Monthly Archives: May 2011

The most luxurious lodges in Africa

Following the announcement of the Royal engagement between Kate Middleton and Prince William, the spotlight has very much been on Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The private reserve, in the Laikipia region of the East African nation, served as the perfect romantic retreat for the future King of England to propose to his long term girlfriend. There can be few experiences more intimate and idealistic than whiling away the hours with a loved one in an exclusive African lodge. There is something so special about this mysterious place, something enrapturing, hypnotizing even, and as anyone who has visited the continent will testify, utterly unforgettable. The rhythm of the African drum will beat in your heart long after your departure.

We have decided to take a closer look at some of Africa’s, other, luxurious lodges; alternatives if you will, to the William and Kate experience. Perhaps someday soon you might be sharing your own special moment, with bended knee or not, in luxury Lodges.

Shambala Game Reserve, South Africa Tucked away in the stunning Waterberg Mountains, Shambala consists of 10,000 hectares of pristine South African countryside; a place that, though relatively small compared to other reserves, still boasts the chance to see Africa’s elusive ‘Big Five’, (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffalos). As well as its animal interests the reserve also has a human heart at its core, a family run cultural village which acts as a living, breathing information center where visitors can learn all about South Africa’s incredible history. The accommodation is preoccupied with authenticity and tradition, the Zulu camp, consisting of six fantastically appointed Zulu Huts, offers five-star accommodation but with a real sense of cultural legitimacy. All of the huts come with spacious double bedrooms and full shower facilities, providing all the comfort you might need to create some magical memories.

Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana – The only permanently fixed lodge within the Chobe National Park, the site is perfectly located along the Chobe River to observe the largest concentration of elephants in Africa. The sleek lines and elegant qualities of the lodge’s Moorish architecture create a sense of light and space; the typical features which include high arches, barrel-vaulted ceilings and tiled floors all contribute towards a clean and classic aesthetic. The 47 rooms are adorned with original African paintings and carvings, retaining a real sense of place as well as boasting all of the comforts of modern living; the accommodation’s considered design also makes it ideal for families and children.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia – Sossusvlei is quite literally a desert oasis, nestled between the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert and the jagged outcrops of the rocky escarpment. You’ll feel like you’re really part of the African experience when you stay at Sossusvlei, where the ten individual villas constructed out of stone and glass offer the perfect symmetry between modern minimalist design and traditional African design. All are air conditioned to keep you fresh during the day and cosy fireplaces have been installed for those cooler winter nights. Despite being located on the periphery of a desert there is still an incredible array of wildlife to be seen, including the iconic oryx, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, antelopes, springbok and smaller mammals such as the bat-eared fox, aardwolf and porcupine.

Thanda Game Reserve, South Africa Thanda, a word derived from the Zulu for love, was awarded the prize of ‘World’s Leading Luxury Lodge’ at the recent World Travel Awards. Thanda offers a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes, from the opulence of the royal private villas or the warmth of the main lodge to the rugged refinement of the tented camp. Located 23 kilometers north of Hluhluwe in Zululand, the reserve is a tribute to South African cultural heritage, and as a romantic sanctuary of peace and tranquility, many would consider it peerless in all of Africa. Catering for adults and children alike, it boasts fine dining and a wellness center, were natural holistic approaches to treatment will leave you feeling revived and refreshed. Let’s not also forget the wildlife, the big five are at your doorstep and because the reserve is so close to the Indian Ocean, horse riding on the nearby beaches or a trip to the Isimangaliso wetlands are also a must.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

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Categories: Africa, beautiful, Botswana, Conservation, earth, Eco tourism, Holiday, hotels, lodges, Namibia, Nature, photography, resorts, Safari, South Africa, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife, world | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Top 10 Safari Destinations in Africa

Africa’s top wildlife safari destinations include wildlife parks in Kenya , Tanzania , Uganda , South Africa , Botswana , Zimbabwe ,Zambia , Namibia and Gabon. If you’re looking for the best safari where you’re almost guaranteed to see the “Big Five” you can’t go wrong with these choices.

1. Masai Mara National Reserve – Kenya

Kenya is Africa’s most popular safari destination and the Masai Mara Reserve is the most popular wildlife park in Kenya. From July – October you can witness the incredible migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. The Maasai tribesman also offer cultural tours which will enhance your experience.

2. Chobe National Park – Botswana

Chobe National park lies in Botswana’s Okavango Delta and covers four distinct Eco-systems. The Savuti marsh in particular offers some of the highest concentrations of wildlife in Africa year round. Chobe boasts around 120,000 elephants, you’re unlikely to miss them when you enjoy a safari here.

The best time to visit Chobe is between May and September, the dry, cooler winter months. Herds of zebra, eland, buffalo, giraffe and wildebeest congregate around the Savuti marsh this time of year. Chobe is accessible by car which makes it a little less expensive than some other Botswana Parks. There’s a wide variety of accommodation available to suit all budgets, you can even rent a houseboat.

