Ocean at the beginning of the garden route and is the perfect weekend breakaway. The town is famous for amazing sightings of Southern Right Whales, as they move down the coast towards Cape Point. Just up the road from Hermanus is the beautiful Hemel en Aarde Valley, where a number of wine farms offer wonderful tastings and a fun day away from the beach. The mountains flanking the town offer spectacular hiking, with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean.
Experiences in Hermanus
Lodges in Hermanus
Routes in Hermanus
Plettenberg Bay Holiday
At the heart of the Garden Route, Plettenberg Bay, or Plett as its affectionately known by its well-heeled clientele, is a mini microcosm of the best of South Africa. Here, powdery white sand beaches flow into the sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean against a backdrop of craggy mountains, inland lagoons and game-rich forestland. The town itself comes alive in summer and is home to some excellent restaurants, especially in the seafood variety, and pretty little boutiques and craft shops. Continue a few kilometres past Plett and you’ll find several rather prestigious game reserves that are giving Kruger a run for its money.
Experiences in Plettenberg Bay
Lodges in Plettenberg Bay
Routes in Plettenberg Bay
KwaZulu Natal Battlefields Holiday
At first sight, it’s hard to imagine that the peaceful green hills and valleys of northern KwaZulu-Natal were ever home to violent conflict. But this is the setting for some truly bloody confrontations between the Boers, Zulus and Brits. Spend a few hours in the company of one of the local guides and you'll learn the secrets of the clashes that took place here, such as at Blood River, Rorke’s Drift and Spioenkop. When you're weary, there are some great lodges in the area. Immerse yourself in a region that played a pivotal role in shaping modern South Africa.
Experiences in KwaZulu Natal Battlefields
Lodges in KwaZulu Natal Battlefields
Routes in KwaZulu Natal Battlefields
tswalu kalahari safari
In the dry semi-arid heart of the Kalahari Desert in South Africa is a vast privately owned game reserve—Tswalu Kalahari. Tswalu is the largest and most exclusive reserve in the country, with the lowest number of guests for its size (100 000 ha). The reserve is a place of incredible wildlife rarities, known for its desert black rhino, habituated meerkat, cheetah, sable antelope and rare aardvark and pangolin. If you are lucky, you might see one of the Kalahari's famous black-maned lions—their dark manes swaying through the endless grasslands. Enjoy full day drives from the lodge to cover as much ground as possible, night drives or walking safaris, and immerse yourself in the ancient bushman culture of the area.
Experiences in Tswalu Kalahari
Lodges in Tswalu Kalahari
Routes in Tswalu Kalahari
Unlike those leading to the famously delightful Franschhoek and the Winelands, the road between Cape Town and Paternoster is one less travelled. As a result, this tiny fishing village is somewhat of a local secret… And now we’re spilling the beans. With pretty whitewashed cottages, red and yellow fishing boats bobbing in the brilliant blue sea, and kilometres of untouched sand, Paternoster’s charm is captivating. Throw in some of the Western Cape’s best restaurants and the freshest seafood in the country and we defy you to fall in love with the place.
Experiences in Paternoster
Lodges in Paternoster
Routes in Paternoster
Eastern Cape safari
The Eastern Cape encapsulates South Africa in one province. Expect incredible Big Five safaris at famed game reserves (our favourite is Addo Elephant Park, just 40 kilometres from Port Elizabeth and home to mega concentrations of elephant and white rhino), stunning hiking and mountain scenery, and deep-rooted African culture in the Transkei, the once-independent homeland of the Xhosa people. Then there’s the Wild Coast, with its endless Indian Ocean beaches and rolling rural pastures, where you feel a million miles from anyone. You could spend weeks exploring the Eastern Cape without ever feeling the need to move on.
Experiences in Eastern Cape
Lodges in Eastern Cape
Routes in Eastern Cape
Cederberg Mountains Holiday
The Cederberg escarpment is a rocky, alien-looking mountain range just 200 kilometers from Cape Town. Here you will find the largest collection of ancient San Bushmen rock art in Southen Africa—a veritable 'Louvre of Africa'. The Cederberg is also a paradise for hikers, and you can spend days getting lost in the mountains, among the dramatic, wind-carved sandstone formations like the Maltese Cross and the Wolfberg Arch. Other activities range from rock climbing, to swimming in rock pools, visiting a Rooibos tea farm and camping in the many remote sites throughout the wilderness area.
Experiences in Cederberg Mountains
Lodges in Cederberg Mountains
Routes in Cederberg Mountains
The Waterberg's gaunt and craggy cliffs stretch along more than 5 000 square kilometres of Limpopo Province. The range is known to have been home to Stone Age people, but many of its corners have yet to be explored throroughly, so there's always something new to see. And that's what we love most about the Waterberg – the pioneering spirit it engenders. Investigate its sandstone buttresses, diamond-clear streams, pristine bushveld hills dotted with baobab, marula and fever trees, and abundant wild animals, including everyone's favourite Big Five.
Experiences in Waterberg
Lodges in Waterberg
Routes in Waterberg
Also known as Egoli, the Place of Gold, Johannesburg is Southern Africa's economic hub. Most inbound flights will route via Johannesburg, and it's well worth spending a few extra days in this vibrant city. Spend some time at the Apartheid Museum, where South Africa's rocky racial past is laid bare, or head out of town to The Cradle of Humankind, where some of the earliest hominid remains have been un-earthed and are on display at the amazing Maropeng Museum. Enjoy some of the busy restaurants of Sandton, or head into the rejuvenating City Centre of Newtown for a melting pot of African cultures.
