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This is the 2nd blog in a 3-part series detailing Rhino Africa’s 2019 edition of Challenge4ACause. Read part one here.
The Rhino Africa participants for this year’s C4AC consists of a peculiar mix of adventurers; some fancy the jet-setting life of luxury while others prefer things more meanderingly-makeshift. All of them, however, are passionate about Africa, take their travel with a double G&T, and in a couple of weeks, will be pedalling through the Tuli Block high on excitement and drunk on adrenaline.
Meet the Rhino riders
David “Evil Genius” Ryan – CEO
Our maverick CEO, eccentric founder and resident mountain-biking maniac will be leading the charge through treacherous terrain, and undoubtedly create havoc along the way. When times get tough and spirits are low, he’ll be the one cycling past with a mischievous smile on his face and a regal wave (on his bike with an extra gear or two).
Grant “Lion of Wall Street” Rapaport – CFO
Grant, our CFO and unequivocal numbers man at Rhino Africa, is always flouting the latest tech. With an uncanny talent for snapping pictures while manoeuvering through tricky single-track, we trust him to capture our riders at all (the wrong) times.
Chris “Oink” Allflat – Corporate Coach
Don’t be misled by the nickname, Coach Chris is probably the fittest and most experienced mountain biker of the group. And although he has a nasty habit of breaking bones while riding, he fancies breaking records too, let’s just hope he manages to stay on his bike this time around.
Leigh-Ann “LAAB” Combrink – Travel Consultant
Having clocked in over a decade of time with Rhino Africa, Leigh-Ann eats, sleeps and breathes the Rhino spirit. Further proven by her intimate familiarity with C4AC (having completed 7 of these already) and the pain and suffering that happens on the saddle. Always one with a quick chirp and a smile, she’ll be boosting the team’s morale in their darkest hour.
Luke “Aquaman” Lalin – Head of Communications
Whether its Olympic-sized laps in the pool, or country-sized cycle tours through the desert, there truly is no challenge too great for this fearless leader. Let’s just hope he won’t be a fish out of water once the challenge kicks into full gear.
Julien “Dr. Baguette” Ghighi – Business Analyst
A tech guru with a ton of french flair to match, Julien fully encompasses the go-to attitude needed for the challenge. Fingers crossed his love of carbs don’t weigh him down.
Simon “Guinness” Watson – Photographer
Curly-haired, twinkle in the eye and always armed with a wisecrack. Our oh-so Irish Simon is a master behind the lens and a beginner behind the bars, but that won’t stop him from diving into the challenge, curly-head-first, camera closely following suit.
Sean “Peaches” Brookes – Head of Multimedia
We named him peaches because his cheeks begin to resemble them when he’s on the incline. But beyond his bushy-bearded, rugged exterior is a heart of gold and an outrageous love for adventure.
Terri “Slow-coach” Lourens – Designer
Designer extraordinaire, quirky creative and proponent of stopping to smell the roses, Terri is this year’s cycling novice. And while she might be new to the challenge, her unrivalled tenacity and drive will undoubtedly get her across the finish line – no matter how long it might take or how many teeth she’s missing at the end.
Rishad “Green Panther” Omar – Software Developer
Quiet, soft-spoken and probably the calmest presence in the team, Rishad loves the outdoors. In fact, when he isn’t hunched over a keyboard, he’s probably breathing in some fresh air. While Terri will be off sniffing the flowers, Rishad will be the one hugging the trees.
How can you support the Rhino riding team?
Now is the time for you to stand up and join this team of intrepid explorers and mischievous misfits. They are on a mission to raise over R100k ($7k) and need your support to reach these lofty heights. All funds raised will go towards the inspirational organisations working tirelessly to protect Africa’s wildlife, wild spaces and wonderful people.
Most travellers to Africa are all too familiar with the irksome, high-pitched hum of a mosquito on the prowl – a serious nuisance guaranteed to ruin a good night’s sleep. If mosquitoes were just an annoyance with no potential for serious harm, we might be more tolerant of them. But in some areas, fear of mosquitoes is well-founded due to the diseases they may carry.
There are some 2,500 species of mosquito and they are found in almost every region of the world. During peak breeding season, mosquitoes outnumber every animal on the planet except for ants and termites, carrying diseases including dengue fever, the Zika virus and Encephalitis. However, the most deadly mosquito-borne disease is malaria, caused by the Plasmodium parasite, which is transmitted through the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito.