3. Kruger National Park – South Africa

Kruger National Park in South Africa boasts the highest variety of wildlife in Africa which includes the Big Five, hippos, crocodiles, cheetah and more. Kruger is one of the best maintained parks in Africa which means it’s ideal for a self-drive safari.

4. South Luangwa National Park – Zambia

Home of the “walking safari” South Luangwa National Park in Zambia offers a true African experience. There’s plenty of wildlife and over 400 species of birds. The Luangwa river is filled to the brim with hippos and if you’re lucky you’ll spot prides of over 30 lions at a time. There are 60 different animal species and over 400 different bird species living in the National Park.

South Luangwa offers both budget and luxury safari lodging. The best time to visit is during the dry season from April to October. Near the end of the dry season, the animals really concentrate around the remaining waterholes, which makes for a great safari.

5. Serengeti National Park – Tanzania

The Serengeti National Park in Tanzania offers the absolute classic African safari setting. The grasslands make the Serengeti fantastic for spotting lion kills because you can see the whole spectacle clearly. The migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra starts here and because it’s much larger than the Mara (see above), it is also less touristy.

6. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest – Uganda

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda is home to almost half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas. Besides offering a wonderful backdrop to Gorilla tracking, you can also see chimpanzees, and many other mammals. Bwindi has been designated a World Heritage Site.

7. Etosha Natonal Park – Namibia

Etosha National Park is Namibia’s top wildlife destination. Etosha is home to Africa’s tallest elephants, the endangered black rhino, and 91 other species of mammal. Etosha is especially popular with photographers in the dry season who flock to the waterholes (along with the wildlife). Etosha doesn’t offer scheduled game drives, it’s a self-drive safari experience.

8. Loango National Park (Gabon)

Loango National Park in Gabon is probably the least well known park on this list but it’s only a matter of time before it’s discovered. Loango is the only place in Africa where you can see whales, chimps,gorillas and elephants in one park. In Loango you get to enjoy watching wildlife on the beach, savannah, swamp and forest in a single day.

9. Ngorongoro Conservation Area (Tanzania)

The Ngorongoro Conservation area in Tanzania includes the world’s largest crater which acts as a natural enclosure for almost every species of wildlife found in East Africa. The Maasai still live within the conservation area, and it’s also home to Olduvai where some of man’s earliest remains have been found.

10. Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe)

Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is a personal favorite of mine because of its abundance of giraffes, elephants, and lions as well as 105 other mammal species. Hwange also has one of the largest populations of wild dogs left in Africa. There are several comfortable lodges to stay at for reasonable prices. The park is close to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders — the Victoria Falls.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

Categories: Africa, Botswana, Conservation, earth, Eco tourism, Gabon, Holiday, Kenya, Namibia, Nature, photography, Safari, South Africa, Tanzania, Tourism, Travel, Uganda, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Zambia, Zimbabwe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Most Photographed Places on Earth

What is the most photographed place on earth? The question is of course impossible to answer and one can only muster a guess. Countless places lay claim to being the most photographed place in the world, including Paris, The Taj Mahal, Walt Disney World, Niagara Falls, Angkor Wat, the Acropolis to name just a small handful.

The only thing that is widely accepted, is that the Sun is the most photographed object (sunsets and sunrises seem to be universally irresistible). But sticking to “planet earth”, let’s take a look at some of the most photographed subjects around the world. Judge for yourself if you consider them “photogenic”.

Here is a checklist of sorts, for people, places and things to photograph on your travels. Some of them are famous, while others may seem a little odd. Either way, whether it’s a bridge or a toilet, some places get all the photographic glory! (Please keep in mind there is no way to verify the following claims.)

■The Africa “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, buffalo) are considered the most photographed animals in the world.
■La Digue island in the Seychelles claims to be the most photographed island in the world.
■Santorini is the most photographed island in Greece often considered the most photographed island in Europe.
■The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is considered to be the most photographed event in the world.
■Table Mountain is the most photographed landmark in South Africa.
■Den Lille Havfrue (the little mermaid) from Copenhagen is the most photographed statue in the world.
■The Golden Gate Bridge is the most photographed US landmark, and most photographed bridge in the world.
■Designed by Frederick Hundertwasser, the Kawakawa public toilets in New Zealand are the most photographed toilets in the world!
■Neuschwanstein castle in Germany claims to be the most photographed castle in the world.
■The Eiffel Tower Paris is considered the most photographed structure in Europe.
■The Evangeline Oak in Louisiana and the Lone Cyprus tree in California are each touted as the most photographed tree in the world.
■Ayers Rock is the most photographed sunset in Australia.
■Abbey Road is often considered the most photographed street in the world.

■Niagara Falls may be the most photographed waterfall in the world.

