Curated travel experiences

Discovering Madagascar: Nature’s Enigmatic Island Gem

The finest honeymoon destination under African skies

The finest honeymoon destination under African skies

Sustainable travel: Exploring Africa responsibly and making a positive impact

5 of the Best African travel destinations for 2024

What you’ve missed. A look back at 2023.

What you’ve missed. A look back at 2023.

You’ve understandably been busy with your own adventures and happenings in 2023 – and even if you have travelled with Leopard this year, it’s likely that you’ve missed some of what we’ve been up to. We’ve made it easy to catch up by listing some highlights below to inspire your travels in 2024.

I’ve hardly had a minute to reflect on the year that was. It has been a whirlwind of activity from start to finish. I’m not complaining, though, because during the Covid years I only dreamed of being this busy planning holidays for clients.

This year was a record-breaking year for us. My most proud achievement is that 384 people travelled with Leopard in 2023. They collectively spent 3,927 nights on a Leopard-planned holiday in one of the 15 countries we offer holidays to. All of these vacations ran seamlessly, which is no easy task and requires teamwork and organisation on an epic scale! 

Some other personal highlights were:

  • A trip to San Francisco to meet current and future clients in March. 
  • The Leopard workshop in Johannesburg with all 6 team members from around the country, followed by two days in the bush, in April.
  • A trip to Mashatu in Botswana in May, together with my family and close friends. Read my tips on taking young children on safari here
  • A trip to Tanzania where I did the northern safari circuit and visited many lodges in the Seregenti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park, in June. 
  • A trip to the Sabi Sand to visit lodges there in July.
  • A trip to the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe in October. You can read more about that trip here and here
  • A trip to Madagascar in October. I will write about my experience on this magical island in early 2024, look out for that!

In addition to my lodge visits above, Daphnée visited Namibia, Mauritius, Qwabi, Kwandwe, Manyeleti and Madikwe. We invest time and money in visiting lodges and hotels is because this helps us offer our clients the best, most up to date advice on where to stay and what to do. It is the Leopard difference, and we look forward to doing more of the same in 2024!

I wish you all a wonderful end to 2023, and a great start to 2024 with lots of lovely travel plans for the upcoming year. 

Happy travelling,

Diana

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Zanzibar, Nosy Be and Bazaruto: African Island Bliss

Zanzibar, Nosy Be and Bazaruto: African Island Bliss

Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, Tanzania’s Zanzibar Archipelago and Madagascar’s Nosy Be Archipelago all offer unique Indian Ocean island experiences. While you can enjoy luxurious retreats, you’ll also be likely to witness daily life on an African island, with fishermen bringing their catches on shore or ladies selling spices and other wares in local markets. These destinations promise a splendid blend of natural wonders, cultural heritage, and tropical waters, making each visit a distinct and unforgettable.

Zanzibar, Tanzania

If you veer off the tourist path on Unguja (the main island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, typically called Zanzibar), you’ll find retreats like The Residence and the Zuri Zanzibar Hotel. Situated on Kendwa’s tranquil beachside slope, Zuri offers a unique escape, complete with a creative library and the open-air Peponi Bar adorned with recycled bottle lamps. The decor incorporates elements inspired by Zanzibari tradition, including carved door frames, and much of the contemporary wooden furniture is handcrafted from reclaimed local dhows.

Historical sites like the Princess Salme Museum at Emerson Spice offer insights into Zanzibar’s heritage. Sayyida Salme, the daughter of the first Omani Sultan of Zanzibar is known for secretly teaching herself to write by copying Quranic calligraphy onto camel bone.

Stone Town’s ornate doors provide photographic opportunities, and other popular activities include visiting Jozani Chwaka Bay National Park to observe red colobus monkeys or taking a spice tour on the island. Enjoy a ride on a traditional dhow, a sunset cruise or go dolphin watching by boat. Kizimkazi, in southern Zanzibar, is a prime location for dolphin encounters. You can also explore mangrove forests in kayaks near Chwaka Bay, or snorkel in the island’s crystal-clear water. Visit the Mnarani Turtle Conservation Project in Nungwi on the northern tip of Zanzibar, with its natural lagoon conservation pond.

