Beach and bush combos – still big business


Combining an Indian Ocean destination with a safari getaway is still a major trend.


Indian Ocean beach and bush combinations are still big business, making for a perfect, well-rounded Indian Ocean holiday.

Esther Ruempol, Market Manager for the Benelux at Tourvest DMC, says there is definitely a market for the dual-destination holiday and, as an example, names the Greater Kruger in combination with Mozambique and its Indian Ocean islands as offering “stunning opportunities for bush and beach packages”.

David Germain, Regional Director: Africa and the Americas for the Seychelles Tourism Board, concurs, noting that there is much opportunity for inbound travel agents to combine an African safari with an island holiday in the Seychelles, particularly for Europeans.

“For many travellers ‘bush to beach’ holidays remain aspirational and an ideal choice for African holidays lasting longer than 10 days,” says Mark Wernich, Director of Business Development for Africa at Preferred Hotels and Resorts.

He says the contrast of scenery and pace of activities available in both locations create an experience that is unique to Africa and its landscapes.

“While Preferred Hotels and Resorts’ operational model doesn’t lend itself to packaging dual centre stays at independent properties, our guests regularly twin trips to Keekorok Lodge in Kenya’s Masai Mara or Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve in Victoria Falls with a beach escape in Mombasa, Mauritius or Zanzibar.”

Sea Cliff Resort and Spa

He says American travellers, too, are keen on this combination. As they are travelling long haul and often have a disjointed journey with connecting flights, they seek to add as much value and as much spectacle as possible.

This is echoed by Sean Kritzinger, Managing Director of Giltedge Africa, who says American clients like to include an Indian Ocean destination after their safari experience, favouring the Seychelles, Mozambique or Zanzibar.

Wernich says British and Middle Eastern travellers, along with Germans, Austrians and Swiss are widely known to combine both destinations.

On average, American holidaymakers, he says, spend three to four nights on a beach holiday and European visitors stay longer, up to around five to seven nights.

According to Nikki Wiedemann, Sales and Marketing Manager at White Pearl, Mozambique, more and more guests want to experience the excitement that safaris offer, together with some relaxing downtime at the beach.

White Pearl Resorts recently launched a new beach and bush experience, where game drives into the adjacent Maputo Special Reserve in Southern Mozambique are now on offer.

“For the first time, travellers looking for a one-of-a-kind luxury African eco-experience can combine a Mozambican tropical beach and diving holiday with an exciting bush safari, all in the same place and make the most of their holiday time.”

Indian Ocean islands make for the perfect romantic getaway, notes Lisa Bigoni, Account Supervisor for AIGO in Italy, and says Mauritius is often sold as a beach extension after a safari tour.

Sabine Blehle, CEO of GoVacation, agrees that there is a market for this combination but only in more upmarket brackets, ranging from three to five stars.

Serena Hotels offers both beach and bush accommodation in Kenya, Zanzibar and Mozambique.

Serena Beach Resort and Spa in Kenya is on the white-sand Shanzu Beach, just 30km from Mombasa. The resort is adjacent to the Mombasa Marine National Park and is within easy reach of the Shimba Hills National Reserve.


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Waterberg reserve introduces new children’s activities

Waterberg reserve introduces new children’s activities

Mhondoro Game Reserve has extended its activities for children.

Mhondoro Game Reserve in the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg, Limpopo, has introduced a range of children’s activities for families booking Mhondoro Villa on an exclusive-use basis.

The villa sleeps six people and welcomes children of all ages.

The programmes have been tailor-made to cater for all ages and include making animal track moulds, archery, herb gardening, insect bush walks, baking with the chef, and hair braiding.

Guests who book the villa get their own game ranger and game-viewing vehicle.

Babysitting services are available on request and there is an open-air play area for children, which is protected by an elephant fence. Older children can participate in stargazing during the evenings, using a telescope on the star deck.

The underground game-viewing hide, which is connected to the main lodge with a 65-metre underground tunnel, allows children to view wildlife from ground level.

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New island camps above Vic Falls

New island camps above Vic Falls

Island lodges on the Zambezi have gained much popularity with foreign travellers.

More island camps are opening dotted along the Zambezi above Victoria Falls as the experience proves increasingly popular with travellers looking for a more private, all-inclusive holiday.

