Nothing can prepare you for your first visit to Africa – to visit such an ancient landscape where animals roam free, to smell its earthy scent, wander along deserted tropical beaches – it’s truly humbling. From private guides matched to your interests to a dizzying array of accommodation – ranging from tented bush camps to swish lodges – the choices are infinite and our knowledge is invaluable when it comes to creating your perfect holiday.
Botswana is the home of the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest wetland ecosystems where you’ll find almost every mammal species Southern Africa has to offer.
The landscape varies enormously and ranges from the unique eco-system of the Okavango Delta to the desert of the Kalahari. Visiting any corner of this fascinating country is sure to be an experience that stays with you forever. Just make sure you plan your trip well in advance – Botswana is in high demand.
The Okavango is UNESCOS 1000th world heritage site as it harbours such a rare and unique series of ecosystems which attract a whole host of wildlife. In fact, almost every species native to Southern Africa can be found here. Its reserves and private concessions are very remote and there’s little visitor traffic. As you glide along the Delta’s silky waterways by mokoro (a dugout canoe) the sense of isolation is truly humbling.
After witnessing the iconic plains of the Masai Mara and the thrill of the great migration, spending a few nights on the palm-fringed coastline of the Indian Ocean is the perfect way to round off your trip.
There are so many ways to see Kenya’s wildlife including game drives, hot air-balloon, horse and camel riding and helicopter safaris in the remote Northern Frontier. Accommodation ranges from classic bush camps to upmarket lodges. Families are well catered for too with plenty of child friendly camps to choose from. There’s a variety of landscapes to combine and at the end of a trip, Kenya’s immaculate sandy coastline, marine national parks and intriguing Swahili-influenced towns beckon. It’s also easy to twin a safari in Kenya with a trip to Zanzibar or the Seychelles.
One of the most magical things about visiting Kenya, is the opportunity it presents for meeting its people. The Maasai, the Samburu, the Turkana, Swahili, the Kikuyu: any time you spend with them and their culture, is a rich reward, a chance to connect with something ancient, mythical and real.
Madagascar is like a mini continent in one country, where landscapes range from tropical jungles to spiny forests and the endemic wildlife is out of this world.
Madagascar is made for wildlife viewing. Best known as the land of the lemur, it’s also home to other weird and wonderful creatures such as sifakas, the cat-like fossa and vivid chameleons capable of changing colour before your eyes.
The landscape is equally rich and varied. There are forests of every kind – rain, dry, spiny. Thousands of species of plants, including 1,000 orchid varieties, scatter the countryside. You’ll find coral reefs and sandy beaches, sandstone canyons, limestone karsts, mountains, hills cascading with terraced rice paddies and a rich soil that gave the country its nickname of Red Island. There’s also plenty to do: hiking, snorkelling, cycling or simply strolling. There are also plenty of secluded natural pools, beaches and hammocks.
Lose yourself in the cities of Marrakech and Fez, stand on sandy shores at the edge of the Atlantic, feel true isolation on rolling desert dunes – there’s something for everyone in Morocco.
Morocco is defined by the Rif, Middle Atlas, High Atlas and Anti Atlas Mountains. They spread across the country like fingers, beckoning you to the summits of their snow-capped peaks – you’ll find lots of lovely kasbahs to call home close to the Atlas Mountains.
As well as countless cultural and historical highlights, there’s a host of outdoor activities to lure you out of the souks and off the sun lounger. For an unforgettable evening, we recommend spending a night beneath the stars in the Sahara Desert.
As you’d expect from a country that’s played host to many civilisations since ancient times, the food is a veritable feast of Arabic, Mediterranean, Berber and Sub-Saharan influences. Sip on mint tea, tuck into a hearty tagine or gulp down the freshest orange juice you’ll ever drink in Marrakech’s main square, Djemaa el-Fna, the nucleus all life in the city revolves around. You can spend hours, if not days, wandering around its colourful spice-scented souks, shopping for ceramics, jewellery and lanterns.
Namibia may be one of the least populated countries in the world, but it’s full of mountainous sand dunes, roaming wildlife and awe-inspiring landscapes. Lose yourself in this land of plenty.
Namibia is home to both the Namib and Kalahari Desert, yet you’ll still find a safari here that produces sightings of desert-adapted wildlife and lots of endemic species. The chalky white evaporation pans of Etosha are great for spotting animals at natural springs and waterholes – the area is home to a quarter of the world’s cheetahs as well as the last free-ranging black rhino population.
Moving over to the relentless surf of the Atlantic coast, you’ll find a string of wrecked ships which helped forge its nickname ‘The Skeleton Coast’. Scenic flights over this brutal stretch come highly recommended – you feel a real sense privileged to see something so remote.
Be part of an elite club of people who have come face to face with mountain gorillas – a privileged experience you’ll still be talking about in years to come.
Rwanda has a fertile and hilly terrain that makes it an explorer’s dream. It’s broken up by plateaus and highlands and is a fascinating mix of mighty volcanoes, lush vegetation, tea plantations and dense rainforest. It’s filled with natural wonders, but even among such incredible biodiversity, the mountain gorillas are undoubtedly the star attraction.
It’s humbling to meet creatures so similar to ourselves and yet so much more vulnerable. To see them, you need to head to the protected forests of the Parc National des Volcans. Just one hour in the gorillas’ company is enough to bring home how fragile their community is. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that will never leave you. If you can, time your visit to coincide with Kwita Izina, the annual naming ceremony which has included new arrivals to the gorilla family for the last thirty years.
Gorillas aside, there are plenty of things to see and do. Nyungwe Forest to the south is where to trek chimps and colobus monkeys beneath a lush forest canopy and Akagera National Park is an ‘off grid’ safari fan’s dream – it’s one of the largest protected wetlands in Africa and home to a unique swamp ecosystem.