Zanzibar (Unguja) is often called the “Spice Island” because of its historical significance as a major producer of fragrant spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom. The island also offers a rich culinary tradition influenced by Swahili, Indian, Arabian, and Persian flavours. Dishes worth trying include coconut-infused seafood stews, freshly caught spiced grilled fish, spice-infused tea and coconut ugali.

Mnemba Island, part of the Zanzibar archipelago, is a 15-minute boat ride from Unguja. Its protected marine reserve is ideal for snorkelling and diving, much like nearby Pemba Island. When staying at andBeyond Mnemba Island Resort, which describes itself as “an exclusive barefoot paradise”, you can enjoy romantic candlelit dinners served on the beach, drinks at the ocean-facing bar or have meals delivered to your banda (luxurious beach cottage).

The Underwater Room at Manta Resort off Pemba Island, in the Zanzibar Archipelago, provides a unique experience with its submerged chamber surrounded by turquoise waters. Schools of reef fish glide by your window. For those who prefer a more grounded stay, Manta Resort’s garden or ocean-facing suites on Pemba Island offer serenity at a resort committed to community-based tourism.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, an unspoiled paradise in the Indian Ocean, comprises five islands: Bazaruto, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina, and Bangue. The charming coastal town of Vilanculos, on the mainland Mozambique, is the gateway to this tropical haven.

The sandy beaches here provide nesting grounds for leatherback, loggerhead and green turtles, while a variety of mammals, birds and reptiles also make their home on the five islands, which are protected within the Bazaruto National Park. This protection extends to the species of fish that live in this part of the Indian Ocean too, making it a snorkellers’ and divers’ playground among the vibrant tapestry of colours beneath the ocean’s surface. 

From both Vilanculos and the Bazaruto Islands, you can enjoy activities like setting sail on a traditional dhow, horse riding on the beach or spending the morning on a chartered boat. A day out by boat allows you to cruise to secluded beaches, snorkel in crystal-clear waters or search for elusive dugongs which gracefully forage in seagrass meadows around the archipelago. 

There’s also the possibility of seeing and swimming with dolphins or watching migrating humpback whales breach on the horizon (in season). For those who enjoy fishing, this area is also excellent for game fishing for marlin and sailfish.

In Vilanculos, on the mainland, you can enjoy spa treatments and yoga retreats at Bahia Mar Boutique Hotel and dishes like spicy-dressed blue crab, mango and avocado salad. For more casual dining, enjoy a fresh seafood platter and a glass of wine or a beer at Sand Dollar, which serves tasty local food with great views.

Nosy Be, Madagascar

Nosy Be is often called the “Perfumed Island” due to its abundant fragrant ylang-ylang, frangipani and vanilla orchids. It’s situated off the northwest coast of Madagascar.

Among its beautiful beaches, the most renowned is Andilana, nestled on the island’s northwestern tip. It’s a place of pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters and awe-inspiring sunsets. Nosy Be’s neighbouring islands also offer breathtaking beaches. Notably, Nosy Iranja boasts a slender stretch of pearly white sand that also serves as a crucial sea turtle hatchery. Meanwhile, Nosy Sakatia combines picturesque beaches with the presence of rare bird species and native flora, adding to the island’s natural allure.

You can also experience excellent diving and snorkelling around Nosy Be along its vibrant coral reefs, home to a wealth of tropical fish, rays, turtles and sharks. And when you’re not relaxing under palm trees or enjoying Malagasy cuisine, like Romazava and Mokary, you could opt to visit the lush paradise of Lokobe Nature Reserve or visit the markets to buy vanilla pods. 

