Curated travel experiences

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.

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 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,


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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KwaZulu-Natal’s Beauty and Conservation Unveiled

Beyond the Ordinary: KwaZulu-Natal’s Beauty and Conservation Unveiled

Locally referred to as KZN, South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province is a place of lush sugar cane plantations, Big Five game reserves, coastal splendour and the incredible Drakensberg mountain range. It’s also home to the Zulu people, South Africa’s largest ethnic group (and historically a proud warrior nation), as well as the largest Indian population living outside of India.

Known for its bananas and bunny chow (a local street food), this beautiful province can be accessed via direct international flights from London, Istanbul, Doha and Dubai or by short internal flights from cities like Cape Town and Johannesburg – and it’s well worth exploring.

Here are a handful of the many excellent experiences to be had here:

Searching for pangolins
Pangolins are incredibly rare and elusive, and unfortunately, they are also the most trafficked mammals in the world. KwaZulu-Natal’s private Phinda Game Reserve, along with several other reserves in the province such as Manyoni, has successfully reintroduced the vulnerable Temminick’s ground pangolin—one of four species found in Africa—that had previously become locally extinct. After being rescued from trafficking and rehabilitated at the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital, the pangolins are tagged and released in suitable locations. You can join rangers in tracking them to have a truly unique experience of seeing these gentle, shuffling animals with long, quivering snouts and extraordinary scales in the wild.

Hiking in the Drakensberg
Immerse yourself in nature by enjoying a guided hike through some of South Africa’s most dramatic scenery in the Drakensberg (Dragon’s Mountains). Popular routes include those around Cathedral Peak, which offers panoramic views of the jagged peaks and lush valleys, as well as a variety of trails suitable for different fitness levels. The Drakensberg Amphitheatre hike, sometimes referred to as the Sentinel Peak or Tugela Falls hike, takes you up the Amphitheatre—a towering, iconic rock wall—with river crossings and steep ascents leading to the top of the world’s second-highest waterfall. Although fairly challenging, it typically takes just under five hours to complete the 11.7-km out-and-back trail.

Monks Cowl presents several trail options, including the moderately challenging hike to Nandi Falls, boasting picturesque views of Cathkin Peak and scenic rock pools along the route. For those seeking even greater adventure, consider scaling Mafadi Peak, South Africa’s highest summit. This challenging route in the Drakensberg begins near Injasuthi. If you’re not familiar with the Drakensberg, we highly recommend hiring an experienced guide (we’d be delighted to connect you with one).

Get to know KZN’s history
A visit to the 1860 Heritage Centre in Durban documents the rich heritage of Indian South Africans, while the Nelson Mandela Capture Site near Howick commemorates the spot where Nelson Mandela was arrested before spending 27 years in prison, prior to co-leading South Africa to freedom and ending apartheid. 

Cultural villages offer immersive insights into the rich traditions of the indigenous Zulu community and can be organised through various lodges, such as those in the Isibindi group. If you’re staying at one of the Isibindi Africa lodges, the staff will take you to a local village where you’ll find a traditional Zulu homestead. Here, you’ll learn about cultural practices, see implements traditionally used in food production, and be encouraged to ask about “traditional ways of showing ‘hlonipha’ (respect), which are often so opposite and contradictory to Western ways.”

Explore the coastline
In addition to the magnificence of the game reserves and of the Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal has a 600 kilometre-long coastline, with beautiful beaches like Lala Neck in Kosi Bay and Thonga Beach. Take part in a conservation-based activity through Thonga Beach Lodge in November and December that’s both family-friendly and awe inspiring: watching leatherback or loggerhead turtles lay eggs on protected beaches. In January and February, you could get to watch hatchlings emerging from the nest and making their way to the ocean. Besides witnessing turtles on land, there’s also the opportunity to snorkel with them, as well as enjoying excellent scuba diving in the area. Additionally, you can opt for a boat-based ocean safari,  where you have the opportunity to see bottlenose or spinner dolphins, humpback whales, manta rays and sea turtles.

