Sensational Safari Destinations for 2014 Adventure Holidays

Thrilling, exhilarating and awe-inspiring are just some of the words I would use to describe a safari holiday, and if your idea of the perfect adventure holiday includes ever-changing landscapes, luxury tented camps, and getting up close and personal with the local wildlife, Africa should be your 2014 destination!

Best African Safari DestinationsFrom the uber luxurious Botswana Safari to the affordable Kruger National Park self-drive trip, there really is a safari holiday to suit every budget, and while it certainly costs more than a week or two on the Costa del Sol, I have yet to meet anyone that didn’t think their safari was worth every single penny.

So if you are thinking of heading into the wilderness in search of those majestic creatures we only get to see in the zoo, here are some of our most popular safari destinations for your 2014 adventure:

Botswana Safari

Still referred to by many as the “ultimate” Safari destination, Botswana boasts numerous high-end game reserves where you can enjoy life’s little luxuries in the middle of the bush or the Okavango Delta.  A popular choice with honeymooners, Botswana is the perfect place for a very special holiday.

Namibia Safari

A country of rugged coastlines, sparse plains, and the oldest desert in the world, Namibia is a paradise for wildlife lovers and anyone with a passion for photography.  From the vivid red dunes of Sossusvlei to the infinite wildlife of Etosha National Park, Namibia has much to see and do, and it remains unspoilt in terms of tourism.

Zambia & Zimbabwe Safari

These neighbouring countries are fantastic safari holiday destinations in their own right, but they work even better when combined together!  Zimbabwe may have had more than its fair share of bad publicity in the past, but it is now a growing safari destination that homes the beautiful Hwange National Park, the Mana Pools National Park, and of course, the magical Victoria Falls.

South Africa Safari

The award for the most diverse safari destination would have to go to South Africa.  From the malaria-free safari zones of the Eastern Cape to the Kruger National Park and the luxurious Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa caters for every traveller and the wildlife sightings are spectacular.  The Big five are in abundance, and you can expect to see a whole host of unusual and exciting creatures during your South African Safari Adventure.

Friday’s Photo Session – 10 Reasons to Take a South African Safari this Winter

There is nothing more beautiful than seeing wild animals living in their natural habitat, and while there are many countries in Africa that offer superb game viewing, South Africa really does have something for everyone.

In the Eastern Cape, you will find several privately owned game lodges with beautiful accommodations and great game viewing, and as it is a Malaria-free area – you never have to worry about those pesky mosquitoes!

Up in Kruger National Park, you will find a range of accommodations to suit every budget, and if you are looking for something extra special for your honeymoon or anniversary, Sabi Sands has the perfect Safari lodge for you.

I could list at least a hundred reasons why you should take a South African Safari, but here are just ten of my favourite…

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Chitwa Chitwa – The Perfect Destination for a Unique Safari Experience

A luxurious safari lodge situated in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, Chitwa Chitwa is quite simply one of the most beautiful properties I have ever seen.

Nestling unobtrusively within the South African Bush, this stylish lodge overlooks the largest perennial lake within the game reserve, and if you are looking for a truly unique safari experience, you will struggle to find anywhere more perfect than this.

Chitwa Chitwa – The Perfect Destination for a Unique Safari Experience

It is all about the attention to detail in Chitwa Chitwa. Upon arrival, you are greeted by friendly staff with a cool towel and a refreshing drink, before being guided onto the most spectacular veranda overlooking a lake filled with hippos and crocodiles and surrounded by antelope of every shape and size.

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After a briefing of the daily activities and game drives on offer, you get the first opportunity to see your lodge – and you will not be disappointed.  King size four-poster beds, luxurious furnishings, huge bathrooms and a private deck with swimming pool all comes as standard at Chitwa, and yet, it is done is such a way that you still feel completely at one with nature.

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Meal times are a celebration of local and international cuisine, with lunch and dinner served with a fine choice of South African wines.  Breakfast is a feast, and if you do start to feel peckish late afternoon (which is very doubtful!), you can indulge in afternoon tea before heading off on your evening game drive.

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Game viewing in Sabi Sand is fantastic, and if you do not manage to see the Big 5 (Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Water Buffalo and Leopard) during your stay, I would be most surprised.  We witnessed no less than five leopards during our 2-night stay, a whole herd of elephants, and most surprising of all, a pack of 17 African Wild Dogs finishing off their early morning prey.

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As the sun begins to set over the bush, sundowners are served, and I can guarantee that the G&T you sip, while watching the beautiful blue-sky turn from orange to red before finally dimming into midnight blue, will be the best you ever tasted!