Experiences in Johannesburg
Lodges in Johannesburg
Routes in Johannesburg
Prince Albert Holiday
The dramatic Swartberg Mountains cast their shadow on the tiny, pretty, Prince Albert, which is just about the most stunning thing you'll encounter here. But that's the entire point of the Great Karoo. Book into a colonial-style hotel room or a cottage on the main road, and leave your car for a few days. You can walk everywhere from here. Eat the best olives you'll ever eat, dine in an art gallery and buy pancakes at the Saturday morning market. The people of Prince Albert are just about the friendliest you will find in South Africa.
Experiences in Prince Albert
Lodges in Prince Albert
Routes in Prince Albert
The Knysna lagoon is a spectacular stop on South Africa's famous Garden Route. The burgeoning holiday town is spread around a large blue estuary, with a residential island in the middle of the lagoon. The mouth of the lagoon is marked by the famous Heads, which are two cliff faces that open out into the Indian Ocean. Enjoy a fishing trip on the lagoon, water skiing, or try the local restaurants. There are wonderful walks in the surrounding forests, and if you are lucky, you might spot one of the few famed Knysna forest elephants that still lurk in the small pockets of forest.
Experiences in Knysna
Lodges in Knysna
Routes in Knysna
Western Cape Safari
Experiences in Western Cape
Lodges in Western Cape
Routes in Western Cape
After you’ve left Cape Town and before you reach the beginning of the Garden Route, there’s a beautiful stretch of land with picturesque towns dotted among rolling hills, seaside hamlets overlooking white sands and frothy waves, and stunning wildlife and nature reserves that even the locals don’t know about. This is the Western Cape Overberg region, one of the lesser explored parts of South Africa, and one that you should add to your itinerary now. It’s a photographer’s dream, there’s wildlife aplenty and, to top it all, you may well be the only people there – really!
Experiences in Overberg
Lodges in Overberg
Routes in Overberg
The Wild Coast. The very name evokes visions of sprawling forests and windswept plains, craggy cliffs and unspoiled beaches – and that’s exactly what you’ll find on this magnificent, 250-kilometre slice of coastline (also known as the Transkei) that runs north of East London on South Africa’s east coast. This is the rural homeland of the Xhosa people, where you’ll spot clusters of thatched rondavels on the plains and pretty fishermen’s cottages by the sea, bastions of a peaceful way of life that's far from city stresses. You’ll hike rugged trails, stopping to swim in warm lagoons beneath tumbling waterfalls, horse-ride along footprint-free beaches, and spot whales and dolphins offshore. This is a holiday away from tourist crowds, in a part of South Africa that few ever discover.
Experiences in Wild Coast
Lodges in Wild Coast
Routes in Wild Coast
With over 320 days of sunshine a year, Durban is a holidaymaker’s paradise. The city itself is the third-largest in South Africa, with a cool, quirky mix of sidewalk cafés and trendy boutiques, tourist attractions (think City Hall and the Botanical Gardens) and vibrant restaurants. It’s also home to the largest population of Indian descendants in South Africa, and the city is abuzz with aromatic spice markets and mouth-watering curries. And then the glorious, glorious beaches. Six kilometres of shimmering sand, waving palm trees and gentle turquoise waves attract visitors from far and wide, and, even better, the ocean is bathwater-warm all year. Step aside, Cape Town…
Experiences in Durban
Lodges in Durban
Routes in Durban
Elephant Coast Safari
In the northeastern most corner of South Africa (the bit that’s almost Mozambique but is actually still KwaZulu-Natal), lies the unashamedly wild Elephant Coast. Little-known and little-explored, this epic 190-kilometre stretch of coastline hides some of the country’s best-kept secrets. How about the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, a network of interlinked marine reserves with an astonishing range of sea creatures; the empty, glittering beaches of Sodwana Bay and Cape Vidal (we could go on); and the glorious St Lucia Estuary? If it’s land animals you’re looking for, there are plenty to discover. Try Hluhuwe-Imfolozi Park, famous for saving rhino from extinction, and the sophisticated Thanda Private Reserve.
Experiences in Elephant Coast
Lodges in Elephant Coast
Routes in Elephant Coast
A 200-kilometre sweep of jagged edges, sweeping table tops and tumbling buttresses along the border between South Africa and Lesotho, the Drakensberg is quite possibly the mountain range to end all mountain ranges. Known locally as "The Berg", the peaks offer every excitement, from serious hiking and hairpin drives (Sani Pass, we’re looking at you) to gentle walks through forested glades, and even a spot of culture – there are thought to be 25,000-plus Bushmen paintings hidden in these rocks. In the foothills are the rolling KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and the Royal Natal National Park, an addictively chilled-out sort of place where you can climb, ride horseback, fish and watch wildlife to your heart’s content.
