Are you planning the luxury vacation of a lifetime? A trip filled with exciting destinations and wonderful experiences? Do you want to live it up and travel in opulence and style? More than likely your thoughts gravitate towards the glamour of Europe, the mystique of the Far East, or perhaps, a tropical paradise surrounded by white sand and clear waters in Indonesia. You may imagine an extravagant getaway in Istanbul or Monte Carlo where you your every whim is catered to, or perhaps a lavish vacation in Africa. Wait…Africa? Surely the words “Africa” and “luxury” do not belong together in the same sentence?
Unfortunately many travelers either have no idea, or otherwise a very skewed view, of what Africa has to offer. For many, ideas of luxury accommodations, pristine environs, and wild splendor are not the first thoughts that come to mind. Rather, for the majority of travelers ideas of uncivilized regions, disease, war, crime, third world living conditions, and complete poverty are among some of the first thoughts that enter their minds when thinking about Africa.
It is time for a new set of mental images in regards to travel in Africa, images that are realistic and reflect the true nature of this amazing continent: beautiful, unspoiled, peaceful, grand, luxurious, extravagant, multicultural, and welcoming. Africa’s status as a luxury travel destination has been a well-guarded secret – until now.
When discussing luxury travel in Africa it is worth noting that tourism is a major source of income for much of Africa, and as such, there are few places in the world where you will find such excellent service and such a strong focus on providing unrivaled experiences. It says a lot that Africa was awarded five of the top ten entries in Travel & Leisure’s Top 100 Hotels Overall in the World for 2008:
#1 Singita, Sabi Sand and Kruger National Park, South Africa
#3 Fairmont Mara Safari Club, Masai Mara, Kenya
#7 Kirawira Luxury Tented Camp, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
#8 Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa
#9 Tortilis Camp, Amboseli National Park, Kenya
Travel & Leisure is but one source. Conde Nast, World Travel Awards, National Geographic, and many other travel critics love pouring the awards on Africa because there is so much to praise. And why not? After all, Africa fuses the best of Europe and the Middle East, particularly British hospitality, with culturally vibrant Africa to produce a splendid result, one that always leaves travelers in awe and wanting to return from the moment their African adventure is over.
So what might a lavish vacation in Africa entail? From Cape Town to Cairo, Africa is a continent of indulgence. But what better place to begin than in Cape Town, South Africa located at the southern end of Africa and ranked as the 3rd best city in the world to visit byTravel & Leisure in 2008, over the likes of Rome, Paris, and New York. Your accommodations here are at the five star, Cape Grace Hotel, a top 10 hotel as ranked byTripAdvisor Traveler's Choice Awards (US) 2008 with the best service and staff of any hotel worldwide according to Conde Nast in 2007. It has also won top hotel awards (ranked number twenty-two in the world, to be exact) from Travel & Leisure for 2008. From the charming Cape Winelands to sundowners in the bay with magnificent sunsets to views of the mighty Atlantic from atop Table Mountain, Cape Town will leave you breathless. Here you relax and enjoy some of the finest cuisine Africa has to offer along with white sand beaches, a vibrant city life, and a blend of cultures all converging in one location.
Next, you are whisked away to Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, owned by the self-made billionaire, Sir Richard Branson. No expense has been spared in making this a luxurious safari lodge tucked away in the Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park. It was a 2007 Golden Achiever Award recipient, listed on the 2008 Forbes Traveler 400 list, and was acknowledged as the "Best of the Best" in the Most Socially Responsible Hotel category by Virtuoso in 2008. At Ulusaba astounding game viewing, where you are sure to see herds of elephants and lions on the hunt, combined with decadent luxury and sumptuous meals will leave you feeling invigorated and fully immersed in Africa’s incredible wilderness. You might even get lucky and meet Sir Richard Branson, as he is known to stop by from time to time for a little rest and relaxation.
Your next stop is the Bazaruto Archipelago, a pristine expanse of turquoise waters and white sand beaches located right off the coast of Mozambique, near Vilanculos. Here you spend a few days at Benguerra Lodge, voted as Mozambique’s Leading Safari at the 2007World Travel Awards, where your accommodations are luxurious Casitas situated right on the beach next to the exquisite Indian Ocean. On this tropical paradise you are treated to superb seafood cuisine fused with eastern African spices, white sandy beaches, excellent service, some of the best coral snorkeling on the planet, sailing on local dhows, and much more. After relaxing at one of Africa’s most unspoiled tropical destinations your final stop is Victoria Falls, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls is truly remarkable. Upon seeing the falls for the first time, David Livingstone remarked, “scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.” Here you stay at the Victoria Falls Hotel, which was given the award ofZimbabwe's Leading Hotel 2008 by World Travel Awards. It was also one of Travel & Leisure’s Top 25 Hotels in Africa & Middle East for 2008 as well as ranked as one of The Leading Hotels of the World. Here you embark on an unforgettable elephant back safari through Victoria Falls National Park, enjoy a sundowner cruise on the mighty Zambezi River, and soak in the spectacular beauty of the Falls from the many viewing spots within the Victoria Falls Rainforest.
This description is but one small example of what you might experience when embarking on a luxury vacation to Africa. There are so many other extraordinary destinations and accommodations located throughout Africa, where the sights and experiences are amazing and like none other on our planet. In Botswana, for example, you find the Okavango Delta, where the annual rain waters from the north meet the Kalahari Desert in the south to form a delta that arguably has some of the best game viewing in all of Africa. Here you will find some of the continent’s most luxurious and exclusive lodges, including Mombo Camp, Abu Camp, and many others. Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, where huge migrations of zebra and wildebeest can be observed crossing the plains to the Serengeti in Tanzania, is dotted with uber-luxury camps such as Kichwa Tembo Bateleur Camp and Fairmont Mara Safari Club. Uganda and the Congo offer unique destinations, including Gorilla Forest Camp, in some of the wildest jungles on earth where close up encounters with gorillas are possible. Tanzania has the remarkable Ngorongoro Crater where large concentrations of predators and other wildlife live within the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. Tanzania is also home to the Serengeti National Park and Selous Game Reserve, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, as well as Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain. Even some of the smaller countries such as Rwanda, Malawi, and Burundi have much to offer the luxury traveler that is looking for that unique vacation. Zanzibar and the Seychelles are both beautiful tropical getaways. Namibia has Etosha National Park, Skeleton Coast and the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Mozambique all have many beautiful and exotic places to visit. The list goes on and on. But the bottom line is simple: for the discerning traveler who is looking for unsurpassed luxury coupled with unmatched service in some of Planet Earth’s most incredible destinations, there is no option like Africa.
For more examples of luxury vacations and safaris in Africa, be sure to visit our trips page.
This article was written by Lark Tours staff members. We reserve all rights to this article.