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Whether it is your first safari holiday or your 100th trip into the South African bush, we think Chitwa Chitwa is the perfect destination for a unique safari experience – so good, in fact, they named it twice!

 

 

 

 

A South African Adventure

Having just returned from three glorious weeks in sunny South Africa, I can hardly wait to get back to work so that we can share our new properties, new routes, and new adventures with our fellow world travellers.

A magnificent country that never fails to impress, South Africa supersedes our expectations every time we visit, and if there is one destination that belongs on everyone’s bucket list, this has to be the place!

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2014

Starting with the Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour, we cycled 109km around the Western Cape in what can only be described as a gruelling but thrilling event!  The route through and around Cape Town was a lot steeper than I had remembered, and just when you think you have conquered the toughest part, Chapman’s Peak, you turn the corner into Suikerbossie…

It’s steep, it’s the last 10km or so, and after 100km in 32 degrees, it’s not funny at all!  But you know what, the South African crowd make this an amazing event, they cheer you on, spray you with water, sing, blast you with music, and I for one cannot wait to cycle the Cape Argus Cycle Tour in 2014!

Escorted Tours and Self Drive Tours South Africa

All the members of our small group escorted tour managed to complete the race, and while I was last out of our group (I’m blaming the bike!), I have my medal, which is hanging proudly next to my Kilimanjaro certificate!

After our guests left, Ingo and I were lucky enough to head to Mpumalanga to view new properties for our portfolio – and we found some very special places indeed!  Dawson’s Game & Trout Lodge is a hidden gem, the perfect retreat for those looking to escape the fast pace of everyday life, and if you are doing a self-drive tour of South Africa, it will fit perfectly into your itinerary on the way to or from Kruger Park.

Leopards on Safari Chitwa Chitwa Sabi Sands Luxury Safari Holidays

We then headed to the uber luxurious Sabi Sands to stay at the most amazing lodge – Chitwa Chitwa. If you are looking for a romantic honeymoon destination or a luxury safari experience, pack your bags and head straight on down to this amazing sanctuary in the middle of Sabi Sand game reserve.  The service is second to none, the accommodations are breathtaking, the food is delicious (and plentiful!), and the game viewing is the best we have ever seen.  Leopards on every corner (look how close we got!), hippos in front of your private terrace, lions, wild dogs, elephants, water buffalo, rhinos, we not only saw the Big 5, but also the Magnificent 7 – and that was a real treat!

South Africa really is the most stunning holiday destination in the world, and I am counting the days until we return!

 

Taking Children on a Safari Holiday – Is it Possible or Advisable?

Well, the answer is ‘Yes’ to both, but some game reserves and safari lodges have age restrictions, so you need to do some careful planning before you leave home.

child friendly safari holidays Chitwa Chitwa South Africa

There is nothing more exhilarating than setting off on a 5am game drive in the middle of the African bush, and whether you are heading out into the vast plains of the Masai Mara or simply searching for the Big 5 in Sabi Sands, a safari holiday provides us with a unique opportunity to see wild animals in their natural habitat.

Experiential and educational, Safari holidays used to be something that only the wealthy could enjoy, but today there are numerous different options available such as self-drive safari’s, malaria-free safari’s, and family friendly safari’s, so there really is something to suit every budget and every taste.

One of the most common questions we get is “can we take our children on a safari holiday?” and while the answer is usually “yes”, not all safari properties accept young children and so you need to look out for a child friendly lodge.

You also need to consider the obvious ‘dangers’ (I use that word loosely, but you know what I mean), the risk of tropical diseases such as Malaria, and also the fact that safaris usually involve long periods in a 4×4 jeep looking for animals, which can be boring and tiring for some kids, but exciting and invigorating for others.

While I am not sure I would take a child under six or seven on a safari, there are safari lodges, such as Chitwa Chitwa in South Africa, that offer a full program for children of all ages, such as daily bush walks, making moulds of animal tracks, face painting sessions, and evenings spent roasting marshmallows whilst listening to folk-tales.

Children aged six and above are usually allowed to participate in game drives, and if you feel your children would enjoy the experience, the educational possibilities are endless.

‘Safari’ is a Swahili word meaning ‘journey’, and as Africa is now more accessible to international travellers than ever before, more and more of us can make that ‘journey’ with our entire family.

South African Rhino Poaching – Figures reach a new high (or should that be a low) in 2012

One of the things I love the most about travelling to South Africa, is that we get the unique opportunity to see wild animals living in their natural habitat.

To me, there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a pride of lions caring for their cubs, new baby Springbok finding their feet, and the sound of a herd of Wildebeest running across the open plains… but it seems not everyone feels the same.

