The real Black Panther of Africa spotted in Kenya!
Feb14

The real Black Panther of Africa spotted in Kenya!

An incredible scientific discovery has finally been captured on camera and revealed to the world: the African black panther photographed in the wild in Kenya’s Laikipia region. British photographer Will Burrard-Lucas used his unique Camtraptions remote camera trap technology to capture the first scientific photographs of this incredibly elusive creature on Laikipia Wilderness Camp’s property, and the result is nothing short of amazing. While evidence of these black leopards in Africa has been revealed over the years, this imagery is the first scientific documentation of the animal since 1909. This animal has been mere legend, spoken about among those lucky enough to have caught sight of it crossing their path, or as a dark creature moving furtively through the bush. It is tricky enough to find a spotted leopard, never mind being able to photograph the Bagheera of Africa! Nicholas Pilfold is a biologist living in Kenya, and he and his team have been observing this melanistic leopard since since last year and he said that it is unlikely that it is the only one. It wasn’t until Burrard-Lucas arrived with the dream of capturing a high quality image of this rare cat with his unique equipment that the presence of the African black panther has been revealed to the world. The cat has been spotted on Kenya’s Loisaba Conservancy at Laikipia Wilderness Camp. Back in 2007, a photograph was seen of a black leopard on Ol Ari Nyiro Conservancy, also in Kenya, but the time difference and young age of the more recent black leopard sighting reveals that it is not the same leopard photographed more than 10 years later. What that means is that this recessive gene is alive and well, and although it is extremely rare, it is not extinct. Take a look at these mystical, newly released photos of the black leopard of Laikipia below. And get in touch to book your trip to this place of legends! Where are black leopards found? Black leopards are found in India in Kabini National Park where they are also extremely rare, however far more Asiatic leopards are melanistic than African leopar ds. There have been very few sightings in history of black leopards in Africa and even fewer photographic evidence, which is what makes these photos so special. Are all panthers black? Black panther was originally the term given to black leopards in Asia and black jaguars in South America, but black leopards in Africa are also referred to as black panthers. It is the melanism in the skin pigment that gives these cats the black colour, and only these melanistic cats are referred to as panther. Leopards...

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Hotels in South America’s best locations you won’t want to miss
Jan30

Hotels in South America’s best locations you won’t want to miss

Latin America is a place of cultural wealth, untamed wilderness, and ancient history that is preserved in the geological magnificence of the Andes Mountains, the Atacama Desert, the Patagonian steppe, and the Amazon Forest. At the top of travellers’ bucket lists and sought after by Instagrammers and spiritual souls alike, the most naturally beautiful, culturally popular, and all-round unforgettable landscapes of Chile, Peru, and Brazil are not to be missed. World-class hotel groups and leaders in terms of adventurous experiences, fine dining, accommodation comfort, these select luxury hotels in the South American outback come with our stamp of approval. Peru Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu This mindful retreat is all about consciousness in the shade of the Machu Picchu citadel. A zen garden in the tranquil greenery of the Inca Empire, a testament to the peaceful nature of the ancient people. There are blessing ceremonies, coca leaf readings, orchid gardens, and rejuvenating spa treatments to soothe the soul and provide some much needed relaxation from the general pace of life. Access to Machu Picchu is second to none, as Sanctuary Lodge is the only establishment adjacent to the ancient citadel, so guests have the freedom to arrive earlier and stay later than the day visitors who arrive to pay tribute to Pachamama. The gardens are brimming with the phenomenal birdlife and the botanical beauty of this cherished place, and every inch of the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge celebrates the old Peruvian life that has been encased in history at the one and only Machu Picchu. Las Casitas, Colca Canyon Celebrating one of the deepest – if not the deepest – canyons in the Americas, Colca Canyon, this remote hideaway makes the most of the astounding views, mountainsides, rock-work, and chasms of the great Andes Mountains. Las Casitas is a representation of the local Peruvian art and culture, and has produced some of the most blissfully luxurious casitas that cherish the surroundings you find yourself in. The captivating flight of the condor can be seen out in the deep, open crevasses of the Andes, while traditional activities like horse riding through the Colca valley, and learning how to make the perfect Pisco cocktail add incredible Peruvian value to this hotel stay. Painting in the great outdoors, trekking and bird watching, cycling, and taking tea in the orchards are among the many activities to keep you busy in between spectacular meals, luxurious nights of comfort, and rejuvenating spa treatments. Chile Awasi Patagonia Patagonia’s wild and hostile landscapes are irresistible to adventurers who flock to the Andean peaks to hike with backpacks and leg warmers in the terrain ruled by mountain lions. The Deep South...