Happy travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. To learn more about Temminck’s Ground Pangolin, watch the video below…but before you do, we’d love it if you share this email with someone you know who’d enjoy it!

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How to enjoy an African safari with kids

Insider tips: How to enjoy an African safari with kids

I love nothing more than taking my children on safari. To me, going on safari and seeing my children in awe of the natural world is a magical experience. The time I spend with my loved ones in the bush is where we have the most fun and the best bonding experiences.

I’ve taken my children to our national parks and on safari since they were little. When they were toddlers it was more difficult for them to spend hours in the car without a break. Now they’re now five and eight years old, and much more able to sit patiently while also enjoying the challenge of spotting animals and learning about them.

While I frequently take my children to our national parks on a self drive safari, I don’t recommend this for first time visitors. You will gain much more from the experience if you go with a qualified guide. 

Here are my top tips for planning a safari adventure with very young children:

  • Choose a family-friendly lodge. Look for a lodge with a kid’s club or swimming pool, a junior ranger programme, a child-friendly menu, and the availability of family suites or tents.
  • Check whether malaria is present in the area you will visit. If it is, take the appropriate precautions. 
  • Find out if the lodge is fenced. If it’s unfenced your children won’t be able to walk around the lodge or between tents unaccompanied by an adult.
  • Understand the room size and layout, and whether you can all stay together in one room. If your family can’t be accommodated in one room or cottage, and has to be split over two rooms, some lodges may require one adult to sleep in each room with the children for their own safety. 
  • Check if there are any age restrictions for game drives at the lodge. Even if there are no age restrictions, assess whether your young children are able to sit calmly in a car for three to four hours at a time. 
  • Consider the safety of your children at Big Five sightings. They should be able to sit very still and quietly in the presence of animals such as lion and leopard.
  • If budget allows, consider hiring a private vehicle. This will give you complete flexibility to adjust the start time and duration of your drives, and the number of stops you make along the way.
  • Capture memories. Encourage your children to document their experiences through drawing, journaling, or taking photographs. 
  • Embrace the magic of nature. Safaris are not only about spotting animals but also about appreciating the beauty of nature. Encourage your children to observe and marvel at the landscapes, unique plants, and other aspects of the environment. Teach them about the importance of conservation and the need to protect these natural habitats.

Daphnée (who liaises with our French clientele) and I love planning exceptional family holidays for our clients using our extensive local expertise as well as our experience as parents. Please get in touch if you, or someone you know, would like to experience an African safari holiday. 

Happy Travelling,

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The Whale Issue

Whale Season in South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar

Earlier this month I witnessed the mesmerising spectacle of whale season along the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa. I was visiting Scottburgh and was treated to an awe-inspiring display of breaching and lobtailing by the many humpback whales off the coast, right from my hotel window. Their acrobatic displays were truly impressive and surprisingly graceful for such gigantic creatures. 

Annual migration
Each year humpback and southern right whales embark on an epic migration, from their feeding grounds in the frigid Antarctic waters to the warmer Indian Ocean where they mate and give birth. The nutrient-rich currents and diverse marine life along the South African, Mozambican and Madagascan coasts provide a vital food source.

When to go
The prime months for whale watching are July to November. However, the peak whale activity is often during August and September when the whales are most active close to the shore.

Best whale watching locations
Scottburgh is very much an off-the-beaten-track destination for whale watching and I wasn’t able to find a tour operator doing boat-based whale watching tours.

The most well-known places to do whale watching in South Africa are Hermanus, De Hoop and St Lucia. Inhambane and Vilanculos in Mozambique, while Nosy Be, Fort Dauphin and Bay d’Antongil in Madagascar are all excellent locations too. 

Hermanus and De Hoop are renowned for being prime locations for land-based whale watching. 