Poaching is now reaching critical levels in South Africa, and as the demand for ivory ornaments and rhino horn remains, and sadly grows, these magnificent species of elephants and rhinos that we all take for granted, will soon be gone for good.

South African minister Edna Molewa, finally issued a press release last week with the final poaching tally for 2012, and the statistics are very grim indeed.

In 2012, a total of 668 Rhino’s were poached in South Africa – almost 2 per day.  Of those 668, 425 were poached in the Kruger National Park, 30 of which were poached in the last 11 days of 2012 alone.

This staggering figure is up 30% on the 2011 tally of 448 Rhino’s poached in South Africa, and up 50% on the 2010 total of 333.  In the first few days of 2013, 5 Rhino’s have already been killed for their horn, indicating that this year may live up to its unlucky name for this endangered South African species.

With corruption rife, and an increasing demand for rhino horn, the fate of these gentle giants doesn’t look good, and if you dream of seeing the Big 5 on safari in Africa one day, you might want to go sooner rather than later!

 

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013 – Selling out fast!

The world famous Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013 may have only opened for registration a week ago, but within just 3 days, 18,000 of the 35,000 spots available were booked, and the event organisers are expecting the remaining tickets to sell out fast.

A magnificent 109km ride around Cape Town and its surrounding areas, the Cape Argus Cycle Tour attracts visitors from across the globe, and as anyone over the age of 13 years can join in, it is something the whole family can enjoy.

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013

A bike, a helmet, and buckets of energy are all one needs to take part, and if you think you are too old or too unfit, you will be pleased to hear that Japie Malan, a 92-year-old gentleman, completed the 2012 tour in just 5 hours and 49 minutes!

The Cape Argus starts in city centre, heads through the Winelands, onto the beautiful coastline of False Bay, down to Cape Point, and then loops around to the Atlantic Seaboard, where you can expect to witness some of the most amazing scenery that South Africa has to offer.

Cape Argus Pick n Pay Cycle Tour 2013

 

Image source – Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust

A wonderful time of the year to visit Cape Town, it is particularly warm and beautiful during the month of March, and if you would like to combine your spring holiday with the Cape Argus cycle tour, there are several organised trips and holiday options available.

Most airlines will transport your bike for a fee, alternatively you can rent a bike in Cape Town, but as with entry tickets to the cycle tour, you need to reserve your bike sooner rather than later if you are to avoid disappointment.

Once you have completed the tour, you could stay on and enjoy the magnificent Mother City of Cape Town for a while, or combine your Cape Argus experience with a Malaria free safari in the Eastern Cape, or take a Connoisseur Wine Tasting tour in Stellenbosch – after all, after a 109km bike ride – you will most definitely deserve it!

We have watched the Cape Argus several times during our stay in Cape Town, and in March 2013, we will be taking part for the first time, so if you need any tips or help booking your tour – just let us know!

A Malaria Free South African Safari Experience at Lalibela Game Reserve

If you love wild animals but hate the thought of visiting a zoo, then why not make 2012 the year to take your well-deserved South African Safari!

Affordable, entertaining, and an experience you will never forget, a safari holiday is perfect for singles, couples, and families with older kids who still enjoy travelling together but need plenty of activities on hand to keep the tweens and teens occupied!

Up Close and Personal with the Big 5

If the thought of catching malaria is something that puts you off a South African safari, you will be pleased to know that there are several magnificent game reserves in the Eastern Cape, a mere 45 minutes drive from Port Elizabeth, that are not only jam-packed full of wild and wonderful creatures, but they are malaria free zones.

One such game reserve is a majestic place called Lalibela.  The name Lalibela is an Ethiopian word meaning ‘for whom the bees have foretold greatness’, and when you stand amidst the Valley Bushveld Biome unique to this area of South Africa, it is easy to see how this magnificent 7,500 hectare private game reserve, spanning over 5 eco-systems, would invite such a noble name.

When you drive through the gates of Lalibela Game Reserve you are automatically surrounded with an array of antelope, zebra and warthogs, and by the time you have dropped off the keys to your vehicle and climbed into an open-top jeep, you will already have forgotten the trials and tribulations of everyday life.

Treetops - Lalibela

As one would expect there are no roads through Lalibela. Your expert guide will navigate the winding dirt tracks that lead to your lodge, which combine the rustic charm of a safari camp with all the modern luxuries one could possibly wish for such as a king-size bed, luxury shower, and priceless views.

