A safari holiday be it your first time or fifth time, is a truly magic experience and one that will remain with you forever. Exceptional as it is, you will find that days spent travelling the savannah can be quite hard work – up before sunrise, on the go most of the day in the searing African sun and with evenings gazing up at the magnificent star packed skies – you will find that time on a safari can take its toll. Many opt for a spot of R&R to top or tail your Africa safari adventure heading for an idyllic beach experience that will only add to the perfect trip.
To inspire, we have put together our top 6 beach and bush combinations:
1. Selous and Mafia Island, Tanzania
Best in July to October, this combination is logistically convenient with both destinations allowing you to get off the beaten track into remote and wild places. Selous is the largest game park in Tanzania and offers a stark contrast to all others in almost every way. Only a few hundred feet above sea level, this park offers you a huge variety of experience and wildlife. With variety comes the opportunity to explore different places and habitats which we would definitely recommend doing on foot to access the places inaccessible in a vehicle. Stay in the Nomad’s Sand Rivers Selous where you will find a five-star service in a small but perfect safari lodge.
The beach element comes from Mafia Island which lies off the Rufiji delta, only 30 minutes flying south east of Dar es Salaam. The island, established as Tanzania’s first marine park, is a must for an incredible diving experience with over 400 species of fish to discover. Stay at Pole Pole on the east coast of the island, with just seven small bungalow suites, this is an intimate slice of perfection.
2. Waterberg, South Africa and Bazaruto Island, Mozambique
Tucked away in Limpopo province, the pristine, rugged and ancient Waterberg region doesn't make it on to most South Africa travel itineraries - Waterberg is a worthy alternative to the over exposed and over visited Kruger area, where wildlife viewing always feels slightly controlled and regulated. Only a few hours from Jo’burg but feels like a world away with its soaring mountain peaks and vast savannah plains.
After your time in Waterberg, we’d recommend you head for Bazaruto Island, known for the high quality of marine life, empty beaches and crystal seas, Bazaruto Island makes a great destination for those in need of relaxation. Aside from the idyllic long beach walks or afternoons spent captivated in a good book there is a great selection of water sports on offer with unrivalled sea fishing or boat trips. Bazaruto is a brilliant family destination for young and old.
3. High Atlas Mountains and Essaouira, Morocco
If you like the idea of getting off-grid then you must experience our expeditions in the High Atlas Mountains. Led by a train of mules carrying the simple but beautiful tented camps, you will be guided through breath-taking wilderness by our experienced Berber partners; spend days exploring on foot and nights beneath a blanket of stars. This is an enchanting magical experience that can be perfectly dove-tailed with a few days relaxing at Essaouira, a laid-back seaside town where you can spend your time exploring the cloistered markets or enjoy the delights of fresh fish in the many fabulous restaurants on offer. Although not a beach beach, this quaint town by the sea is sure to calm things down after your time in the wild.
4. Sossusvlei and Namibia’s Skeleton Coast
If you’re looking for a twist on the beach and bush concept, then consider Namibia and a flying safari that encompasses the giant dunes of Sossusvlei with the wild Skeleton Coast and some of Africa’s most beautiful scenery, not to mention extraordinary desert adapted elephant and lion. Make no mistake, this is not the traditional “safari and beach” experience, and you may be disinclined to put anything more than a toe into the raging, shark-filled waters of the south Atlantic.
But – and this is a big “but” what you’ll find here that you won’t find anywhere else in Africa is the sublime experience of drifting at low level over waves and sand dunes, landing on deserted beaches to have picnics or dropping into valleys far beyond the reach of people to track desert elephants. Make no mistake, this is one of the greatest experiences in Africa.
End with a few days at the peculiar little Waltons-esque seaside town of Swakopmund for wonderful seafood and to soak up the atmosphere of this funny little town. And as you tuck into your prawns, try to convince yourself that the previous 4 days exploring Namibia with a private plane weren’t just a dream.
5. Luangwa Valley and Lake Malawi, Zambia
The Luangwa Valley in Zambia is probably the most famous of parks in the country and boasts all round good game and in recent years a well-earned reputation for walking safaris. This is not the only thing you can do in the area, but we love a walking safari that allows you to get off the beaten track and experience the thrill of tracking animals in their territory with unforgettable viewings on their terms.
After a walking safari in the Luangwa Valley, Lake Malawi provides the perfect beach escape (albeit a lake). The lake is warm, clear and filled with a colourful array of tropical fish which makes it impeccable for snorkelling, learning to dive or kayaking. Still not common place on the tourism map, Lake Malawi has a small offering of intimate, beautifully designed lodges that have retained a wonderfully authentic feel for all that visit.
6. And finally - Madagascar
Few places can justifiably claim to combine wildlife and beach - without having to move - as comprehensively as Madagascar. Head to the Masoala peninsula in the north east of the island to find exquisite rainforest tumbling to the shores of the Indian Ocean. From your thatched room, tucked into the trees on the edge of the beach you can (between July and September) watch as Humpback whales glide past, breaching and tail slapping. Stick your head under water and you’ll hear their song. Paddle out on a kayak and you may be lucky enough to have them pass you a few metres away.
Take guided walks into the rainforest behind camp to find endemic lemurs, brightly coloured birdlife and numerous plant species that are simply unknown to science. Return to swim and snorkel in the warm waters of Antongil Bay, then retreat to the beach bar to sample the local rhum arrangé and some of the best seafood (with a French-Indonesian twist) that you will have experienced in a while. Distinctly un-run-of-the-mill and somewhere that will appeal to the more adventurous, but an exceptional destination and one of our favourites.
Posted by: Alex