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...

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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),...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop
Sep15

Namibia’s alluring diamond-mining ghost town, Kolmanskop

Namibia has a wealth of cultural and natural history and it’s one of the most alluring countries to travel. With its “frozen in time” German colonial towns, uniquely adapted desert wildlife, rich mix of cultures, and its dramatic landscapes, it is nothing like other countries in Africa and offers something entirely unique. There is a lot of evidence of the past in Namibia, from old shipwrecks that have stood stranded where they met their end on the Skeleton Coast; there is ancient rock art left behind by the Bushmen thousands of years ago; and then there are the ghost towns that lie abandoned in the desert sand, decades after the diamond rush was over. All along the southern coast of Namibia, diamond mining settlements started to spring up during the turn of the 20th Century. Back then, the country was colonised by Germany and unfortunately the crimes related to the Scramble for Africa in the early 1900s were not absent from the diamond rush, which was spurred on by the discovery of a diamond in the desert in 1908. Zacharias Lewala, who was working for a German supervisor on a railway near Lüderitz, discovered something glinting in the sand and handed it over for inspection. Upon the confirmation that this “glass” stone was indeed a diamond,  Namibia’s booming diamond industry kicked off. While this industry would go on to sustain the country’s economy for generations, the many mining settlements that cropped up through the desert and along the coast would eventually fizzle out and become “ghost towns”. The most famous mining settlement, which expanded into an eccentric town complete with an ice factory, bowling alley, and a swimming pool and playground for children, thrived for only a short few decades before the diamond rush collapsed. Kolmanskop, today, is a tourist attraction and somewhat of an interactive museum, welcoming Namibian travellers to this tiny, disappearing town in the desert. In 1912, a few years after the first diamonds were found in the area around Lüderitz, Kolmanskop produced a million carats, which was the equivalent of almost 12% of the world’s supply at the time! It was no wonder that with the seemingly endless supply of wealth in the area, miners and prospectors began to settle and the town of Kolmanskop developed. There was so much wealth that rather than existing in the desert on the bare essentials, Kolmanskop grew into a town that serviced the elite and eventually it housed a hospital that was considered to be world class. It was an oasis in the desert! Fresh water was brought in, a butchery and a bakery went up quickly, an ice...

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National Geographic’s Unique (Safari) Lodges of the World
Sep11

National Geographic’s Unique (Safari) Lodges of the World

National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World is a handpicked selection of lodges across the globe offering extraordinary accommodation in treasured corners of the world. This carefully curated selection of awe-inspiring places offers guests an opportunity to stay in places that conserve and protect nature, cultural heritage and use sustainable practices for the day-to-day running of their lodge. Coupled with this, National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World also offer an elite sense of luxury with a personalised and intimate atmosphere. There are currently 17 lodges in Africa that have earned their position on this list of sought-after lodges, but today we’re just going to highlight 5 safari lodges within Nat Geo’s list. These are the lodges to stay at if you’d like to travel with purpose in Africa, and seek a more enriching experience than just the standard safari. They set the standard for luxury and responsible travel experiences, in our favourite safari regions. Click here to read the comprehensive list of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World in Africa. Duba Plains in Duba Plains Reserve, Botswana Dashing Duba Plains is located in a game-rich stretch of bushveld north of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta region. The lodge is community owned. As a matter of fact, it is the only place within this concession, which means private wildlife viewing.Wooded islands and vast floodplains cocoon Duba Plains, providing the perfect habitat for a diverse array of predators. The waterways are permanent, which means ample sightings of wading birds and amphibian hunting raptors. The entire camp sits under a canopy of fig trees, and the main area has a splash pool, central lounge and bar area and ample indoor/outdoor relaxation spots. In terms of accommodation, there are only 5 luxury tents, which ensures an intimate and personalised service. Each tent has its own private verandah on a viewing deck. Considered the Okavango Delta’s most remote camp, we’re not surprised that Duba made it onto the Nat Geo’s premier list of destinations. This is the place that the owners, and National Geographic filmmakers, conservationists and explorers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, chose for their home base. andBeyond Ngorongoro Crate Lodge, Tanzania andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is perfectly perched on the rim of a caldera, a geographical phenomenon which is caused by the collapse of a volcano into itself. This naturally depressed area is filled with dense greenery and is home high concentrations of wildlife, almost forming a protected pocket of paradise for animals. The lodge overlooks endless landscapes, and is an architectural delight that offers unique decor reflecting that of its surrounds.  There are 30 elegant stilted suites...

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