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Africa Hotlist for 2023

Pandemic-weary travellers are ready to channel their wanderlust and plan epic vacations in 2023. Covid changed us all and certainly the way we travel. Luxury has a new meaning… time with friends and family, unique and authentic encounters, giving back … this is the new way of traveling.

We all know about the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara and Serengeti, or the Smoke that Thunders in Victoria Falls, but isn’t it about time we look at the off-the-beaten-track destinations.

Here is our list of Where to Go in 2023 in Africa:

  1. Tanzania
  2. Kenya
  3. Botswana
  4. Namibia
  5. South Africa
  6. Madagascar
  7. Zambia
  8. Zimbabwe
  9. Rwanda
  10. Mozambique

1. Tanzania

Think of Tanzania and The Serengeti and the Ngorongoro Crater come to mind, as most safari goers head here for The Great Migration and Big Five viewing, especially in Peak Season, when the riverbanks are packed with vehicles in the hopes of seeing a river crossing. We think it’s time you discover the Nyerere National Park (previously Selous) and Mahale Mountain National Park.

Nyerere is a vast area (1.5 the size of Switzerland) and offers incredibly rewarding game viewing. This region has the densest population of wild dog, lion, hippo, elephants, and buffalo in Africa. With only a handful of lodges and accessible via air only, you will have an exceptional safari experience with hardly anyone else around.

Another of Tanzania’s off-the-beaten-track destinations is the Mahale Mountains National Park. Set among the spectacular, forested slopes of the Mahale Mountains, the Park was originally created to protect the chimpanzees that inhabit the region. It is renowned for its fantastic sunsets over Lake Tanganyika and home to a dozen primate species, Mahale’s signature activity is guided chimpanzee trekking. Relaxing on the beach, fishing, birding or chimp trekking in the forest make for a unique safari.

Best time to go:

The June to September dry season offers the best game viewing. December to February also offers good viewing in a pleasant climate. Mahale is best for chimp trekking from July to October.

Where to stay:

  • Beho Beho Camp – was the first permanent camp to be located in the northern sector of the Selous Game Reserve (now Nyerere National Park). Sited on Kipalala Hill, above the Msine tributary of the Beho Beho river, it enjoys uninterrupted panoramic views over the Rufiji River flood plain. The camp is unique in the fact that it sits in the center of five different eco-systems – riverine; mountainous; water systems; open and lightly wooded savannah; and mixed to miombo woodland. Located 145 miles southwest of Dar es Salaam, the camp is 3 miles from the grave of Frederick Courteney Selous after whom the reserve is named.
  • Greystoke Mahale Camp sits on a pristine, white sandy beach overlooking the turquoise water of Lake Tanganyika, with the forested slopes of the 8000 ft Mahale Mountains rising behind. With just six wood and thatch bandas set on the edge of the forest line at the base of the mountains your days can start there, eating breakfast whilst waiting to hear news of the chimpanzees and deciding what to do with your day. Evenings end with sundowners on the rocks of the headland, where drinks are served around the lamp-lit bar whilst the mountains, rising behind camp, disappear into the darkness.

 

Image credits: Beho Beho Camp and Greystroke Mahale Camp

2. Kenya

Naturally Kenya is known for its Wildlife Safaris and again the Great Migration in the Maasai Mara is the most popular experience here. Kenya is also home to incredible culture, and we want to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful people you can meet and to step out of your comfort zone. Immerse yourself with the locals. Connect on a deep level with indigenous tribes, discover incredible wildlife on safari, sail the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean, uncover Kenya’s ancient slave-trade history savour authentic home-cooked cuisine in an exclusive homestay and more. This is an experience that will touch your soul.

Best time to go:

Kenya is a year-round destination, the wildlife viewing is always outstanding, but peak season is from June to September and April.

Where to stay:

  • Sasaab Luxury Tented Camp – Perched on the edge of a river valley, the architecture of Sasaab blends Swahili and Moroccan design principals in which the African heat is of primary consideration. Each of the nine canvas-sided rooms is over 100m² with private plunge pools and breath-taking views across the Laikipia Plateau toward the jagged peaks of Mount Kenya. Its position above the river naturally facilitates watching the herds of elephant that come to bathe below as well as a host of other wildlife.
  • Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp – Perched on the edge of an escarpment, Loisaba Tented Camp is designed to capitalize on unhindered views across Laikipia’s mottled landscape all the way to Mt Kenya. All accommodations and main areas enjoy a breathtaking vantage point over an expansive panorama.
  • Alfajiri Villas – Alfajiri boasts unparalleled privacy and exclusivity on the edge of Diani Beach. Inspired by African design and hospitality, our villas offer you the freedom to explore with intrigue and to indulge your senses.