Experiences in Drakensberg
Lodges in Drakensberg
Routes in Drakensberg
Somewhere called the "Midlands" conjures up scenic pictures of rolling farmlands, green forests, and quaint villages with coffee shops piled high with enormous scones and sweet treats. Well, this Midlands doesn’t disappoint. This sublimely beautiful pocket of KwaZulu-Natal is the epitome of peace and tranquillity. Activities-wise, follow the Midlands Meander, an 80-kilometre route dotted with intriguing arts and crafts outlets and places to eat and drink. Visit the charming Victorian town of Pietermaritzburg or, for a spot of adventure, head to the forests of Karkloof. The landscape begs exploration and most lodges offer hiking, swimming, fishing and horse riding too.
Experiences in Midlands
Lodges in Midlands
Routes in Midlands
Tanzania is, without a doubt, a fabulous introduction to Africa and all things safari. It’s the largest country in East Africa, and almost a third of the vast lands are protected for game viewing, so safari opportunities are endless and always exciting. It’s got game drives galore, but don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all you can do on a Tanzania safari: what about trekking for chimpanzee in Mahale, walking and fly camping in Tarangire, boating in Selous or relaxing on the magical Indian Ocean coastline? And no description of a Tanzania safari would be complete without a mention of the Great Migration in the Serengeti, one of the natural world’s most spectacular wildlife shows.
Spanning an area of 30,000 square kilometres in northern Tanzania, the Serengeti is quintessential Africa. Expect acacia plains that roll to the horizon, china-blue skies, seas of waving grass, and exceptional densities of wildlife. The annual Great Migration with millions of wildebeest thunders across the savanna, followed by hungry predators picking off the weak and young. It’s not hard to see why the Serengeti is one of the most popular parks on the continent. But not to worry, we know exactly where to go to beat the infamous crowds.
Experiences in Serengeti
Lodges in Serengeti
Routes in Serengeti
Ngorongoro Crater safari
Wildlife wonderlands don’t get much better than the Ngorongoro Crater, possibly one of the most iconic animal-viewing areas in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site (and with very good reason), the cavernous bowl-shaped crater is in fact a caldera, formed two to three million years ago when a large volcano exploded and collapsed in on itself. Today, the flat floor is covered in nutritious grasses and home to an unprecedented number of black rhino as well as black-maned lion, magnificent tuskers and smaller plains game, but surprisingly no giraffe. We’ll leave you to ponder why when you visit!
Experiences in Ngorongoro Crater
Lodges in Ngorongoro Crater
Routes in Ngorongoro Crater
Zanzibar is a melting pot of cultures and tradition. A traditional trading point on the east African spice route, the island is famous for its vast spice farms and beautiful azure beaches. Stone Town is a bustling and unique little town with thin cobbled streets and thousands of vendors selling everything from fabrics to tasty food. There are many pristine islands surrounding Zanzibar if you are looking to disappear completely, and day trips to the bigger island of Pemba is a must. A combination of African, Arabic and eastern influences make Zanzibar a real cultural treasure. We just love it.
Experiences in Zanzibar
Lodges in Zanzibar
Routes in Zanzibar
The largest reserve in Africa, the Selous is a tangled wilderness of volcanic springs and vast gorges; of open savannah and wooded escarpments; of bleached-sand riverbeds and the mighty Rufiji River. With such diversity, the landscape is home to an extraordinary number of mammals, including buffalo, zebra, elephant and an impressive giraffe population. And with lots of food around, predators are also well represented, including the infamous Selous lion with their unique pattern of day-time hunting. With boat trips, walking safaris and night drives all on offer, this is a hidden gem that is well worth discovering.
Experiences in Selous
Lodges in Selous
Routes in Selous
We won’t blame you if you haven’t heard of Tarangire. This small, uncrowded and exceptionally game-rich park, just south of Lake Manyara in the northern region of Tanzania, is still relatively unknown. Famous for vast herds of elephants and buffalo and a rugged and diverse landscape characterised by battalions of baobab trees, the park is unlike any other on the Northern circuit. Big cat sightings are frequent and in the dry season the Tarangire River provides a crucial water source, attracting animals for miles around. Step off the beaten track and pay Tarangire a visit; you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Experiences in Tarangire National Park
Lodges in Tarangire National Park
Routes in Tarangire National Park
Ruaha National Park safari
If, like us, you are forever looking for the next truly wild destination, Ruaha might just be the place to end your search. You won’t find hordes of tourists here (in fact, there aren’t many camps, either!) but what you will find are vast herds of buffalo, the largest population of elephant in any Tanzanian national park, numerous leopard and 10 percent of the world’s lion population. The dramatic landscape represents both the eastern and southern biomes of the continent and spiky palm trees jostle for space with squat baobabs while vast savannahs contrast with dense miombo forests. This is Africa at its breathtakingly beautiful best.
Experiences in Ruaha National Park
Lodges in Ruaha National Park
Routes in Ruaha National Park
Mahale Mountains Safari
On the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, towering high into the clouds, are the jagged peaks of the Mahale Mountains. Covered in lush jungle forest and speckled with sparkling streams and waterfalls, the mountains are enchanting and home to a variety of mammals. But the real highlight is the chimpanzees. There are around 1000 living in the area and the Mimikire group have been habituated to humans, meaning intimate, personal and quite frankly life-changing encounters. And if you still have some energy, spend time exploring the crystal clear waters of the Lake while snorkeling and canoeing amongst the rainbow coloured fish.