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All you need to know about visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina
Jan28

All you need to know about visiting Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina

Perito Moreno Glacier is located in the Los Glaciares National Park near the popular town of El Calafate in Patagonia, Argentina. It is the region’s most famous glacier, standing out as one of the most impressive and easily accessible sights of its kind. An enormous expanse of jagged, blue-white ice rising 80 metres up from the turquoise waters of Lago Argentino and damming it up with a statement of rock solid freeze between the mountain rises on either side. Part of the Andean ice fields, which spread throughout areas of Patagonia and create the dozens of glaciers in the region. It’s staggering to see up close and it is easy to get to, plus visitors can choose to take a walking tour themselves, or book a spot on a boat cruise, or with an adventure guide to go ice trekking. In this piece, we’re talking facts, activities, how to get there, and when to go. This one is not to be missed! Facts about Perito Moreno Glacier Named after explorer Franciso Moreno, this glacier shares it’s name with the town of Perito Moreno, which is (confusingly) a full day’s drive north of Los Glaciares National Park, in which this world famous glacier is located. It is part of the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water – the southern ice fields of Patagonia – and it is exceptional in that it is one of the world’s only glaciers that is not retreating, and is in fact, advancing. It is said to have started forming during the last ice age 2.6 million years ago, making it alluringly ancient and full of history. The size of Perito Moreno Glacier is estimated to be about 250 square kilometres in size, 170 metres deep, and 30 kilometres in length. At its terminus, where visitors can view part of the wall of the glacier, the ice rises about 80km above the lake’s surface and is 5km wide. Every couple of years the glacier ruptures and enormous chunks break and fall off into the lake due to the immense pressure, but the calving of the ice on a much smaller scale can be seen often if visitors wait long enough during their visit. Sometimes, pieces of ice break off every 20 minutes. How to get there Certainly, the most popular way to get to the glacier is by road from El Calafate, which is a bustling yet quaint and very pleasant town about 80 kilometres away. There are bus rides that depart from El Calafate and take visitors right to the park’s entrance where visitors pay a fee of about US$30. It is not for...

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Coming soon: Mozambique’s flagship park opens luxury lodge
Jan23

Coming soon: Mozambique’s flagship park opens luxury lodge

Mozambique has a history potholed with civil war which led to wildlife crime, like many other African countries that are today, custodians of the continent’s precious resources and cherished wildlife. Gorongosa National Park has made one of the greatest comebacks in history, from a natural area persecuted by poaching and neglected during a time of struggle, to what is today Mozambique’s flagship wildlife reserve. The Royal Portfolio – one of South Africa’s leading luxury hotel groups – has now announced the opening of their latest addition: Royal Gorongosa. Nestled in the heart of Mozambique, Gorongosa has been named “the place where Noah left his ark”, and documented by National Geographic in “Africa’s Lost Eden”. The park has been brought back from the brink, and its wild places have been restored to their former glory. Limestone cliffs tower from the depths of indigenous forests, and rivers cascade through rocky beds, churning and flowing at pace before fanning out and drenching the plains in calm, life-giving water. Hippos and crocodiles jostle in the shallows and elephants submerge themselves in the depths as they cross the channels from one grassy bank to another. Over 500 species of birds occupy the skies and the tree canopies, and linger at the water’s edge where they keep a keen eye on the fish and insects moving fleetingly beneath the surface. The open plains and wetlands are bustling with waterbuck, sable, impala, tsessebe, kudu, bushbuck, and nyala. Giraffe, zebra, buffalo, and hyena, lion, leopard, and African wild dog. These populations of Africa’s most sought after wildlife species have regenerated in Gorongosa, thanks to the admirable work by the conservation leaders who have guided it back to its original glory. This has been called the “rebirth of paradise” – a deserving and hard earned title that is a testament to the iconic nature of Mozambique’s Gorongosa. Royal Gorongosa promises to celebrate the area’s rich biodiversity from its location at the southern end of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. “Royal Gorongosa will be an exclusive tented camp situated in the eastern part of Gorongosa National Park and have just eight immaculately styled luxury tents (including one two-bedroom family tent). Each tent will be 86 square metres excluding a vast deck with a private plunge pool and a gazebo. Each will be uniquely decorated by Liz Biden with luxurious fabrics and missanda wood echoing the halcyon days of the 1970s when Gorongosa was a premier destination for celebrities such as John Wayne, Joan Crawford and Gregory Peck.” The great Pungwe River is the place of peaceful boat cruises, which are completed by picnics on the banks and afternoon fishing excursions. Lake...