 

Image credits: Sasaab Luxury Tented Camp and Elewana Loisaba Tented Camp

3. Botswana

The Okavango is one of earths true last wilderness regions and a must-see when planning a safari. In Africa, everyone knows about the wildebeest migration in the Serengeti and Maasai Mara. We highly recommend you combine this with a visit to the Makgadikgadi or the Nxai Pans in Botswana to witness the world’s second largest animal migration. From early December herds head towards the Makadikgadi and Nxai Pan region, south-east of the Okavango Delta. These areas which once formed the largest in land lake in the world, are now the largest network of salt pans in the world. A layer of emerald-green grass stretches out in every direction, pink clouds of flamingo and flocks of migratory birds arrive to nest, and Africa’s second largest mammal migration of wildebeest and our black and white striped friends floods the plains. The green season in the desert is one of Africa’s, great unpredictable spectacles, and a magical time to visit.

Best time to go:

December to January and March to April when the zebra are arriving or leaving.

Where to stay:

  • Jack’s Camp – Jack’s Camp pays homage to the property’s enduring and much-loved 1940s campaign style. The guest tents, seven twins and two doubles, are much larger and each is 270 square metres in size. The iconic interiors remain and are embellished with rich textiles from around the world, Natural History Museum cabinets, and an overhead bed cooling system. Ensuite bathrooms have both indoor and outdoor showers and outside, each veranda has a private plunge pool.
  • Leroo La Tau Camp – Leroo La Tau is situated on the western bank of the Boteti River, which forms the boundary of the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The Boteti River provides a lifeline for the wildlife which inhabit the arid national park and is a critical link in the annual zebra migration. Leroo La Tau is the perfect base from which to explore this truly unique piece of Botswana paradise.

 

Image credits: Natural Selection, Jack’s Camp and Leroo La Tau

4. Namibia

A vast country with many regions to explore, the most popular being the Sossusvlei Dunes and Etosha National Park for wildlife. Expand your experience by exploring in game drive vehicles and on foot, as well as excursions to view fascinating geological phenomena, petroglyphs – prehistoric rock engravings – and San rock art at Twyfelfontein, Namibia’s first World Heritage Site. Your days are filled with Rhino tracking on foot and by vehicle with dedicated trackers; learning about the local culture, or explore the area on full-day outings, nature drives and walks, night drives and scorpion night walks.

Best time to go:

The dry season from the month of May to October is considered as the best time to visit Damaraland. The dry weather with no or negligible rainfall allows the animal to gather near the waterholes, making the game viewing easy and consistent.

Where to stay:

  • Doro Nawas Camp – Overlook ancient plains, with glorious views of rough-hewn Damaraland stretching in every direction. Doro Nawas blends in with the surrounding ochres and rusts, embracing the desert in hues of orange, pink, and gold. Fall asleep under one of the least polluted skies on Earth, a canopy of infinite stars.
  • Desert Rhino Camp – Wind down and immerse yourself in this warm, welcoming space, a celebration of earth tones. Look out over sweeping plains dotted with Namibia’s curious national plant, the welwitschia.  Keep a keen eye trained for desert-adapted wildlife.

 

Image credits: Wilderness Doro Nawas Camp and Wilderness Desert Rhino Camp

5. South Africa

Described as a world in one country, you could spend months exploring. Most first time visitors include Cape Town, the Mother City. There is much to see and do in Cape Town, and if your time is short, you usually just do a quick visit to Kalk Bay. But we encourage you to take a bit of time to explore this eclectic seaside village. From ceramic artists, and jewellers, to watching the fishermen offload their catches at the harbour, it is a fascinating blend of modern and old world, which is sure to charm you.

Best time to go:

Now! Cape Town is gorgeous any time of the year, but most popular between December and February, with sunny beach weather.

Where to stay:

There are a wide variety of accommodation options in Cape Town – we focus on seaside options in and around Cape Town.

