South African country stays you should know about
Jul10

South African country stays you should know about

A cottage in the country, simple and cosy, inviting and nurturing; this is what we seek to break away from a hurried life between places you need to be and things you have to do. We’ve officially reached July and are more than half way through the year, and we think we could all do with a little mid-year getaway to revitalise and realign for the rest of the year. Country cottages are the perfect place to unwind and escape, and South Africa has such fantastic diversity in terms of landscapes that cottage retreats can be found all over the country. Karoo cottages in the middle of wide open spaces, forest cabins tucked between the trees in the woods, seaside cottages that smell of sea salt and sun screen, mountainside chalets, or perhaps a barn in the vineyards. We’re loving the variety! First up is this endearing stone structure, complete with chimney and wooden window frames, and a ‘stoep’ for quiet afternoons watching nature go by. Fossil Hills Cottage is a working wine farm in the Breede Valley between Robertson and McGregor and it’s utterly adorable. Bring your bicycles and fishing rods and relax! Views of valleys and ridges, black eagles soaring among the cliffs, the Kloof River flowing below, and misty prairies with low, swinging farm gates covered in moss. Cottage life is peaceful yet powerfully invigorating and at Porcupine Hills in the Western Cape’s Overberg mountains, there is little to keep you from delving right in to the beautiful natural surroundings. Whether that be from your scenic stone patio, or your steaming outdoor shower, or from beneath the ancient oak trees. We’re in search of South Africa’s most irresistible cottage retreats, and we’ve just found one in the form of Porcupine Hills’ Eyrie House. The best of both worlds in the Western Cape has to include a) the winelands, and b) the mountains. Well, there are also the beaches and the valleys and the forests, so there is a lot to choose from, but if we’re looking for somewhere to switch off and indulge in nature’s bounty, we won’t be offended if we’re equipped with some of the Cape’s best wine! In the Franschhoek mountains, Chamonix Cottages offer a variety of places with some of the most desirable views in the Winelands. This 50-hectare game farm is home to wandering antelope, dense woodlands, reflective lakes, and sublime peace and quiet. Well isn’t this romantic wine estate cottage just everything? Situated in a long valley below the Bainskloof Pass, Doolhof Estate offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as hiking and mountain biking, but it’s also totally...

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Safari Hot Air Ballooning Options in Southern and East Africa
Jul01

Safari Hot Air Ballooning Options in Southern and East Africa

The word “safari” conjures up images of khaki-clad holidaymakers trundling their way through the bushveld, and open-topped game viewers crunching through arid bushveld. You might also have a flood of visuals of traditional mekoros cruising through narrow channels, motorboats gliding across expansive open waters and houseboats moored in game-rich regions. The major aspects of any safari experience include game walks, game drives, boat cruises and lodge specific activities. Hot air ballooning is an alternative to the standard game viewing activities, and offers an adventure of a lifetime. This bird’s eye view of the landscape and its inhabitants certainly offers an opportunity to enjoy an unusual safari experience. There are a variety of hot air ballooning packages on offer, and trips can include anything from a champagne breakfast to a full day safari experience. Hot air balloon pilots are highly qualified and legally have to own a pilot’s license to fly a balloon. Hot Air Ballooning Over the Masai Mara in Kenya The Masai Mara forms part of the Great Rift Valley, and the Mara River cuts through this endless Kenyan savannah dotted with umbrella trees and occasional escarpments. The sheer abundance of game in this region is astounding. The open grasslands give rise to huge concentrations of elephant, wildebeest, zebra and other plains game. The Masai Mara region is a destination brimming with wildlife and it’s no surprise that it has become a sought after safari destination. Hot air ballooning over the Masai Mara is undoubtedly one of the most awe-inspiring activities to enjoy while on safari in Kenya. Glide slowly over the plains below and let the crisp, fresh air awaken your senses. One of the hot air balloon outfitters in Kenya is Gamewatchers. Their luxury balloon tours normally lift off at first light (6:15) after a quick briefing and wake-up coffee session. The size of the balloon reaches heights equivalent of a ten storey building, and this particular balloon is among the largest operational balloons in the world.  Flights are roughly an hour and on landing you will be whisked away to a secret bushveld destination for a champagne breakfast awaits. For a hot ballooning safari in Kenya, we recommend staying at Porini Lion Camp or Porini Mara Camp. Hot air Ballooning Over Mabula in the Malarai-free region in the Waterberg Region Mabula Game Lodge is located in the malaria-free Waterberg region, and is home to a wealth of game. The big 5 Mabula Game Reserve covers a whopping 12 000 ha of undulating terrain and is only a short 3 hour drive from Johannesburg, making it an ideal destination for those based in the major city....

