MalaMala makeover takes the pioneering luxury lodge to new heights
Oct08

MalaMala makeover takes the pioneering luxury lodge to new heights

MalaMala is perhaps the most famous of South African game reserves. With a story embedded in the history of the South African safari, MalaMala has forever been associated with luxury, photographic safaris in the country. Located on the western border of the Kruger National Park, nestled in by the Sabi Sand, and having no fences along its boundaries with both the Kruger and the Sabi Sand, it is open to some of the most celebrated game viewing on earth. There is no denying MalaMala’s deserving reputation as a wildlife hotspot, nor its pioneering history in the Lowveld, and now it is in the process of ‘re-imagining’ MalaMala Camp and Sable Camp through an aesthetic upgrade to the main guest areas and bedrooms in a multi-phase overhaul. By December, MalaMala Camp will be complete, and if the photos of the first few complete phases are anything to go by, we’re in for a treat! What has remained important to the team at MalaMala is the identity of the camp, the integrity of the reserve, and the character of the place that has for so many years embodied a tranquil experience of Africa. The new look has brought about an added element of sophistication and contemporary style, retaining the earthy tones and textures, and introducing statement pieces and fresh structure. The heritage of the camp has certainly been preserved and the character of MalaMala has pride and place in the beautiful lounge, dining, and bar area, and in the richly furnished suites. Dark wooden beams criss-cross overhead against the organic, aromatic thatched roof and dark walls and wood create the feeling of spaciousness between the ceiling and the floor. Woven mats, grass lampshades, and intricate pieces of carved furniture add detail, while simple leather sofas and fine-lined art on the walls bring an even balance to the interiors. MalaMala Camp is located overlooking the Sand River where it enjoys optimal views of the coming and going wildlife. The main deck is where breakfast and lunch is served, enjoying the shade of the giant old trees, and the view of the wide river. Also overlooking the river is the large rim-flow pool, which is not a new feature of MalaMala Camp, but certainly is a central attraction and ideal for guests spending their down-time at the lodge. Inside there is a recently refurbished bar, which is filled with nostalgia in the form of framed images taken in the 1930s days when the camp was simply a few thatched huts (but still visited by royalty!) Incredibly aesthetic wooden wall panels, and black and white accents infused with organic patterns and colour palettes, hint...

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Our Expert’s Opinion on a Desert Safari: Top 10 Lodges in Namibia
Sep25

Our Expert’s Opinion on a Desert Safari: Top 10 Lodges in Namibia

We’re covering our favourite safari destinations across Southern Africa as we talk to our experts about the best accommodations in some of the continent’s most premier wildlife areas. Kruger – check; Botswana – check. Namibia is up next! This is the heart of desert safaris, but the kind of desert safaris that include animals like elephant, lion, oryx, hyena, and ostrich. The Namib is thought to be the oldest desert in the world, and within its sandy ocean lives a diverse population of special, desert adapted species, ephemeral rivers course through the dunes, and stupendous stellar displays light up the night skies. This harsh continent is painted with the scenery only an artist could imagine, yet here it is – one of the safari world’s most unexpected, wild destinations. Where to start? We’ve got your back. These are the top 10 lodges in Namibia, according to our destination expert, Liselle. Little Ongava, Ongava Game Reserve First up on our list is Little Ongava. It is arguably the most exclusive luxury lodge in the country, located in the private Ongava Game Reserve bordering Etosha National Park. This intimate camp has only three spacious suites, each with its own plunge pool, en-suite bathroom, sala, and outdoor shower. Perched on the crest of a hill commanding magnificent vistas of the plains stretching for miles to the horizon, Little Ongava offers an extraordinary experience as the focal point of an Etosha journey. Highlights: Only three guest suites Private game viewing experience the exclusive Ongava Rhino tracking activity Game-viewing hides Budget: From USD 920 (low season) –  USD 1, 228 (high season) per person sharing per night. Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp, NamibRand Nature Reserve Our Namibian conquest takes serious shape when we enter the sensational NamibRand Nature Reserve where Wolwedans Boulders Safari Camp occupies a tiny space on the vast landscape. Namibia is desert country and that is where its rare beauty lies. This camp featuring on Liselle’s list of top 10 Namibian safari accommodations is remote and secluded, made up of only five tents which take in the superior views from every angle. Backed up against gorgeous granite rocks, Boulders Camp is a fitting name for this unique camp. It is a classic camp finished with simple luxury, and it is the perfect location from which to walk across the open plains admiring the endless desert surroundings and watching oryx and springbok amble by. Keep an eye out for the endemic dune lark! Highlights: Totally remote Hugged by ancient, rounded boulders full of human and animal history Views as far as the eye can see Booked as a three-night package Budget: USD 1, 536...

