By Michelle Marie Arean for Arnelle Kendall International

Coming out of a global pandemic (mostly) you are likely seeking for a deeper connection with your loved ones while on vacation. You want to make memories with family and loved ones that you couldn’t do much of in the last few years. South Africa offers families and couples the opportunity to connect through luxurious safari expeditions and glamping experiences that offer opulence while being surrounded by nature—far from “roughing” it in the outdoors. From luxurious camps serving culinary delicacies and local wine to soaring on a Champagne-filled trip through the clouds on a hot air balloon, South Africa has much to offer the adventurous traveler. Whether you’re a novice safari-goer or a repeat visitor, start thinking about planning your trip to this picturesque country now.

Two popular destinations with visitors are Kenya in East Africa and Botswana in West Africa, each offering travelers a distinct experience. Kenya is home to much wildlife and offers travelers plenty of photo opportunities worthy of social media bragging rights. While Botswana enhances the safari experience for the more experienced travelers by offering river rides, sand dunes, and mountainside views. This luxury vacation can be customized to include both destinations during your travel or you can opt to focus on just one and take a deeper dive into exploring the area.

KENYA

What to Expect

Kenya is said to be the country where safari was born. Here, travelers can encounter the “big five”—lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and Cape buffalo, all of which call this area home—and experience the annual Great Migration. If you want to make sure you get to see the Great Migration, plan your trip during the dry season (June through October) or calving season (January through March). Travelers will get to witness the big cats lounging and giraffes snacking on the trees.

During your trip, book a hot air balloon safari at the break of dawn in the Masai Mara complete with a champagne breakfast for the ultimate luxury experience. The Masai Mara is a large national game reserve, which is one of the most famous and important wildlife conservation and wilderness areas in Africa. It’s known for its population of lion, leopard, cheetah, and the African bush elephant.

Another must-visit is Amboseli National Park, a great choice for first-time safari goers or those visiting Kenya for the first time. Its compact size allows guests to see just about every aspect in about two days. And, its proximity to Nairobi means you can take a short 1-hour flight to your next destination. Amboseli is known for elephants strolling along Mount Kilimanjaro or the Laikipia Plateau, which is home to a high concentration of the endangered black rhino. This national park is a great starting off point for your exploration of Kenya.
On the border of Kenya, guests will come to Northern Tanzania, which spotlights Serengeti National Park where the landscape changes as you travel south. Africa’s eighth wonder of the world is also located in this area—the Ngorongoro Crater, which is surrounded by 3,200-sq.-miles of UNESCO-recognized conservation area. Flocks of pink flamingos can be found on Lake Magadi while hippos hangout in the swamplands. Another must-stop on this trip is a visit to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s elephant orphanage in Nairobi.

During these safari expeditions, travelers will not only have the chance to encounter wildlife but could also have the opportunity to interact with the local communities and learn about their culture. While in Samburu National Reserve, travelers can meet members of the Samburu, a semi-nomadic community who graze cattle and goats on the savanna. Visitors can also speak to a village elder of the Maasai community, who shares customs, history, and traditions with those they meet. The Maasai people are also semi-nomadic and are one of Africa’s most known ethnic groups.

BOTSWANA

Experiences Beyond Jeep Safaris

While exploring Botswana, the Okavango Delta is one not to miss. This swampy inland delta forms where the Okavango River reaches a tectonic trough, plus the Moremi Game Reserve, a national park, is located on the eastern side of the delta. The Okavango Delta was named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It is home to a variety of wildlife including all the Big Five plus other species including giraffe, plains zebra, hippos, impala, antelopes, cheetahs, hyenas, porcupines, warhogs, baboons, the vervet monkeys, and more. Here, travelers can skip the traditional Jeep safari and opt for a traditional mokoro (dugout canoe) and glide down the Okavango River as they spot elephants, hippos and Nile crocodiles. The best time to plan your trip is during the dry season (July through September), which is when herds of lion, cheetahs, and leopards, as well as brown and spotted hyenas pass through the area.

During your trip, carve out some time to visit neighboring country, Namibia, where you can explore the Sossusvleii sand dunes in Namib-Naukluft National Park. Guests can opt to explore the sand dunes via quad-bike, on a hike, or even from above on a hot air balloon. If you then head north, you can track the rare desert rhino in the Etosha National Park. The watering holes in the park’s plains also attract lions, elephants, baboons, and antelopes.