The realities of malaria in Africa
Photo Credit: Madikwe Safari Lodge
In Africa, the highest malaria transmission rates occur in the continent’s Sub-Saharan regions (the areas with warm, wet climates). That said, the risk of actually contracting the disease in places that sit within the malaria belt, such as the Kruger National Park, Etosha, Mozambique’s Bazaruto, Zanzibar, the Masai Mara and Serengeti, is minimal – even more so during the dry season and when appropriate precautions are taken.
Anti-malarial medication (prophylaxes) and other precautions (for instance insect repellent or travelling in winter) provide very effective ways of handling the risk. However, medication can be expensive and cause unpleasant side-effects ranging from migraines to nausea, and for some, the unpleasantries are just not worth it.
Many travellers decide to steer clear of malarial areas altogether. This option is particularly recommended for the elderly, those with impaired immune systems, pregnant women and families with children, as these groups are most at risk of complications arising from the disease.
Where to go for that malaria-free safari?
Photo credit: Madikwe Safari Lodge
Plainly said, malaria cannot survive at certain altitudes and latitudes, meaning that mosquitoes found at these heights do not carry the parasite.
South Africa’s Eastern Cape boasts a collection of malaria-free reserves, offering you the chance to see the celebrated Big 5 and more of the continent’s most iconic wildlife. It’s also incredibly popular for combining a safari with the Garden Route and Cape Town. And with a coastline of over 800 kilometres, the Eastern Cape offers pristine beaches, excellent surf and a variety of watersports, so you can enjoy some downtime after your wildlife adventure.
The North West Province extends from the Botswana border and the Kalahari Desert to the province of Gauteng and is predominantly a vast grassland. Offering views stretching into the distant horizon, its landscape is dotted by trees with the Magaliesberg mountains running along the eastern flank. It’s also home to two of South Africa’s finest game reserves, providing excellent malaria-free Big 5 safari experiences.
Those with a limited budget and time should consider visiting Pilanesberg Game Reserve, but if traditional safari-going is on the cards, Madikwe makes for the premier option.
The magic of malaria-free Madikwe
Photo Credit: Jamala Madikwe
Situated in South Africa’s largest malaria-free sanctuary, Madikwe Game Reserve is one of the most extensive game reserves in South Africa (over 75,000 hectares) and combines two unique ecosystems; Kalahari thornveld (western and northern parts of Madikwe) and lowveld or savanna bushveld (southern and eastern parts of Madikwe).
Here, white rhino viewing is exceptional, and if you’re lucky you might even catch a family of elephant taking a mud bath. Madikwe is also less busy than the Kruger, and the different lodges within the reserve all work together and share information about sightings to help increase your likelihood of catching that life-altering glimpse you’ve always imagined seeing.
Photo Credit: Jamala Madikwe
The benefit of a malaria-free safari destination, such as Madikwe, is that no precautionary measures are required before, during or after travel. The mosquito nets provided around your bed are simply a functional touch and enable you to get a good night’s sleep without undue disturbance. After all, despite being non-malarial, the vast majority of these reserves do still harbour mosquitoes.
These regions are also ideally suited for the first-time traveller to South Africa or families with children who wish to discover its wild beauty, without worrying about the side-effects of doing so.
At least once in a lifetime, you might find yourself faced with the questions, am I brave enough? Do I have what it takes? Am I strong enough to try my hand at the impossible? And sometimes, most times, the only way to find out is to take the leap.
11 Rhinos (Rhino Africa staff) have taken this leap and accepted the challenge. And on 23 July 2019, they will embark on another gruelling adventure that is Challenge4ACause.
No challenge too mean for the spandex-wearing team
You might be wondering what is Challenge4ACause (C4AC) exactly?
Driven by a burning desire to give back to Africa, uplift its people and preserve the wildlife of our magical continent, Rhino Africa launched C4AC. And thus, this crazy initiative was born.
Crazy for two reasons. Firstly, it consists of multiple days of extreme mountain biking, over 400km from start to finish; secondly, the route traverses some of the most remote and barren parts of Africa. Envision empty horizons, no civilisation and lots and lots of sand.
So it’s fairly obvious where the challenge element of this comes in. But, what about the cause? Well, Rhino Africa is a company founded on the principle of giving back. Africa is such a magical place and everyone – all around the world – should have the privilege of experiencing her charm. And only through the preservation of her wildlife, the protection of her incredible spaces and upliftment of her warm people can this be possible.
