Africa. The very word sends tingles down our spine. African safari is, by any measure, the most aspirational holiday of all, an adventure like no other, but it stays on our bucket list for far too long. We read about it in story books as children, and our screens have been filled with countless films and documentaries since David Attenborough first reported from there in the fifties. You’ll find travelling to Africa a doddle compared with many of the more far-flung visited places on the globe and best of all, there’s no jetlag so you can be up with the larks to spot the lions. With some 54 countries covering 6% of the world’s surface, the choice can seem overwhelming. Ask friends where to go on safari, and you’ll get for an onslaught of impassioned advice. Nowhere inspires and stirs up as fierce a debate as the subject of Africa. Considering adding on a few days on the beach and the discussion continues – should you opt for an Indian Ocean idyll, an African beach resort or a Spice Island paradise.
Turquoise’s product director Sue Bell’s deep love of travel is never more evident than when talking about Africa. As our go-to expert, here she guides us through the safari beach dilemma with her top 9 best safari beach holiday and honeymoon itineraries!
1. Best safari beach holiday for once in a lifetime
If you are only going to go on safari once in your lifetime, it has to be East Africa. We love Kenya, home of Born Free, where Virginia McKenna lost her heart to the story of orphaned cub, Elsa the lioness. Kicheche Camp in the Mara is famous for its big cat sightings. If the Great Migration is your calling, Azura Selous in Tanzania gets our vote, with just 12 luxury tents, each with a private plunge pool. Both are set off to perfection by a week at Essque Zalu in Zanzibar, where contemporary African chic meets boutique-luxe.
2. Best safari beach holiday for budget
There’s no such thing as a cheap safari, but you’ll get great value in South Africa thanks to the value of the rand to the pound. Combine a few days in The Kruger or Madikwe Reserve with a few nights on the beach in Cape Town and you will get the best of both worlds. If Kenya has stolen your heart for the bush, an easy transfer brings you to Diani Beach and one of the lesser known but delightful family run Kenyan resorts such as all-inclusive hideaway Kinondo Kwetu or cliff top Msambweni Beach House (where you’ll find the best infinity pool in Kenya).
Msambweni Beach House
3. Best safari beach holiday for wildlife
For the call of the wild, nothing will prepare you for the Wildebeest Migration in Kenya – truly the greatest wildlife show on earth. Bush magic happens during the dry summer months as the animals congregate around the watering holes, so April to October are fantastic months to go on safari. For the year-round migration spectacle it has to be Tanzania; for the big five, head to Kenya. Both are set off sublimely by a week on the Spice Island of Zanzibar.
4. Best safari beach holiday for authenticity
A mobile safari camp is the best way to get under the skin of real Africa – perhaps in the renowned Serengeti or Botswana. For an unhurried and intimate safari with all the creature comforts, we love privately owned Garonga and Little Garonga, just west of South Africa’s Kruger, where the ethos is all about slowing down – here at Turquoise we coin it ‘safari for the soul’. Be one of the first to find out why when it reopens in June following a facelift. For the perfect beach finale, chill out at the irresistibly rustic Fundu Lagoon, the very epitome of shabby chic, on Zanzibar’s very own Robinson Crusoe island of Pemba.
5. Best safari beach holiday for luxury
Any sophisti-cat worth her salt heads to South Africa for a true taste of luxury, and at Sanctuary Makanyane Lodge in the Madikwe or Chitwa Chitwa in Sabi Sands you’ll be like the cat that got the cream. Follow with a week on your very own private island in the Seychelles for the ultimate safari-beach holiday.
Sanctuary Makanyane Lodge
For a slightly more authentic feel, Ol Seki Hemingways Mara Camp, set in a private conservancy on the edge of the Masai Mara is easily fit for royalty. An African Queen would be perfectly happy to swap her safari suit for a designer bikini with a week at the chic all-villa White Sand Resort in Zanzibar, or the new ultra-luxury Thanda Island just off the Tanzanian coast.
6. Best safari beach holiday for food and wine
For exceptional dining, the safari experience in South Africa is quite unique and nothing beats a sensational day of game viewing followed by a delicious camp dinner in accompanied, of course, by the country’s world famous wines. A week in Mauritius, where the island’s cosmopolitan island community offers an eclectic culinary melting pot of cultures makes this safari-beach combo a tried and tested recipe for success.
7. Best safari beach holiday for families
Malaria-free Madikwe Game reserve in South Africa gets a big tick for families and Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is one of our all-time family favourites thanks to its brilliant junior range programme – the last word in animal tracking and bush survival! For some après-safari beach fun-in-the-sun, head to uber family-friendly Mauritian resort the Heritage Le Telfair. Mum and dad can indulge in golf, spa and watersports galore, while children of all ages will revel in the island’s best kids clubs. Tanzania offers a much slower style of safari, and with half the country’s elephant population living in the Selous Game Reserve along with lion, hippo, buffalo, zebra and giraffe, nature-mad children will be in seventh heaven, with another beach-perfect treat in store for you all at The Residence Zanzibar – complete with butlers!
Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge
8. Best safari beach holiday for adventure
Track animals by horseback or even on foot at Ol Donyo Lodge in South East Kenya, followed by a week of diving, sailing and fishing in Zanzibar. Zambia is one of Southern Africa’s least visited safari destinations and at Tongabezi, the original Zambezi River Lodge, you can sleep in a treehouse just a stone’s through from the Victoria Falls. If like us you love a spot of island-hopping, why settle for just two holidays in one? Combine your Zambian safari with a traditional Dhow safari adventure through the Mozambique archipelago, or explore the lesser known islands of the Seychelles.
9. Best safari beach holiday for honeymooners
Drift off to sleep to the sound of lions and wake to the sight of the dawn rising over the wilderness on a safari beach honeymoon. Many lodges now offer bush star-bed ‘sleep outs’ including two of our favourites, Ol Donyo in Kenya and malaria-free Sanctuary Makanyane in South Africa. For luxury and relaxation, go for South Africa and Mauritius; for romance and adventure, head for East Africa and the Swahili chic of Zanzibar. Whichever you choose, keep the beach ‘til last – after those early morning game drives you’ll be happy to feel the sand between your toes!
Whether you yearn to follow in the footsteps of the great David Attenborough or to rekindle the romance of Out of Africa, speak to a Turquoise specialist today and we will make your safari beach holiday dream a reality – not just a bucket-list fantasy!