Experiences in Mahale Mountains National Park
Lodges in Mahale Mountains National Park
Routes in Mahale Mountains National Park
Looming proudly from the grassy plains of Northern Tanzania is Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak and the world’s tallest freestanding mountain at 5,895 m. With 5 distinct ecological zones on the slopes ranging from luscious rainforest to barren high-altitude desert, the mountain is one of the most beautiful and dramatic. Technically the climb isn’t a difficult one, but it can be challenging in places. But when you reach the magnificent Ulhuru Peak as dawn breaks over the icy landscape, every blister and bite pales into insignificance. We promise.
Experiences in Kilimanjaro
Lodges in Kilimanjaro
Routes in Kilimanjaro
Katavi National Park Safari
A stop in Katavi reveals an untouched expanse of vast golden floodplains, burbling rivers and fragrant fig and albida forests. This relatively unknown park deep in western Tanzania is a hotspot for mammal viewing and herds of buffalo, sometimes 3000 strong, attract many predators to the area. In the dry season, elephants search for tiny waterholes in the mud-cracked pans and enormous pods of hippo squeeze into the smallest of pools. Katavi is an alluring park, seductive in its solitude, and with only 2 small camps, the immense landscape is pretty much yours and yours alone.
Experiences in Katavi National Park
Lodges in Katavi National Park
Routes in Katavi National Park
Rubondo Island safari
Imagine an island where herds of elephant roam wild, chimpanzees hide in the trees and shy sitatunga forage in the groves. This is Rubondo, one of the most unique and, quite frankly, remarkable ecosystems on the planet. Situated in the southwest corner of Lake Victoria, the island is 26 kms long and 10 kms at its widest. Three quarters of the 25,000 hectares (an area double the size of Manhattan!) are blanketed by pristine equatorial fauna and with only a handful of researchers, park wardens and one camp on the fringes of the forest, this is a new definition of 'untouched'.
Experiences in Rubondo Island
Lodges in Rubondo Island
Routes in Rubondo Island
Ras Kutani Holiday
Often overlooked in favour of its glitzy big sister, Zanzibar, the southern coastline of Tanzania is, we think, really rather lovely too. As well as picture-perfect hammock lounging beaches and the gin-clear waters of the Indian Ocean, Ras Katani has a fascinating blend of cultures and cuisine, and the drive from Dar reveals romantic Swahili architecture, colourful markets and delicious aromas. The absence of a main road down the rugged, jungle-clad shore has so far prevented much development and an influx of tourists – a blessing in disguise really, as this is secluded beach luxury just as it should be.
Experiences in Ras Kutani
Lodges in Ras Kutani
Routes in Ras Kutani
Lake Manyara Safari
At 325 square kilometers, Manyara National Park is certainly small by Tanzanian standards, but don’t let that put you off. It is, quite simply, stunning. Bordered by the dramatic Rift Valley escarpment, the rest of the park is a pretty medley of grassy floodplains, enchanting evergreen forest, acacia woodland and twinkling groundwater springs. Then there’s the piece de resistance, Lake Manyara, a glittering and iridescent alkaline pool that expands and contracts with the seasons. And it’s here that the iconic population of flamingo can be found, filling the sky in clouds of pink: an extraordinary spectacle that’s not to be missed.
Experiences in Lake Manyara National Park
Lodges in Lake Manyara National Park
Routes in Lake Manyara National Park
Mafia Island Holiday
As a predominantly fishermen's island, Mafia has found an authentic balance between its humble fishing villages and world-class scuba diving and snorkelling. The balance is tangible when visitors see traditional dhows in the ocean before they dive below, their qualified PADI instructor at their side. The reefs fringing Mafia Island are of both the soft and hard variety, diversifying the species. See striking nature along winding walking trails through the island and culture further inland, or just roam the endless stretches of deserted, white sand. Thatched bungalows sink into sea sand and hammocks welcome afternoon naps under palm trees.
Experiences in Mafia Island
Lodges in Mafia Island
Routes in Mafia Island
Pemba Island Holiday
Instead of beaches and loungers separating the island and the Indian Ocean, Pemba Island has amazing natural lagoons and mangroves fringing much of its coastline. There are few white, sandy beaches, but this place is known for its attractions below the water. The reefs are healthy and the Pemba Channel's steep walls diversify the exotic underwater habitat, making it a snorkelling and diving haven. Fruit and spice trees scale the mountains further inland, a contrast to the island's flatter neighbours such a Zanzibar. This is not the place to meet many other tourists, as they come in small scale. Yet not a single one leaves disappointed.
Experiences in Pemba Island
Lodges in Pemba Island
Routes in Pemba Island
A bustling and colourful safari town, Arusha is the gateway to the Northern safari circuit and there’s always an eclectic mix of people huddled in the cafes and restaurants. Nestled in the foothills of Mount Meru, close to the Kenyan border, the town has an altitude of 1500m and is pleasantly warm year-round with crisp, clean mountain air and surrounded by astonishingly green coffee plantations. Start your day with a cup of the good stuff amidst the rows of verdant bushes, watch the Maasai in their deep red shukas and barter for souvenirs at the gaudy market stalls.
Experiences in Arusha
Lodges in Arusha
Routes in Arusha
Dar es Salaam Holiday
No longer the quaint fishing village of yonder years, Dar is home to 4 million people and is the administrative (but not official) capital of Tanzania. This is a city that heaves with energy, passion and contrast; vast steel tankers float alongside haphazard dhows, bicycles jostle against fast cars and a medley of British, Arabic and Indian architecture is reflected in the glittering windows of the new high-rises. For most visitors, Dar is simply a stopover city, but if you do find yourself here, enjoy the eclectic mix of cultures and the laid-back vibe.