What better way to raise awareness and funds, than by exploring the most remote and inaccessible parts of our beautiful continent. As they say, the pain might be temporary (and self-inflicted) but the experience, scenery, camaraderie and sense of purpose makes this one of the most rewarding experiences of your life.
Stiff competition, stiff legs and stiff drinks are on the menu
Photo credit: Tour de Tuli
After conquering the harsh Namibian desert (or at least trying our best to) for over 10 years, we thought it was time for new challenges on new horizons. This year, Rhino Africa has partnered with our close friends at Wilderness Safaris and are proud to embark on our inaugural Challenge4ACause; Tour de Tuli edition. True to Rhino Africa’s pioneering spirit, this four-day mountain biking challenge will see our Rhinos tackle the harshest terrain of not only one country, but three: Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa.
After all, what’s a challenge if it can’t be tripled?
If your teammates don’t chase you, the elephants probably will
A multi-day mountain bike tour is not for the faint of heart. Think freezing cold temperatures in the morning, teeth chattering in the icy breeze, soon followed by the scorching heat of the blazing midday African sun, with no reprieve from the elements.
This voyage encompasses a daily average of 7 hours on the bike, delicately meandering along ancient game-trodden trails, singletracks across sprawls of loose stones and Moab-style steep cliffs and ridges. This is Africa’s true wilderness. Wildebeest, giraffe and warthog encounters are fairly common and, if you’re “lucky”, an elephant-sized “wake up call” to get the heart pumping.
It would be poetic if not for the pain
Photo credit: Tour de Tuli
Why would anyone do this to themselves you may ask?
Well, the answer is simple: C4AC and Tour de Tuli are built around raising money for organisations dedicated to leaving a powerful and lasting impact in Africa. Over the past 12 years, C4AC has raised over R10 million ($720 000). An incredible achievement which has contributed to the protection of Africa’s most endangered animals as well as uplifting children and communities who need it the most. Our Impact Partners, Wildlife ACT, the Good Work Foundation, Khumbulani Educare Centre, The Click Foundation and Save the Rhino Trust have all done incredible work in preserving and building a better Africa for the future.
10 Years Of Challenge4ACause - The Reason We Ride | Rhino Africa - YouTube
But there is still so much more to be done. This year, the Rhino Riders are aiming to raise R100 000 ($7,000) through our crowdfunding platform. All funds raised will go directly towards these worthy causes and the vital work they do.
Be bold, be brave, take the leap with our riders and become an ambassador for Africa – donate to C4AC now – and leave your legacy in Africa.
To everyone tackling Tour de Tuli 2019: best of luck! And don’t worry about getting lost, you’ll get an extra dose of gloriously unspoiled terrain to explore – all to yourself and some friendly local elephants too.
While Cape Town, Table Mountain and its captivating coastline offer ample attractions, for many visitors, the ultimate lure lies in the 200-plus vineyards that cover the verdant, rolling hills of the Cape Winelands. This region is famed not only for its scenic wine tours but also for the high concentration of stunning accommodations and stellar restaurants on offer.
The gardens of Babylonstoren Photo credit: Babylonstoren
Enter Babylonstoren, a veritable 200-hectare farm located deep in the Drakenstein Valley, almost halfway between Franschhoek and Paarl, that perfectly encompasses all of the above, and so much more.
This thick slice of 17th-century farm life, with its dense, whitewashed walls, pitched reed-thatch roofs, rounded gables and harmonious symmetry, is one of the finest remaining examples of Cape Dutch-style architecture in South Africa’s picturesque Winelands today. And serves as the perfect countryside escape.
The grounds and gardens
Get lost in the gorgeous grounds Photo credit: Babylonstoren
Babylonstoren’s entrance lies just off a small, unassuming road near Franschhoek that takes you between the vineyards and into the first of two restored wings of the wine cellar. The old space, overrun in dim lighting and vintage farm implements, has been reinvented as a retail area (complete with a coffee bar) that leads up a ramp into an innovative, highly contemporary steel-and-glass tasting room. From here, you can see all the expansive, bottle-green vineyards that surround it, as well as the superb Simonsberg and Banghoek Mountains. However, as beautiful as that is, Babylonstoren’s gardens are arguably the main attraction, providing the central backdrop to everything that happens on the farm.