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Lions Return to the Plains of Camdeboo at Samara Private Game Reserve
Jun26

Lions Return to the Plains of Camdeboo at Samara Private Game Reserve

For the first time in 180 years, lions will roam the plains of Camdeboo in South Africa’s 27 000-hectare Samara Private Game Reserve. This milestone event will take place in August and the lions translocated to the region will be the first of their kind seen here since about 1840 before farmers and settlers moved in to the region and prepared the land, which included eliminating the lion population. South Africa currently has only about 3000 wild lions of the estimated 20 000+ wild lions roaming Africa today – an incredible decrease of almost 50% in the last couple of decades. The reintroduction of the lions adds to Samara’s commendable reputation for conservation activity. Samara has a history of restoring and rehabilitating its vast stretch of land in South Africa’s Great Karoo. From vegetative restoration, to the reintroduction of cheetahs in the early 2000s and elephants only last year, Samara has taken an active role in countering the issues related to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict, and the history of illegal poaching and wildlife trade that has ravaged so many areas of the country, and indeed, the continent. Bringing lions back to their old territories is expanding their natural range and increasing the chance of building a genetically diverse, healthy population of wild lions in Africa. At Samara, the lions are joining a host of free roaming wildlife species as they recreate a Karoo that once was, 200 years ago. Springbok and eland, black rhino, aardvark, Cape mountain zebra, leopard, cheetah (first in 130 years), among a host of wild and wonderful creatures. Last year’s elephant arrival was a momentous occasion, marking the reintroduction of elephant at Samara for the first time in two centuries. And in August, with the arrival of Africa’s apex terrestrial predator, Samara Private Game Reserve will be home to the famous Big Five.   Where can you go to see this magnificent, rolling landscape of iconic semi-arid Karoo dotted with thriving wildlife, geometrical mountains, and succulent plant species that burst into colour in season? Samara has two luxurious lodges, both of which are designed to make the absolute most of these special Karoo surroundings. “Encircled by a natural amphitheatre of mountains,” Karoo Lodge is the 5-Star embodiment of cosy farmhouse comforts combined with luxurious guest amenities in 9 double ensuite bedrooms. Manor House is an elegant statement, a 5-Star villa built on an old homestead with the care and style that has created this 4-bedroomed exclusive-use home amid the rugged mountains and untamed plains of Samara’s piece of paradise. Oh, and there is a star bed for those who crave the ultimate in romance and...

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Zambian Safari #Goals Kicking Off Peak Travel Season
Jun25