Lalibela offers three different lodges to suit groups of all sizes, and all age groups. Those looking to get up close and personal with the wildlife will appreciate the openness of Treetops, where one can roll up the walls and sleep under the stars in true safari style.

Dining Alfresco!

Dining at Lalibela is an event in itself!  Delicious food morning, noon, and night served at a communal table where you get to share your animal encounters, safari stories and make new friends with like-minded travellers from across the globe.  Every meal is different, excellent, and complemented with a selection of fine South Africa wines, fruit beverages and tea or coffee, so resistance is futile! But hey, you’re on holiday, so go with it, enjoy, and pack a pair of ‘fat day’ trousers!

South African Smiles!

The staff at Lalibela are personal, friendly and will do everything in their power to ensure your stay is memorable.  It is their natural smiles and first name introductions that make you feel more like a family member than just another tourist visiting their reserve.

Lalibela Game Reserve is just a short drive from Port Elizabeth, a short flight from Cape Town, and in short, it is the most wonderful place to take your malaria free South African safari!

“The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa, for he has so much to look forward to”

A South African Tour for the Connoisseur

If you have never been to South Africa you may have an unrealistic idea of what the country is actually like, I know I did.  There are no wild animals roaming around the streets (well not in Cape Town anyway!), you do not need to wear a bullet proof vest as some journalists would have you believe, and it is not a destination purely designed to accommodate backpackers.

The Western Cape of South Africa is chic, cosmopolitan and charismatic, and if you enjoy the finer things in life such as luxury hotels with five-star service, excellent New World Wines, fine dining venues, and unique travel experiences, then you will be pleasantly surprised at just how much this magnificent country has to offer.

Like fine wine, travelling through South Africa is not something to be rushed, and while many tour operators try to promote a 14 or 16-day “Grand Tour”, I cannot see the point in rushing around this beautiful country only to return home more exhausted than when one left!

South Africa is a place to relax, unwind and savour the natural beauty that surrounds you, enjoy the luxurious hotels, exquisite dining venues, and of course, sample some of the many locally grown wines in vineyards that will simply take your breath away.

Then there are the wild animal encounters to think of.  Many of us visit South Africa to go on a safari, and while the Kruger National Park may be the most recognised reserve, there are many other Game Reserves doted around the country that one could enjoy, such as those in the Malaria free zone of the Eastern Cape.  A short hop from Cape Town, nestling at the end of the infamous Garden Route, the Eastern Cape has numerous elegant Lodges where one can enjoy life’s little luxuries while being surrounded with the bush and wild animals.

The South African service and hospitality is second to none, and the friendly locals make it easy for visitors to feel right at home in their country, which is perhaps why South Africa is a place to revisit over and over again, until you uncover every hidden gem!

What to expect on a South African Safari

If you dream of going on safari then South African is probably the first destination that comes to mind. A place where you can enjoy city life one day and the untamed bush the next, South Africa is a wonderful place to begin your safari adventure and get up close and personal with the Big 5, while surrounding yourself with the creature comforts that most of us have become accustomed to.

Our first safari took us to the malaria free area of the Eastern Cape, where we stayed in a luxury game reserve surrounded by 18,500 acres of untouched bush – the home of free-roaming lions, elephants, rhino, buffalo, leopard and a whole collection of other exotic creatures.

Upon arrival at the reserve, you get that excited nervous feeling that comes along with any new experience, and after enjoying a welcome drink, you are transferred to your luxury lodge in one of the reserve vehicles.  With no real roads (this is the bush!) the ride to the lodge is a bumpy one, but as soon as you spot your first zebra or Springbok, you forget everything and lose yourself in the beauty that surrounds you.

Our Tented Lodge

Once you have checked in to your lodge and explored the surrounding areas a light lunch or afternoon tea is served, and as you enjoy these delicious South African dishes while overlooking the game reserve, you will begin to hear those unfamiliar sounds that let you know you are surrounded by wild animals!

Late afternoon sees the first of many game drives where you head off in an open top jeep in search of the Big 5. As you drive through the ever-changing bush, you will be presented with hundreds of photo opportunities, and after hours chasing elephants and the elusive Leopard, your ranger will park up in time to layout a selection of sundowners to enjoy as the sun sets over the magnificent reserve.

The beautiful Booma overlooking the Game Reserve

Upon your return to the lodge dinner is served in a relaxed, informal seating environment where one can compare safari experiences with other travellers before enjoying the peace and tranquillity of sitting around a Booma (open fire) with nothing but new friends and South African wine for company!

A truly magical and unforgettable experience, a South African safari allows you to catch a glimpse of wild animals living in a natural environment – and that for me is priceless!