Best safari lodges in Botswana 2020 #SunSafarisSays
Feb18

Best safari lodges in Botswana 2020 #SunSafarisSays

Our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020 – like any of our recommendations, suggestions, and pieces of advice – are shaped by personal experience. Our holiday experts build itineraries based on confidence and relationships based on trust. Each one of our four safari planners has at least a decade’s experience in the industry and they know what they are looking for in a destination experience. Botswana is a particular area of expertise for our team. It is a country we not only love for its sublime natural areas, but for its conservation ethic and integrity. It is a destination for the mindful traveller and it supports a tourism framework worth celebrating. It is as good to explore as a fly-in safari guest, or as a source of adventure for self-drivers. Tourists are embraced while natural heritage is preserved. This unique combination in Africa makes Botswana one of our best destinations for 2020. We asked our in-house Botswana experts to highlights five safari lodges they are recommending for this new year. We’ve got one for each prime safari region in the country. These well-loved lodges all went through a change in the last year that excites us. They have something new to offer. Without further ado, here are our choices for the best safari lodges in Botswana for the year 2020! Region: Chobe River Lodge: Ngoma Safari Lodge The view of Chobe River is probably the biggest drawcard for Ngoma Safari Lodge. Overlooking the lifeblood that divides Botswana and Namibia, this safari spot is perfectly elevated  to make guests feel like they are dining on top of the world. It’s physical located in the private Chobe Forest Reserve, so night drives and walking safaris are permitted (and encouraged!) The national park is just three kilometres away, so daily game drives are part and parcel of the experience. Last year, Ngoma transitioned to new ownership and partnered with some of our other favourites in Botswana (Gomoti Plains and Machaba Camp) , which really got our attention. Pairing a trusted safari operation with a location like this is what makes a place truly special. For the hours in between your safari activities, you’ll be eating (dining room view: check), swimming (pool with a view: check), and relaxing in your suite (room with a view: check). So, Ngoma Safari Lodge emerged as one of our new favourites, and we’ll put our stamp of approval on that. #SunSafarisSays Region: Okavango Delta Lodge: Kanana Kanana Camp makes our list of best lodges in Botswana for obvious reasons. It was refurbished in 2019 and received a whole new look that...

Read More
Insider info: Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya
Feb06

Insider info: Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya

We frequently revisit well trodden paths to make sure that they are still the paths we want our clients to travel. We want to ensure that the places and products we align with are indeed delivering what we promise our guests. We love to investigate new places, visit never-before-seen destinations, and get a first-hand experience before we package it up and present it to guests who put their trust in us. With that in mind, our holiday planners get to gallivant all over the globe, testing and trialling new experiences. African safari expert, Michelle, recently departed for a whirlwind Kenyan adventure and then settled in Botswana to attend the annual Travel & Tourism Expo. We interrogated her once she got back and now we’re excited to share her findings with you! This is Michelle’s take on her safari in Kenya.  She checked in and overnighted at Elephant Bedroom Camp, Saruni Samburu Lodge, Sarova Lion Hill, Porini Mara Camp, Porini Lion Camp, Elephant Pepper Camp, Serian ‘The Original’, Governor’s Camp, Nairobi Tented Camp, Elewana Tortilis Camp, and Porini Amboseli Camp. She visited and inspected Larsen’s Tented Camp, Ol Pejeta Cottages, Sweetwaters Tented Camp, Porini Rhino Camp, The Cliff, Porini Cheetah Camp, Ol Seki Mara Hemingways, Olare Mara Kempinski, Mahali Mzuri Camp, Mara Plains Camp, Karen Blixen Camp, Kicheche Mara Camp, Serian Camps in Mara North, Sanctuary Olonana, Kichwa Tembo, Governor’s Camp properties, Ol Tukai, and Tamarind Tree Hotel. SS: Have you been to Kenya before? What was new to you? Michelle: All of Kenya was new! I visited some of the main safari areas: Samburu National Reserve, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Lake Nakuru and the Masai Mara – both the National Reserve and various private conservancies. I loved everything about the country. The people were great, scenery was lovely and there was a diversity of wildlife across the various reserves. I was super lucky to see a few black rhino, which I had not seen for over 20 years. SS: What was your favourite moment overall? Michelle: I had the best lion sighting ever on my last game drive in the Masai Mara, towards the end of the day. It had been raining quite a bit during the day and the night before and the sun had finally come out. We sat watching this huge pride of lions – the Ridge Pride – for about 90 minutes, with our sundowner drink in hand. The Ridge Pride had a few adult females with cubs of different ages. The lions were happy the sun came out as they were all frisky and playing with each other and the moms and just having some...

