Spanning almost 31 million square kilometres the African continent can be a daunting prospect when selecting the right safari. Coupled with the desire to choose a trip that reflects the conscious values of the modern traveller, where community and environmental contribution is fundamental, choosing the right journey has become ever more complex.
To make things easier Classic Portfolio and Mahlatini have selected their favourite journeys in Southern Africa, chosen for their unforgettable experiences and proven contributions to both the surrounding communities and the environment they share.
Africa’s finest bush and beach experience for families – the NEW Cheetah Plains, South Africa and Azura Benguerra, Mozambique
Guests start their adventure at Cheetah Plains, an exclusive-use lodge in the heart of the South African wilderness. Enviably positioned in the Sabi Sands Reserve, close to the border of Kruger National Park, Cheetah Plains showcases exceptional game viewing, with leopard, lion and elephant – along with the rest of the ‘Big Five’ – right on the doorstep. Each of the three private-use villas is designed to encapsulate the very best of contemporary South Africa. Modern art adorns the walls from acclaimed and up and coming South African artists and each villa boasts its very own temperature-controlled wine cellar comprising of the very best South African wines for the taking – the private sommelier is on hand for tastings when the mood carries.
The property is entirely off-grid and powered by a series of solar panels that cover every inch of the roof. The all electric safari vehicles, exclusively designed for the property, are virtually silent and result in a safari experience like no other. Guests hear the whispers of their expert guide and tracker, listen to the rustle of the bushes to locate camouflaged animals and marvel at the birds on the branches as they pass.
For the second part of their trip, families can rest and recuperate on the Mozambican coast at Azura Benguerra. Situated within a Marine National Park there is still plenty of neighbouring wildlife and guests have the opportunity to visit projects that are supported by property’s registered charity, Rainbow Fund.
A different kind of safari experience – Boschendal’s NEW tented camp and South Africa’s whale route
For those who are no longer satisfied with viewings of the traditional ‘Big Five’, Boschendal offers a surprising safari experience. The new luxury tented camp, set in the shadow of the Simonsberg Mountain, resembles the traditional safari lodgings but guests have no need for camouflage. The impressive 1,800 hectares is made up primarily of agricultural land, with free-range Angus-cattle, forest-fed pigs and free-range chickens roaming the landscape. Farm to fork dining is central to the philosophy here as guests are invited to sample the very best the land can provide. South Africa’s second oldest wine estate, Boschendal offers expert wine tastings and vineyard tours for discerning connoisseurs and keen amateurs.
From Boschendal, head to the coast and cruise along the lesser known Whale Route. Between June and November whales are seen frequently off the coast as they make their annual migration. The area is also known for its favourable conditions for champagne-style sparkling wines and traditional fishing villages.
New levels of romance at Jaci’s Safari Lodges – unforgettable game viewing and stargazing for couples
Jaci’s Lodge, in the heart of South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve, offers guests a unique vantage point for couples to observe the rich wildlife that inhabits this 75000-hectare game reserve. The intimate family-owned property features 18 rooms and suites, each with varying outlooks onto the surrounding reserve. The Starbed Suites comprise of two kingsize beds, one indoors and one on the roof, for couples to spend the night under the infinite night sky. For a new outlook, transfer to the Treehouse Suites that stand on stilts above the bush, where guests to float around the site on raised walkways, with views that extend beyond horizon.
Couples have access to the 24-hour Terrapin Photographic Hide, a protected water-level lookout in the middle of the neighbouring water hole where they can see eye to eye with some of South Africa’s most elusive wildlife – the big five, plus wild dog and cheetah are seen frequently in the area. LED lighting and a west-facing orientation ensure that guests can capture images that last a lifetime.
Desert to forest – NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia & Sundy Praia, São Tomé and Príncipe
Starting in the Namibian wilderness, guests are immediately transported to that peaceful, edge-of-the-world feeling. Enjoy e-biking, bushmen walks, scenic and sunset drives, a desert journey and village tour. Stargazing is a must with the nights sky providing endless wonder.
Then onwards to Príncipe where guests experience a different kind of wild – this time lush green forests and ocean surround. Discover the old ruins of the area, the historical cacao plantations, the biospheres, and get to know the locals. Explore the surrounding forest, sand, and sea. Visit the smallest capital in the world, observe the secrets of the organic farming, experience different aromas and tastes and be indulge in traditional local meals. Witness turtle nesting and hatching between September and April and whales and dolphins can be spotted off the northeast side of the island between August and September.
Zambia and Mozambique: Walking, whales & wildlife in South Luangwa National Park Azura Quilalea Private Island
Guests are invited to abandon their wheels completely and set out on foot in the wild South Luangwa for an incredible few days of walking amongst the wild things. Learn to identify the tracks of the native animals, interpret their movements and read their body language without the armour of a game vehicle. After a day on foot, guests can revitalise in a series of intimate bush camps along the way.
The trip ends with some series rest and recuperation at Azura Quilalea Private Island in Mozambique where a handful of villas line the coast and guests have a view of the spectacular Indian Ocean all around – April to September offers a good chance of spotting whales, too.
Start at the iconic Giraffe Manor before heading to Sala’s Camp, Kenya to enjoy the quintessential Kenyan experience. Located in the heart of the Masai Mara on the banks of the Sand River, Sala’s Camp has spectacular 360 degree views towards the Northern Corridor and the Serengeti into Tanzania. It is a front row seat to the first sightings of the great wildebeest migration into Kenya.
Then to Victoria Falls, one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders. Marvel at the grandeur of the falls before being transferred to Machaba Safaris in the Chobe National Park. Overnight at Ngoma, a small boutique lodge set on the edge of a plateau, overlooking the Chobe River and floodplain towards Namibia. As one of only a few lodges in the north-eastern corner of the Chobe Forest Reserve, Ngoma Safari Lodge is close to the western end of the Chobe Riverfront, a quieter area with magnificent views, amplified by the layout of the lodge over several levels across the hillside.
Spend four nights at Wolwedans in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The vast 220,000-hectare private NamibRand Nature Reserve, an International Dark Sky Reserve, offers a landscape of red dune belts, gravel plains, mountains and “inselbergs”. The powerful silence of this wild desolation beckons – it is simply out of this world.
Then from Windhoek to Cape Town – transfer to La Cle to end this journey in the iconic Cape Winelands. Nestled in picturesque vineyards and plum orchards, La Cle offers room and suite accommodation and also full-serviced villa accommodation.