There is so much to see and do at Babylonstoren – a deluxe working farm hotel in the Franschhoek Winelands – that’s best to arrive with some sort of plan. This is how we’d spend 48 hours at this very unique accommodation.
Halfway through the year, Africa’s mostly dry winter months arrive along with safari season.
There is no denying that Kenya has had more than its fair share of tragedy over the past few years. Ordinary Kenyans have suffered the Nairobi Mall attack, an accidental fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, bombings in the far north along the border with Somalia and, most recently, the attack on students at Garissa. Except for the fire, all the other incidents are connected to terrorism perpetuated by al-Shabaab, a militant group based in Somalia. Much like ordinary New Yorkers and Londoners who survived the attacks by al-Qaeda, Kenyans are determined not to let the terrorists get the upper hand or wear them down. But, unlike those in New York or London, they don’t seem to be getting any global support. In fact, countries who have also been victims of attacks are advising against travel to Kenya – rather than offering a hand in solidarity.The hard question is: for the average tourist who wants to experience the once-in-a-lifetime splendour of game viewing on the Masai Mara or the thrill of the wildebeest migration, is it safe to travel to Kenya?
She pushes her huge tail down, ducks under the waves with tremendous forces and then, with colossal power, launches her huge body above the water, coming down with a fantastic splash. Everything is quiet except for the chorus of ‘Wows!’ from my fellow boat passengers. There’s a shared anticipation and keen excitement as we hope she’ll do it again… Our luck is in as she once again uses her tail fin to propel herself like an aquatic rocket above the ocean off Kleinbaai, a tiny hamlet on South Africa’s Whale Coast, less than an hour’s drive from Hermanus and regarded as the whale-watching capital of the world.
The arrival of May during my northern hemisphere childhood promised the long, warm and sometimes sunny days of summer. South of the equator, however, things are heading in the opposite direction. Days are shortening and chairs are getting pulled a little closer to the campfire.
It’s 3:30am, -8°C / 18°F and all I want to do is lie down and go to sleep. The only reason I'm keeping my feet moving is my guide, Milton's encouragement.
When your Africa safari is booked and confirmed, you'll likely experience a surge of emotions, ranging from the excitement of anticipating a new adventure to the thrill of fulfilling a dream and, perhaps, a tiny tingle of anxiety about possible health concerns (often fuelled by friends or family who have never travelled to Africa).
April is when Africa’s great summer starts winding down and the year catches its breath before winter. Down in the sun-baked Western Cape, the city of Cape Town welcomes its first autumnal showers. Further north, safari destinations like the Kruger, Botswana and Zimbabwe emerge after months of heavy rain. Cloaked in green, they offer lovely scenery and birding but big game is often hard to find.
Lions are the most sought-after sighting on a safari. The excitement of seeing them is partly because we expect to see them in Africa and are reassured when we do but there’s also something a bit more primal behind our fascination with them. Thanks to their reassuringly feline name – Panthera leo – we know we are technically dealing with ‘cats’ but lions are startlingly huge, almost bear sized. Their muscular, barrel-chested bodies and arrogantly jutting chins let everyone know who the boss is – and it’s not the 2-legged creatures wearing sunglasses!
Africa’s far-flung camps bring you closer to nature and offer the most authentic tented accommodation from the golden era of safari travel. The experience is comfortable, rugged, surprising and thrilling, but before you take a tour on the wild side, find out what you need to be prepared for and why we love these camps.