Owner of Royal Chundu, Tina Aponte, told Tourism Update the majority of guests staying at Royal Chundu Island Lodge were foreigners, with 45% coming from North America, 20% from South America, 18% from various African countries, 8% from the UK and Ireland, 6% from Europe, and 3% from Australia and Asia.

Recently two new camps opened.

Seolo Africa has announced the opening of Chundu Island, 21 kilometres upstream from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. It is set to open on November 1, and is currently taking bookings.

The island on the Zambezi River is 1,4 kilometres long and is incorporated in the Zambezi National Park.

Accommodation is made up of eight thatched-roof suites, sleeping a maximum of 20 guests, two of which are family suites. All suites are built on raised wooden decks, fitted with a walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom and an outdoor shower with a river view. The decks are equipped with daybeds, a fan, table and chairs.

Activities include island walks, canoeing on the river, sunset cruises; game drives, and walks in the Zambezi National Park.

Rates for the opening are $420 for bookings made before February 2018 for travel dates until the end of December 2018, low season rates are $420 and high season is $540, both per person per night sharing.

Janine Mortimer, Marketing Manager at Seolo Africa Lodges says: “The important value here is the privacy, peacefulness and ‘wildness’ of the lodge, all paired with top notch service.”

Victoria Falls Island Lodge on Kandahar Island. 

Tourism Update recently reported on the opening of the Victoria Falls Island Lodge on Kandahar Island in Zimbabwe.

The island is accessible by boat, and accommodation consists of three Treehouse suites.

Standard rates per person per night for guests sharing are $800 and $1 000 for single.

Kim Beyers, who is owner of Kim Beyers Representation, which heads the PR for the Victoria Falls Island Lodge, said its main clientele are international travellers, especially those from the US, UK, Europe and Australia.

There are additional, well-established lodges located on the Zambezi.

Royal Chundu Island Lodge on the Zambezi.

Marina Smithers-Carlaw, Director of Marina Smithers PR who manages the PR for Royal Chundu, says that clients opt for island experiences due to “uninterrupted privacy and luxury on the banks of the Zambezi”.

Royal Chundu Island Lodge transfers guests by boat to Katombora Island, which is on the Zambian side of the Zambezi. There are only four villas on the island, each fitted with a deck and open-air bath.

Activities include cruises, birding safaris, fishing, canoeing, island walks, village tours and a tour of Victoria Falls.

There are two categories at the lodge – the Classic option at $728, and the Luxury option for $1 073, both per person per night sharing.

Siankaba Lodge is on two private islands in the middle of the Zambezi, between the ‘Seventh Wonder of the Natural World’, the Victoria Falls, and Chobe National Park. A series of walkways and bridges link the two islands together.

The lodge is made up of seven chalets and sleeps a maximum of 14 guests.

Sindabezi Island is another exclusive offering, with camp on a private island in Zambia. Sindabezi has five open-sided thatched chalets, is considered one of the top ten eco lodges in Africa.

Activities include cruises, river dinners on a floating sampan, white water rafting, microlighting, helicopter rides and bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge.

Rates are from $520 per person, per night, with the honeymoon suite being $566 per person, per night.

WATCH: Royal Chundu Island Lodge.

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Major new attraction in Cape Waterfront

Major new attraction in Cape Waterfront

A major trade campaign initially involving the North American trade will kick off this weekend aimed at solidifying the Cape as the continent’s design and art capital.

The Zietz MOCAA will be the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.

Driving the trade campaign is the Cape tourism and investment organisation Wesgro, SA Tourism and Tsogo Sun. They are hosting a trade day on 27 September to help get the museum included in packages and itineraries.

Wesgro ceo Tim Harris believes the new attraction will have a multiplier effect on the Cape, with a similar impact to that experienced by Bilbao in Spain when the new Guggenheim Museum lifted tourism numbers and investment.

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A spotlight on Durban and surrounds

A spotlight on Durban and surrounds

Durban, and its surrounding area, is South Africa’s underrated tourism jewel.

There has been much development along Durban’s coast and its surrounding areas. Tourism Update investigates the perks of visiting the region.

How to get there

Durban and its surrounding tourist regions are easily accessible, as visitors can opt to drive or, for those who prefer to fly, King Shaka International Airport offers a variety of daily flights.