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New Tengile River Lodge is exclusive Sabi Sand royalty
Jan23

New Tengile River Lodge is exclusive Sabi Sand royalty

A tribute to nature’s most beautiful phases and a celebration of local art, Tengile River Lodge has opened its doors in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve to industry applause. Situated on the bend of the Sand River, the gloriousness begins with the ample river views and the presence of wildlife all around. The organic mossy, autumn colour scheme makes it feel like every breath taken, indoors and outdoors, is enriched with oxygen, and every corner of bedroom, bathroom, dining, bar, or lounge is a depiction of natural life. The greatest asset throughout Tengile, which means “tranquil” in Tsonga, is the use of space, and the luxurious layout of the lodge ensures that each guest’s experience is private and personalised. There are nine suites, which all have views of the winding river. Every thatched suite is air-conditioned and equipped with WiFi, and each has a private lap pool, outdoor lounge, full en suite bathroom and an outdoor shower. There is a pair of interleading suites, which is ideal for families (children 12 years of age and up), while others are individually positioned under riverine trees on the elevated bank of the river. The views from each suite’s poolside sun loungers offer an almost bird’s eye view of the rocky river and its residents and visitors. The sustainable use of wood not only keeps Tengile’s promise of environmental consciousness, but decorates the ceilings of each room in the guest suites and in the main lodge areas with a naturally streaked timber. Layers of slate stone create feature walls that draw the eye, and speckled screed floors are a sleek yet pleasingly non-uniform foundation of the nature-inspired structures. The extensive use of wood, glass, and organic materials in the build is complemented by rich emerald and khaki greens, copper, brass, brown, and gold. The combination of textiles both whacky and contemporary gather and settle into an artistic victory. And speaking of art, have you seen the chandeliers? We’re talking about the softened green sea glass twirling and chiming above the dining table. The chair covers, light fittings, kitchen counter, and coffee table all add unique elements of the same theme to generate the overall appeal of Tengile’s living environments. There is a boma outside, which is created in celebration of the traditional “kraal” but embodies modernity with its uniformly logged wall, rising upwards in an even gradient to embrace the traditional fire-side dining experience. Evenings spent eating and drinking under the stars while a central fire crackles away are accompanied by the owls and night jars singing into the atmosphere. Also outdoors is the ultimate viewing point at Tengile: a sunken lounge...