A visit to Madagascar would only be complete with seeing its iconic lemurs. From Nosy Be take a boat trip to Nosy Komba, affectionately known as Lemur Island. As its name implies, is teeming with these endearing creatures.

Happy Travelling,
The Leopard Team

We’d love to hear which of these three destinations appeals to you the most. Reply to this email with a 1 for Zanzibar, a 2 for Bazaruto, or a 3 for Nosy Be.

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My Journey to Zimbabwe’s Watery Splendours: Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls

My Journey to Zimbabwe’s Watery Splendours: Lake Kariba and Victoria Falls

After the adventure and excitement of camping and walking in the wilderness at Beagle Expeditions and Camp Hwange, my next stop was Fothergill Island on the banks of Lake Kariba, where I could enjoy a bit of luxury and fluffy white towels!

Lake Kariba has a special place in my heart. I spent the first two years of my life living in Kariba town where my parents worked as scientists on the lake. Helen (who is part of the Leopard team) also spent much of her childhood here and her father Frank Junor, was involved in Operation Noah alongside Rupert Fothergill, for whom Fothergill Island was named. 

Operation Noah was a daring rescue mission which took place in the late 1950s, when the Kariba Dam wall was constructed and the rising waters threatened to submerge countless animals stranded on the islands that emerged in the lake. Led by Rupert Fothergill, an intrepid game ranger, Operation Noah involved the extraordinary rescue and relocation of numerous animals, including elephants, rhinos, and various other wildlife species. These heroic efforts captured the world’s attention and showcased the indomitable spirit of humanity in safeguarding the natural world. 

Helen’s mother, Jean Junor, wrote the following about Kariba, which I think beautifully sums up the place: “Imagine a place of eternal summer. A place where the sunshine is only broken by passing magnificent, electrical storms. A wilderness with electricity. A little village woven into the bush, on the shores of a very beautiful lake.” Helen says that, “Kariba will always be my home, a place where freedom, wildness, balance and harmony converge in a perfectly orchestrated symphony.” 

The Zimbabwean owners of Fothergill Island have invested enormous sums of money to create this world class resort on the banks of the Kariba Dam. Beside the creature comforts, the resort’s custom-designed boats have all the latest technology for navigation and locating fish. My fellow traveller and new friend, Olivia, managed to catch the biggest fish I’ve ever seen! It was a 34 kg (75 pound) vundu (catfish), which was weighed and released back into the lake. The African sunsets here live up to the best you can imagine and for anyone looking for the ultimate relaxing family holiday or couples/friends getaway, Fothergill delivers abundantly. We also did a fascinating tour of Kariba town, which I highly recommend.

Our final stop on this incredible journey was Matetsi, a gorgeous lodge situated on the banks of the Zambezi River close to Victoria Falls. The rooms were modern and beautifully designed, with plush armchairs, a comfortable bed and air conditioning, which was a welcome relief from the intense October heat. 

Unchecked hunting and poaching destroyed much of the wildlife in Matetsi in the last century, but its transformation over time to a wildlife conservation area means that it now boasts diverse and flourishing populations of wildlife, including elephants, wild dogs, lions, buffalo, and various antelope species. The safari experience we had here was truly impressive and could compete with the best in Africa. 

Matetsi’s luxury suites, with their view over the Zambezi are so comfortable that you may never want to leave. If you do, there are plenty of activities to enjoy. Since childhood, I’ve visited the Falls often and no matter how many times I find myself standing in front of this impressive wall of water, I always find it an awe-inspiring and humbling experience. The sheer scale of the falls, with its immense curtain of water plummeting into the chasm below, is what makes this one of Africa’s most iconic attractions. 

As my time in Zimbabwe drew to a close, I spent the last day of my 41st year on a sunset cruise on the Zambezi river. As the sun dipped below the horizon, the sky became a canvas of fiery oranges and red, casting a golden glow over the tranquil waters and we toasted the past year and to another journey around the sun.