You can experience this annual spectacle for yourself, in a few different ways.

1. Boat Tours: Join a guided boat tour led by experienced marine guides to venture into the ocean and witness the whales in their natural habitat. These tours often offer insights into the whales’ behaviour and ecology. Make sure to book with a reputable operator. 

2. Land-Based Viewing: Many coastal towns have designated viewpoints along their cliffs, offering an opportunity to spot whales from the shore. Bring binoculars for a closer look.

3. Whale Walks: Some regions, like De Hoop Nature Reserve, offer guided coastal walks that provide not only whale-watching opportunities but also a chance to explore the diverse coastal ecosystems.

Where to stay
Grootbos has the most incredible views of Walker Bay and provides an excellent vantage point for whale watching, albeit at a fair distance. I love Grootbos for its conservation ethos, its excellent staff, gorgeous suites and pristine landscapes. 

Coot Club is another exceptional place to stay, especially for families looking for a laid-back vibe, excellent food and comfortable accommodations. You won’t be able to do land-based whale watching from the hotel itself, but Gansbaai harbour, where you can do boat tours, is a short drive away.

In De Hoop Nature Reserve, you can choose between the 5-star Morukuru Beach Lodge or the simpler self-catering cottages at De Hoop Collection. Morukuru Beach Lodge has an incredible location right on the sand dunes with magnificent vistas out to sea, with whale watching possible from the hotel itself. De Hoop Collection is situated inland from the sea and to view the whales from the shore, you will need to drive to the parking spot and walk along the dunes. 

The Marine is perfectly situated for whale watching from the Hermanus Cliff Path just in front of the hotel, or even from your sea-view bedroom! 

Seeing these impressively large mammals in their ocean playground makes any vacation all that more special. Reply to this email if you’d like to know more about whale-watching holiday in South Africa, Mozambique or Madagascar. 

Happy Travelling,

P.S. This month, we’ve been celebrating Women’s Month in South Africa. We remember and honour the courageous women marchers who protested against apartheid-era pass laws in 1956. These women advocated for equality and for women’s rights in 1956 and paved the way for a more equal society.

Leopard is proud to be a woman-owned business that supports female entrepreneurs. Find out more about the team here

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The Flower Issue

From Barren To Breathtaking: The Best Places To See The Cape’s Spring Flowers

A remarkable natural spectacle unfurls across South Africa’s Western Cape and Northern Cape Namaqualand regions as winter’s grip gradually loosens and the sun’s warmth coaxes the landscape. Spring brings an explosion of vibrant colours, as the once-barren terrain transforms into a canvas of blooming wildflowers.

“On the West Coast, the flowers are appearing early this year. There’s already a fantastic display of flowers. The Postberg area is full of beautiful blooms, as are other sections of the park, like Mooimaak and the Seeberg Lookout Point,” said Pierre Nel, Senior Ranger at West Coast National Park, during our chat on 11 August. He recommends August as the prime time for those planning to visit this season. “The flowers will likely reach their peak by the first week of September and then gradually taper off,” Nel explained.

The Best Spots to Marvel at Cape’s Spring Wildflowers
The West Coast National Park becomes carpeted with white rain daisies, golden gousblom, fuchsia elandsvy and the dainty blue sporrie among other endemic species. The Postberg section of the reserve is a prime spot to witness wildflower display and is only open to visitors during August and September, while the rest of the reserve is also resplendent with flowers during this time.

The barren Namaqua National Park is known for its annual wildflower bloom which brings this landscape to life. The rainfall has been far better this year than the previous three years resulting in an excellent flower season. “Right now it’s a woman’s world in the Namaqua National Park, ” laughs Park Manager Pheladi Chuene. “I started working here in 2020 and I haven’t seen such an amazing display of flowers as we have this year. The Groenriver section is covered in flowers. Whatever colours you can think of, they’re here!”