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Phinda Homestead is the sole-use bush villa of your safari dreams
Dec11

Phinda Homestead is the sole-use bush villa of your safari dreams

When Phinda Homestead was damaged in a fire in December 2016, it closed for renovations and has emerged more alluring than ever before. Each of the six luxury lodges on Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal is imaginatively curated, indulgent, intricately detailed, yet soft and comforting in its beautiful natural environment. It could only have been expected that after the fire, Homestead – Phinda’s sole-use luxury villa – would rise like a phoenix and leave us all agog at the next level luxury and well thought-out features that now characterise this exclusive safari destination. There are four bedrooms making it just right for families or a small group of friends looking to get away into pristine wilderness with no one but themselves and the lodge’s elite team of staff making sure everything you need or want is not more than an arm’s length away. The extensive use of glass in the form of large sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows ensures that everything you’ve come to see outside is represented indoors. Being able to watch the birds from your bathtub is certainly an elevating experience, and to see and feel organic textures indoors is grounding and connective. In each bedroom, the use of wood, bamboo, and Swazi grass come together to set a natural tone to each room. A floating headboard, highly textured scatter cushions and curtains, giant glass lampshades, and local Nguni hides tie the elements of these bedrooms together in perfect harmony. Raw timber has been treated only so slightly as to smooth the edges and refine the look, but the evidence of its previous life is represented in its wrinkles and lines which decorate its surface. The dining table is an enormous slab of pale wood, patterned with natural grain and celebrated as the centrepiece of every meal. It glows gently under a handful of large, hanging basket lights which hover above it, and it matches the incredible double sliding doors, which themselves are singular slabs of the same wood extending from ceiling to floor. Behind them: the interactive kitchen with edgy cork bar stools lined up along the preparation counter to invite company into the cooking area.  The ceilings throughout the lodge pulls in organic material once again: bamboo poles laid side by side cover the ceiling above your head. The dining chairs and carpet bring a traditional shade of ochre to the scene, which is cut with a pale stone hue of the painted brick walls. The Homestead’s living spaces are about togetherness and community, bringing together the family in comfort and style that matches the mix of Zulu celebration and identity with refined...

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Contrasts of Chile: desert, pumas, art and architecture
Dec11

Contrasts of Chile: desert, pumas, art and architecture

Chile is a country of contrasting extremes, wedged along the Pacific Coast along a world-famous mountain range with a lunar-landscape desert in the north, and icy peaks and pumas in the south.  In between, a cultural hubbub of colourful street art, powerful poetry, ancient architecture, and award-winning wineries. From rural cowboys riding untamed horses, to glaciers iced into jagged mountains, Chile’s wild side is exciting and full of adventure, while its cities are a combination of modern-day chaos and moments frozen in time. On this 12-night trip, we discover the contrasts of Chile and make sure we cover the bases to ensure one unforgettable experience of this rich and rugged South American territory. We’re going from the northern Atacama Desert and to southern alpine Patagonia to experience the adventure, all tied together with the bohemian street art experience of Valparaiso and the combined historic and modern-day bustle of capital city, Santiago. The trip offers the perfect blend of outdoor excursions, adrenalin and adventure activities in the arid desert and the alpine lake region of icy Patagonia, broken up by enriching city tours that portray the colourful cultural history of the Chilean people. Luxurious accommodation and gastronomy at Relais & Chateaux hotels in Atacama and Patagonia bring indulgence and comfort to the experience. Valparaiso An old, eclectic port town surrounded by 17 tall hills is a colourful, bohemian part of Chile that celebrates the arts. Valparaiso was once the home of famous Chilean poet and writer, Pablo Neruda. It is bustling, cluttered, vibrant, and somewhat neglected, so it has immense character and is best explored on foot along the many old pathways, or on the ancient bus routes through town.  The towering hills surrounding the port are full of colourful houses and facades built into the cliffs overlooking the bay. The town is lathered in interesting street art that covers everything from walls to staircases, buses, rooftops, and the many old funiculars that journey up and down the hillside, transporting people to the top and down again. These “elevator trams” date back to the 1800s when they used to be run on coal and are a fascinating and integral part of the Valparaiso experience.  Visit Caleta Portales – the traditional fishing village of Valparaiso – to eat and enjoy local fare or watch the fishing boats come in first thing in the morning and purchase daily catch off the boat. Also visit Cerro Alegre – a mythical mountain and cultural capital of Valparaiso – reach it via a funicular and arrive to see locals and tourists alike contributing to artwork, making music and poetry in the streets. Atacama Desert The driest...

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