Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Africa....beyond imagination!

There are places in Africa that are Off the Beaten Track and beyond imagination. Where the real magic lies. You may have taken the traditional route to Africa before....now it’s time to explore the Green Route menu of life-enriching places that your champions won’t believe and will savour forever. Let us tell you about some of these extraordinary locations.....

Jack’s Camp (Makgadigadi Pans, Kalahari Desert, Botswana)

Imagine travelling at speed for hours on quad bikes from Jack’s Camp and arriving...nowhere! Jack’s perfectly showcases the savage and haunting beauty of the African wilderness and is located deep in the Kalahari Desert in a palm grove that seems like an idyllic mirage at the edge of the Makgadigadi National Park, the largest salt pans in the world. A place in Africa beyond imagination!

This is a sophisticated yet in harmony with nature camp (no electricity, just pure silence) that captures the classic 1940’s East African style. A perfect retreat for exclusive executive groups always in search of something “different....unique.....startling.” This is the authentic magic.

Jack’s has 10 spacious, stylish en-suite tents, each with inside and outside shower, and the hub is a canvas pavilion with pool overlooking a vista that is forever. These pans are a relic of one of the world’s largest super-lakes, the size of Switzerland that dried up thousands of years ago.

You may reach Jack’s by road or air from Maun, which is at the heartbeat of Botswana’s legendary safari camps. Three nights on a wild, wild safari and then two nights at Jack would truly be a unique and life-enriching experience.

In 2007 the acclaimed BBC motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson visited Jack’s and wrote: “I loved it more than any other journey I’ve ever made. It’s even better than driving an Enzo Ferrari.”  We’ve got lots more enticing information on Jack’s....so talk to us soon!

Rocktail Bay Beach Camp (KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)

So, it’s “unique” and “sensational” you are searching for? Then send your small exclusive incentive group to Rocktail Beach Camp where the superlatives and “reasons to go” are easy to identify.

Located, under canvas, in the shaded sanctuary of a lush forest on South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal coast, it is a place of incredible and remote diversity and can’t be topped for exclusivity – you have 40km of unspoilt, pristine shoreline to yourself.

The camp has 17 rooms (nine standard, seven family suites and one VIP suite) overlooking the ocean, though it’s a brisk 20-minute walk to the beach where world-class snorkelling, scuba diving and unspoilt beach adventures await.

This is in the Greater St Lucia Wetlands World Heritage Site marine reserve (boating, fires and driving on the beach are prohibited) and where the bird life and turtles are major attractions. Loggerhead and leatherback turtles are quite famous here and they lay their eggs on the beach to hatch.

The lodge dining room, bar and lounge have a wrap-around veranda with views of the ocean and there’s also a large pool and a wine cellar. Activities include superb dive spots at pristine reefs, the beach, forest trails, forest and grassland bird watching, surf and rock fishing, Zulu dancing and culture, quad bikes, star gazing, swimming and cultural visits to nearby Gugulesizwe.

Bushman’s Kloof (Cederberg Area, Western Cape, South Africa)

Cape Town is a global hot-spot for incentive groups, with that pulse even quickening following World Cup soccer and to be further heightened when the international SITE Congress is held there from 4-7 December this year. The natural and most desired add-on is a big-five safari elsewhere...but many now need an alternative to wildlife safari.

Think of all the apt superlatives from any place on earth you have ever experienced. Bushmans Kloof is in that class...and beyond most. Marketing hype has degraded words and phrases and many places make wild and undeserved claims.

Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, 270km from Cape Town, beckons you to “lie still and feel the earth” and promises to “nourish your soul with calm and comfort.” These are not empty clich├ęs but precise facts. Voted by Conde Nast Traveler as “Best Hotel in the World 2009” the citation said to experience Bushmans was “deeply enriching and beyond all expectations.” The global accolades have been many and richly deserved, including Tattler’s top hotels in the world.

A majestic Relais & Chateaux brand and member of the elite Red Carnation Group it features 16 spectacular luxury rooms and suites set in an ecological oasis of open plains, rock pools and waterfalls and landscapes of staggering rock formations. There are more than 130 ancient Bushman rock art sites and you are assured of exclusivity and rejuvenation that beggars belief. There is a spirit and mystical beauty that soothes and the world-class spa truly rejuvenates.

Bushmans Kloof has also received consistent world-wide acclaim for its exceptional dedication to preserving the natural beauty of the 7,500 hectare estate that provides a predator and malaria free sanctuary to many endangered species of flora and fauna. The Cederberg wilderness area is part of the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site.