Chuene anticipates an extended flower season this year in Namaqualand, stretching well into September due to abundant rainfall and predicted rains. She reminded visitors that you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to visit the Groenrivier section of the park. Typically, the Skilpad section of the park is known for its vibrant carpet of flowers. “Yesterday, I took a drive and in addition to Skilpad some of the areas that were previously degraded and without vegetation are covered with flowers.”

The Cederberg’s Biedouw Valley also comes alive with spring blooms, usually around mid-August, before it’s officially spring. Following substantial winter rains (like this year’s) the typically arid agter-Pakhuis region can metamorphose into a tapestry of blossoms, abundant with yellow-and-white nemesias, blue heliophilia, mauve senecios and yellow lachenalias.

Restful Retreats Amidst the Blooms:
You can stay in Cape Town at any one of a number of gorgeous hotels, like the One & Only, Ellerman House or the Cape Grace and drive just over an hour to reach the West Coast National Park. Alternatively, unwind in an exquisite beach house like Whaler’s Way or Kalie’s Cottage in Churchhaven, overlooking the lagoon within the West Coast National Park.

Venture a bit further (about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cape Town) to discover Cederberg Ridge. Here, elegantly luxurious rooms adorned with earthy tones and natural textures complement the raw beauty of the surroundings. Alternatively, indulge in the plush offerings of Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Lodge, also in the Cederberg.

In the Northern Cape, Papkuilsfontein Guest Farm near Nieuwoudtville is renowned for its annual wildflower show and it offers a more private and serene experience than some of the busier tourist spots. Accommodation here is comfortable country-style and among the options is a sandstone, thatch-roofed cottage that formed part of the farm’s original homestead.
Within Namaqualand National Park, you’ll find simple yet comfortable accommodation at the Skilpad Flower Camp and the Namaqua Flower Camps. About an hour south of the park, the Agama Tented Camp blends rustic elegance and modern comfort, offering an immersive experience in Namaqualand’s natural surroundings.

While you enjoy the Western Cape and Namaqualand’s spring flower spectacle, it’s important to stay on designated paths, refrain from picking flowers, and respect local rules to protect these delicate ecosystems for generations to come. We also recommend that you consider extending your stay in each area to support sustainable tourism.

We hope that nature’s palette will help revive your soul during this springtime extravaganza!

Happy Travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. If you’re unable to witness the flowers this season, we’d be happy to help you plan a bespoke itinerary that includes some of South Africa’s highlights weaving in a spring flower visit for your journey.

P.P.S. Reply to this email and let us know which travel destination in Africa you’d like to know more about. We love hearing from you!

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The Best of Africa Issue

The Best of Africa: Beyond Cape Town’s Charm

Cape Town was recently voted as the world’s best city for the eighth year running, by over 30,000 readers, in the 2023 Telegraph Travel Awards. While it’s undeniably an incredible destination, there’s more to Africa than what the Telegraph described as “the supermodel at the foot of Table Mountain”. At Leopard, we’re passionate about helping you explore the highpoints of this strikingly beautiful continent and crafting tailored itineraries to create unforgettable experiences.

Since our launch in 2019, we have expanded our footprint to cover 15 of Africa’s most sought-after destination countries. Our commitment to extreme care and attention to detail remains unchanged as we cater to each client’s unique needs and travel desires. Whether you’re a returning traveller seeking new adventures or embarking on your very first African experience, we’re here to guide and inspire you.

Below is a taste of some of the exceptional wonders Africa holds:

Pristine beaches and exquisite islands
Dreaming of a tropical paradise? Pockets of Africa’s coastline and islands boast pristine palm-lined beaches, brilliantly white sands, and warm translucent waters. Explore the Seychelles, Mauritius, or Nosy Be, the largest island in an archipelago off the coast of Madagascar. Dive among coral reefs teeming with vibrant marine life in cerulean waters and venture into Madagascar’s lush rainforests to encounter curious lemurs and brightly-coloured chameleons. 