Happy travelling,
Diana

P.S. Helen’s sister has written a children’s book about Operation Noah called The Great Animal Rescue. It will be available for sale worldwide in December. Find out more on her website.

P.P.S. Read more about rhino conservation and Operation Noah on our blog and reply to this email with the word “Zimbabwe” if you’d like to find out more about visiting one of the world’s most impressive waterfalls and/or enjoy a Zimbabwean safari.

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Mauritius vs Seychelles: which is superior?

Mauritius vs Seychelles: which is superior?

It matters where you find yourself on a tropical island holiday. While the idea of palm trees, white sands and an all-inclusive resort may entice some to click the “book now” button on a popular booking site, different tropical destinations can offer vastly different experiences.  The less discerning could end up trapped in a windy corner of the world with sub-par food and drink, limited activities and small bottles of sunscreen sold at stratospheric prices. 

That’s why, at Leopard, we love to share our local expertise with you, to help you discover the most idyllic spots imaginable in the tropical Indian Ocean islands, where the atmosphere is intoxicating, the food heavenly and the service exemplary. 

Mauritius vs Seychelles: Key distinctions
The key difference between the two destinations is that Mauritius is a solitary island, in contrast, Seychelles is an expansive archipelago of 115 islands. Both destinations provide the ultimate tropical island getaways, inviting you to unwind in a luxurious resort or a private villa and escape the everyday hustle and bustle.

When it comes to choosing between these destinations – characterised by their clear tropical waters, coral reefs, swaying palm trees and pristine powdery white sands – it boils down to personal preference. The Seychelles tends to be a bit more pricey, however, it’s possible to indulge in luxury or work within a more constrained budget while still enjoying a magical experience in both places. Here are a few highlights of each location to help you make your decision.

Seychelles
Whether you want the seclusion of North Island Lodge, where British royals William and Kate spent their honeymoon, or to find another remote bolthole in this archipelago, part of the charm of the Seychelles is the diversity that you’ll experience by island hopping.

International flights land in Mahé, where you’ll find Victoria (one of the world’s smallest capital cities) as well as the Morne Seychellois National Park, featuring a plethora of hiking trails, with one leading to the Seychelles’ highest point. The island has numerous guesthouses and hotels to choose from including Mango House Seychelles (previously home to Milanese fashion photographer Gian Paolo Barbieri) set on the edge of the ocean with views that you could drink in all day. Maia, part of the Tsogo Sun Hotels group, offers an equally enchanting setting perched on a hill above Anse Louis Beach. The resort, which has 30 private pool villas, has redefined the concept of all-inclusive with offerings that include top-tier Wagyu beef, delectable seafood, truffles and Veuve Clicquot champagne.

Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, it’s the surroundings that draw travellers from far and wide. This paradise is renowned for its natural beauty, local Creole culture and unique biodiversity. Diving conditions are also excellent all year in Seychelles, with the prime times to experience underwater visibility being April to May and October to November. 

Praslin is one of the Seychelles’ most enchanting islands, where towering granite boulders punctuate stretches of powdery white sand. This island is surrounded by incredible marine life and is home to the legendary coco de mer palm, which produces the world’s largest seed, as well as the endemic Seychelles black parrot. Savour sweet coconut cocktails on its shores and be sure to visit Anse Lazio  beach on the north-western tip of the island, where you can swim or snorkel in translucent waters. Take a day trip by boat, where you may spot dolphins, from Praslin to Curieuse Island. Here you can enjoy a Creole barbeque and see giant Aldabra tortoises, then snorkel with turtles and an array of fish around St Pierre.