Zambian Safari #Goals Kicking Off Peak Travel Season

Where did the weekend go?! Some of us might be reminiscing about a lazy Sunday in the sunshine, and some of us might have no idea what day of the week it is and are starting their day with mimosas by the pool! Those people are obviously on holiday, and you know what? We’re happy for them. It’s our job to bring vacay fantasies to life and to take people to the places their dreams are made of. One of those places is Zambia. A country full of wonder and wildlife, vastly untamed and possessing some of the most celebrated wetlands in Africa. The beauty of this country is that one can go from the excitement and luxury of Victoria Falls and the Lower Zambezi, to the enormously unoccupied reaches of northern Kafue and Liuwa Plain and North Luangwa where it feels wonderfully wild. This is where our safari #goals lie right now this travel season. Poolside with a glass of wine and the calm waters of the Zambezi drifting by, or being massaged in the dappled shade of jackalberry trees lulled by the sound of the waterside birds; Sussi & Chuma safari lodge knows how to soothe those holiday feels. Located in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park 12km upstream from Victoria Falls, this Zambian luxury location has safari appeal and riverside relaxation waxed. Surrounded by African wonder and wildlife, and furnished with superior quality in accommodation and service, there’s nothing not to love. This is the fantasy we are sewing together on a Monday morning, it’s the next best thing to being there ourselves! Where we could take our breakfast every day if we had the choice: Sausage Tree Camp‘s beautiful deck on a quiet stretch of the Zambezi River. Starting off each day with a view onto this hippo hub is bound to set your frequency for the day, and no one would judge you if you rolled out your yoga mat for a little sun salutation before settling down to freshly plunged coffee and a bowl of home made muesli. The waters in the Zambia Lower Zambezi National Park may look serene, but the animal activity these banks have seen over the years must have created chaos right at this very spot. Sausage Tree Camp completes this magnificent safari experience with – of course – canoeing, 4×4, fishing, and walking safaris. Zambian gold! Wherever you are at The River Club, the view of the Zambezi is in sight. This historic Edwardian house and its 11 luxury rooms are located on the west-facing Zambian banks of this great river and from elevated positions amongst the rich, indigenous foliage, the...

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Gorgeous New Look for Geiger’s Camp in Timbavati
Jun25

Gorgeous New Look for Geiger’s Camp in Timbavati

Geiger’s Camp is a family heirloom of sorts, being passed down through the Geiger family and hosting safari gatherings over the years in its warm stone and timber bedrooms that embody of each member of the Geiger clan through personal touches. Artist, Marion Geiger-Orengo, who runs the camp with her husband Fabrice Orengo de Lamazière, has added her signature style throughout this camp, which has grown into a popular luxurious safari camp in the heart of Motswari Private Game Reserve, Timbavati. Geiger’s Camp has just revealed its newest facelift, which is subtly gorgeous and characteristically quirky in some arty, crafty ways. We are very excited about this refurbished look. Here are the details! Geiger’s Camp has only four private bedrooms, and can be booked out exclusively by a group of six people. It remains intimate and personalised, focused on giving each guest an exceptional experience in luxurious comfort. From sleeping to dining to experiencing the wildlife and natural environment, the comfort and service, as well as the style that Geiger’s Camp has perfected, ensures that every element of a safari here is seamless. The emphasis on unique and individual style in the decor and design of the camp has always stood out while the camp has retained its charming appeal. Now, after an energising overhaul, the arty elements have popped and created some striking visual effects that tie together perfectly the rustic exteriors with the elegant indoors. Incorporating the artistic expression of local experts and craftsmen ensure that Geiger’s Camp remains wholesomely African, while the eclectic contributions from a Cape Town-based designer bring in the camp’s signature accents and quirks. The new look has injected more flair and style into the artistic pieces that give the bedrooms and the main lodge their edge. Calling on the artisans of Limpopo and Mpumalanga has invigorated the tactile elements of the camp, while brass and glass, leather and stone speak for themselves among the contemporary art pieces that adorn the walls. Marion’s art is worn on the walls and elsewhere through and around the camp, now having being recently replaced with her newer pieces to add to the impact of the new look. An exciting new addition comes in the form of what is being called Robynne Showers, after the Motswari safari guide who collected all the tree trunks that have been used in the design of these outside showers. Pops of colour and statement pieces, like chandeliers and mirrors, draw the eye to every corner of the refreshed bedrooms, while new tiles luxuriate parts of the interior walls. All in all, with the new show pieces and a slightly upgraded level of...