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Expert Advice: 10 Best Safari Camps in Botswana
Sep13

Expert Advice: 10 Best Safari Camps in Botswana

We know what a challenge it can be to decide on the right safari camp when there are so many sensational offerings out there, so we decided to consult our in-house area experts to get a summarised version of the 10 best safari camps in different countries. Recently, Natasha gave us her top 10 Kruger accommodations, and now Liselle has given us a list of the 10 best safari camps in Botswana. It is an incredibly helpful guide and includes camps that suit couples, families, adventurers, and luxury-seekers, sourcing the best lodges in particular areas, which have been chosen by Liselle based on her personal experience visiting the camps herself and arranging safaris for her guests. So, below is a list of the top 10 lodges in Botswana. You’re welcome! Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta In a private Okavango Delta concession, where water, land, and air-based activities offer a broad spectrum of game viewing and excitement, the premier Vumbura Plains ties it all together with luxurious finesse. One of the area’s most supreme safari options, this is one for those who want to splash out for that superior Botswana safari experience in private Okavango Delta. Budget: * * * * * From US$ 1075 (low season) – US$ 2730 (high season) pppn sharing Private concession Contemporary tented camp Private plunge pools No WiFi Seasonal activities: guided walks, boating, mekoro, catch-and-release fishing Extra activities: hot-air ballooning, massage treatments, helicopter flights, cultural experience Wildlife specials: sable, resident pack of wild dogs, large buffalo herds, elephants in camp Little Vumbura, Okavango Delta  Also located in the Kwedi Concession of the northern Okavango Delta, like its sister camp, Vumbura Plains, Little Vumbura enjoys the shade of ancient jackalberry and mangosteen trees prominent in the area. This is an intimate tented camp with only six rooms, all of which look out onto the lagoon and floodplains beyond. Little Vumbura is simple, yet stylish, conservation and community conscious in true Wilderness Safaris fashion, and the guiding and hosting teams at camp are experts. Ideal for families some special child-orientated activities and attention to detail. Budget: * * * * * From US$ 1045 (low season) – US$ 2021 (high season) pppn sharing Private concession Intimate tented camp Family friendly Swimming pool No WiFi Seasonal activities: guided walks, boating, mekoro, catch-and-release fishing Extra activities: hot-air ballooning, helicopter flights, cultural experience Wildlife specials: same as Vumbura Plains Zarafa Camp, Selinda Reserve Let’s start with the view! Zarafa features high on our safari expert’s list as one of Botswana’s premier safari accommodations. Its location in Selinda on a private concession means things are wild, unhurried, and totally exclusive. The...

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Natasha’s Top 5 Kruger Safari Lodges Part 2!
Aug28

Natasha’s Top 5 Kruger Safari Lodges Part 2!