Experiences in Dar es Salaam
Lodges in Dar es Salaam
Routes in Dar es Salaam
Lake Natron Safari
Our planet is full of surreal places and otherworldly landscapes that look as if they might belong on Mars and Lake Natron has to be near the top of the list. Although close to the Ngorongoro Crater, the area is just about as far off the beaten track as you can imagine but the drive is worth every bump and dusty sneeze. This is a sparse and arid yet achingly beautiful landscape dotted with the cracked huts of hardy Maasai and watched over by their ‘Mountain of God’, active volcano Ol Doinyo Lengai. The lake itself is a caustic soda marvel, almost 58km long and inhospitable by most wildlife apart from the powder-pink Lesser flamingo that congregate every year to breed. Extraordinary.
Experiences in Lake Natron
Lodges in Lake Natron
Routes in Lake Natron
Lake Eyasi Safari
Although only a stone’s throw from the ever-popular Ngorongoro Crater, wild and beautiful Lake Eyasi receives a mere 1% of the safari traffic that its cavernous neighbour does. Perhaps it’s the lack of wildlife, or the fact that it’s incredibly remote, but we think the pilgrimage is so incredibly worth it. Why? Lake Eyasi is home to the Hadzabe people, who have called the area home for more than 10,000 years and still retain their fascinating hunter-gatherer lifestyle. A visit here will give you a unique and unforgettable insight into their extraordinary culture – a soulful human interaction that few will ever experience.
Experiences in Lake Eyasi
Lodges in Lake Eyasi
Routes in Lake Eyasi
Rather like its neighbour, Rwanda, Uganda has shrugged off the dark shadows of the past and grown into its deserved title as the "Pearl of Africa". Often overlooked as a safari destination, this small, landlocked country packs one hell of a punch when it comes to bucket-list experiences.Probably most famous for gorilla and chimpanzee trekking (and justifiably so, with the world’s highest concentration of primates inside its borders), a Uganda safari may also include tree-climbing lions, enormous herds of elephants and sightings of more than 1000 species of birds. And then there’s the scenery – pounding rivers and serene lakes, misty mountains and savanna plains. This is a magical place with enough to keep even the most indomitable travellers enthralled.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Safari
The name ‘Impenetrable’ isn’t just a piece of clever marketing; the web of jungle ferns and tangled vines of the 25,000 year old forest is so thick it’s almost impossible to make out where on earth you might be headed. Almost... Yes, the hiking is challenging but emerging from the undergrowth and coming eye-to-(coal black) eye with one of the mighty mountain gorillas that hide in Bwindi is spell-binding and worth every bump and bruise. As well as being one of the most ecologically-diverse and flora-rich forests on earth, it’s also the only one to support populations of both mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. So if primates are your passion, Bwindi is the place for you.
Experiences in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Lodges in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Routes in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Queen Elizabeth National Park Safari
Never let it be said that Uganda doesn’t compete with Tanzania and Kenya when it comes to wildlife-watching; Queen Elizabeth National Park, nestled at the foot of the Rwenzori Mountains in south-western Uganda, is a true safari gem and most certainly up there with the big players. Split in half by the Kazinga Channel (home to vast pods of hippo, toothy crocs and excellent boating safaris) the landscape is a diverse mix of wetlands, forests and open savannah dotted with glassy lakes. Watch out for lion, leopard and elephant and the 600 plus bird species and head to the remote Ishasha sector in the south to see the eccentric tree-climbing lions– big ticks on the bucket list all round.
Experiences in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Lodges in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Routes in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Murchison Falls Safari
Thunderous, explosive and completely spectacular, Murchison Falls is the world’s most powerful waterfall. Formed by the fast-flowing Nile as it squeezes through a seven-metre gap in the Albertine Rift Escarpment, the roaring cascade is mind-blowing from all angles. Take a boat to the base for a close-up view (watch animals drinking unconcernedly at its base) or hike to the top for the angels' aspect. The eponymous park is Uganda’s oldest and largest conservation area, and although its wildlife was a casualty of the Amin era, it’s recovering well. Leopard, lion, buffalo and elephant can all be found – as well as the elusive shoebill (which grows to 1.5 metres!).
Experiences in Murchison Falls National Park
Lodges in Murchison Falls National Park
Routes in Murchison Falls National Park
Kibale Forest Safari
When the guidebooks (and us!) tell you that Uganda is home to the world’s highest concentration of primates, it’s probably Kibale that they’re (we’re) referring to. With no less than 13 different species hiding in the lush rainforest, including the rare red colobus and L’Hoest’s monkeys, chimpanzee are still the top draw. As well as morning and afternoon treks with the mischievous primates, visitors can also spend a full day with the chimps as part of the habituation programme – truly an experience not to be missed. The undulating forest trails are a birder’s, butterfly-watcher’s and botanist’s dream and although there are larger mammals around, including forest elephant, sitatunga, buffalo leopard, this is a place to really enjoy the small stuff (and the primates).