  • Tintswalo Atlantic – Perched on a pebbled beach at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park, directly overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the award-winning Tintswalo Atlantic boutique lodge is renowned as one of Cape Town’s most precious hidden gems.
  • Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa – The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa stands at the edge of the world. On one side, a line of majestic mountains – The Twelve Apostles – reaches towards the heavens; on the other, the sun sets on breeching whales, playful dolphins, and crashing Atlantic rollers. And all around, you can walk the wilderness trails of the Table Mountain National Park. We’ll even pack you a picnic. And yet this luxury 5-star boutique hotel is just a few minutes from worldly, cosmopolitan Cape Town.

 

Image credit: Tintswalo Atlantic and Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa

6. Madagascar

A destination not often on everyone’s list when thinking of traveling to Africa. As the biggest island in the Indian Ocean, Madagascar is famous for its unique wildlife and biodiversity. With breath-taking views of nature, white sand beaches, stunning rainforest and delicious local food, this spot offers an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. This is an incredible landscape filled with towering boababs, stunning orchids, pirate graves, colourful chameleons, lemurs, aye aye’s and other curious creatures, Madagascar is home to some of the world’s most unique flora and fauna.

Best time to go:

September to October is the best time to travel to Madagascar as the weather is a little warmer and the lemurs are more active.

Where to stay:

  • Isalo Rock Lodge – Isalo Rock Lodge is a modern and stunning 60 Room Retreat, positioned high in the Sandstone Mountains, overlooking the Isalo National Park in south western Madagascar. The views from the lodge are breathtaking. Whilst luxury abounds in the hotel with all modern amenities, Isalo is home to many species of flora and fauna, including, the Giant Chameleon and the renowned Lemurs.
  • Miavana – Located on a secluded private island off the North East point of Madagascar, Miavana is an ultra-luxurious beach resort. Offering the sublime luxury – spacious villas, private butler service, exquisite food & wine experiences – against an extraordinary natural setting, Miavana is an earthly paradise.
  • Anjajavy Le Lodge – Located on an enchanting peninsula on Madagascar’s northwest coast, Anjajavy le lodge has not finished surprising you. Surrounded by a turquoise sea, a vibrant natural reserve, and fine sandy beaches, Anjajavy embodies this country’s incredible beauty and genuine hospitality.

 

Image credit: Isalo Rock Lodge and Time + Tide Miavana

7. Zambia

The Victoria Falls is a perfect starting point, but the game parks of South Luangwa and the Lower Zambezi are wild and remote, appealing to those wanting an intimate safari experience in a pristine environment. Known for superb walking safaris, these parks are some of the best wildlife sanctuaries in the world. Also worth exploring is the Liuwa Plains, for wild dog sightings and it is home the second largest wildebeest migration in Africa – but without the crowds -so you can enjoy this spectacle in an intimate and jaw-dropping setting.

Best time to go:

The best time for watching wildlife in South Luangwa National Park is during the dry season, which takes place from July to October, but be warned, October can be very hot. Best time for Liuwa Plains is between January to July and October-December.

Where to stay:

  • Time + Tide Lewanika – In the heart of a vast grassland where the skies are endless and wildlife roams free, lies Time + Tide King Lewanika an exclusive lodge with panoramic views and an effortless flow between inside and outside, every luxury villa immerses you into the land.
  • Puku Ridge Camp – Puku Ridge is wilderness, refined – from the elegant architectural lines to the thoughtfully outfitted game viewing vehicles and the perfectly-positioned photographic hide in front of the camp’s private watering hole.
  • Chiawa Camp – Zambia’s premier luxury safari camp, Chiawa is a gentle and unhurried experience for both wildlife and guests, while still offering up a diverse range of activities. From game drives to heart-stopping game walks as well as canoeing, boating and angling – all in the company of Africa’s finest guides.
  • Old Mondoro Camp – An intimate camp of only 5 chalets, the concept of this camp is simple – to provide guests with an authentic and unedited Zambian safari, providing a “back to the bush” atmosphere that centralizes on the wildlife and wilderness experience. That disconnects you from the internet and reconnects you with nature, yourself, and your loved ones.

 

Image credit: Puku Ridge Camp and Chiawa Camp

8. Zimbabwe

Bungee jumping, white water rafting, flight of Angels over Victoria Falls, these are some of the adventure filled activities that Zimbabwe is known for. However, Zimbabwe’s conservation areas such as the enormous Hwange National Park and the lake-and-river destinations of Matusadona or Mana Pools offer exceptional game viewing in environments largely devoid of other visitors. Hwange is home to the densest concentrations of elephant after Botswana’s Chobe National Park and is an excellent destination for Africa’s big predators. Mana Pools is best explored on drives, guided walks and canoe expeditions and a perfect place to go to see the best of Zimbabwe’s big game viewing.