Read More
New Kruger Walking Trails Camp for Simbavati
Jan08

New Kruger Walking Trails Camp for Simbavati

Simbavati is known for its brand of stylish safari lodges, all of which offer an authentic and refreshing sense of luxury within prestigious private game reserves in South Africa. The Simbavati Lodges are wedged in the heart of the rugged big five reserves in the Greater Kruger, but they are best know for their lodges in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. The brand is due to launch a back-to-basics, ground level walking safari trails camp. And we could not be more excited, given the excellent reputation of this safari brand that certainly doesn’t compromise on the feel-good elements of a luxury safari getaway. The Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails walking safaris carved the path and paved the way for many other lodges’ to follow suit when it comes to trail based safaris in Kruger. Simbavati’s unique selling point is that it brings a touch of simple and classic luxury to your “camping” experience. The camp is set-up in a pocket of secluded wilderness in the Timbavati and borders a wilderness area of 11, 000 hectares in the Kruger National Park. There’s nothing better than experiencing the wonders of a safari at ground level. Not only do you track wildlife while on foot, but you also learn how to identify tracks, and the uses of various flora. When you see a species of wildlife while on foot, it is a humbling experience. Giraffe are that much taller, elephants are amazingly graceful and kudu are powerful. Signing up for walking trails is an inimitable and immersive experience – one that is unforgettable. Of course, walks are guided by a professional trails guides who will safely lead you through the bushveld while teaching you about the wild. Walks are roughly +/-4-hours and you’ll stop for snacks and drinks en route. You will return back to base camp for lunch and then head out for another 2 hour afternoon walk after a sugary “high tea” session. Your afternoon walk flows gently into an inspiring sundowner session where you are encouraged to soak up the splendour of golden hour. A game drive bumble will escort you back to base camp, a time during which you can search for nocturnal predators. This trails camp isn’t mobile – your base is your base, which means you can settle into your surrounds and return to the same spot each day. There are 4 Meru style safari tents, which means the camp hosts a maximum of 8 guests. Bathrooms comprise bucket showers, and are all en suite. There is no electricity at camp, nor cell reception. It’s a wild experience, tainted with elements of luxury synonymous with the...

Read More
The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways
Dec18

The mountains are calling! Our two favourite Magoebaskloof getaways

Magoebaskloof (meaning Magoeba’s Valley) is a pocket of lush, afro-montane greenery full of indigenous plants and wildlife in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. It is the very northern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range and is known as the Land of the Silver Mist for its famous blanket of cloud that envelopes the peaks and valleys. Samango and vervet monkeys, chacma baboons, bush pigs, porcupine and bush buck are some of the larger mammals found dwelling in the forest, and let us not get started on the birds! If you’re a keen birder, Magoebaskloof is one of the best spots for forest birding in the country, and its proximity to the Kruger National Park makes it a convenient addition to a classic safari experience in the Lowveld. About 1.5 hours’ drive west of the Kruger’s Phalaborwa Gate you’ll find yourself in the country’s “fruit bowl” having driven along an undulating road that progresses from acacia thornveld and mopane to the green slopes of the Wolkberg. This is where fertile soils produce the best avocados in the world, along with blueberries, macadamia nuts, bananas, litchis, and mangos. Magoebaskloof pass winds its way out of the “bowl” and into the higher slopes where some of the rare indigenous forest remains. Here, beneath the silver mist, the water is crystal clear, rocks are laden with moss, and big, old trees are entangled with vines. The forest floor is a patchwork of sunlight and shade, and there is peace in the air. There are hiking trails winding up and down and throughout the lush mountain slopes, and there are waterfalls and pools of fresh water sprouting along many of them. Mountain bikers will find themselves a challenge in Magoebaskloof, where an annual event sees fit riders gather to take on the mountain trails.  Visitors can fish in nearby dams and lakes, while birdwatching can take place from the comfort of your very own mountain cottage veranda. There is the diminutive village of Hanaertsberg nearby where a handful of good, honest restaurants serve up the mountain’s finest grub, and there is Limpopo’s famous Zwakala brewery nestled off the beaten track. Folks travel from far and wide to enjoy the unique energy of this local brew house, so make sure you pop this item on your Magoebaskloof agenda! Now that you know what’s on offer in the glorious Magoebaskloof mountains, allow us to let you in on our two favourite places to stay. Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages Situated at the end of a winding dirt road in the indigenous forest, Magoebaskloof Birders’ Cottages feel like a hidden secret. There are three little cottages – Robin (a six-sleeper),...

