Safari and beach make perfect partners. Joanna Booth looks at three smart choices
After a few exciting days of rising early to track game and swapping tales of sightings over sundowners round the campfire, there’s nothing nicer than a really relaxing stay by the beach. It’s a tried and tested recipe, and there’s good reason it’s so popular with the honeymoon market – although many honeymooners book beach then bush, so they have the sunny, post-wedding recovery before animal adventures.
Some twin safari destinations with beach breaks in Mauritius or the Seychelles, but there’s no need to fly so far – there are stunning shores lapped by the Indian Ocean within Africa. Here are three successful combinations to consider.
Kenya and Zanzibar
Kenya’s Masai Mara is famous for good reason; its vast, open plains make it easy to spot the rich variety of game, with the park particularly famous for its big cats and for the wildebeest migration, which passes through from July to October.
Accommodation ranges from the good-value right up to high-level luxury, the latter including the 37-tent Governors’ Camp on the banks of the Mara River, which is currently offering free flights to the camp from Nairobi. Give couples a treat by booking them an early morning hot-air balloon ride followed by a champagne breakfast.
With the FCO advice currently warning against all but essential travel to Mombasa, the Tanzanian paradise island of Zanzibar provides a great alternative – and it doesn’t have to break the bank. True, there are some high-end options suited to honeymooners who are willing to splash out, but operators can find lower-priced choices too.
Visions of Africa’s Becca Spurgeon says: “The air fare from Nairobi to Zanzibar is only about £20 more than to Mombasa, and we recommend the Karafuu Beach Hotel – it’s so reasonable and a really good standard.”
The hotel has a Padi dive centre so clients can make the most of scuba and snorkelling opportunities, and if they want a break from the beach, they can take a historical tour of the fascinating and colourful capital Stone Town.
Book it: Visions of Africa offers a bush and beach package including return flights between Heathrow and Nairobi and Nairobi and Zanzibar, light air transfers from Nairobi to the Masai Mara, four nights’ full-board including game viewing activities at Governors’ Camp, and seven nights’ half-board at Karafuu Beach Resort, from £2,498.
South Africa and Mozambique
The diversity of game in South Africa’s vast Kruger National Park is mind boggling – there are more than 20 varieties of antelope alone – and it’s also noted for excellent lion and leopard sightings, the latter particularly good in the Sabi Sands area.
Accommodation ranges from the lavish – think Singita and &Beyond – to the affordable. Claire Farley of 2by2 Holidays recommends clients looking to save pennies self-drive and stay in fully-equipped self-catering rondovals in SanPark Rest Camps, where there are also restaurants and shops. All Brits will benefit from the weakened rand.
When Kruger is at its best – from May to September – the beaches of Cape Town and the Garden Route are chilly. Some visitors choose to fly to Mauritius for the beach section of their break, but for some of the world’s most pristine and perfect sand they can stay in Africa and head for Mozambique. Sand is soft and white, water warm and turquoise.
Utterly laid back, it’s great for snorkelling, diving (there are manta rays, whale sharks and dugongs) and big-game fishing, and the Portuguese-influenced cuisine is excellent. However, this uncommercialised spot offers barefoot luxury; it’s not for clients who want nightlife or shopping. Luxury properties tend to be on the islands, and more-affordable options on the mainland. Travel between Kruger and Mozambique’s beaches has just become easier and cheaper with a direct South African Airways’ Airlink flight which flies between Mpumalanga airport and Vilanculos on Thursdays and Sundays.
Book it: 2by2 Holidays offers a 10-night holiday with three nights in the four-star Elephant Plains lodge in Kruger and seven nights in Bazaruto Lodge, Mozambique, including international and domestic flights from South African Airways, from £2,790.
Tanzania takes the cake as the African destination where you can combine safari and beach in the same country. The most common option twins the northern safari circuit – the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara – with the island of Zanzibar, with a midday flight from the Serengeti getting clients to their hotel by the beach in time for sundowners. Packing in a lot of iconic sights, this is a great option for first-timers.
More experienced safari goers should consider pairing the vast, southern Selous Game Reserve either with Zanzibar or with Tanzania’s quiet mainland beaches. The sheer size of the Selous means it’s more of a challenge to spot game, but the trade-off is clients will rarely spot other tourists.
The mainland beaches offer a similarly remote feel, with Rainbow Tours recommending Ras Kutani at the high end and The Tides as a more affordable option. To get them completely off the beaten track, choose a private island – there’s the exquisite but expensive Mnemba and, new last year, the charming and more affordable Fanjove Private Island Lodge.
Clients who want the best of both without having to move should head for Saadani. It’s one of Tanzania’s smaller national parks, but its location right on the coast opposite Zanzibar means you can take a game drive in the morning and cool off in the Indian Ocean, all before lunch. Rainbow recommends Sanctuary Saadani Safari Lodge, where the combination is bush, beach and river too, with boat trips along the Wami River looking for hippos and crocodiles, as well as classic drives, plus the lodge is near a lagoon where turtles hatch.
The operator has an offer for honeymooners, with complimentary sparkling wine, private deck dinner and private vehicle for game activities as well as 25% off the nightly rate for the bride.
Book it: Rainbow Tours offers eight nights for the price of six at Saadani Safari Lodge, starting from £2,390 (saving £570) during high season, including international and internal flights, all meals and daily game activities.
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