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Seeing the Migration in style at Singita’s Grumeti
Jun25

Seeing the Migration in style at Singita’s Grumeti

The Serengeti; one of the world’s oldest safari destinations and a place with an enormous reputation for superb wildlife sightings, magnetic culture, and mind-blowing scenery. Singita’s private Grumeti concession lies adjacent to this iconic reserve in northern Tanzania, where the annual wildebeest migration moves through a protected wildlife corridor alongside Africa’s most recognised animals. A handful of luxurious safari lodges offer unbeatable explorations of this Migration territory, creating experiences that are unforgettable through superior guiding, accommodation, and wining and dining. Here, they are. How do we choose?! This is Singita Serengeti House; where an exclusive booking will host a family or group of 8 guests in 4 suites with an entirely personalised safari itinerary for the duration of the stay. State of the art game viewers, total privacy, incredible food and dining experiences, and wildlife encounters from the ground or above from a hot-air balloon. Safari luxury at its finest. If you really want to get in touch with the Serengeti’s talked about Grumeti region, Singita Explore takes first prize. The beauty of this mobile camp is its uncompromised luxury and attention to detail, yet it has simple pleasures and uncomplicated style that keep the experience fresh and authentic. Fires burn to boil the kettle, canvas tents house you at night, and paraffin lamps glow gently around camp. The expert staff, classic appeal, and safari magic that represent the Singita experience embody the Explore camp as your dedicated team packs up, moves, and re-establishes the luxury campsite during the mobile safari experience.  Unspeakably glorious scenery in the Serengeti at Singita Faru Faru Lodge which overlooks a natural waterhole and the leafy Grumeti riverine. Stone and canvas come together in the 9 spacious suites, and the plains of this blissfully wild animal kingdom sprawl out before you. Natural textures and sunlight sew together the supreme Faru Faru ambience, and whether you’re soaring above the wilderness in a hot air balloon or traversing the grassland in a luxury game viewer, you’re guaranteed to be having the experience of a lifetime.  Our next Grumeti feature comes as a sublime reminder of the past. When safari excursions were journeys on horseback and tents were elegantly draped canvas containing the simple luxuries the wealthy travellers of the 20s and 30s desired. In this private corner of Tanzania’s Serenegti National Park, Singita Sabora Tented Camp emulates this long forgotten era through the use of colour and textile, brass and silverware, while the service received from a team of excellent staff truly refines the experience. How wonderful it would be to dine under the twinkling fairy lights, with dancing candlelight adding to the stars. Supreme luxury...

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Photographic hides you have to discover
Jun20

Photographic hides you have to discover

An extra special, extraordinary safari experience might be the one that is the most secret and undetected by the wildlife we watch. Certainly, you will never get as close to animals like elephant, leopard, or buffalo if it weren’t for a secret hideaway with a postbox view from underground! Some safari lodges have taken game viewing to the next level, particularly for guests with an interest in photography, by adding the novelty of a game viewing hide to their safari experience. In this blog we explore some of our favourite hides located at lodges and camps all over Africa, so pay attention if you think you’re ready for breath-taking, up close and personal, exquisite views of wildlife! First up, it’s The Bush House in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve, where families can enjoy an adventurous and unforgettable safari experience. The hide is located under ground right in front of the waterhole located in front of the lodge itself. Imagine those photos! Observing the wilderness, undetected, must be the most thrilling way to watch nature unfold at The Hide in Hwange National Park. This month we celebrated World Environment Day, reminding us that we can’t ignore that our destructive influence on the planet has led to pollution, habitat degradation, and endangerment of the world’s species. We have the capacity to preserve the future of the planet, the environment, the wilderness, if we begin to make changes to the way we consume and recycle our waste. This series of images is the perfect metaphor for today’s message: it is possible to have minimal unnatural or negative impact while still observing some of our greatest wilderness areas up close. Opt for ecotourism, opt for low impact travel, opt for reusable plastic or no plastic at all! Take care of this special place we share with the creatures we most admire. Jaci’s Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve has this excellent addition to the safari experience: the Terrapin Hide. Facing westward, this semi submerged hide is excellent for beautifully soft morning photography as the sun rises behind you and bathes your subjects in first light. Then in the afternoon the experience changes completely as the sun sets in front of you and produces those magical, dusty, backlit shots you dream of. Photographers love this place because it is accessible 24 hours a day, offering the chance to capture some starlight shots after dark, or some pre-sunrise activity. The really dedicated hide lovers even skip game drives in order to spend even more time at peak game viewing hours! Definitely one for the books. Zimanga Private Game Reserve has made a name for itself as...

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