This sprawling edifice to nature is divided into fifteen clusters and was inspired by the fabled Gardens of Babylon, as well as the original Company Gardens in Cape Town that supplied fresh produce to traders along the Spice Routes between the Netherlands and the East.
Extending into a mythological, maze-like 3.5-hectares of land overrun in fruit trees, overgrown vegetables, cacti and fragrant lawns, the gardens encompass not only excellent wine production, but also a stylish guest house, a couple of award-winning eateries, a serene spa, boathouse, endless dirt roads (which cottage guests can explore on available mountain bikes) and a pervasive sense of tranquility that’ll follow you wherever you go.
Peruse the pathways Photo credit: Babylonstoren
There are over three kilometres of paths that run through the gardens, which provide hours of walking pleasure, and there’s a daily guided tour lead by one of the gardeners.
Apart from their walkability, however, their lush, magnificent and completely magical aesthetic can’t be emphasised enough; rose vines tower overhead as they twirl around rustic wooden structures, green peppers and lettuces and pumpkins and tomatoes flourish, glowing with the sort of goodness you can only happen upon in Cape Town’s foremost farm-fresh markets.
This is also an excellent place to see nature at play. From the changing colours of the seasons, an “insect hotel” alive with all forms of life, a new crop of unusual plants and flowers, or a cheeky squirrel stealing fruit for his supper – there is always something to keep you entertained. So much so that there is far too much to experience in just one visit.
A look inside the wondrous accommodation Photo credit: Babylonstoren
The most stylish accommodation in all the Winelands, with contemporary detailing offset against historic architecture, Babylonstoren’s cottages contain considered design that delights at every turn. And their reputation is spreading far and fast for effortlessly mixing old and new, and incorporating local and foreign influences in everything from the garden design to the decor on display. Waking up here makes for an otherworldly privilege.
The rooms are elegantly understated, and they let the landscape do most of the talking. Of course, there are luxurious touches at every turn: bespoke furniture, wool-and-sisal carpets, textured linen, horsehair, wood, leather, and stone in neutral palettes. Grand marble bathrooms beckon with rain showers and under-floor heating, and distinguished art adds to the overall joyous aesthetic.
Two glasses of world-class wine Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
Babylonstoren’s world-class winery comprises of 178 acres of vineyards that produce thirteen different grape varieties. Daily tastings are on offer, with each sampling including five different blends.
It’s also highly recommended to order one (or two!) of their platters of charcuterie, cheese, and the fruits and veggies that are freshly grown in the garden.
The Greenhouse restaurant Photo credit: Babylonstoren
Inside an old cowshed, sits Babel Restaurant. This place is all about deceptively simple foods, taking classic favourites you love and fusing them to create unique and unexpected blends that you won’t soon forget.
The second eatery, the Greenhouse Restaurant, is located at the back of the garden. This lovely daily café is set next to an airy conservancy that dishes up freshly baked cakes, coffee, tea, and juice made from the fruits of the garden.
You won’t find any ingredients out of season, and you certainly won’t be eating anything that has been transported from the other side of the world. This means that every bite is perfectly ripe.
A land of earthly delights
The sprawling vineyards Photo credit: Babylonstoren
Babylonstoren makes for the Wineland’s most attractive, easygoing, epicurean getaway, where a beautiful sense of novelty permeates, and the prosaic and poetic always combine in the minutest details – from crushed sea shells which line the walkways in the fragrance garden to decorative floor inlays made with the distinctive blue-and-white pottery shards found on the property. Here, intention, impeccable style and all-out indulgence are always on tap.
This is a land of equal parts utopian bliss and delicious heart. But Babylonstoren’s real appeal lies in its distance from the hustle and bustle of the city, making it the perfect farm-style retreat, where the days are intentionally unscripted, leaving you to uncover the elusive, legendary hanging gardens all by yourself.
The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. – Kate Chopin
Break away from the daily grind and come experience an enriching and serene retreat with Love Surf Yoga, where your happiness and well-being are priority. The concept behind Patricia Pinto’s exciting Love Surf Yoga tour to South Africa is simple; everyone needs to take the time to breathe, to try new things and let the nurturing caress of Mother Nature rejuvenate them.
And what could possibly be a better way to ring in the New Year with good health, joy and contentment than this incredible nine-day tour with like-minded individuals and the expert guidance of Patricia and her hand-picked team?