Hit the high-spots in Cape Town and then take your VIP group to Bushmans on a journey of discovery, enrichment and indulgence. There can’t be a better spot on the planet for that!

Marataba Safari Co. (Waterberg Mountains, South Africa)

There are several famous and acclaimed safari lodges in South Africa, but Marataba? It’s time to discover a relatively new wilderness and wildlife treasure! Located at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains just a three hour drive from Johannesburg Marataba’s 15 suites under canvas provide exclusive Big 5 bush luxury under the auspices of the Relais & Chateaux brand.

Innovative and modern architecture is the hallmark and stone masonry characterises the main lodge, with a huge expanse of glass enhancing the panoramic scenery. It’s a Big 5 reserve of 85,000 exclusive acres and the suites are a clever combination of stone and canvas.

Wildlife includes black and white rhino, cheetah, lion, brown hyena, leopard and antelope such as sable, kudu, impala, eland, waterbuck, tsessebe and hartebeest.

Green Route recommends this exclusive property for a true bush experience and African adventure.

Bumi Hills Safari Lodge & Spa (Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe)

If it’s location, location, location then prepare to be awed by Bumi. It is well-nigh impossible to walk out onto the main deck and not exclaim a loud WOW! The 180 degree panoramic vista affords dramatic views of both sunrise and sunset over the massive lake and game-rich shoreline.

The uniqueness of Bumi is not only in its world’s best location and luxury but also in the added dimension of the water that provides tantalising opportunities for tiger-fishing, cruising, sailing on one of the world’s largest man-made lakes – it’s an astonishing 300km long and 40km at its widest point.

Safari drives in open 4 x 4 vehicles are on a private reserve with species such as prolific elephant and buffalo, lions, warthog, kudu, impala, leopard, hippo, crocodiles, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys all within a 15-minute drive. There are rhino is the nearby Matusadona National Park that may be tracked on foot with an armed professional guide.

The spa is also simply breathtaking in its location overlooking the lake from its hilltop vantage point. The rich history and culture of the area is also an attraction for international incentive groups seeking local folklore and authentic, remote wilderness. Modern mankind’s largest animal rescue, dubbed Operation Noah, unfolded in the late 1950’s when the mighty Zambezi River was dammed to create the lake and provide hydro-electricity. As the valley flooded so thousands of animals - from rats, snakes and elephants and rhino – were stranded on islands and were rescued by a heroic and hardy bunch of rangers.

To enable to dam to take shape the local Tonga tribes were – against their will - moved out of their ancestral villages in the valleys. They vowed that their mighty river god, the serpent-like Nyaminyami, would not allow this injustice to happen and, incredibly, during the early construction phase there were thousand-year floods that destroyed the coffer dams – twice! These are indeed fascinating stories to add lustre to incentive groups, who also have a 12-seat boardroom and 60-seat air conditioned conference room on offer.

Bumi has 20 lake-facing rooms (10 standard and 10 premium suites), satellite television lounge, wireless internet, spa, full-size snooker table, library and offers shoreline dinners and sunset cocktails in a stunningly raw segment of Africa.

Access is via a direct very scenic light aircraft flight from Victoria Falls that takes just 1hr 10min. Indeed incentive groups have the tantalising opportunity of a two-centre incentive that takes in a wonder of the world (Victoria Falls) and an untamed and undiscovered unique wilderness that is Bumi Hills. Here lies a real African adventure your winners will relish.

The Hide Safari Lodge (Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe)

There is a very good reason that The Hide has consistently (for 13 years) been voted The Best Tented Safari Camp in Zimbabwe. It is a rare gem in one of the world’s greatest game reserves, Hwange National Park, which at 14,000 sq. Km. is half the size of Belgium but with very few people.  Indeed, the sheer exclusivity and non commercialisation of this eco wonderland is truly amazing.

The Hide is situated in majestic surroundings and borders ancient elephant paths and a vast grassland corridor. It features the essence of stylish life under canvas of a bygone era in eight standard and two deluxe spacious en-suite tents that all feature a private veranda overlooking the prolific waterhole. Its hub is a thatched A Frame that houses a dining area and sun lounge at ground level and a comfortable lounge and viewing deck upstairs.

To add to the incredible exclusivity it is one of the few camps located within this vast Big 5 park that is a haven for wildlife, including more than 100 species of mammals - some of Africa’s largest herds of elephants and buffalo, many predators, zebra and large concentration of giraffe, all drawn to The Hide’s constant waterhole. A feature is the two concealed hides on either side of the waterhole.