Read More
11 Night Guided Conservation Adventure in the Congo Basin
Oct28

11 Night Guided Conservation Adventure in the Congo Basin

This 11 night professionally guided conservation adventure in the Congo Basin offers a unique way of exploring one of Africa’s forgotten places. Designed to appeal to those seeking a deeper and somewhat more intellectual safari experience, this adventure is ideal for conservationists, ornithologists, primatologists and those with knowledge of the area. It’s a hands-on, insightful journey into the depths of Africa’s ancient jungles under the guidance of two visionaries : Paul Telfer and Rod Cassidy. In the 90s Paul Telfer worked as a primate specialist in the relatively unchartered regions of Sierra Leone and Gabon. Paul spent a large portion of his time researching and investigating the link between HIV and primates; and other primate related viruses. He is currently the CEO of the the Congo Conservation Company that drives low-impact tourism in the Congo Basin through research, community and conservation. Renowned ornithologist, Rod Cassidy, hails from South Africa. His first visit to the rainforests was back in 1999, and nearly ten years later he purchased Sangha Lodge. In Sep 2009 the first guests were welcomed. The lodge is now home to a rehabilitation centre for wildlife and is part of many research projects in the area. To date, Rod and his team have successfully rehabilitated over 70 pangolins. This adventure experience is the brainchild of the Congo Conservation Company, who have adopted an innovative approach to low-impact and conservation friendly tourism. This perfectly laid out itinerary introduces eager primatologists and environmentalist to an untouched, unexplored environment in one of the most exceptional parts of the world. The Congo Basin is equatorial middle Africa, a region dripping with jungles and rich with primate activity. It’s completely remote, untouched and untravelled. A rather significant area in terms of wildlife. Did you know that the rare okapi is one of 1,500 animal species endemic to the Congo Basin? The Congo is not only famed for its plethora of wildlife, but also for its exceptional music scene. To best way to understand the Congo, is to visit the area. Should you decide to join this 11 night intrepid journey, you will be accommodated at Sangha Lodge, Ngaga Camp, Lango Camp, and Mboko Camp. Ngaga is gorilla central, and is located outside the park boundary in the Ndzehe concession overlooking an ancient jungle forest. There are several groups of western lowland gorillas in the area. Sangha Lodge is the perfect place for conservation and rehabilitation activities, and the grounds of the lodge comprise a main area with bar and a total of 7 well appointed bungalows. Lango Camp offers driving, walking and boating activities in the midst of pristine surrounds. Lango’s 6 guest...