One of our safari experts, Natasha Allan, is as passionate about her own safari experiences as she is about creating the best safari itineraries for her guests, and her knowledge is rooted in her first-hand experience. The Kruger Park is South Africa’s greatest destination for wildlife, and its surrounding private game reserves offer some of the greatest close encounters with the Big Five in Southern Africa. Natasha has equipped herself with 10 exceptional accommodations in the Greater Kruger Park, which suit clients with varying desires, dreams, and limitations. We have already shared five of Tash’s top 10 recommendations, and in this blog, we’re covering the next batch of Kruger safari lodges. If you want to know what else was on Tash’s list, click here. Shindzela Tented Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve This is first choice for a truly valuable safari in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. It is affordable and offers a lot in terms of comfort and quality. The game viewing potential of the Timbavati is enormous, and the reserve constantly churns out breath-taking and spine-tingling wildlife encounters, so Shindzela is ideally located. It is quiet and intimate with only eight canvas tented rooms on offer, so the setting is tranquil, small, and private – a hugely sought after feature for young couples travelling to Africa. Families can be accommodated at Shindzela, but no children under 10 are permitted. Fantastic walking safaris are reserved for guests over 16 years old, purely because there are risks to walking in the wild and each guests needs to be capable of adhering to the camp’s guidelines for trails safaris. The camp is run on solar power and gas, and there are no electricity outlets in the rooms, but there is a device-charging facility in the main lodge area. Shindzela offers all you need in terms of accommodation, privacy, relaxation, wildlife, and value for money. It’s been one of Natasha’s favourites for many years, and her clients continue to enjoy their experience there. Budget: US$ 160 (2018) – US$ 200 (2019) (*all rates are per person sharing per night) Kambaku Safari Lodge and River Sands, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve Two sister camps offering up some spectacular quality in the Timbavati are Kambaku River Sands and Kambaku Safari Lodge. These two are operated with the same meticulous attention to detail, environmental consciousness, and professionalism, but Safari Lodge is more affordable and is surrounded by a perimeter fence, which is often ideal for families with children. River Sands is more exclusive at a higher rate and is unfenced to the wilderness, adding a thrilling element to the nocturnal goings on at camp. Each of...

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Best Botswana Family Safari at Khwai Bush Camp
Aug28

Best Botswana Family Safari at Khwai Bush Camp

Family safaris are eye-opening and enchanting experiences, but finding a luxury safari camp in a magnificent wildlife area that is as equipped for kids as for Mom and Dad is not always easy. A country like Botswana, which is perhaps Southern Africa’s most prestigious and accessible safari destination, celebrates the animal kingdom in an untamed and rugged way, yet fully embraces guest comfort. We are so pleased that we can also rely on Botswana to offer some ideal spots for travelling families with adventurous and eager children, ready to learn about the African wilderness. Currently, Khwai Bush Camp is everything we’re looking for in a Botswana family safari, and these are the reasons why. 1. Location Khwai Community Area is a conservancy run by the local community. A piece of prime land on the edge of the Okavango Delta, bordering Moremi Game Reserve, and right on the Khwai River. Simply a supreme area teeming with wildlife and full of activity all year round. The density of game can be attributed to the presence of water in the Khwai River and its associated wetlands. Along the river are tangles of riverine trees, groves of towering mopanes, and grasslands, while dry and sandy Kalahari veld is found further away from the river. Throughout the year, Khwai is a location that buzzes. This is as wild a destination as they come, which means children as well as parents are going to enjoy the associated safari value – this is not a place that’s slightly more ‘tame’ than the real African wilderness. What’s more? Khwai is part of a fantastic safari triangle and can easily be incorporated into a visit to Chobe Riverfront and Savute Marsh, not to mention Victoria Falls just over the border. 2. Family rooms Khwai Bush Camp has two family suites to accommodate parents and children, sleeping the family together in one comfortable and luxurious thatched chalet kitted out with ensuite amenities and much more. One bedroom is the spacious master bedroom with a large double bed, and second bedroom has two twin beds, so accommodating a family of four. This is ideal for families with younger kids as they can all be roomed together and not in separate chalets next door to each other. When you’re sleeping in the unfenced wilderness and wake up to the sounds of elephants feeding on the trees outside your window, or hyenas whooping close by, it is settling for parents to know that their kids are nearby and they can all enjoy the unfamiliar and exciting sounds of the night together. 3. Children of all ages welcome Safaris are sometimes known to...