The founder or Love Surf Yoga, Patricia Pinto Photo Credit: Love Surf Yoga
Shanti, Sea and Safari with Love Surf Yoga
Whether you’re a beginner or experienced at yoga and surfing, it does not matter. This is a personal journey and an opportunity to encounter a slice of the spectacular wilderness of South Africa’s nature reserves and beaches. And at the same time, to share the joy of learning yoga, meditation and surfing with a small group. Over nine days in January 2020, you will travel to the most peaceful places in KwaZulu-Natal for some me-time in paradise.
Take some time to breathe and do yoga Photo credit: Kristopher Allison
The Game Plan:
1. Arrive in Johannesburg (2 Jan 2020)
Welcome to South Africa! You’ll touch-down in Johannesburg where an efficient airport transfer will take you to the Outlook Lodge. Meet the group you’ll be sharing this amazing journey with and enjoy a one night stay before the next part of the trip.
2. Become a beach bum (3 – 6 Jan 2020)
Get ready to relish the warm, relaxing days on a secluded beach, which is only a flight and road trip away from Johannesburg. You’ll be staying at the luxurious 5-star Tonga Beach Lodge, where untouched dune forests surrounding island-style rooms allow you to freely kick off your shoes and absorb the serenity. This seaside Garden of Eden lies on the warm coast of northern KwaZulu-Natal and is part of the renowned iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
On January 4th, you’ll get to take part in a turtle tracking experience. Under the cover of darkness, you’ll follow mother turtles as they return to the same beach where they were born to begin the cycle all over again. You’ll get to experience, first-hand, as mother turtles dig holes and lay eggs before vanishing back into the depths of the ocean.
On January 5th, you’ll partake in a morning open ocean experience. This adventure offers you a rare opportunity to encounter the variety of marine life that live along the Elephant Coast. The warm Indian Ocean supports a myriad of underwater fauna, and you may find youself swimming with dolphins or whale sharks or snorkelling with manta rays and giant turtles. No experience is required for this activity, but the launch through the surf can be strenuous.
Thonga Beach Lodge is remote and peaceful Photo credit: Love Surf Yoga
Elsewhere, each day will bring with it a great mix of yoga, Pilates and meditation in the mornings, before you’ll set out to conquer some waves in the afternoons. Love Surf Yoga has a brilliant team of surf and yoga coaches to give you personalised lessons. And the beauty of this trip is you’ll be witnessing the harmony of nature with people, while feeling the harmony within yourself, too.
Stay at these rustic island-styled rooms in luxury Photo credit: Thonga Beach Lodge
3. Stay at a safari sanctuary (7 – 10 Jan 2020)
Switch the beach for the bush and journey on to experience a riveting safari within Hluhluwe–iMfolozi Park, the home of a thousand White Rhino. Positioned high on a ridge, Rhino Ridge Safari Lodgeoverlooks the undulating valleys and hills of this reserve. You will encounter an exceptional diversity of wildlife on game drives and bush walks with passionate guides.
A thousand white rhinos live within Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park Photo credit: Matthias Mullie
Your personal growth continues with daily yoga and meditation sessions. And you’ll have the peacefulness of the bush and new-found friends to accompany you.
The spectacular view from the verandah of Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge Photo credit: Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge
4. Return home rejuvenated (11 Jan 2020)
After spending this incredible time in South Africa with Love Surf Yoga, you’ll be ready to face the year ahead. This day will be spent on a road transfer to Richard’s Bay Airport and a flight back to Johannesburg.
New Year’s in Cape Town – an optional extra
Before joining everyone else in Johannesburg on 2 January, you could spend your New Year’s in Cape Town for a little extra fun. This option includes a four-day stay from 29 December 2019 to 1 January 2020 at a luxury B&B. Venture out to visit award-winning wine farms and a penguin sanctuary after yoga and meditation sessions in the mornings.
Some affection between penguins at Boulder Beach Photo credit: Rhino Africa
Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity, so book now with us as only 12 spaces are available!
We all know that a single day isn’t enough to thank her for being the one who always helped you with your homework, patched you up after wrecking your brand new bike and shuttled you between all those parties in her mom-mobile.
From cheering you on at your sports day to cheering you on as you waddle your way through life, your Mom is your single biggest fan (apart from Dad, though it’s not about him this time).
