Travellers are drawn to Africa by the continent’s vast wildlife reserves. Imagine getting ready for a dawn game drive and your guide greets you with the words: “Our tracker has located a pride of lion!” Jumping in the vehicle your excitement grows as you realise that, in just a few moments, you’ll get to see these beautiful big cats in the wild.
These experiences alone are reason enough to start planning a trip to Africa. But then there’s the continent’s coastlines and clusters of sun-soaked islands. And let’s face it, after early morning safari starts, nothing beats a few lazy days on a white-sand beach (you are on holiday after all!)
Sound good? To ensure you spend less time in airports and more time working on your tan, you’ll need to think carefully about logistics. Or let the experts do if for you. Here are a few of our top picks for Africa’s ultimate safari and beach holidays.
Sabi Sands & Mozambique
South Africa’s Kruger Park shares a border with Mozambique - a country boasting one of the longest coastlines on the African continent. Not only do these neighbours allow for hassle-free logistics but they also deliver the winning combination of superb Big 5 game viewing, and soft sand beaches with few other people about.
For your safari we’d recommend a Kruger private reserve such as the world-renowned Sabi Sands. There are many advantages to staying in a private reserve, not least of which is that your guide is permitted to drive off-road, getting you right up close to the park's herds and prides. As for Mozambique, choose between the mainland or one of the beautiful islands of the Bazaruto Archipelago.
- Savanna Private Reserve is a wonderfully luxurious property in the Sabi Sands. A fantastic team of staff and action-packed game viewing make this lodge one of our favourites.
- White Pearl Resorts, on Mozambique’s laid-back south coast, has beautifully designed suites each opening onto a private deck with a plunge pool and wide blue ocean views.
Serengeti & Zanzibar Island
The Serengeti delivers a quintessential safari experience. Picture sweeping plains dotted with game, big cats on the hunt, and acacia trees under an arc of blue sky. These grassy plains also set the stage for the greatest wildlife show on earth: the annual migration of thousand-strong herds of wildebeest and zebra.
Next swap the tooth-and-claw action of the Serengeti for Zanzibar’s palm-fringed beaches. Lying off the coast of Tanzania, Zanzibar Island is perfect for lazy days spent swimming, snorkelling, feasting on seafood and watching the sunset from a traditional sailing dhow. We’d also recommend visiting historic Stone Town with its tangle of alleyways and market stalls piled high with aromatic spices.
- Sayari Camp lies in the remote and exclusive northern Serengeti. Get your timing right and you could see the wildebeest migration crossing the Mara River – an unbelievable sight!
- Matemwe Retreat is a bit off the beaten track, on the secluded north coast of Zanzibar Island. Watch fisherman sailing past in their dhows, and dive the famous Mnemba Atoll.
KwaZulu Natal Safari & Beach
South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal (KZN) province has Big 5 game reserves, magnificent beaches and a sunny sub-tropical climate. KZN is a fantastic choice for return visitors to South Africa, or anyone looking for a somewhat wilder experience (yet still with that luxurious touch).
Reserves such as Phinda have their own airstrip, and are a short hop from Johannesburg. Game viewing here is on a par with Kruger so look forward to sightings of cheetah, lion, elephant and black rhino. After your safari fix, you can drive - or be driven - to KZN’s Indian Ocean coastline for footprint-free beaches and thriving coral reefs.
- Phinda Forest Lodge has glass-walled suites tucked amongst the trees of a rare and beautiful sand forest. A magical safari experience with superb game viewing.
- Rocktail Camp is set back from a long stretch of golden beach. The snorkelling and diving here is phenomenal, and during summer turtles come ashore to nest.
Madikwe & Mauritius Holiday
One of South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuaries, Madikwe Game Reserve lies a few hours’ drive or short flight from Johannesburg. A Big 5 reserve, Madikwe delivers consistently good game viewing with regular sightings of lion, leopard, elephant and wild dog. What’s more, being malaria-free makes Madikwe an excellent choice for a family safari.
Then it's off to the island of Mauritius (again, a great choice if you're travelling with kids). Depending on connections, there is a chance you may spend a night in Johannesburg before the 4-hour flight to the island. This is such a relaxing island destination with wide beaches, warm sea, plenty of water sports, world-class spas and even a championship golf course to practice your swing.
- Madikwe Safari Lodge has a choice of three lodges. For a family safari pick Lelapa Lodge, which has 12 suites including two family rooms and offers a fantastic kids’ programme.
- Paradis Hotel & Golf Club lies on the spectacular Le Morne Peninsular. A reef-protected lagoon and huge choice of water sports make this resort perfect for families and active couples.