Best time to go:

With mild temperatures, virtually no rain and a low malaria risk, the dry May to October winter season is generally the best time to visit Zimbabwe for game-viewing, although September and October are extremely hot and dry months.

Where to stay:

  • Somalisa Camp – Somalisa provides guests with breathtaking views of the golden savannah plains of Hwange. A place where, one moment you are sipping on your gin and tonic listening to the distant baritone roar of a lion coalition on the hunt and the next, you are gazing over at a congregation of elephants mere meters away, peacefully sharing a sundowner with you.
  • Ruckomechi Camp – Elephants are frequent visitors at Ruckomechi, tempted by the nutritious albida trees that shade the camp. Make yourself at home, as they do, between the en-suite rooms, the main area and the swimming pool. End the day the way days have ended in Africa for centuries; around a camp fire, under the stars, listening to nature’s soundtrack of frogs, crickets and jackals.

 

Image credit: African Bush Camps Somalisa Camp and Ruckomechi Camp

9. Rwanda

Gorilla and chimp trekking is of course a bucket-list for Rwanda, but apart from the incredible wildlife and culture, you can also get in some excellent safaris in the Akagera National Park. Located in the country’s north-east, Akagera was devastated by the 1994 genocide and its aftermath, with a rise in poaching and returnees settling with their cattle on park land. Over the last ten years, the park has been significantly rehabilitated and today offers one of the most thrilling safari experiences in Africa. This is an ideal opportunity to combine an extraordinary gorilla experience with a spectacular savannah safari, viewing East African bird- and wildlife specials from expertly guided game drives, guided nature walks and boating trips.

Best time to go:

The best time for visitors to visit Akagera National Park is during the dry season, which is between June to September. The climate in the park does not change much throughout the year, but visitors will experience warmer temperatures during the long dry season.

Where to stay:

  • Magashi – Everything about Magashi is a thrilling quest. Watch elephants, near camp, submerge in the lake’s silvery blue waters. Drive across miles of open savannah tracking rhinos, giraffes and lions. Try your hand at catch-and-release fishing, watched by a shy sitatunga.

 

Image credit: Wilderness Magashi

10. Mozambique Benguerra Island

Have you ever considered tropical beach island getaway to your safari holiday? There are a few Islands to consider, but we love the Robinson Crusoe toes in the sand luxury of Benguerra Island. Warm waters, pristine coral reefs teeming with marine life, idyllic beaches, inland freshwater lakes and towering sand dunes have shaped this adventure haven. The second largest island of Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago remains a low-key idyllic drop in the Indian Ocean – the island sits within a national marine reserve. When not simply relaxing with cocktail in hand, explore Benguerra Island’s beaches and pristine coral reefs, where dugongs, manta rays and tiger sharks’ dwell, with minimal human interaction.

Best time to go:

Mozambique has a tropical climate, with year-round warm temperatures. The best time to visit the Bazaruto Archipelago is during the dry season – which runs from May to November. These are also the cooler winter months. The islands are quite hot during December and January and from February to March, be prepared for occasional showers of rain.

Where to stay:

  • Kisawa Sanctuary – Kisawa is a happy pairing of innovation and tradition. They believe in inclusive design and have worked with skilled artisans from Benguerra Island as well as patented 3D printing technology (the world’s first 3D printed lodge) . Decisions have been careful to protect the environment and we have ensured a light footprint on the natural landscape where possible. Their vision has been to blend rather than interrupt.
  • andBeyond Benguerra Island Lodge – Benguerra Island is where the magic of the Indian Ocean comes alive. Swim with horses, enjoy authentic sunset dhow cruises and live it up island style! Luxury Tree House Suites.
  • Azura Benguerra – Imagine an unspoilt island within a Marine National Park, deserted beaches of pure white sand that extend for miles, sparkling turquoise seas criss-crossed by local dhows plying their trade, sunny days and star-studded nights. Azura Benguerra, the first eco-friendly resort in Mozambique, was hand-built by the local community and is operated in partnership with it.

 

Image credit: andBeyond Benguerra Island Lodge and Kisawa Sanctuary

So, take a walk on the wild side, take the roads less travelled and let us weave together a trip as unique as you are.

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