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As African experts, we’ve selected our 10 best “off-the-beaten-track” destinations for 2011. The destinations and properties we’ve chosen are the ones that have stuck with us from our travels over the last year, whether for their sustainable approach, level of luxury or sheer beauty and remoteness. We hope you’ll enjoy exploring these unique African destinations as much as we have. Here they are, in no particular order:
Why: The Serengeti plays host to the greatest mammal migration on earth with Big 5 sightings in bounds. See it from above in a hot air balloon or on a game drive.
Stay: Singita Explore in the Grumeti Game Reserve – it’s Singita’s latest, mobile, luxury-tented property and ideal because it moves with the migration so you can see this animal spectacle in full glory. It’s also eco-friendly and designed to keep environmental impact at a minimum.
Tour: Dee’s Ultimate Tanzania Experience
Why: The Quirimbas Archipelago in Mozambique is one of southern Africa’s premier beach destinations and contains its own collection of over 30 islands off the coast of Pemba. It is more private, exclusive and off the beaten track than Bazaruto as it is harder to reach and there are therefore fewer tourists. With mangroves, coral reefs and palms in abundance, Robinson Crusoe would turn palm green with envy.
Stay: Medjumbe Private Island Resort – This luxurious hotel is located on a private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago a 40 minute flight from Pemba.
Tour: Sian’s Mozambican Escape
Why: The Okavango Delta is a must for African enthusiasts. We recommend exploring it from the Moremi Game Reserve. Moremi offers both land and water safaris. The game and bird life viewing here is second to none.
Stay: Xakanaxa Camp, on the banks of the Khwai River and Xakanaxa Lagoon in the heart of the Reserve. It offers all activities, including Mokoro trips.
Tour: Okavango – Chobe – Vic Falls
Why: Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast in Namibia are spectacular self drive destinations with several highlights and unique geology. Damaraland is also the scene of our own Challange4aCause cycle, an annual event to raise funds to help protect the endangered desert-adapted black rhino, indigenous to the region.
Stay: In Damaraland – Mowani Mountain Camp – a luxury safari lodge built into and around the rocky mountainside that lays claim to the best view in Namibia. In Skeleton Coast – Skeleton Coast Camp. An honourable mention must go to Serra Cafema, which is on the Kunene River, on the edge of the Namib Desert and the Skeleton Coast Park.
Tour: Best of Namibia
Why: Most people think of the Kruger and the Sabi Sand when it comes to South African safaris, but Thornybush Game Reserve is lesser known and unique in its own way. It lies adjacent to the Kruger National Park. The game rangers and trackers here are among the best qualified and experienced in South Africa and it is one of the few places you can still see black rhino in South Africa.
Stay: Royal Malewane – this is an über exclusive luxury lodge with a spectacular spa
Tour: Cape Town – Kruger – Vic Falls. We can replace any of the Kruger properties with Royal Malewane.
Read more about David’s latest trip to Royal Malewane here.
Why: Nosy Iranja in Madagascar consists of two idyllic islands some 30 miles south of Nosy Be. The island is famous for its turtle population and you can see babies hatching and scurrying across the sand. Also popular are the lemurs, which can be seen further afield off Nosy Iranja at the Lemur sanctuary on Nosy Komba, and in the forests in the east and south of the island.
Stay: Nosy Iranja Lodge – located on the unspoilt southern island of Nosy Iranja, which is exclusively reserved for guests and has access to a private beach.
Tour: David’s Magical Madagascar Tour
Why: Mnemba is renowned as one of the most romantic ocean destinations in the world with some of the world’s most beautiful dive sites. It is an exclusive island just 4.5 kilometres off the north-eastern tip of Zanzibar in the Indian Ocean.
Stay: Mnemba Island Lodge offers rustic luxury surrounded by an atoll of breathtaking coral reefs and boasts some of Africa’s most wonderful dive sites.
Tour: Serengeti – Ngorongoro – Zanzibar
Why: The Kalahari always promises things you can never see elsewhere. Tswalu Kalahari is malaria free and a great Big 5 safari destination. It is also the largest private Game Reserve in South Africa. Look out for the meerkats.
Stay: Sleep right under the African stars in this unique and brand new property from Tswalu Kalahari – the Malori Sleepout Deck. It’s basically a luxury king-size bed built on a raised deck amid this magnificent 100,000 hectare private game reserve.
Tour: MannaBay, Cape Town – Grootbos – Tswalu.
Why: The Whale Route runs from Cape Town to Cape Agulhas and offers malaria-free safaris and Marine 5 spotting. If you’ve seen the Big 5, it’s time to add the Marine 5 to the bucket list too!
Stay: Grootbos Nature Reserve – Go whale-watching and on Marine 5 safaris, dive with great white sharks, go on guided horseback tours, and enjoy walks and 4×4 tours through the reserve. Stay in either the Garden Lodge, Forest Lodge, or Villa.
Tour: Garden Route Self-drive Tour
Why: The Volcanoes National Park is home to five of the eight volcanoes of the Virunga Mountains, which are covered in rainforest and bamboo. Here you can track gorillas on a safari through the forests.
Stay: The eco-friendly Virunga Lodge boasts one of the most stunning locations anywhere in Africa. It is just an hour from the Volcanoes National Park entrance where all gorilla tracking activities leave from.
Tour: Rwanda – Kenya – Tanzania
For more information or to book your stay at any of these incredible places, simply contact us. Our passionate team of expert consultants is standing by to tailor make your dream African holiday.
Tamlin has been exploring, writing about and photographing Africa ever since her first job as a photojournalist for Getaway Magazine. She's lived on an island, eaten with lions, sailed catamarans in the Indian Ocean, tracked wild dogs with Kinglsey Holgate, and white water rafted down the Zambezi and has kept just about every airplane ticket that has crossed her hands.
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