BONUS STOP: CAPE TOWN

What’s a trip to South Africa without a visit in Cape Town? During your trip, take some time off from the safaris and explore South Africa’s oldest city and the country’s second largest city after Johannesburg. This modern, cosmopolitan city is surrounded by nature and known for landmarks such as Table Mountain and Cape Point. Table Mountain National Park, which includes Table Mountain and Cape of Good Home, is part of the UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site. The city also offers a vast coastline on the Atlantic Ocean, including False Bay. Foodies can indulge while in Cape Town as the city offers award-winning food and wine experiences.

Ellerman House – Capetown, South Africa

WHERE TO STAY: INYATI GAME LODGE, SABI SAND PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

Located in South Africa on the banks of the Sand River, in the western sector of the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve, which is a private game reserve, the Inyati Game Lodge offers guests an authentic safari experience. The reserve is not open to the general public, therefore guests of the private lodges, which have access to the reserve, get exclusive safari experiences. Guests will head on these safari expeditions with qualified guides who provide insights into the bio networks of the landscape.

The property consists of 11 luxury chalets, all of which include in-room WiFi. Rates include game drives in open 4-wheel drive safari vehicles, plus fishing and walking safaris, transfers to and from Ulusaba airstrip, all meals, a house selection of beverages, and WiFi. Guests can also opt for additional experiences such as guided bush walks, stargazing activities, fishing, and swimming, plus young rangers’ programs for kids, and community tours.

Dining on property is a culinary affair to remember. Wine lovers will relish on local wines from the famiy-ownded Vriesenhof Wine Estate, which produces the property’s house wine, plus an extensive wine list showcasing South Africa’s finest. Candlle-lit outdoor dinners add to the romantic ambiance and guests dine on culinary delights.

There are three luxury family chalets and eight luxury standard chalets on the property all offering uninterrupted views of the African bush and overlooking the Sand River. All chalets are elegantly decorated and spacious plus have 24-hour temperature control air-conditioning and overhead fans, en-suite bathrooms, outside showers, mini bar fridge fully stocked on request, and coffee-making facilities.

The reserve offers two distinct seasons and game viewing activities—the summer season (September to March), which is a time when many species breed and prey is plentiful for the lurking predators. In addition, rainfall occurs between October and February and often results in spectacular afternoon thundershowers. In the winter season, April to August, the animals concentrate at the perennial water sources and the grass is low, making game viewing easier. Although winter days are usually warm and clear, late afternoon and early morning temperatures are chilly.

For those traveling as a family, keep in mind that children must be 8 years and older to stay at Inyati. And, when making your travel plans, take note that there are two major airports serving the Inyati Game Lodge, Sabi Sands: Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport / Nelspruit (MQP) and Skukuza Airport situated in the Kruger National Park. Road Transfers from both airports to Inyati Game Lodge, can be booked and arranged. In addition, guests will be met at the airport and transferred in an air-conditioned vehicle.

COVID REQUIREMENTS & HOW TO BOOK

As of June 2022, travelers heading to South Africa no longer require proof of vaccination or negative PCR tests. And, U.S. citizens are no longer required to quarantine. In addition, the country no longer has a curfew and there are no intercity or interstate travel restrictions.

When booking your travel, opt for a hassle-free experience and the opportunity to customize your trip to Africa as you wish with the destinations and experiences you are most interested included.

For more information, call Arnelle Kendall, Travel Concierge & Independent Affiliate of Unique Travel at arnelle@arnellekendallinternational.com or call (561) 789-8286

RELATED POSTS WE THINK YOU WILL REALLY LIKE.

SAME PLEASURES DIFFERENT PLACES

Embark on a journey to replicate the elegance of Palm Beach in other summer retreats. Delve into exquisite dining, fashionable boutiques, captivating art galleries, and iconic stays beyond the 33480 zip code.

Read More »

SUMMER PARTY FLAVORS

James Bartle of Sandy James gives us three palate pleasing picks for your summer celebrations Summer days call for poolside parties. James Bartle of Sandy

Read More »