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, unceasing encouragement.
There are the well-known and beloved classics of Africa: the golden plains of the Serengeti, the thundering hooves of the Wildebeest Migration, the splendour of Victoria Falls. And then there are the secret gems – the attractions that may not make it onto postcards but which are incredible natural phenomena that belong on every traveller's must-see list. It may take longer to reach them but, as if often the case, the reward is all the sweeter for the extra effort…
There are few destinations as romantic as Africa. Vast blue skies curve down to golden grasslands that roll to the horizon, framed by distant mountains marching away in shades of navy and purple. Africa awakens your senses: the scent of wild sage, the cry of a fish eagle, and goosebump-inducing leopard sightings. The days are deliciously hot and the nights comfortably cool. African hospitality is warm and sincere, and when it comes to fine dining or lavish luxury, a leading safari lodge is hard to beat.
What does 2016 hold in store for global travelers? Here are our predictions for the new year based on the sort of trips trending in our forward bookings, the rapid-fire evolution of online travel services, and the educated expectations of our most experienced travel consultants.
If you and your family are waterbabies, then Africa’s magnificent lakes and sultry Indian Ocean should be on your all-time bucket list. Offering exciting destinations that are somewhat off the beaten track, the sheer diversity of both the topography and creatures of these underwater worlds has to be experienced to be believed.
It’s just after dawn, a time rarely seen on traditional beach holidays. Yet a group of guests has already gathered in front of the Rocktail Beach Dive Centre. I wander up - weight belt in one hand, cup of coffee in the other - and listen to the excited chatter about what lies ahead (or rather below): “There have been fantastic whale shark sightings recently!”; “Massive mantas circled us yesterday!”; “I hear the coral is incredible!”
You’ve seen the Big 5, been awestruck by the Great Migration and thrilled by Victoria Falls and the roaring Zambezi River, but you’re still crazy about Africa? It’s time to step it up and discover Africa’s secret adventures…
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.
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it seems only right to bring you Africa’s most romantic escapes. But don’t expect just the usual ‘candlelit dinners’ and ‘petal-strewn bathtubs’: our experts have ditched the clichés and sought out exceptional experiences and secluded escapes - this is romance with an African twist.
Africa is home to some of the world’s last truly wild places – where untamed land stretches from horizon to horizon and rivers run freely. This is the continent to visit when you need to free your spirit from the pressures and pollution of the rat race.