Africa gets into your bones once you have visited her. If you are born an African, the safari is your home away from home and the continent your adventure playground. All travellers to Africa feel her pull in the landscapes, the wildlife and birds, the flora and the interconnectedness of everything. Africa reminds you who you are and what the world really means. Where do you start to enjoy yourself when Africa is so full of exciting and meaningful destinations? Discover 10 of Africa’s All-Stars with us.
1. Franschhoek – South Africa Winelands
This beautiful valley has a fascinating history. It was originally settled in 1688 by 176 French Huguenot refugees, many of whom were given land by the Dutch government in a valley called Olifantshoek (“Elephants’ corner”), so named because of the elephants that crossed into the valley to calve. The name of the area soon changed to le Coin Français (“the French Corner”), and later to Franschhoek (Dutch for “French Corner”), with many of the settlers naming their new farms after the areas in France from which they came.
When you visit this little piece of France, be sure to stay at La Petite Ferme, ‘the small farm’, perched on the Franschhoek Mountain range overlooking the Franschhoek valley and a long-standing landmark in this beautiful wine region. Delicious country cooking offering African and Asian tastes and aromas mean a range of dishes to tell friends about. And these are all paired with the owner’s wines. La Petite Ferme has been around for three generations and has continually gained good reviews for its great Cape accommodation and cuisine. Stay in a choice of top-class accommodation in stunning gardens.
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa covering an immense area of 19,485 square kilometres in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of northeast South Africa. If you want to visit the Kruger, book yourself into the glorious &Beyond Kirkman’s Camp especially if you want rare sightings of leopard. Sightings of the Big Five are constant with professional game rangers and trackers and gracious staff serve afternoon tea on the wrap-around veranda.
Enjoy sumptuous dinners in the boma around the fire while rangers share their stories of the bushveld and its wildlife. Many years ago Harry Kirkman lived in this old homestead and hunted wildlife with a keen conservation ethic. Step back in time into the gracious early Transvaal atmosphere of this original 1920s homestead and marvel at the spectacular views of the unspoiled landscape that surrounds the Sand River from each of the 18 guest suites.
The Maasai Mara National Reserve lies adjoining the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and was named in honour of the Maasai people (the ancestral inhabitants of the area) and their description of the area when looked at from afar. The park is famous for its exceptional population of Masai lions, African leopards, Tanzanian cheetahs and the annual migration of zebra, Thomson’s gazelle and wildebeest to and from the Serengeti every year from July to October – the Great Migration.
To witness this phenomenon, stay at the gracious Karen Blixen Camp in the Great Plains Masai Mara North Conservancy. The camp has front row seats for the migration, with its spectacular location right on the banks of the Mara River within 700 acres of private land. Enjoy the impressive escarpment in front and the infinite Mara plains behind. Karen Blixen Camp provides accommodation in 22 luxurious en-suite tents that are beautifully set on raised mahogany platforms.
Ibo Island lies in the Quirimbas Archipelago of northern Mozambique. Nominated for World Heritage status Ibo has been described as one of the most unique and atmospheric islands in the world. Located on the prime waterfront site where romantic dhows sail out to sea on each high tide, Ibo Island lodge encompasses magnificent mansions each over one hundred years old. Coral and lime walls over a meter thick, high lofty ceilings and original beams.
Ibo Island is a potential World Heritage Site, and therefore rooms have been designed to incorporate the architecture and style of the original ruins. The lodge accommodates guests in beautifully elegant, yet simple rooms, with indigenous solid teak and mahogany furniture, handcrafted by the people of Ibo. All nine bedrooms are individual and feature a king-size 4poster or twin handcrafted bed with crisp cotton linen and Indian silk throws.
The Okavango River is the fourth-longest river system in southern Africa, running southeastward for 1,600 km (990 mi). It begins in Angola where it is known as the Cubango River then further south it forms part of the border between Angola and Namibia finally flowing into Botswana and draining into the Moremi Game Reserve. Discover breath-taking beauty with Footsteps Across the Delta, in exactly the same way as the first explorers – by Mokoro and on foot.
On a Footsteps Across the Delta walking safari, you enter one of the great, untamed regions of Africa and experience the astonishing contrasts created when the mighty Okavango River flows into the arid Kalahari Desert. Settle into the comfortable private camp which accommodates guests in three specially designed, twin-bedded, Meru tents complete with sewn-in floors. The focus is on exploration and discovery – tracking fresh spoor each morning to reveal the night’s events. Other possible activities include game-drives, Mokoro or fishing trips (subject to water levels).
Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique is an African Great Lake and the southernmost lake in the East African Rift system. Find it between Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania, the ninth largest lake in the world and the third largest and second deepest lake in Africa. It is home to more species of fish than any other lake including about 1000 species of cichlids.
Stay at the eco-friendly Makuzi Beach Lodge in the quaint Chintheche town on the less-inhabited northern shores of Lake Malawi. A stunning lodge offering an exclusive sanctuary where tranquillity and scenic splendour reign supreme. Owner run, the more hands-on approach adds value for your money deals at this lodge on Lake Malawi, a true oasis of romance. Canter on horseback on the fringes of Lake Malawi, go diving or snorkelling.
This is the largest canyon in Africa and the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. Visitors rush to see its gigantic ravine, reaching about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 meters deep! The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia, cutting deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants.
Choose Canyon Roadhouse as your base – a place where time stands still and the great outdoors beckon. Enjoy modern rooms and take part in exciting boat trips and game safaris. The ideal venue for hikers and explorers, the Canyon Roadhouse has situated just 25 km from the Fish River Canyon and due to its elaborate décor has acquired a sort of cult status in Namibia. The good old days of the automobile are celebrated in the theme restaurant and bar so do enjoy a slice of the legendary Amarula cheesecake among coachwork arranged with loving care.
Mana Pools National Park is a 219,600 ha wildlife conservation area and national park in northern Zimbabwe because it is the region of the lower Zambezi River where the flood plain turns into a broad expanse of lakes after each rainy season. As the lakes gradually dry up and recede, the region attracts many large animals in search of water, making it one of Africa’s most renowned game-viewing regions.
Set in the most remote part of the World Heritage Site in Mana Pools is the Kanga Pan, not too far from Chitake Springs. Stay in the 12-bedded tented Kanga Camp with en-suite outdoor showers overlooking the water hole. Relax in the upper deck lounge under the shade of a mahogany or sit on the deck below near the splash pool and enjoy Kanga − the old Africa in a new era. Kanga Pan itself is the only known water source in the area available throughout the year, making it a hub for wildlife and a delight to explore on foot. Enjoy game drives, bird watching and walking excursions or drive for an hour to the Zambezi flood plains in Mana Pools for canoeing and fishing excursions.
9. Parc National Des Volcans – Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park or Parc National des Volcans lies in northwestern Rwanda bordering Virunga National Park in the DRC. It is known as a haven for the mountain gorilla and is also home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. The park was the base for the zoologist Dian Fossey.
Book your once in a lifetime holiday at Mountain Gorilla View Lodge next door to Volcanoes National Park to experience unique sightings of the world’s most endangered ape, Gorilla Gorilla Berengie, the mountain gorilla. Base yourself at the basic yet elegant lodge with exceptional views of the mountains and lush forests. Enjoy hearty home-cooked meals after trekking for hours after these magnificent creatures in their splendid habitat. Enjoy exploring forests that are also home to many wonderful birds, primates, large mammals, reptiles, insects, plants and also ensure continued water and medical plant resources for the local communities.
10. Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
The Selous Game Reserve is one of the largest faunal reserves of the world, located in the south of Tanzania and named after Englishman Sir Frederick Selous, a famous big game hunter and early conservationist. The Selous was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 due to the diversity of its wildlife and undisturbed nature. The reserve covers a total area of 54,600 km2 (21,100 sq mi) and has additional buffer zones.
Choose Azura Selous on the banks of the Great Ruaha River where you can experience an authentic safari, getting back to basics and tracking the animals through this vast and beautiful piece of the African wilderness. Just 12 air-conditioned tented villas at Azura Selous are well spread out along the banks of the river, spacious and luxurious with fantastic vistas across to the hippos and wildlife that frequent the stretch of river. Game drives, boating safaris to get up close to hippos and some magnificent birdlife, fishing in the fast-flowing Great Ruaha River, including tiger fishing for the enthusiast, and walking safaris to learn more on the little five and our beautiful flora and fauna.
Yes, discover 10 of Africa’s All-Stars and know that you have indeed met authentic Africa. She is in your bones when you venture into at least one of these remarkable destinations.