Short flights from Mahé transport you from the main inner islands, known for their iconic granite outcrops, to the Seychelles’ remote, sandy outer islands adorned with coconut palms and lush tropical flora. These isles, such as Alphonse Island and Astove Atoll, serve as sanctuaries for diverse marine life, coral reefs, Aldabra tortoises, and nesting birds. Astove Atoll features the awe-inspiring underwater precipice known as “The Wall,” while the inner lagoon’s nutrient-rich currents entice a wide range of prized fish species. Astove’s allure as a fishing and diving destination rests in its remarkable diversity, with species like the Indo-Pacific permit, barracuda, and bluefin trevally, among others.

Mauritius
Mauritius not only offers pristine beaches where you can snorkel in an aquarium-like ocean but also activities on other parts of the island. For instance, golf courses like Ile aux Cerfs and Paradis Golf Club are set against the picturesque backdrop of Le Morne Brabant. The mountainous island also abounds in hiking trails and popular routes include those to the Chamarel Waterfall, the Chamarel Seven Coloured Earth Geopark and trails in the scenic Black River Gorges Park where you can also enjoy activities like ziplining or quad biking.

Mauritius is a popular destination for both couples seeking romantic getaways as well as families. While the One&Only Le Saint Géran previously catered exclusively to couples (and remains a wonderful space to enjoy romance), it has evolved into a top-tier family-friendly hotel. It now boasts two and three-bedroom suites with the option for multiple interconnecting rooms and the resort’s kids club includes a youth fitness program, a dedicated junior spa as well as a thoughtfully crafted healthy kids’ club menu. Couples wanting exclusive experiences can opt for a private breakfast catamaran cruise on a turquoise lagoon or an intimate “1001 candlelight dinner” in a secluded setting on the beach in front of Le Badamier.

Besides the fare you’ll find at resorts, Mauritian street food provides a cultural mosaic, with influences from Africa, India, China, and Europe. Sample a delicious fusion of flavours on the island where you can enjoy dishes like dholl puri and fish vindaye.

Some of the islands’ most beautiful beaches include Ile aux Cerfs, Le Morne, Flic En Flac and Mont Choisy. Trou Aux Biches is a perfect beach for families with its shallow and tranquil waters and shoreline shaded by casuarina trees. It’s also close to some wonderful dive sites, such as the wrecks of the Emily and the Water Lily, both intentionally scuppered in the 1980s.

Choosing paradise

Whether you prefer a leisurely, or action-packed vacation, both destinations cater to your needs, with relaxation at the core of their offerings for those seeking a tranquil escape.

While Mauritius enjoys wonderful weather all year, the optimal time to plan your trip is from May to December. During this period it’s sunny and dry. We suggest avoiding the cyclone season, typically from January to March.

Seychelles, on the other hand, boasts consistently warm and beach-friendly weather year-round. The hottest months in Seychelles are December to April with January and February being the wettest. However, it’s worth mentioning that the rain showers during this season are typically brief, followed by sunshine.  During this period the south-eastern parts of the islands are more sheltered than those affected by the north-westerly winds. From May to November the north-western sections of the islands are sheltered from south-easterly winds. 

Happy travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. If you’d like more detailed information about these destinations and to find out how we can help you curate the perfectly tailored Indian Ocean honeymoon, romantic getaway or fun-filled family escape, reply to this email with the word “More”. We’re here to help.

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From Okavango Delta’s Splendor to Hwange’s Untamed Beauty

From Okavango Delta’s Splendor to Hwange’s Untamed Beauty

I recently had the privilege of visiting Beagle Expeditions, a luxury mobile tented camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The area is so wild and untouched that the only way to get in and out is by helicopter. What an experience that is!

What I loved most about Beagle is that the main thing (reconnecting to nature) remains the main thing. Extraneous elements that detract from the core nature experience are stripped away. There’s no WiFi, no air-conditioning, and no luxurious interiors but instead, you’ll find an extremely comfortable bed, exquisite feasts cooked over open coals, excellent wine and a wilderness experience like no other.