This Mother’s Day we believe it’s all about getting her the perfect gift. But what do you get the mom who has everything? Experiences of course, and no better place on the planet delivers in the experience department quite like Southern Africa.
Photo credit: David Cox
Reconnect in Cosmopolitan Cape Town
If a stacked itinerary filled with as many varied activities as possible, is a priority, Mother’s Day in Cape Town would be the way to go – it’s called the Mother City for a reason, after all.
Whether mom prefers sipping on the best of the Winelands’ undeniable delights, marching to the beat of the city’s eccentric bustle, clinging to the gorgeous coastline, or just soaking up the stunning scenery of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s mix of metropolitan living and traditional flair gives it a distinctly legendary aura.
We promise you, in Cape Town, she won’t be left with little to do.
Photo Credit: Love Cape Town
Get lost in the Kruger Kaleidoscope
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Kruger National Park can provide a pleasantly peaceful and reinvigorating surprise. Let me explain…
Although this immense wilderness might not first spring to mind when conjuring up ideas of a rejuvenating Mother’s Day, this vast, veritable land will be sure to dazzle her in extraordinary ways.
Boasting world-class game viewing, the incomparable luxury of its highly-exclusive lodges and some of the finest spa facilities on the continent, the Kruger, in many ways, is the absolute cream of Africa’s crop.
Here, many establishments take full advantage of nature’s truly restorative effects – we definitely recommend a dose of the bush’s best.
Who knows, maybe you’ll finally live up to that know-it-all attitude she always claimed you had.
Photo credit: Londolozi
Vanish beneath the mists of Victoria Falls
They often say you shouldn’t meet your idols, as the experience always falls short of the fantasy. However, as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an asset shared between two countries, Victoria Falls undoubtedly lives up to its superstar status.
Mother’s Day also falls on the back end of the region’s rainy season, so she’ll be guaranteed greater views of the falls’ dramatic precipices.
Amid the immense sound of the world’s largest cascading curtain of water, heart-stopping views and almost-surreal beauty of glinting rainbows in the clouds of spray, there’s a unique multi-sensory experience of a lifetime waiting to be had. And who wouldn’t want to make memories like that?
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
The perfect Mother’s Day getaway
From casual to upmarket and no-frills to life-altering, the aforementioned destinations have something every mom could want.
While it’s true that she’ll appreciate just about anything you do, it wouldn’t hurt to put in a little bit of effort behind the thought process. Ensure you make her feel extra special this Mother’s Day and gift her with the mother of all African adventures.
From the moment you step onto the moist wetland earth of Mana Pools National Park, you’re keenly aware of why this has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With four large pools that feed into the Zambezi River, this park showcases more than 350 species of birdlife as well as elephants, buffalo, zebras, lions, hyenas and many more striking creatures. Uncover the splendour of this once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sanctuary whether it’s near the rainy season or in the dry season when the wildlife clamours for resources on the banks of the river. We’ve put together a list of our favourite Mana Pools properties to suit the entire family.
This little sophisticated haven has elephants grazing right on its doorstep. On arrival, take a walk along the wooden walkways that weave through the lush vegetation that shades the camp. Ruckomechi is kitted out with a small library for your reading pleasure as well as an infinity pool that overlooks breathtaking views.
Your mornings are serene with an outdoor shower available should you want to take in the scenery before your coffee. Family accommodation is available but when parents are searching for a relaxing escape from the busyness of the children’s adventures, there is a special bath-with-a-view experience that gives a peek into the movements of the animals along the banks of the river.
At these Mana Pools properties it’s not uncommon to see a large amount of the same species gathering together at once. With the Zambezi River to the front and the Rift Valley to the back of the lodge, there is sure to be an abundance of wildlife on the banks.
Due to the different conditions that come with the seasons, the camp is only open from April to November when the chances of a close-encounter with a majestic elephant are greater. Apart from the animals in proximity to the camp, there are a myriad to see while embarking on game drives, walking safaris and boating expeditions. Close down the day in classic safari style with sundowners in the swimming pool.
Settled among trichilia and mahogany trees is John’s Camp, a classic safari camp that takes visitors back to the real focus of a safari adventure – the wildlife.
Wade through the endless grasslands on a trekking endeavour with a knowledgeable local guide or try your hand at fishing in the great Zambezi River. Get up close and personal with the sensational creatures of Mana Pools on game drives that always take you to unexpected surprises. In the evening, curl up under the ‘mozzie dome’, a hideaway that is designed to enthrall you with the constellations above while being secluded from the rest of camp. This is ideal for parents looking for an activity to connect over while children learn about the flora and fauna of the surrounds.