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Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan
Aug28

Agent’s Choice: 5 Top-rated Kruger Safari Lodges, by Natasha Allan

Our people have spoken! We are sharing our safari experts’ top-rated camps and lodges in the Kruger Park this week. First is Natasha Allan who has been a specialist consultant at Sun Safaris virtually since its inception and she has created some of our clients’ best African journeys ever. We’ve given Tash the task of selecting her 10 favourite Kruger safari lodges, and (in no particular order) we’re featuring them here for ease of reference for our readers and clients. Read on to discover the first five of 10 places we consider some of the best accommodations in the Greater Kruger Park. Located in the private reserves that share unfenced borders with the famous South African national park, these Greater Kruger spots have all of the wilderness delivered to you on privately guided game drives and bush walks you’ll never forget. Part two coming soon! Khoka Moya Camp and Mantobeni, Manyeleti Game Reserve First to feature is Khoka Moya Camp in the vastly unchartered Manyeleti Game Reserve, sprawled between Sabi Sand and Timbavati, which border the Kruger National Park. It has 15 large tented suites which straddle a peaceful riverbed, it is family-friendly, welcoming children of all ages (and offering baby-sitting services), and it is eco-friendly in its construction and its operation. You’ve got to try out the bird hide and the walking safaris in this heavenly little place! Khoka Moya has a sister camp, Mantobeni, which is located nearby also in the Manyeleti Game Reserve. It is slightly more remote than Khoka Moya, hidden in a grove of Tamboti trees where its 15 free-standing tents are raised on elevated wooden platforms (about 5 steps up from the ground). This wild and wonderful tented camp enjoys all the comforts and hospitality of Khoka Moya, but there is a minimum age limit of 12 years old. Natasha recommends both camps and they are sold at the same rate. Budget: US$ 250 (low season) – US$ 350 (high season) (*all rates quoted per person sharing per night) nThambo Tree Camp, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve This is one of our go-tos for an affordable, romantic, and exclusive safari experience, and Natasha is quick to recommend it for adventurous honeymooners who are excited by the idea of treehouse-style chalets, positioned on wooden stilts to meet the trees at eye-level. nThambo Tree Camp has only five rooms and is entirely unfenced, so wildlife – including any members of the Big Five – have the freedom to roam through the camp, drink from the ground-level plunge pool, and sleep under your room! nThambo is casual and relaxed, but it is pretty and comfortable with an...

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The Hide at Hyena Pan is a Photographer’s Dream
Aug24

The Hide at Hyena Pan is a Photographer’s Dream

Hyena Pan is one of the newest safari camps in the Khwai Private Concession, nestled between Botswana’s Moremi and Chobe Game Reserves. It has opened its doors to much applause and as another generous offering alongside its sisters, Sable Alley and Skybeds, which are also located in the Khwai Private Reserve. Hyena Pan is described as “water for elephants”, after the popular book and film of the same name. This very apt nickname speaks to the camp’s sensational positioning next to the only permanent water source for miles, and as a result, the elephants – among others – arrive en masse to drink and enjoy the abundance. To even further enhance the undeniably special wildlife viewing quality at Hyena Pan, they’ve built an underground hide to give keen wildlife watchers the ultimate view of the herds upon herds of elephants. The hide at Hyena Pan is a photographers dream! Take a look at the view. As the enormous, ambling mammals arrive from the dust of the Kalahari veld, they celebrate in true style with some thirsty drinking and bathing in the waterhole in front of Hyena Pan. The little lagoon that pools in perfect view of the eight tented suites offered up at Hyena Pan is one of the only spots for year-round in the area, and it is utilised with great pleasure by migrating elephant, buffalo, lion, hyena, giraffe, eland, and many others. The performance that plays out around the waterhole is endless, and it isn’t even necessary to leave the comfort of the elevated tents in order the watch the animals wallow and slurp. But do it anyway, because game drives and sessions in the hide are worth it! The underground hide is built so as not to obstruct the natural area, keeping its human occupants a secret hidden from the hundreds of elephants and other animals that wonder by and stop to drink and bathe. The only part of the hide that is visible above ground is its roof, raised slightly to leave a viewing window open for guests to peek through and position their cameras. It is topped with natural wood and debris to protect it and to help camouflage it even more from the wandering wildlife. In this secret ‘den’, guests sit quietly and patiently and watch the arrival of sandgrouse, baboons, kudu, hyena, buffalo, lion, and elephant. There is no knowing what might present itself on any day, so the element of surprise is forever lingering in the air. Keep those cameras at the ready!   Interested in including some photographic hides in your safari itinerary? We’ve recently covered some of our favourite...

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