“Goooooooood morning Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours. What does the “O” stand for? O my God, it’s early!” – those immortal words of Robin Williams in the film Good Morning Vietnam ring true for legions of safari goers every day. At silly o’clock in the morning when your guide lightly knocks on your door offering a cheery “Good morning”, for most it takes considerable effort not to reply with a few colourful expletives. Summoning up as much will power as possible a more polite reply is grunted as you flop involuntarily out of bed and attempt to make yourself look vaguely presentable.
This scene is played out up and down the safari belt of eastern and southern Africa. The trauma of being shaken from slumber pre-dawn (especially while on holiday) soon gives way to a sense of marvel as you sip your coffee while listening to the sounds of the bush coming alive. And so begins another day of exhilarating wildlife encounters. Out you head in 4×4 safari vehicles, on foot or even in canoes, the morning chill being replaced by the life-giving warmth of the African sun. Eyes peeled for any movement on the savannah time drifts by and in seemingly no time at all you are sitting around a roaring fire under a myriad of stars telling tales of your day’s adventures to fellow travellers. You are tired having risen at an unfathomable hour, but the lure of the bonhomie, warmth of the fire and comfort of just one more glass of Amarula tempt you to stay a while longer than you know you should.
By the end of your safari adventure you feel like you need a holiday, and what better way to restore the body than a few days of lying on a gorgeous beach, swimming in crystal clear tropical waters and listening to the quiet rustle of gently swaying palms? Fortunately, safari goers across Africa are spoilt for choice when it comes to post-safari escapes. Here are some of our favourites.
&Beyond Benguerra Lodge
For those seeking out the “Big 5” and more in the wonderful game reserves in and around Southern Africa there are daily direct flights from Johannesburg and for those Africa’s famous Kruger National Park there are several non-stop flights a week from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to the Mozambican coastal town of Vilanculos.
From Vilanculos it is just a short helicopter flip across to Benguerra Island, nestled in the Mozmbique channel between mainland Africa and Madagascar. 12 luxury thatched casinhas and cabanas are complimented by a 3-roomed family casa, all beautifully appointed inside and out, with private decks and private rim-flow pools.
If lazing away the day on the sandy beaches seems a little too sedentary after your wildlife escapades, why not try some beach horse-riding; head out to sea in a traditional dhow for a sunset cruise; explore the marine wildlife on a scuba excursion or maybe even take a romantic trip to a deserted sand spit for a seafood picnic!
Talking of food…you will be spoilt for choice with the freshest seafood and other dishes prepared by excellent chefs, including Mozambiques famous prawns and lobsters!
Sun – check. Beach – check. Azure waters – check. Amazing snorkelling – check. Ocean – erm…well, not quite. Located on the beautiful Likoma island, surrounded by the sparkling waters of Lake Malawi is Kaya Mawa. While it might be a lake, Lake Malawi is no ordinary lake. One of the largest in Africa, one of the deepest in the world, and home to the most diverse freshwater ecosystem on earth. In these beautiful waters more than a thousand species of fish thrive, making for some of the best snorkelling in Africa as well as some of the best kayaking!
If that sounds a little too energetic, just relax on the white sand beaches and soak up the sun. After all, Kaya Mawa means “maybe tomorrow”, and that’s what it’s all about, just letting go and relaxing and letting you time be the only time.
The accommodation is as unique as the location with something to suite everyone from chalets to houses to a full 4-beroomed villa! All unique, all offering views of the beach or lake.
Kaya Mawa is the prefect end to a safari in Zambia or Malawi, some of Africa’s most amazing, yet underrated safari destinations.
Azura Quilalea Private Island
For those seeking some serious seclusion, the exquisite Azura Quilalea Private Island will tick all the boxes. The starting point of all journey’s is the northern Mozambican city of Pemba linked by air to South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya as well as domestically within Mozambique. From here, a 25-minute helicopter ride over the impossibly blue Indian Ocean delivers you to a little corner of heaven.
Languishing at the southern end of the Quirimbas Archipelago, Azura Quilalea offers a private 86-acre hideaway, surrounded by azure waters teaming with life thanks to its inclusion within a protected marine reserve.
With just 9 villas on the island you really will feel like it is your own private island and is the perfect spot to take on exclusive use for large families and groups of friends (once we are all allowed to stop socially distancing ourselves of course!).
As tempting as it would be to fly and flop, there is so much going on at Azura Quilalea that you will be hard pushed to keep still. Take a walk to view the great baobab trees; head off on a scuba diving trip; take to the skies and experience the Quirimbas Archipelago from a helicopter; set sail at sunset on a traditional dhow or head out to the house reef for some spectacular snorkelling (you can even try a guided night snorkel!!). Did we even mention the island is a nesting ground for Green, Hawksbill and Leatherback turtles?
Tanzania is unquestionably one of the world’s safari heavyweights. The Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Selous, Lake Manyara the list is drool-worthy for any safari enthusiast. The country is also blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in Africa, most famously on the island of Zanzibar, the exotic Spice Island. What could be better than an exotic island off the coast of an incredible wildlife destination? An island, off an exotic island off the coast of an incredible wildlife destination of course!
Set adrift in the Indian ocean off the east coast of Zanzibar lies Mnemba Island, home to just 12 beach bandas. Modestly described as ‘rustically chic”, each banda offers direct access to the beach and great blue beyond and serviced by a private butler. Mnemba is all about privacy, you bandas each have their own covered barazas (outside lounge area) and each guest has their own Zanzibari style beach lounger from which to lose yourself in the magnificent views in every direction.
Walk straight from your room onto the beach and into the calm waters of the reef surrounding the island, snorkel to your hearts content and then sit back and enjoy some of the finest and freshest cuisine available. Seafood from the ocean, spices from Zanzibar and touches of global influence from the island’s long history, make a stay at Mnemba as much a feast for the tongue as it is for the eyes.
The Sands at Chale Island
Like its neighbour to the south, Kenya is one of the most sought-after safari destinations in the world. The Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Samburu just some of the attractions. The countries eastern boundary stretches like and one endless white sand beach along the Indian ocean. Here you find the country’s most famous beach resorts strung out along the blindingly white sand.
If you venture south far enough you will find our northernmost offering. Lying just 600m off the mainland is the charming island of Chale, surrounded by coral reef and mangrove forests, this is the only single property island in Kenya. While the mainland might be very close, you will feel like you are a thousand miles away from the hubbub of coastal “strip”.
Accommodation ranges from standard rooms and individual beach bandas to the exclusive honeymoon suite on its own private islet, all designed in simply island style, in keeping with the island’s laidback vibe.
Naturally being surrounded by coral reef you can snorkel directly off the white sand beach. If you prefer to explore from above kayaking, catamaran and even glass bottom boat excursions are available. If you want to head the other way take advantage of the on-site PADI dive centre to explore the wonders of the surrounding ocean at a deeper level.
Wherever you choose to go on safari make the most of every minute and know there is an island paradise nearby just waiting to welcome you for a spot of post-wildlife relaxation.
Warwick Blow is owner of Safari In Style. Safari In Style uses more than 50 years of personal experience to create tailor-made unique journeys through Africa’s finest safari destinations.