Photo Credit: John’s Camp
Photo Credit: John’s Camp
Photo Credit: John’s Camp
Book your family holiday at one of these Mana Pools properties with one of Rhino Africa’s travel experts today and become a part of a life-changing expedition where you’ll see one of the greatest congregations of wildlife in the world. Read more about the region in our ‘5 things to Love About Mana Pools‘ article on our blog.
You may have heard whisperings about which places offer the most spectacular wildlife experiences but we can tell you that it’s certainly difficult to beat Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is linked to the Zambezi River, which feeds a network of wildlife watering holes as well as nesting sites. So pack in your binoculars and telephoto lenses to get ready for the over 350 bird species flitting through Mana Pools.
Banks of the River
The southern carmine bee-eater is a colourful bird and one of three bee-eaters, including the white-fronted bee-eater, that are commonly found in the area. These small birds live in holes created in the sand of the river banks where they nest. You can see these little creatures up-close while canoeing or kayaking along the waters. If your camp happens to be on the river banks, you may even be lucky enough to glimpse an owl or two, particularly Pel’s fishing owl and the Verreaux’s eagle-owl (otherwise known as the giant eagle-owl).
One of the most popular birds to spot on the Zambezi is the African fish eagle that swoops down over the waters in search of fish, as its name suggests. The African skimmer, on the other hand, breeds on the exposed sand banks from April to December. Other birds to look out for include the spur-winged plover and the red-billed quelea.
If you’re lounging at camp there’s also a good chance of seeing the purple-banded sunbird, the white-bellied sunbird and (although on much rarer occasion in mid-summer) Shelley’s sunbird. These small birds are known for their glossy, almost metallic feathers that make them easy to spot, though their size makes them difficult to photograph.
Grey-headed gull Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
African skimmer Photo Credit: Ruckomechi Camp
Another large predatory bird to look out for is the Ayres’s hawk-eagle which resides in the Nyamatusi Wilderness Area and boasts a wingspan between 55 and 65cm in length. Also in this region is the the Livingstone’s flycatcher that frequents the banks with cooler riverine temperatures but lives higher up in the trees.
Smaller birds living in the Mopane woodland include Arnot’s chat and the racket-tailed roller which sports a stunning baby-blue front. Some exquisite finds would be Lilian’s lovebird (flaunting bright green and orange plumage), the red-throated twinspot (showcasing a peculiar mix of red feathers and white-on-black polka dots) as well as the black-throated wattle-eye (with a red ‘eye-shadow’ effect to match its name).
A black eagle Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
A village weaver Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
Book your trip to Mana Pools National Park where you’ll discover a plethora of colourful and enchanting birds, completing a once-in-a-lifetime wilderness experience made for safari-lovers everywhere. It’s also a wonderful idea to bring a guidebook along for children to check off their sightings. Read a personal account of the park experience on our blog to find out more.
Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon experience or a life-altering safari with your friends and family, there are select luxury havens in the iconic Sabi Sand Game Reserve that guarantee unforgettable wildlife sightings, breathtaking views and unparalleled luxury. Here are 5 of our absolute favourites, some of the best luxury safari lodges in the Sabi Sand.
Pioneers of the African safari and members of Relais & Châteaux, Londolozi offers an immersive and sustainability-driven safari experience. Just three suites adorn the property, each opening out directly onto the Sand River and private, heated plunge pool. Light, space and privacy are the primary aims of each magnificent suite. For couples on the ultimate honeymoon, a private vehicle is made available, like a chariot through the African bush – take this opportunity to wave like a royal without judgment.
For the active, a gym, as well as yoga classes, are available in the Wellness Centre. After a busy day, take advantage of the luxurious massage therapies on offer, available in the privacy of your room – can it get more decadent?
Scintillating safaris, spectacular scenery and surreal sophistication await you at Silvan. This sophisticated wilderness oasis has been crowned Africa’s and the World’s Leading Luxury Lodge and is lauded for its immersive game drives, personalised service and exquisite interiors. With only six exclusive suites overlooking the river, the lodge guarantees an enthralling experience where you are one with the wild.
The epitome of opulent luxury, Silvan is the ultimate accompaniment for the discerning safari-goer. Embark on exciting adventures through the African bush and enjoy starlit dinners that are crafted by Silvan’s exceptional culinary craftsmen.