Read More
4 Perfectly Placed Masai Mara Lodges for the Migration
Oct27

4 Perfectly Placed Masai Mara Lodges for the Migration

The annual migration is Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacle, and one of the main reasons why nature lovers and photographers descend upon East Africa. The migration happens year-round, and sees thousands strong herds of wildebeest, zebra and antelope  following a continuous loop snaking its way through the Serengeti in Tanzania and the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. The herds are at the mercy of the weather, and tend to follow the rains. The rains replenish landscape and provide nutritious laden grazing grounds, and ample supplies of water which is much needed in the otherwise brutally dry savannah. Because of the high concentration of plains game, big cats wait in the wings – especially during Spring time when the ungulates calve. Not only do visitors descend upon the area for spectacular migration sightings, but also for the prolific big cat kill.  Wildebeest are notoriously erratic and often veer off course, making it impossible to predict where herds will congregate at a particular moment in time. For migration timelines, we tend to look at upcoming weather patterns, birthing season and previous years movements. It gives good insight and allows us to create a rough route of where wildlife is located at any given point.  The river crossings are the most sought after periods of time during the migration, and they tend to happen on the banks of the Mara River. There are points along the river where the herds are able to cross without too much difficulty. The organised chaos at the river crossings tends to happen between July and August; which is also the most productive time of year to watch predators flush out prey. It’s important to note that the bustling Mara River is hugged by the Serengeti National Park and the Masai Mara National Reserve, which are open to the public and day visitors. If you want a sense of exclusivity then it’s advisable to stay in a private conservancy. We’ve selected our top 4 perfectly placed Masai Mara Lodges ideal for the Migration in Kenya. Sala’s Camp Sala’s Camp brings a sparkle of elegance to the bushveld. This luxury tented safari camp is ideally located on the convergence of two mighty rivers inside the Masai Mara National Park. Each of the 7 safari tents are located in the thick of the riparian vegetation on the banks of the river. In total, the camp can accommodation 18 guests, and there’s even a spacious honeymoon tent available. This is exclusivity personified. Rooms have sitting areas, and views of the Kenya’s untouched savanna. Deep set copper baths, plunge pools and power showers are just a few of the added value extras...

Read More
Where to Stay in Magical Malawi
Sep20

Where to Stay in Magical Malawi

Magical Malawi is fondly referred to as the warm heart of Africa. This is a country rich in culture, atmosphere and enchanting natural beauty. This landlocked, humble destination is best known as being the home of Lake Malawi, a gigantic inland sea boasting an array of water sport opportunities. However, the palm-fringed shores of the lake is not the only drawcard of Malawi. There’s the Shire River, the only winding river from the lake that snakes its way across floodplains and cuts through rolling carpets of green hills of the Shire region. Palm savannah, riparian thickets and giant baobabs provide a magnificent bio-diverse region home to over 650 species of bird.  Combine the beauty of the Shire region with the contrasting hazy aquamarine waters of Lake Malawi with the pristine wildlife-rich region of Liwonde National Park; and you have yourself a diverse safari and tropical holiday. Malawi needs to be on your Africa bucket list. We’ve selected our top lodge in each popular tourist destination in Malawi. Kaya Mawa Lodge in Lake Malawi  Kaya Mawa sits on the sandy golden beach gracing the shores of the lake. It’s a luxurious and secluded lodge located on the private Likoma Island. The lodge has with a light and breezy feel, where fresh air wafts through the wide open spaces. Accommodation comprises 12 thatched-roof houses constructed by hand using local materials. There are sunken bathtubs for end-of-day relaxation, private terraces to take in the sublime surrounds of magical lakes, baobabs and mango trees. Each house has its own small splash pool where guests can relax and catch a few rays. After signing up for scuba diving, kite surfing and canoeing activities; there’s only one thing left to do : Book a spa treatment on the rocks in the lake. Mvuu Lodge in Liwonde National Park Mvuu Lodge is certainly not short of safari activities, and certainly has every type of adventure safari activity covered. Boat trips down the Shire River, bush walks, bike rides through the park, twice daily game drives and visits to the local community are just a few things guests can expect while staying at Mvuu. Liwonde National Park is home to the largest elephant population in the country, and also has two breeding black rhino. Hippos litter the waters of the Shire, and seeing large bloats congregating on the shores is not uncommon. Three incredible species thriving naturally in Mvuu’s surrounds. What stands out most about the national park is that it’s Malawi’s top spot for birding activities. The lodge overlooks a tranquil lagoon just off the Shire River, and there are even starbeds overlooking the floodplains. Accommodation...

Read More