Experiences in Kibale Forest National Park
Lodges in Kibale Forest National Park
Routes in Kibale Forest National Park
Kidepo Valley National Park Safari
Far-flung, beautiful and with a distinct air of mystique that just makes it even more special, Kidepo Valley National Park is one of the continent’s most remote national parks. Tucked into a rugged valley in the far, far north of Uganda close to the border with Sudan, the terrain varies from open savannah (expected) to dense jungle forests (totally unexpected). But it’s this diversity that supports such a large number of species and it’s the only place in the country to find wild dog, aardwolf, caracal and striped hyena. There’s also ostrich, cheetah and Rothschild’s giraffe hiding amongst the dust-devils and rocky ridges. It might take a bit of effort to get to, but you will certainly be rewarded…
Experiences in Kidepo Valley National Park
Lodges in Kidepo Valley National Park
Routes in Kidepo Valley National Park
Lake Mburo Safari
With acres of rippling savannah plains dotted with bushy thickets and fed by no less than five lakes, the landscape of Lake Mburo is a safari dream. There’s not much in the way of big game but the plains game more than makes up for it with Burchell’s zebra and antelope skittering across the grasslands and topi and eland drinking nonchalantly at the lake-side. There’s also a magnificent array of birdlife in the forest areas and the park is the top spot in Uganda for nature walks and horse-riding. Conveniently located to make a superb stopover destination on the way to the gorillas in Bwindi, Lake Mburo is also really rather excellent in it’s own way, so go on, stay for a few days and you won’t be disappointed.
Experiences in Lake Mburo
Lodges in Lake Mburo
Routes in Lake Mburo
Unless you have reason to fly into Kampala, we reckon Entebbe makes for a pretty good stopover choice. The former capital of the country during Uganda’s days as a British protectorate, it’s a hassle-free city with a much more relaxed atmosphere than its larger counterpart. Located on a particularly pretty stretch of Lake Victoria, there are sandy beaches to explore, beachside cafes for sundowner drinks and the beautiful Botanic Gardens to lose yourself in for a few hours. And if you find yourself here for longer, putter out to Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary by boat and spend some time with the cheeky chimps and their keepers.
Experiences in Entebbe
Lodges in Entebbe
Routes in Entebbe
Entebbe might be the pretty one, but Uganda’s capital city more than makes up the loss with its bold, dynamic character. First up is central Kampala, the usual jam of packed taxis, screeching bus drivers and vendors selling everything from chicken feet to hairbrushes, but head up Nakasero Hill and you could be in a different city. This is peaceful Kampala, home to sparkling embassies and swanky restaurants and it’s really quite pleasant. Activity-wise, history lovers will appreciate the Uganda Musuem, the Kasubi Tombs and the Lubiri Palace for a brief insight into the country’s not-so-peaceful past or, if you need to stretch your legs, try a walking tour of the different districts.
Experiences in Kampala
Lodges in Kampala
Routes in Kampala
Famously pronounced as the "Source of the Nile" by British explorer Speke in 1862, Jinja has claimed its more recent fame as the adventure capital of East Africa – and if you choose to visit this pretty town, you may well find yourself tumbling down the white-water rapids on a raft (or a canoe or dinghy!), dangling from a bungee rope, or jet boating along the world’s most famous river. Looking for something slightly more dignified? Don’t cross Jinja off your list just yet. The region is stunningly beautiful and diverse, and horse rides, scenic boat trips and birdwatching walks are just some of the ways to enjoy it (and keep the heart rate steady…)
Experiences in Jinja
Lodges in Jinja
Routes in Jinja
Mgahinga National Park
There are lots of places to see Africa’s endangered mountain gorilla, but Uganda’s Mgahinga may just be the most exclusive of them all. What this teeny-tiny national park lacks in size (it’s a mere 37 square kilometres!), it certainly makes up for in height, perching in the clouds at an altitude of between 2227 and 4127 metres. The park’s location, in the southwest corner of Uganda in the larger Virunga Conservation Area, means that it sees a good deal of gorilla action, but it’s important to note that there’s only one habituated family in Mgahinga itself. When you’re not gorilla trekking, look out for rare golden monkeys, hike one of the park's three volcanoes, or visit the spectacular Garama Cave with one of the local Batwa people.
Experiences in Mgahinga National Park
Lodges in Mgahinga National Park
Routes in Mgahinga National Park
If you love exploring the wildest corners of Africa, then a Zambia safari is for you. The country has some of the largest (and least visited) national parks supporting rich concentrations of elephant, wild dog and leopard. The great Kafue and Luangwa rivers breathe life into the central parts of the country, while the lazy Zambezi River flows along the southern border with Zimbabwe, and plunges into the Victoria Falls near the town of Livingstone. Zambia is famous for its incredible walking safaris, particularly in the South and North Luangwa national parks, where you can truly disappear into the wilderness, connect with nature and definitely disconnect from the world of e-mail, at least for a little while.
South Luangwa National Park safari
South Luangwa National Park is one of the most magnificent wilderness areas in southern Africa. The park is bordered by the great Luangwa River, which supports a large diversity of megafauna along its course through eastern Zambia. One of the largest populations of hippo and crocodile resides in the river, while elephant, zebra and many predators are attracted to its fertile and forested banks. The park is famous for leopard sightings, and the many spotted cats that hunt on the river have earned it the nickname "The Valley of the Leopard". South Luangwa is also the home of the walking safari, a tradition pioneered by Norman Carr in the 1960s, and still carried out today. Great lodges, high quality guiding and stunning wilderness make this one of our top adventure safaris.
