Below, you'll find stories from travellers who have journeyed to Africa with us - both our passionate staff, and our customers. We believe hearing from those who have already explored your chosen destination is one of the best ways to feel inspired and gain a few ideas on where to go and what to do. So, have a read of our stories to find out more about where we could take you...
Nikky's Relaxing and Cultural Trip to Zanzibar
Our Product Manager Nikky recently travelled to Zanzibar, for a trip oozing with glamour, relaxation and rich culture. From snorkelling and visiting Stone Town, to sleepy fishing villages and meeting monkeys, Nikky's getaway will inspire you to add this sugary island to your African safari holiday.
If you are looking for a place to unwind and totally relax, Zanzibar with its white sands and turquoise waters is just the place for you.
I travelled to this gorgeous island in November and was blown away by its beauty and the friendliness of the people. What you probably don’t realise is that there is so much more here than just laying on a beach. You can spend your days snorkelling and diving among coral reefs, visit Stone Town which is steeped with history dating back 2,000 years when it was the hub for the spice trade or sail out on a traditional dhow boat.
Zanzibar’s dry season is from July to September but even in November the temperature was a balmy 30 degrees. The short heavy downpours I found a welcome respite from the hot sun and were always followed by blue skies and more sunshine. If you are a keen diver or snorkeller I would recommend you visit in January / February when the days are hot and sunny and the sea is beautifully clear. There are several dive centres on the island and most are PADI.
If a combination holiday is what you are after, I can highly recommend a fantastic safari in Tanzania before your relaxing beach holiday on Zanzibar, or as many people do, you can combine a couple of days in Stone Town with the rest of your time relaxing at a beach hotel.
Visting Stone Town
Stone Town, where the icon Freddy Mercury was born, is busy and bustling with some great restaurants and shops. We recommend the Serena hotel here as it is a beautiful, traditional building but with all mod cons.
The half day tour of Stone Town, which we recommend you pre-book, is not to be missed. During our tour we visited ancient buildings and churches and heard stories of the spice trade as it was over 2,000 years ago. We also discovered the small and dingy rooms that slaves were kept in for days on end with hardly any food or water. The tour also includes a visit to a spice farm which for me was the highlight. The guides are so knowledgeable and endeavor to make your visit an educational and extremely enjoyable experience as they talk you through the various spices on offer such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper and many other spices.
A Few Tips When Visiting Zanzibar
The official language here is Kiswahali but everyone speaks English (with a friendly smile).
The currency is Tanzanian shillings but $US are widely accepted. Don’t get caught out though. Cash dispensers are mainly for local people apart from a couple which are located in Stone Town, so make sure you take enough cash with you. Hotels do accept debit cards and credit cards but some do make a charge for this.
Discovering a New Side to Zanzibar
At the northern tip of Zanzibar you will find the area of Nungwi, a sleepy fishing village known for its beautiful beaches and approached by a road lined by mangroves and coconut trees.
In the central east region, you will find Jozani Forest which is another fantastic excursion to partake in. This is home to the rare Red Colobus Monkey, endemic to Zanzibar. These cheeky monkeys are full of character and an absolute joy to watch. You may also be lucky enough to come across small buck and bushpigs. There are excellent nature trails here and beautiful walks through the mangrove area.
Zanzibar was for me one of the most beautiful beach destinations I have been to and with the friendliest people I have met. Perfect for couples and families alike.
Lynn's Fabulous Safari through South Africa
Lynn's latest safari took place in South Africa, stopping at luxurious camps and lodges in the Timbivati Reserve and spotting the amazing Big Five. From having her own butler, to encountering wild dogs in their natural habitat, Lynn recounts her fantastic first taste of the safari experience.
My trip to South Africa was perfect, and would be great as a first timer to the safari experience. The ease of flying into Hoedspruit from Johannesburg with a short drive to Kruger made it an easy journey, and we even got there in time for an evening game drive!
We loved our stay at Motswari Lodge in the Timbavati reserve – it had a lovely rustic feel with spacious rondel rooms. My favourite part was the al fresco dining area, which was hidden in the gardens and surrounded by fairy lights.
