We each carry our own set of definitions of an excellent escape. For some, it might mean idle sand beaches and tall umbrella drinks, while others answer to a rugged walk into the heart of the land and still others yearn for a romantic canopy bed, a cozy fireplace and a fine glass of wine. Southern Africa has a delightful menu of lodges that capture the spirit of the ideal escape. Here are just a few that we like.
No road leads to Anjajavy L’Hotel! There are a few paths in this very special place that actually has a time zone of its own (an hour different than the rest of Madagascar). The island getaway, a member of Relais & Chateaux, is reached by private plane, which lands in this private reserve. A Paris landscape gardener designed this oasis, a tropical Eden of aquatic plants, papyrus, tree ferns, all kinds of climbing plants and palm trees, all of which offer refuge to humming birds, lemurs, green kingfishers, the fody bird of Madagascar. The forest of sheltering rosewoods and baobabs is home to many animal species such as the famous Verreau lemur (Coquerel’s Sifaka), birds of paradise, the chameleon and the Cuvier oplure (a type of iguana). More than 1,800 vegetal species, mostly entirely local and many medicinal plants. Around the lodge, and farther than your legs can take you, extend the 550 hectares of the private nature reserve of Anjajavy that hosts the tsingy, famous ancient coral remains, scatter the forest and overlook the bay. Activities run from a lazy day on the beach to boating, bird watching and nature walks. You can plan your Madagascar escape to include this lovely property.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is an exclusive lodge with 12 suites as well as the Amber Suite. Each suite is attended by a private butler and is appointed with specially commissioned furnishings, a secluded plunge pool and terrace as well as open air shower. The natural wood sculptures of Geoffrey Armstrong add a powerful magic. Facilities include air-conditioning, ceiling fans, dressing area, minibars, telephone and tea/coffee facilities. The suites are complemented by a swimming pool, the Earth Nature Spa, the underground wine cellar (perfect for private dinners), secluded library and a private art gallery. The Earth Nature Spa and exercise center offers massages, natural therapies or a classic spa. The boma, its walls made from roots and built up piece by piece, captures the drama of an African night. Sabi Sands Game Reserve is considered to have some of the best Big Five game-viewing in the country, sharing an open border with Kruger National Park so animals move freely. Due to a long history of sensitive game-viewing, the animals are mostly relaxed allowing superb game-viewing, especially of leopard. So diverse is its habitat and wildlife that you have an excellent chance of experiencing close encounters with the ‘Big 5’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard – as well as many species of antelope, spotted hyena and cape hunting dog, jackal, and a variety of smaller mammals. Go on game drives in open-vehicles with an experienced ranger and a local Shangaan tracker, who work together to give you a deeper understanding of the wildlife and the natural cycles of the bush. Tracking Africa’s big game, the evening safari departs after afternoon tea. After enjoying the bush sunset, the evening holds a sense of anticipation as the rare and elusive nocturnal species begin to hunt. The evening meal is often enjoyed in a ‘boma’ or even in the bush around an open fire, which many guests feel is a particularly evocative treat. Sabi Sands offers the today’s travelers a classic African safari. You can enjoy this lodge on our new South Africa’s Unique Lodges.
Gansbaai, South Africa
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve offers some of the finest land-based whale-watching in the world with sightings of Southern Right Whales that come into the bays to give birth, between July and December, (normally peaking in August and September). Enthralling sightings are a daily occurrence with spectacular breaches and whale songs. Secluded sandy beaches are backed by velvety mountains covered with exceptional and rare fynbos vegetation. The wild flowers are particularly enchanting. Other activities include guided fynbos 4×4 drives, milkwood forest walks, horseback riding, beach visits as well as the optional activities such as whale watching by boat or plane and shark cage diving. A dedicated team including marine biologists and conservationists help you to appreciate what makes this area so unqiue. Walking trails follow the coast for whale-watching, or take you into the mountains. More relaxing pursuits include shopping in local arts and craft boutiques in Hermanus and enjoying the panoramic views of Walker Bay while dining alfresco. Grootbos consists of two lodges, the family-friendly Garden Lodge with one and two bedroom suites and the new contemporary Forest Lodge. Discover this remarkable area of South Africa’s coast during our 11-day South Africa adventure.
Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve, South Africa
In the Kalahari grasslands of the Northern Cape, Tswalu Kalahari Game Reserve is the largest private game reserve in South Africa and the historical home of the Bushmen (San) people. The emphasis here is on exclusivity, which is why the entire reserve can accommodate no more than 30 people at a time. This spectacular malaria-free reserve offers a wealth of experiences – explore Tswalu by 4×4, on horseback or on foot. There’s a sense of contentment that comes from being surrounded by so much space, the colors and textures, the myriad sounds and vast silences of the wilderness. You’re sharing the environment with springbok, buffalo, lion, kudu, Bat-eared fox, hyena, meerkat and aardwolf. Bush walks focus on the local vegetation, bush medicines, cosmetics and hunting skills of the San people, while sundowners on the lantern-lit dunes or bush dining at Lekgaba Lookout complete the experience. Other activities include star-gazing, visiting rock paintings, Moffat Mission and the Kuruman eye or focusing on the delightful wild colonies of Meerkats. Explore Tswalu on our 13-day South Africa journey.
Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe
Changa Safari Camp nestles along the shores of Lake Kariba with the Matusadona Mountains in view. This private concession includes some four and a half kilometers/nearly three miles of shoreline that insure that this luxurious tented camp remains a relaxing remote retreat. Picture yourself, as each day ends, sipping a sundowner on the shore, elephants chomping nearby and a fish eagle swooping past; followed by fireside chats and a delicious dinner. Here you set your own pace. Changa is off the beaten track, intriguingly secluded in the heart of a diverse eco-system, partly man-made, partly formed by nature over centuries. The camp is within a small, private concession in the northeastern section of the Matusadona National Park and has just six large, East African-style luxury canvas tents, all overlooking the lake. Each tent has its own en-suite bathroom, with indoor/outdoor shower and outdoor bathtub, all heated by gas that allows for hot water all day. All tents are mosquito-proofed and have fans. The central guest area consists of several thatched structures linked together by raised wooden walkways and decks, and includes a lounge library, dining room, bar, beautiful deck and swimming pool overlooking Lake Kariba. Leopard, lion, hyena and cheetah are found in the area as well as elephant, hippo and a multitude of antelope species. The birdlife here is prolific, with more than 350 species have been recorded. Early morning or late afternoon walks in the company of one of the camp’s professional guides are a special feature of this camp. You also have opportunities for game drives or cruises and fishing in the lake. Enjoy time spent in amazing Zimbabwe.