Robben Island, lying off the coast of Cape Town, is part of a long list of islands known primarily for being prisons. But, unlike Rikers and Alcatraz, its history has seen it go from being a leper colony, to a thriving 19th century ‘town’ complete with a school and post office, to a notorious penitentiary, and now a must-see travel destination studded with historical buildings and home to a flock of adorable but highly endangered African penguins.
Johannesburg is Africa's economic powerhouse known to locals as Joburg, Jozi and Egoli (the ‘city of gold’). The city is modern and enormous, sprawling in all directions as the heart beat of commerce demands more offices, houses and malls. About 60 kilometres away lies Pretoria, which is the seat of administrative government in South Africa and a very pretty city with jacaranda-lined streets. Both of these urban centres are vibrant and cosmopolitan, linked by a fast-moving, multi-lane highway and the high-speed Gautrain, making it easy to explore the places that played a critical role in Nelson Mandela’s life story or which honour his legacy.
Timing is everything. If you want the best seats in the house, you need to book your place well in advance. When it comes to once-in-a-lifetime journeys to Africa’s vast playground, you definitely want to be in the front row seats for all the legendary spectacles.
If we’re being totally honest, most of Africa’s flagship wilderness regions are wild, free and unfenced (except for the outermost borders!). Some lodges prefer, or are required by regulation, to fence their living quarters and this is obviously great for families with small children and lodges with larger guest numbers. But, let’s face it, our dreams of wildest Africa include hearing lions roar a stone’s throw from your tented suite and gazing out at a busy waterhole from the camp’s deck.
Gathered around a cheerful fire, July’s safari travellers discuss the sightings of the day. The winter night sky is so full of stars it lends a luminous glow to the scene and the far-off baying of hyenas promises a busy game drive in the morning.
Part of the charm of travelling on Africa’s most luxurious train is that guests are required to look the part. Forget your yoga pants and flip-flops – it’s time to whip out those sparkly cocktail numbers, flowy dresses and sports jackets.
The first time I visited Victoria Falls I was eight years old. We put on raincoats in the bright Zimbabwean sunshine then wandered into an Enchanted Forest filled with a low rumble and fine drizzle. I’d been excited about seeing this big waterfall but had never imagined something so powerful it could surround me with sound and soak me with its rainbow-lit spray – it was magical!
Laikipia and Lewa may not have the same household name recognition as the Masai Mara or Amboseli but they are as rewarding for seasoned safari goers who are looking for something a little off the beaten track that doesn’t stint on wildlife or comfortable accommodation.Once home to massive livestock ranches, Laikipia and the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy are now Kenya’s premier places to see northern white rhino and black rhino, thanks in part to those same ranchers converting much of their land into successful conservation projects. Although the Mara and Amboseli are more well known, if you want sensational rhino sightings, you can’t beat Laikipia and Lewa. This is also a great place to learn more about chimpanzees, which find refuge and shelter at the Sweetwaters Sanctuary in Ol Pejeta.
It's moments like these when you realise you're no longer at the top of the figurative food chain. On a recent experience that was both humbling and exhilarating, I had the privilege of being part of a rhino ear-notching exercise.Sun City has partnered with the Pilanesberg Wildlife Trust to help conserve rhino by offering guests the chance to help a vet and work with park management officials to individually notch, implant an ID tag as well as collect DNA from the selected rhino. These procedures assist park management to monitor and manage their rhino populations by helping to conserve and identify them.Rhino populations in Africa are dwindling as continued poaching, as well as habitat loss, putting their survival under extremely serious threat. This unique experience is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity aimed at assisting the park with its conservation efforts by cataloging and monitoring individual rhino in the malaria-free Pilanesberg National Park that borders Sun City, Africa's biggest resort.
Here’s what you might already know: The Great Wildebeest Migration involves millions of wildebeest, zebra and antelope moving around the Serengeti-Masai Mara ecosystem in search of fresh grazing. The animals cover vast distances and are never in one place for too long. All of nature’s momentous events happen en route, including rutting, mating and calving.