The camp’s privacy gives you complete freedom to do as you wish. If you’re inclined to embark on a scenic helicopter journey, stopping for breakfast in the bush, it’s entirely doable. For those who prefer to walk, relishing the sensation of mud squishing between their toes while crossing a river, that’s an option as well. Tracking wild dogs on foot? Absolutely. In reality, the possibilities are boundless, and therein lies the true luxury – the absolute freedom to do as you please.

What impressed me most about this camp is that it was born from a true passion for conservation, wild places and community. The owners’ reduced concern for fat profit margins makes this camp a refreshing change from the corporate lodge operators and seasoned hoteliers who run lodges in the Delta and across Africa. I wholeheartedly recommend the idea of non-hoteliers establishing camps and lodges, in their own unique way, throughout Africa! Bravo Simon and Marleen.

From Botswana I headed to Camp Hwange in Zimbabwe. Hwange is a place I visited every winter school holiday between 1990 and 1994. I felt emotional to be back in a place of treasured childhood memories.

Hwange is not the Big 5 destination that Kruger is, because leopard and rhino are tricky to see, but for the wildlife connoisseur, it is absolute perfection. We saw plenty of rare and elegant-looking sable and roan antelope. We encountered a pride of lions aptly named “the supermodels” for their astonishing beauty. We saw large herds of elephant from the vehicle and, more impressively, from a log-pile hide at the waterhole in front of camp. Observing these gentle giants from a few metres away with only a pile of logs between you and them was a truly immersive, almost spiritual, experience.

What I loved most was the walking we did, and the excellent guiding from the lodge team. On our first game drive we saw about one hundred white backed vultures about 300m from the road. Our guide suggested we return the next day and approach on foot. We had to walk with care, not knowing what we would find, and if there would be predators protecting the carcass. It turned out to be an enormous elephant that had died about five days earlier, from an unknown cause. It was in a state of decay and smelt terrible.

A second walk took us to “The Rocks” where we came across fresh leopard tracks. We followed our tracker who followed the leopard’s footprints. Although we didn’t her, spending a few hours tracking her was a completely absorbing experience, where nothing else mattered except for the tracks in front of me, and my ears alert to any sound. On our way back to the car, we came across a breeding herd of elephant resting in the shade. We climbed a rocky outcrop and observed them from above – another fabulous experience.

Over dinner one night, Chris, a shareholder at Wild Expeditions, explained what he and the other owners are trying to achieve with their lodges in Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Ethiopia and soon Botswana. They want to take travellers off the beaten track to help shine light on areas rich in biodiversity. Their goal is to immerse people in remote wilderness areas that will change their perspectives and, simultaneously, give a real financial benefit to the local people. This is sustainable travel at its absolute best.

What a privilege to experience places like this and to share them with Leopards’ clients. I really cannot think of anything better to do in life!

Happy travelling,

Diana

P.S. Ready to embark on your own wilderness adventure? We love introducing you to places that are passionate about conservation, sustainability and community, and that offer an unfiltered experience of the African wilderness. Reply to this email with the words”Yes, Please” and we’ll reach out to help you discover how your African safari dream can become a reality.

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Sabi Sands: The Premier Destination for a Big 5 Safari in Africa

Sabi Sands: The Premier Destination for a Big 5 Safari in Africa

Sabi Sands Nature Reserve offers the pinnacle of a Big Five safari in Africa. The area, adjacent to the globally recognised Kruger National Park, forms part of the Greater Kruger with unfenced borders between Sabi Sands and Kruger National Park. This allows animals to move freely in this wilderness area, rich in diverse African wildlife.

Within Sabi Sands, a selection of exclusive five-star game lodges await, providing you with sumptuous retreats from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Notable among these lodges is Londolozi, renowned for its photographic safaris, opulent accommodation and magnificent river views. 

Singita Boulders Lodge offers ultra-luxurious suites with private plunge pools and sensational views over the surrounding bush and Sand River, as does Lion Sands Ivory Lodge and Earth Lodge at Sabi Sabi.