Zanzibar, known for its exotic spices and intricately carved doorways, is another tropical Indian Ocean escape. Mozambique’s islands also offer excellent scuba diving and snorkelling – with opportunities for swimming with gentle whale sharks, curious turtles or even a rare dugong.

The natural wonder of Victoria Falls
Zambia and Zimbabwe are divided by the gushing waters of Victoria Falls, one of the World’s Natural Wonders, which plunge into the Batoka Gorge. Stand beneath the falls  in awe, as mistlike spray ascends in voluminous plumes and enjoy a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, where hippos, elephants, and crocodiles revel in the languid waters before they cascade over the gorge’s lip.

Intimate Encounters with nature’s gentle giants
Embark on an extraordinary trek through Rwanda’s, or Uganda’s, mist-shrouded mountains in search of endangered families of mountain gorillas. Alternatively, venture to Congo to look for eastern lowland gorillas. A close encounter with these gentle giants is a profoundly moving experience which will linger in your memory indefinitely.

The stark beauty of the desert
The landscape of Namibia’s Sossusvlei boasts towering sand dunes in fiery hues, which you can climb to watch the sunrise, or drift over in a hot air balloon. Its Skeleton Coast reveals shipwrecks and seals basking on barren shores and the Etosha National Park provides one of many excellent safari destinations.

A plethora of safari destinations
Tanzania is home to Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, as well as the famous Serengeti National Park where vast herds of wildebeest and zebras traverse the plains in search of the best pasture. Kenya’s Maasai Mara is also home to an abundance of wildlife and both countries offer rich east African safari experiences.

A fly-in safari to Botswana’s Okavango Delta is not only mesmerising from the air but also captivating from below, as you glide through the labyrinth of waterways in a traditional mokoro canoe and encounter elephants, zebras, and an abundance of birdlife. 

South Africa is not only an incredible safari destination but was also crowned “The Greatest Country on Earth” in the prestigious Telegraph Travel Awards. Its natural beauty, world-renowned wine and astonishing wildlife are showcased against the backdrop of landscapes like Table Mountain, the Drakensberg and the Kruger National Park. Explore Cape Town’s Boulders Beach, home to adorable African penguins, discover the laid back, picturesque Garden Route and visit its vibrant cities.

Africa offers an abundance of unforgettable experiences, from exhilarating safaris – where you could view a shaggy-maned lion metres from your open game drive vehicle – to tantalising cuisine, pristine beaches and awe-inspiring encounters with gorillas.

Happy Travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. Here is a list of the countries we cover: 1. South Africa 2. Namibia 3. Zimbabwe 4. Zambia 5. Seychelles 6. Mauritius 7.Botswana 8. Mozambique 9. Kenya 10. Rwanda 11. Uganda 12. Madagascar 13. Congo 14. Tanzania 15. Zanzibar (a Tanzanian island)

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The Tanzania Safari Issue

The best way to spend 11 days on safari in Tanzania

It’s not surprising that Tanzania is one of the most well-known safari destinations in Africa. I love the country for its sensational landscapes and its warm, welcoming people. The wildlife viewing is superb, as well as the range of safari activities on offer. Of course, the Serengeti is the star of the show. People flock here to see the great wildebeest migration, as well as an abundant ensemble cast of non-migratory wildlife ensuring a year-round performance that never fails to dazzle.  

Most of the country’s highlights lie in the north of the country, making them easy to access in the circular itinerary described below.   

Tarangire National Park | 2 nights

Tarangire is a very pretty park, known for its large herds of elephants and baobab trees. It’s substantially quieter than the Serengeti and is a great place to begin your safari adventure. Depending on the lodge you stay at, activities such as night drives and walking safaris are possible and highly recommended. At least once on your trip, you should get out of the safari car and walk with a qualified guide. Smell the fresh, wilderness air as you feel the subtle undulations of the ground beneath your feet, listen to the unadulterated sounds of nature and drink in the scenery with your eyes. 