An incredible array of wildlife and the warmest welcome around – you can’t help but love South Africa.
Picture South Africa and no doubt Kruger National Park springs to mind. It’s the perfect place to tick the big five off your list. But why stop there? Venture into the Kalahari Desert for anteaters and pangolins, or the Eastern Cape for elusive porcupines and bat-eared foxes. South Africa’s diverse environments mean animal spotting could take up your whole trip if you want it to.
If you only visit one city, it has to be Cape Town. The rugged mountains towering above and sandy beaches provide the backdrop to a vibrant metropolis and super-friendly people. No trip to the Mother City is complete without a hike – or cable car – up Table Mountain. The view is second to none.
The best seat in the house for the Great Migration. The setting for Mount Kilimanjaro. The home of the Serengeti. The dazzling beauty of the Indian Ocean coastline.
If this is your first visit, you’ll probably want to head north. This way lies the Serengeti’s short grass plains, a vast stage where the greatest animal migration on earth plays out each year. This is also where you will find the Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro. As you’d expect from such big-ticket destinations, they can get rather busy. Luckily, we know how best to avoid the crowds and yet see the very best of the wildlife.
Serengeti means ‘endless plains’ in Swahili, and this they are. Between the Rift Valley in the east to Lake Victoria in the west, these grasslands seem to stretch to the ends of the earth. Lion, Zebra, Cheetah, Impala and Jackal roam free. It’s one of the best places on the planet for ticking the big five off your list.
Lush mountains, tumbling waterfalls, welcoming people and an ever-changing landscape have put Zimbabwe back on the safari map.
Practically, Zimbabwe makes a lot of sense. Getting there is easy thanks to its international airport and getting close to the wildlife is made possible by Zimbabwe’s excellent, charismatic guides. What’s more, safaris here often come at a fraction of the cost of its neighbours.
You get a lot of wildlife too. Matusadona National Park, on the shore of Lake Kariba, has some of the highest concentrations of lion anywhere. You’ll find huge herds of elephants in Hwange National Park and Zimbabwe is one of the few remaining places where you can see white and black rhino in the wild. And, then there is Gonarezhou. On the southern border to Mozambique, has long been a favourite of ours with its unexplored Jurassic feel – big tusker elephants here loom as large as woolly mammoths.
Scenically speaking, Victoria Falls is a main attraction, taking its place as one of the natural wonders of the world. You should also make time for Mana Pools, located on the flood plains of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. It’s one of the richest and least developed wetlands in Africa and there are some really excellent walking and canoe safaris down its pretty oxbow lakes.
Experience life as a tropical castaway in the relatively undiscovered gem that is Mozambique.
There are no large resorts, just a small collection of well-run boutique properties. Despite the fluttering palm trees and turquoise waters of its beaches the majority of the coastline is empty: there are very few tourists and it’s highly likely you’ll be able to have a beach all to yourself. After a day lazing on the hot sands, we heartily recommend tucking to some peri prawns or crayfish, cooked Mozambique style – we think the seafood here is incredible.
There are two amazing archipelagos off its coast. The coral Quirimbas archipelago to the north has excellent marine life and diving. You can combine your water sports with a dash of culture at the UNESCO World Heritage Ibo Island or Ilha de Mozambique, a tiny island paradise frozen in time. To the south, there’s the Benguerra archipelago. It also has great spots for diving and you can fly here quite easily from Kruger National Park in South Africa for the perfect bush and beach combination.
Come face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Uganda – a compact, fertile country that’s rich in wildlife and warm welcomes.
Uganda is home to half the remaining mountain gorilla population on the planet (the other half reside in neighbouring Rwanda). The jungles of Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are the best place to see them – this is the heart of gorilla territory, and be sure to include Kibale Forest or Kyambura Gorge to meet other primate cousins such as chimps.
Uganda is also one of the world’s top birdwatching destinations. The skies are filled with rainbows of kingfisher, Shelley’s crimsonwing, African green broadbill and the weird and wonderful shoebill stork, with its oversized bill and strange hiccupping trill. To savour its glistening lakes, towering mountains and cascading waterfalls, you could try a flying safari. Soaring above Uganda’s patchwork of ancient forests, reserves, swamps and savannahs is something you will never forget.
This is safari country. It’s the place to truly get off the beaten track and satisfy your sense of adventure.
South Luangwa National Park is Zambia’s premier place to safari. It has a high density of lion and wild dog, and is one of the best places in Africa to see leopard. Then there’s Zambezi National Park, on the banks of the Zambezi River. This remarkably beautiful and remote area, framed by mountains and ringed by mahogany forests, is known for its sightings of leopard, buffalo and elephant.
Despite being landlocked, water is one of Zambia’s biggest features: Victoria Falls, The Zambezi, Kafue and Luangwa Rivers are all waiting to be explored. You can picnic on Livingstone Island, in the middle of the Zambezi River. You can swim in Devils Pool on the edge of Victoria Falls. And there are some lovely cruise and canoe safaris to try – a much gentler way to see the wildlife than the bumps and swerves of a game drive.
A jewel of an archipelago in the Indian Ocean ringed with pristine beaches where you can swim, dive and snorkel to your heart’s content.
Along with Pemba Island, Zanzibar lies just off the coast of Tanzania and its beaches are among the most perfect on the planet, particularly those found on the north and east coast. The way the colours of the ocean contrast with the coral reef around Mnemba Island – where there’s plenty of snorkelling and diving to be had – is beautiful.
This heady mix of tropical island life and historic Swahili culture has beckoned travellers for centuries, so once you’ve had your fill of the shoreline head into Capital Stone Town for a spot of exploration. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers a fascinating maze of cobbled streets with ornately carved doorways, Sultan’s palaces and vibrant markets.