Relishing Luxury Amenities in the Wilderness
We were also very lucky to stay at Kings Camp, a 5* colonial camp also in the Timbavati region. We were enthralled that it had been managed by the same couple for the past 23 years, and we felt that they really strived for excellence in all areas. The activities were incredible here, including organising bird watching and art safaris by request, where they bring in a local specialist for a private game drive. Wildlife enthusiasts like me will love the rhino tagging service too, which involves going on safari to help tag a rhino so they can be tracked and reserved.
Our favourite accommodation was Thornybush Game Lodge, where we saw the impressive Big Five many times – we even spotted wild dogs, which is usually a rare sight on a safari. I loved that we had our own butler for all our meals, who looked after us and remembered our favourite drinks, making us feel very special. Thornybush had fantastic game drives with amazing wildlife sightings.
Cheryl's Luxurious Trip to Kruger
Cheryl recently travelled to Kruger, and journeyed between three beautiful luxury camps nestled within three phenomenal private reserves. From spotting the Big Five in Kapama and seeing an elusive Black Rhino in Makalali, to enjoying an authentic boma dinner in Timbavati, below Cheryl tells us all about her unforgettable trip.
During our stay in South Africa, we flew from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit to cover the northern Limpopo region of Greater Kruger. We were lucky enough to stay at three amazing camps; Karula at Kapama Private Game Reserve, Garonga on the Makalali Private Reserve and finally Simbavati Hilltop Lodge at Timbavati Private Game Reserve. Game viewing in all locations was fantastic - this is what I love about safari in South Africa, the guarantee of seeing all Big 5 and more... plus the anticipation of it.
Kapama Karula is the epitome of luxury accommodation in the bush. All 12 villas here are decorated lavishly with earthy tones and feature private heated pools on the outdoor terrace that overlook the Klaserie River. This river flows all year round which means it draws animals even in the driest of months. The camp is also fenced which means peace of mind for parents with young children, and family villas are also available as well as a plethora of activities for the little ones. They also offer romantic sleep outs for honeymooners, a brand-new spa on site, a fully inclusive package with all food and drinks included and 13,000 hectares of prime game viewing (we spotted all of the Big 5 in just two days here). Kapama Karula really does cater to all.
Enjoying Unique Wildlife Experiences
Next, we travelled onwards to Garonga. Much more rustic and authentic in feel, the focus of this camp is definitely the pretty rock pool overlooking the on-site watering hole. Slightly smaller in size with just nine rooms, the camp is split in two; the main safari camp which has six luxury tents and Little Garonga which features three suites. Little Garonga is really special – perfect for a small family group or special gathering. This part of the camp is completely self-serviced with separate exclusive dining and a private plunge pool too. One unique offering here was the bush bath – giving guests the opportunity to either bathe under the stars whilst outside in the bush, or skip a game drive and view the animals in their natural habitat while pampering yourself! Whilst game driving here we came across the elusive black rhino, a pride of 15 lions feasting on a warthog, and ended up in the middle of a herd of approximately 30 elephants. What an experience.
Lastly, we concluded our stay at Simbavati Hilltop Lodge. The elevated position of this camp meant that the view went on for miles. It was incredible. Majority of the fences in the Timbavati Reserve have now been dropped which brings the safari experience even closer to the guests - it’s just wide-open plains for the animals to roam freely. A hyena was spotted just outside of our room after dinner and a lion the night before, but don’t worry, the rangers are very observant and make sure all guests are safe by escorting you to and from your room after dark. My favourite thing about this camp was the boma dinner experience, the Afrikaan music and dancing was spectacular. It was lovely to see the staff take so much pride in their culture and watch them genuinely enjoying themselves. We also had the pleasure of witnessing a herd of approximately 200 buffalo dash towards a watering hole to drink – definitely a magical sight. Because of the time of year, we spotted lots of new life in the bush too which was really special. There’s nothing quite like the sight of fluffy lion cubs playing or a baby rhino bathing.