Ngorongoro Crater | 3 nights

While it’s more common to only spend two nights in the crater, I suggest staying three nights if you have the time. The Ngorongoro Crater offers incredible scenic beauty, and its wildlife sightings are plentiful and diverse. This stop also provides the opportunity to visit one of the authentic Masai villages located inside the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA). A highlight for me was a hike down into the Empakaai caldera. The high altitude makes the hike back up challenging, but it’s worth it. The primary forest and soda lake with its pink flamingos are exquisite. An easier hike is one to the caldera rim at Olmoti. However, if you would like to hike Empakaai, you’ll almost certainly need to spend a third night here. I suggest staying at The Highlands which provides easy access to this hike. 

Serengeti | 5 nights

Where you stay will depend on the time of year you travel. The northern Serengeti is particularly beautiful, but I also loved my time in the central and eastern Serengeti. If you are travelling from January to March, you’ll want to be in the southern region to experience the calving season. To see a river crossing you should stay in the Grumeti area around June and the Mara area from around August to October (although these timings are never guaranteed).

Dunia is a particularly good camp in central Serengeti. Besides being entirely run by a team of competent women, it has excellent wildlife sightings and is really visually captivating, with massive boulders which are perfect for big cats to lounge on, photographers to capture and safari-goers to gaze out at over sundowners! 

I suggest splitting your five-night stay into a two-night and a three-night stop in different areas of the Serengeti. The specific choices will depend on your particular interests and your budget (I’d be happy to share the different options with you). If you have the time, why not add an extra night and take a break from days spent on safari to relax at the lodge and enjoy its facilities?

I’m aware that this suggested itinerary is a broad one and your trip should be tailor-made to your interests and style of travel. Curating trips that delight our clients is our speciality and first-time clients are often surprised that it doesn’t cost them any extra to have us design the perfect trip for them.

If you’re considering travelling to Tanzania (or anywhere else in Africa), email us at [email protected] and we’ll weave our magic to bring your dream holiday to life!

Happy Travelling,

P.S. I made this short video of my time in Tanzania. It’s no National Geographic film, but I think it gives a realistic and accessible idea of what you can expect on a Tanzania safari, and covers the above itinerary, visually!

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The Desert Issue

5 reasons not to miss Southern Africa’s desert regions

While tropical beaches, grassy plains and cool lush forests all have their appeal, deserts hold a special allure. Vast blue skies stretch in all directions, uninterrupted by highrises or smog or canopies of vegetation that block the sun. These regions also harbour unique plants, animals and a variety of landscapes from tall sandy dunes to scrub-covered hills or dramatic rock formations.

Here are just a few of the reasons to visit Southern Africa’s magnificent desert regions:

1. Sunshine and hospitality
Big blue skies that stretch for as far as the eye can see are one of the many drawcards of desert and semi-desert regions. You can escape overcast weather, rain and extreme humidity and revel in the dry air, dipping into lodge swimming pools or experiencing the warm breeze wafting over your face on an open-air game drive. There’s freedom from the crush of people and you can get off the grid if you choose.

Some experiences worth trying include a hot air balloon trip over the dramatic red dunes of Sossusvlei, in Namibia (which we highly recommend), or you could even learn to paraglide in the semi-desert region of De Aar, in South Africa’s Northern Cape. “Here, heat rising from the desert creates massive currents of warm air that keep human fliers aloft, and indeed paragliders have established many of the world’s long-distance records here,” according to National Geographic.

While there are cities in deserts, such as Las Vegas and Dubai, Southern Africa’s desert regions are sparsely populated. The towns and small settlements often have quaint eateries and hospitable people, happy to host or lend a hand to a visitor. South Africa’s Karoo region is also famous for its delicious lamb which feeds on the area’s unique fynbos scrub and can be found on menus along with other typically South African cuisine.