Experiences in South Luangwa National Park
Lodges in South Luangwa National Park
Routes in South Luangwa National Park
Victoria Falls Zambia safari
Every minute, 650 million litres of Zambezi water plummet into the Batoka Gorge on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, creating one of the world's most splendid sites – the Victoria Falls. And if you’re on safari in southern Africa, visiting them should be top of your list! Straddling no fewer than four countries (Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia), the falls can be viewed from both Zambia and Zimbabwe. Start off gently with a walk along the precipitous edge of the waterfall, then get active – go bungee-jumping or white-water rafting, take a helicopter flight or swing across the gorge. They don’t call Vic Falls the "Adventure Capital" for nothing!
Experiences in Victoria Falls in Zambia (Livingstone)
Lodges in Victoria Falls in Zambia (Livingstone)
Routes in Victoria Falls in Zambia (Livingstone)
Lower Zambezi National Park safari
The Lower Zambezi National Park is one of our favorite destinations in Zambia. The vast reserve makes up 4500 square kilometers of Zambezi escarpment wilderness. The huge densities of wildlife tend to stick near the river, and game drives (and canoe safaris) into the park often encounter large herds of elephant, buffalo, zebra and wildebeest. The riverfront is also idea leopard habitat and it's not uncommon to see one of these rare predators lazing in a tree beside the river. Travelers can self-drive through the park, or choose to stay at one of the top lodges that offer the full Lower Zambezi experience. A canoe safari along the river is also a must!
Experiences in Lower Zambezi National Park
Lodges in Lower Zambezi National Park
Routes in Lower Zambezi National Park
Kafue National Park Safari
Emerging from the tiny plane and onto the plains of the Kafue, it’s the endless, horizon-stretching size of that place that really hits you. Kafue is Zambia’s largest national park but, often lost in the shadow of the popular South Luangwa and with a meagre infrastructure, there are only a handful of camps and even fewer visitors. But don’t let that deter you – come armed with a little patience and the rewards are spectacular. Think cheetah and lion roaming in the golden grass, herds of red lechwe, puku and wildebeest and hunting packs of wild dog. Busanga Plains in the north is also worth exploring with its enormous swathes of grasslands, picturesque wild date palms and excellent big game.
Experiences in Kafue National Park
Lodges in Kafue National Park
Routes in Kafue National Park
North Luangwa Safari
North Luangwa National Park is about as remote as it gets in Africa. The area, covering 4636 square kilometers along the mighty Luangwa River, offers some of the finest wilderness experiences in Zambia. There are no permanent lodges in the entire park, and it's not open to the public, except for a few safari operators who have been granted permission to conduct walking safaris along the river. This is an adventure experience like no other, a walk back in time to a wild place, where the great megafauna of Africa—elephants, lions, buffalo and hippo—still roam the bush and we are just spectators.
Experiences in North Luangwa National Park
Lodges in North Luangwa National Park
Routes in North Luangwa National Park
Liuwa Plain Safari
The phrase ‘best kept secret’ is often bandied around when it comes to Africa, but boy does Liuwa Plain deserve the title. Located in the far west of the country, it was once a royal hunting ground for the Barotse King and home of the Lozi people. Today, it’s not unusual to see fishermen gliding down the river or kids playing the shallows, which only adds to the magic of this enchanting wilderness. As for game, the park hosts the second largest wildebeest migration on the continent, an extraordinary concentration of hyena (and other predators) and an even more astonishing variety of birdlife. The journey to get here may be long with an even longer list of transport, but it’s worth every second.
Experiences in Liuwa Plain
Lodges in Liuwa Plain
Routes in Liuwa Plain
If there’s one thing guaranteed to make us happy on safari, it’s a mind-boggling slice of raw, untamed wilderness and the absence of any tourist-toting minibuses. If that sounds like your kind of thing then it’s time to pay a visit to Luambe National Park. Situated between the North and South Luangwa parks in Zambia, the pint-sized beauty has always remained pretty much off the radar but with the help of a little private investment in recent years, Luambe is ready to have its moment. And with pods of splashing hippo numbering over 500, spectacular numbers of raptors and the return of the big cats, what a moment it’s going to be.
Experiences in Luambe
Lodges in Luambe
Routes in Luambe
Zambia’s capital city, Lusaka is an eccentric hodgepodge of market stalls and gleaming shopping malls, and dusty, earthy tracks side by side with (relatively) smooth freeways. Chances are you’ll not even see the city if you're simply on a stopover. But if you spend a day or two, there's fun to be had. Lusaka is largely a commercial city, so don't expect grand museums or gentle tree-lined avenues. What you will find is a burgeoning selection of lively restaurants and cafes, some fun markets and a genuine "African" feel, which are enough to entice some to return again and again.