The Earth Safari Team

www.theearthsafari.com

Categories: beautiful, earth, Holiday, knowledge, Nature, photography, Safari, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, Wildlife, world | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 10 Eco-lodges in the World

Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania
This spectacular eco-lodge on Chumbe, a coral-island ecosystem about 12km south of Zanzibar Town, features seven bungalows that overhang the sea. The Coral Park is pretty damn close to paradise with its 3km sandbar, pristine ocean swells, baobab trees and giant coconut crabs. The bungalows are solar-powered, the toilets are composting and the cuisine is a mix of African, Indian and Middle Eastern. Solitude is guaranteed, given that the island is privately managed and only 14 guests are allowed on at a time.Chumbe Island Coral Park, Tanzania
Turtle island eco-lodge, Fiji
This eco-lodge is consistently ranked among the world’s best, not least for its pampered service: there are around 150 staff members for 14 couples maximum. Some say this equates to ‘ecohedonism’ but many more don’t care, as long as the environment gets some tender loving care. The island itself is just 500 acres, with natural springs that provide water for the lodge’s organic garden, and you can trek among black volcanic cliffs or frolic along the picture-perfect coral reefs. The latter may look familiar: Brooke Shields herself (or rather, her body double) frolicked naked here in The Blue Lagoon (1980).
Alandaluz Hosteria, Ecuador
If this place were any more self-sufficient it could operate as a base station on Mars. Sitting pretty on the beach, Alandaluz Hosteria is a model for green building practices. It’s mainly constructed from replenishable materials such astagua-palm leaves, and it features a host of organic gardens from which much of the guests’ food requirements are sourced. Compost bogs and treated waste mean that Alandaluz recovers a staggering 90%of all water used; treated water goes on to be used for irrigation.
Basata, Egypt
Basata means ‘simplicity’, and Basata is simplicity itself. Located on the Red Sea, near Nuweiba, Basata is also clean, green and beautiful, surrounded by the Sinai mountains. Littering is strictly forbidden, everything is recycled, and public displays of affection are frowned upon in favour of a community-based family atmosphere. And the accommodation? Bamboo huts and villas on the beach hold a maximum of 250 guests and face perfect coral reefs and blue waters.
Nikita’s, Russia
Located smack bang in the middle of Lake Baikal is Olkhon, the world’s second-largest freshwater island. And smack bang in the middle (or thereabouts) of Olkhon is Nikita’s, a homestead consisting of wooden houses heated by wood fires and accompanied by lovely old banya (steam baths). Nikita’s hosts will tell you all about Olkhon’s fragile environment and how it’s important to not collect wild flowers, kill butterflies or drive cars all over the shop. They’ll also guide you on ecotours around the island.
Daintree eco-lodge, Australia
This eco-lodge has won awards mainly for its wonderful location, surrounded by tropical rainforest more than a million years old. It also has 15 rustic villas, interesting culinary offerings (bush tucker blended with upmarket modern Australian stylings), and a vigorous range of activities (such as snorkelling and diving around the Great Barrier Reef ). The trickles and splashes of the waterfalls provide a pleasing soundtrack.
Costa Rica Arenal Hotel, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is becoming synonymous with the concept of ecotourism and the Arenal Hotel upholds the standard. Its location is a doozy: in the Northern Pacific mountains, with a much-vaunted view across to Volcán Arenal, Lago Coter and Laguna de Arenal. The hotel touts its ‘policy of interaction’ with the local Maleku people as an attraction, and certainly the chance to learn and understand an indigenous culture from the people who actually live it is a special bonus.
Blumau Hot Springs Village, Austria
The late ‘organic architect’ and environmentalist Friedensreich Hundertwasser designed this hot-springs village in Styria, Austria, with ecological imperatives firmly at the forefront. The village’s composting toilets feed waste to its roof gardens, a process illuminated by Hundertwasser himself. ‘Shit turns into earth,’ he wrote, ‘which is put on the roof/it becomes lawn, forest, garden/shit becomes gold. The circle is closed, there is no more waste. Shit is our soul’. In the end no one pooh-poohed Hundertwasser’s idea, allowing the Blumau Hot Springs Village to open to an enthusiastic reception.
Tree House, Kerala, India
Part of the Green Magic Nature Resort in Kerala, this ecofriendly accommodation is not for acrophobes: it’s 27m above the earth and access is by a bamboo lift counterbalanced by water. The rooms are open plan, of course, and airy and light, naturally. There are two levels, hosting one couple to each, so it’s a fairly low-key scene. The views are awesome each way you turn.
Chalalan Lodge, Bolivia
This eco-lodge in Madidi National Park is fully operated and owned by the Quechua people, who lead tours of discovery, teaching tourists the rich heritage of indigenous culture as well as the secrets of the surrounding rainforest and its multitude of inhabitants. As for the lodge itself, it was constructed using traditional methods; waste water is treated and solar power is a feature.
The Earth Safari Team
Categories: Conservation, Eco tourism, Holiday, hotels, India, Indian, lodges, Nature, resorts, Tourism, Travel, Uncategorized, Wild India, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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