A visit to The Hide is a rare treat for photographic enthusiasts and astonishing game drives are also taken at night to heighten the drama of the African bush. It’s only 180km from Victoria Falls and may be reached by good quality road or by air.

As Zimbabwe quickly regains its stride through measurably enhanced political stability and a product and country that has always been acclaimed as world class The Hide will benefit as one of those very special places that make dream come true.

Medjumbe & Matemo Islands (Northern Mozambique)

Medjumbe Private Island Resort and Matemo Island Resort are adjacent to each other in the spectacular Quirimbas Archipelago of northern Mozambique – a chain of tropical islands, few of which are occupied. These could vindicate the word “ultimate” being used for an unspoilt marine environment and for exceptional peaceful relaxation.

They are both located right on the beach with perfect vistas of endless white sand and translucent sea. The islands are reached via a 45-minute spectacular scenic flight from mainland Pemba’s international airport and you arrive in a world that is pure bliss – tropical, exotic and largely unexplored. Most assuredly one of the world’s untouched gems. Pemba is accessed by air from Johannesburg with direct SA Airlink flights as well as by flights from Maputo (Mozambique), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Nairobi (Kenya). Look at a map and realise the ease!

Medjumbe, a small private island only 1km long and 500m wide,  is romantic and ultra exclusive, featuring 13 beach chalets, all with air conditioned luxury and plunge pool to stave off the tropical heat. Matemo has 24 palm-thatched chalets on the beach.

And when you’re there you may delight in hobeycat sailing, fly fishing, deep sea big game fishing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving in waters that reach 30 C in summer.

Dugong Lodge (Mozambique)

Access is just so good to this special spot on the southern Mozambique seaboard. Fly from Johannesburg to the small international coastal airport and town of Vilanculos and Dugong Lodge is nearby on the mainland, yet highly exclusive.

It’s set in 30,000 private hectares of pristine marine and wildlife territory and is a sanctuary featuring two biospheres which make up a unique wilderness and beach experience. There are 12 luxury air conditioned chalets (14bedrooms as two are villas) with direct access to the beach and your winners will love you for taking them here for a memorable incentive.

This is an idyllic private playground for kayaking, wind surfing, hobie cat sailing, snorkelling, birding walks, deep sea big-game fishing, skiing and enjoying picnics on secluded and private islands. The ocean safari offers enticing prospects of seeing whales, dolphins, manta rays, whale sharks and perhaps even the elusive Dugong.

Chichele & Puku Ridge Lodges (South Luangwa National Park, Zambia)

These two sister lodges, within 10 minutes of each other, offer different styles but the same awe-inspiring game-rich experience in a place that is as untamed as Africa was 100 years ago.

Fly in to Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, on one of many international flights and then take a light aircraft trip to the South Luangwa National Park that is authentic and exclusive ‘Africa wild’ at its finest.

Chichele Presidential Lodge was built in the 1960’s by the founding President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, as a private retreat. Today the old structures have been transformed into a beautiful lodge of stone and thatch with vistas of the wild floodplains below.

There are 10 elegant and air conditioned Victorian-style lodges built along the edge of a hillside and the dining room features a grand piano – this is real sophistication in one of Africa’s rawest wilderness areas where the big-game safari-element is astounding.

Puku Ridge Tented Camp is more rustic and the six spacious 12m x 7m) tents have a wrap-around teak terrace view of the valley below. Puku, named after an elusive and rare antelope, is perched amongst the trees on a low, rocky ridge that is the perfect vantage point to observe the prolific wildlife from the comforts of a traditional old-world safari camp.

Want exclusive? Want adventure? Want authentic Africa? Puku Ridge beckons to small exclusive groups at VIP level.

Toka Leya Camp (upper Zambezi River, near Livingstone, Zambia)

International incentive groups relish the possibility of enjoying easily accessible twin centres and here Toka Leya is a perfect twin with the wildlife safari experiences of Chobe (Botswana) less than 100 km away by road.

Named after the local tribes who inhabited the area for centuries before Dr Livingstone discovered Victoria Falls, Toka Leya is just two years old and already acclaimed as a beautiful gem.

Built around a sausage tree it’s located in the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park just 6km upstream from wonder of the world, Victoria Falls, and its 12 spectacular safari tents, with wooden decks, are perched at the edge of the legendary Zambezi River.

Toka Leya is highly recommended for small exclusive groups visiting Victoria Falls and access is into Livingstone International Airport on scheduled flights from Johannesburg or Lusaka; or by road just two hours from Chobe Park in Botswana which offers a world-class big-game safari.