Experiences in Lusaka
Lodges in Lusaka
Routes in Lusaka
Zimbabwe is like a bright phoenix, its wildlife arising out of a rocky past to once again become one of Africa's top safari attractions. The home of the great Victoria Falls in the north, the wild and beautiful Hwange National Park, serene Mana Pools, and pristine, unexplored tracts of land in the south and east, a Zimbabwe safari is for travellers looking for a touch of adventure. Safe to say, everyone who visits Zim returns raving about the friendly people, beautiful scenery and incredible, off-the-beaten-track wildlife experiences, so we suggest you go there now, before more people catch on…
Victoria Falls Zimbabwe safari
Iconic and impressive, Victoria Falls is the most visited attraction in Zimbabwe. Justifiably so – the sheer volume of water that tumbles over the 1.6 kilometre-long cliff and plunges 110 metres into the Batoka Gorge is phenomenal, and the fine spray of mist that rises can be seen from almost 50 kilometres away. Both Zambia and Zimbabwe offer spectacular views of the waterfall, but perhaps (just perhaps!) Zimbabwe takes the top spot for the most majestic angles and spine-tingling walks. And if it’s excitement you’re looking for, you’re in the right place – how about bungee jumping, white-water rafting, kayaking, and helicopter and microlight flights? You might just have to come back again…
Experiences in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Lodges in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Routes in Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe
Hwange National Park Safari
Similar to the best red wine and cheese, Hwange has only gotten better with age. Designated a national park in 1928, it’s one of the oldest on the continent and the largest in Zim at 14,650 square kilometres, most of which is deep Kalahari sand dotted with patches of mopane woodland. Doesn’t sound particularly safari-like? Well it wouldn’t be were it not for the network of watery pans, artificially pumped in the dry season, and the life source for over 100 mammal species. Elephants are the stars of the show here however, and the enormous pachyderms plod majestically over the plains and through the pretty camps to get to their drinking holes (and sometimes the camp swimming pool!)
Experiences in Hwange National Park
Lodges in Hwange National Park
Routes in Hwange National Park
Mana Pools Safari
Of all the magnificent sights in Zimbabwe, Mana Pools was the first to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s easy to see why. Named after the four wildlife-magnet oxbow lakes that sprawl across it, the park is a network of mini waterways and hippo-strewn sandbanks, with startlingly green grasslands and groves of mahogany trees sheltering a spectacular amount of game, including wild dog, buffalo and lion. And of course there’s the Zambezi – the mighty river that runs through the park, attracting elephant in their droves and canoeists looking for an epic water-based safari. Prefer to be on land? You’ll be in safe hands with some of the best walking guides on the continent.
Experiences in Mana Pools
Lodges in Mana Pools
Routes in Mana Pools
Gonarezhou National Park Safari
Many would say that Zimbabwe as a whole is rather ‘off-the-beaten-track’, but wait until you visit Gonarezhou. Wild and rugged, untouched and nearly unexplored, it’s the second largest national park in the country and tucked far away in the deep south on the border of Mozambique. Conservation is alive and well down here and the area is part of The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park, a 35,000 square kilometre area, protecting wildlife corridors between Gonarehzou, Limpopo in Mozambique and Kruger in South Africa. Inside the park you’ll find baobabs and butterflies, wildebeest and waterbuck and a fair few predators too. Oh and elephants. Legend has it that they used to be as tall as the trees and they’re still pretty impressive these days.
Experiences in Gonarezhou National Park
Lodges in Gonarezhou National Park
Routes in Gonarezhou National Park
Matusadona National Park Safari
Home to the Big Five, super (and we mean super) herds of buffalo and elephant, endangered rhino and more lion than you can shake a stick, Matusadona National Park is quite special. This was the place of Operation Noah, a rescue mission for thousands upon thousands of animals trapped by the rising waters of Lake Kariba in the 1950s and since then, populations have flourished. What’s even more spectacular however is the sunset. From 6 o clock every evening, watch as the lake shimmers in a hot kaleidoscopic of pinks and yellows, oranges and reds, framed by the looming Matuzviadonha Mountains and the inky black fingers of the drowned leadwood trees. Wow.
Experiences in Matusadona National Park
Lodges in Matusadona National Park
Routes in Matusadona National Park
Matobo National Park Safari
If you like your game viewing served with a spot of culture and a touch of history then Matobo is the place for you. The final resting place of Cecil John Rhodes, the Matopos Hills are known for the enormous piles of Flinstone-esque boulders, nerve-shatteringly balanced against each other and littered across the wooded landscape. Their smooth curves contain some of the best rock art in Southern Africa, dating back at least 2000 years from the San bushmen. Game-wise, the Whovi Wilderness Area is dedicated to the protection of white and black rhino and a wonderful place to spot the Jurassic creatures. This is a hauntingly beautiful and totally underrated part of the country and its just waiting to welcome you…
Experiences in Matobo National Park
Lodges in Matobo National Park
Routes in Matobo National Park
If there’s one city in Africa that doesn’t deserve a poor reputation, it’s Harare. Just like any city in the world, there are some areas that are urban, dirty and a little bit gritty. But then there are the wide, bustling avenues, lined with flamboyant trees and granite sculptures; the Botanical Gardens, with more than 900 tree and plant species from all over the country; and what about the thriving arts scene, ranging from the craft stalls peddling eccentric carvings and baskets, to the hip galleries springing up in the suburbs? If you do find yourself here, breathe in the crisp, clean air, buy a roasted mealie (corn on the cob) to munch on, and take a wander.
Experiences in Harare
Lodges in Harare
Routes in Harare
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Kenya beach holiday
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Okavango delta safari
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Chobe national park safari
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Okavango delta tour
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Victoria falls holiday - zambia
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Lower zambezi safari
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Namibia luxury safari
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Hwange national park safari
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Murchison falls safari
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Queen elizabeth national park safari
Sabi sands safari