Connected by raised walkways the suites at Ulusaba’s Safari Lodge overlook the dry Mabrak riverbed, where you might spot elephants, or other animals passing through. Its River Rooms offer private plunge pools, or you could relax at the lodge pool where you may spot a shy kudu nibbling at the surrounding bush. 

MalaMala is ideally situated on the banks of the Sand River, with its riverine habitat being a prime location for game drives and wildlife encounters. This lodge, in existence since 1927, played a pioneering role in South Africa’s private game reserve history by banning hunting and transitioning to photographic safaris. The land is also owned by the local community, making Mala Mala a great choice for those looking for a sustainable travel experience. 

Cheetah Plains, another gem in Sabi Sands Nature Reserve, is the first lodge to present a fleet of fully electric Toyota Land Cruisers. These eco-friendly game-drive vehicles, charged using solar power, emit minimal noise, allowing you to approach animals quietly without disturbing them.

According to Sipps Maswanganyi, head field guide at Cheetah Plains, “It’s mostly elephants that freeze when you approach because they don’t know what’s coming. They have to adapt to it slowly and aren’t used to a vehicle driving with nothing but a low whining sound and no vibrations.”

Connected by raised walkways the suites at Ulusaba’s Safari Lodge overlook the dry Mabrak riverbed, where you might spot elephants, or other animals passing through. Its River Rooms offer private plunge pools, or you could relax at the lodge pool where you may spot a shy kudu nibbling at the surrounding bush. 

MalaMala is ideally situated on the banks of the Sand River, with its riverine habitat being a prime location for game drives and wildlife encounters. This lodge, in existence since 1927, played a pioneering role in South Africa’s private game reserve history by banning hunting and transitioning to photographic safaris. The land is also owned by the local community, making Mala Mala a great choice for those looking for a sustainable travel experience. 

Cheetah Plains, another gem in Sabi Sands Nature Reserve, is the first lodge to present a fleet of fully electric Toyota Land Cruisers. These eco-friendly game-drive vehicles, charged using solar power, emit minimal noise, allowing you to approach animals quietly without disturbing them.

According to Sipps Maswanganyi, head field guide at Cheetah Plains, “It’s mostly elephants that freeze when you approach because they don’t know what’s coming. They have to adapt to it slowly and aren’t used to a vehicle driving with nothing but a low whining sound and no vibrations.”

No matter which lodge you choose within the Sabi Sands Nature Reserve, expert trackers and guides enhance every game drive with their vast knowledge of the local flora and fauna.

Sabi Sands is also known for its frequent leopard sightings, making it one of the best places in Africa to spot these elusive big cats, as well as lions and the rest of the Big Five.

Tips for your first safari in Sabi Sands:

  • Opt for neutral-coloured clothing to blend in with the surroundings.
  • Don’t forget essentials like comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat.
  • Cameras and binoculars are must-have items.
  • Game drives are typically conducted in the early morning and late afternoon when wildlife is most active, so be prepared for early wake-up calls and cooler temperatures (bring some warm clothes, even in summer).
  • While observing animals, always listen to your guide’s instructions on how to behave around wildlife.
  • Remember that game drives take place in wilderness areas that continue to function along nature’s rhythms. There are no guarantees of seeing specific animals, however, be patient and enjoy the sightings you do have – you never know, you could end up having incredible encounters.
  • Guides and trackers are invaluable sources of knowledge about the animals, plants, and ecosystems. Ask questions and engage in discussions to enhance your understanding and learn interesting facts.

In an interview published in Business Day last year, Sir Richard Branson had this to say about what keeps him coming back to South Africa, “It’s always a delight being here. The wildlife is astonishing. I’ve just had the pleasure of being in Ulusaba and I just love the people in that region. The people of SA are quite magical.”

Happy travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. Share this with some who’d love to experience a Sabi Sands safari

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