With parts of this safari lodge geared towards honeymooning couples and small groups, Lion Sands makes it on our list based on exclusivity alone! For the comforts of home (if home was situated in the heart of an epic wilderness populated by the Big 5) and the added privacy, Ivory Lodge has its own villa. The earthy hues of the luxurious interiors perfectly complement the pristine landscape of the Sabi Sand, which can be taking in from the private pool.
For the true nature lovers, the treehouse experience will be one for the books. Here you can spend a dreamy night under the stars as the sounds of the wild echo all around you. Begin your adventure at sunset with a decadent picnic dinner on the treetop deck, watch as the dusk turns into a sky adorned with stars and listen out for lions, hippos, hyenas and more.
Having been in the family for 40 years, this lovely lodge offers a tailored, finely-tuned, luxury experience. A wealth of wildlife awaits adventurous explorers visiting the birthplace of sustainable tourism. Known for frequent Big 5 sightings and a host of other native wildlife, bush walks and game drives guarantee new and exciting sights.
Each of the six secluded suites overlooks the wildlife frequented waterhole while providing a serene safari escape. If you’ve decided to do a getaway with family or friends, Chitwa House is a delightful option for an exclusive stay, with its own private vehicle, guide and chef.
Explore plains abundant with wildlife, including plenty of leopards and lions, at Singita. This lauded brand is known for curating the most authentic and immersive safari experiences with unforgettable additions such as bush dinners under the starry night skies.
Head down to the cellar for a special tasting of South Africa’s award-winning wines or simply enjoy the seclusion of their one and two-bedroom suites. Unwind in the comfort of the spa or lounge in your own plunge pool boasting views of the Sand River. Attention to detail makes all the difference when it comes to a stay at Singita.
The idyllic enchantment of the Seychelles has long been an attraction for newlyweds and couples looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Touch down on Mahé, the main island which serves as a base for all your romantic adventures across the turquoise waters and pearly sands. Here you’ll encounter a myriad of Seychelles wildlife, some of which are extremely rare and endemic to this group of islands.
Photo Credit: Roderick Eime
Take a trip with your partner to Cousin Island to see the hawksbill turtles laying their eggs (one of the only spectacular scenes like this that is visible during the day). Of course, you cannot leave the islands without seeing the Aldabra giant tortoise which is found on other Indian Ocean Islands but is originally a part of Seychelles wildlife. Head to La Digue to combine this sighting with some of the world’s best beaches!
Photo Credit: L. Allen Brewer
Seychelles wildlife is filled with an assortment of the largest seabird colonies consisting of species such as frigatebirds and other colourful and exotic tropical varieties like the red fody above. Since this cluster of islands was uninhabited by humans for so long, these ecosystems have had the opportunity to flourish through the millennia, hosting rare creatures found nowhere else. You’ll be intrigued by the rarest of all, the Seychelles paradise flycatcher which is also critically endangered.
Fish & Crustaceans
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
Venture out to Silhouette Island where there is a constellation of soft and hard corals that provide resources to over 1000 species of fish. While lying out on the beach, enjoying a romantic post-snorkelling picnic, keep an eye out for another peculiar creature – the coconut crab. This colourful crustacean can grow up to one meter in length but is skittish around humans, so don’t fret if a giant crab doesn’t sound as charming to you.
Photo Credit: Jason Tong
The largest mammals on the Seychelles islands are interestingly all marine life! A very rare sighting is the dugong, which is endemic to these waters. Take a ride on a traditional dhow or sail across the Indian Ocean waves on a sunset cruise, spotting orca, humpback whales, Bryde’s whale and a wealth of dolphin species. These striking marine animals like to break through to the surface and can also be seen on a scuba-diving expedition with your loved one.
Photo Credit: Rhino Africa
Be captivated by the endangered coco de mer plantations on Praslin island’s Vallée de Mai; the only place in the world where this species grows. Another impressive but critically endangered tree to marvel at is the jellyfish tree which is so named because the fruit on the tree resembles a type of jellyfish!
Book your awe-inspiring honeymoon or romantic getaway with Rhino Africa’s travel experts today to see the whimsical wildlife of the Seychelles in all its vibrancy. Read our blog on six reasons to visit the Seychelles to gain some more insight into everything you can do in this glorious destination.