2. Stargazing
The desert and semi-desert regions of Southern Africa offer some of the clearest and darkest night skies, making them ideal for stargazing. Roam Private Game Reserve, which lies between the small town of Prince Albert and Beaufort West in South Africa’s Karoo region, is an ideal location to experience breathtaking night views of the Milky Way. About 300 kilometres away, also in the heart of the Karoo, you’ll find Sutherland, one of the world’s primary stargazing destinations. The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is situated here and the observatory is home to the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT). This is among the 10 largest telescopes in the world. Here you can enjoy both informative tours during the day and stargazing tours at night. 

Namibiaʼs NamibRand Nature Reserve is situated in one of the darkest (yet accessible) places on Earth and has been named an International Dark Sky Reserve. However, star gazing opportunities abound in Namibia, which has a low population and little light pollution.  Besides the NamibRand, Damarland and the Gamsberg Nature Reserve provide excellent stargazing.

3. Carpets of wildflowers
Namaqualand, in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, is famous for its annual wildflower blooms during spring. The landscape erupts into a carpet of vibrant colours with the star of the show being the endemic Namaqualand daisies, which have adapted to thrive in the harsh climatic conditions. 

This natural phenomenon takes place during August and September and draws everyone from professional photographers, young Instagram influencers, aspiring botanists, regular tourists, as well as senior citizens. Arguably, the best place to experience the wildflower blooms is in the Namaqua National Park, which has the highest concentration of bulb flora of any arid region on Earth with more than 1,000 types of endemic species and a total of 3,500 plant species. Nieuwoudtville’s Papkuilsfontein Flower Route, Nieuwoudtville Flower Reserve and Goegap Nature Reserve are also excellent places to see masses of flowers. Beautiful blooms can also be found further south, along the Western Cape’s coastline, for instance in the West Coast National Park and the Cederberg region.

4. Unique and interesting wildlife
Despite the arid conditions, deserts are home to a surprising array of wildlife. And while we wouldn’t recommend a desert for a first-time safari goer (who would more likely appreciate experiencing an area like Kruger National Park or Ngorongoro Crater where you will see more animals and have a higher chance of seeing the Big 5), experiencing wildlife in a desert region is special.

There are a variety of species such as the straight-horned gemsbok (oryx) springbuck, giraffe, zebra, ostriches, meerkats, and even the elusive desert-adapted elephants and rhinos in Namibia’s Damaraland. Cheetah, leopard, hyena and desert-adapted lions also roam Namibia’s deserts. The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park (which straddles South Africa, Namibia and Botswana) is also home to these animals, as well as raptors. 

5. Geological marvels and rock art
The stark, semi-desert regions unveil geological wonderlands. You can discover unique rock formations, ancient fossil sites and impressive canyons, such as Namibia’s Fish River Canyon – the world’s second-largest canyon after the Grand Canyon. There are also lesser-known gorges like Oorlogskloof in the Northern Cape, which is a popular hiking destination. 

South Africa’s dry Northern Cape, the Cederberg mountains in the Western Cape and Namibia’s Damaraland are also renowned for their ancient rock art sites. Bushman’s Kloof Wilderness Reserve (part of the Red Carnation Hotel Collection), in the Cederberg, was proclaimed a South African National Heritage Site, protecting more than 130 unique rock art sites. In Namibia, you can book a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Twyvelfontein, famous for its rock paintings and rock engravings (petroglyphs). Rockart can also be found scattered throughout South Africa’s Northern and Western Cape (as well as other parts of the country) and these sites provide a fascinating glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and artistic expressions of the indigenous people who once inhabited the area.

Happy travelling,
The Leopard Team

P.S. For more info on visiting the Namaqualand flowers, read our previous newsletter here. Or read one of our most popular newsletters about the ancient Welwitschia mirabilis, found only in the Namib desert.  

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