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!”
Floating down a papyrus-lined channel with only a mokoro canoe between me and the water lilies, I’m awestruck by this wild place. Bird song follows us, punctuating the soft rhythm of the pole as it dips in and out the clear water, its cool freshness enveloping my fingers as they trail in the wake. I am in the heart of the magical Okavango Delta, undoubtedly one of Africa’s most inspirational destinations.
The black volcanic rock is bright and glossy in the moonlight; it crunches softly underfoot. Above Karanga Camp, the iconic snow cap is blue-white against a night sky bursting with stars. My breath hangs in the air as small, fluffy clouds and I am chilled to the bone despite the layers under my down jacket. Dome tents huddle in small groups on the mountainside, some glow softly, lit from within by headlamps. The stillness of the night is broken by the shuffle of canvas and the cough of a climber suffering from altitude sickness. It is hard to believe that a mere 2,000m below my camp there is a tropical rainforest.
The natural beauty of the most famous places in Africa never fails to inspire awe in those lucky enough to travel to them.
What is your idea of an ideal holiday break? Maybe it's spending time with friends and family exploring new places. Perhaps it's meeting interesting people or trying exciting activities like hiking, horse riding and game viewing. Is it lazy lunches in beautiful surroundings and days spent soaking up the sunshine on a sandy beach?
There is something thrilling about staying in a tent on safari. Instead of being shut away behind brick and glass, enjoy the glow of lantern light on canvas walls and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the African night. And if your idea of staying in a tent means having to rough it; you're in for a wonderful surprise: Africa's top tented camps offer a softer kind of adventure with all the comfort and the trimmings you'd expect from a luxury safari lodge.