Mkhuze Airport is undergoing a massive R32 million (€2m) upgrade. The airport is north of Richards Bay and is expected to further grow tourism in the area.

The new developments of at the airport are expected to benefit the numerous game reserves in the region, making them even more accessible.

Where to stay

There is an abundance of accommodation options, catering for five-star all the way to budget-conscious travellers. There is the Fairmont Zimbali Hotel and Zimbali Lodge, which is high-end accommodation, the Salt Rock Hotel with beautiful surroundings and numerous food options, to La Montaggne Hotel and Resort famous for its vibe and nightlife.

Fairmont Zimbali Hotel.

If your clients are looking for something a little more rustic, they can choose between Salt Rock Caravan Park, Cane Cutters in Umhlali, or Chaka’s Rock Chalets on the Beach Road.

Those looking for seclusion can opt for Palmland Bed and Breakfast. A treasure trove in the north is Blythedale Beach, which has various options to choose from. Kearsney Manor, a guesthouse towards Maphumulo from Stanger offers old-world charm, allowing guests to switch off.

For nature lovers, there is Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge and Nkwazi Camp Site, which is set among the sand dunes, making it an ideal spot for campers. The Amatikulu Nature Reserve offers rustic cabins and bungalows and is perfect for those wanting to canoe, fish, swim and stroll along the stretches of beach and river. Guests can also pitch a tent on the reserve.

What to do

Northern KZN offers an abundance of activities, ranging from beach to bush, and everything in between.

Zinkwazi beach.

Thompsons Bay, home to the famous ‘granny pool’ and the ‘hole in the wall’, a unique rock formation, is popular amongst tourists and locals.

Clarke Bay has a constant buzz, with various activities available. For the foodies, the bay is lined with restaurants and, for the young at heart, the nightclubs adjacent to the beach precinct boast a vibrant nightlife. Close by is Salmon Bay, a go-to for surfers and deep-sea anglers. 5FM holds its Ballito New Year’s Eve Party here too.

For the bush lovers, northern KZN has numerous game reserves with the Big Five. For the birding fanatics, the region is known to host a wide variety of birds; Amatikulu Nature Reserve is the perfect option for the bird-watchers.

Visitors can enjoy some of the most rewarding fishing, from the freshwater fishing in dams and lagoons,  surf fishing along the shore and deep-sea fishing.

Nearby attractions

uShaka marine theme park has the fifth-largest aquarium in the world and is a great day out for the whole family.

The aquarium is home to various shark species, rays, morays, local game fish and dolphin, just to name a few.

Oribi Gorge is a must, as visitors can either get active and enjoy the numerous hikes on offer, go abseiling, zip line across the top of the gorge, or sit back and relax and enjoy the scenic views while enjoying a picnic.

The gorge is 24 kilometres long, carved out by the Umzimkulwana River. The reserve is inhabited by five species of kingfisher, and seven species of eagle, as well as leopards, baboons, small antelope and prolific birdlife.

The Midlands Meander is one of the most popular arts and crafts routes in South Africa, featuring over 150 destinations. Tourists can get involved in outdoor activities, go to family-friendly farms and enjoy canopy tours, as well as hot-air ballooning, not to mention the choice of golf courses in the region.

The city of Durban is another go-to for tourists, as it is the province’s business and industry hub, often referred to as SA’s Miami Beach, with its extensive shorelines and promenades.

Durban’s port is the busiest in SA and is one of the ten largest in the world. The weather in the city feels as if it is summer all year round.

Howick Falls is 95 metres high and is on the Umgeni River, known as ‘KwaNogqaza’ by the Zulu people, which translates into ‘place of the tall one’.

The area near the falls was thought to have been occupied by humans over 30 000 years ago, prior to any western influence and local legend is that the falls are occupied by a resident giant serpent-like creature, Inkanyamba.

The falls have become a go-to with tourists visiting the Midlands.

The Ampitheatre, one of the main geographical features of northern Drakensberg is regarded as one of the most imposing cliff faces in the world.

The cliff face is around three times the size of the Yosemite’s El Capitan in California, and more than ten times the size of its southwestern face.

It forms part of the Royal Natal National Park.

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A guide to safaris in KwaZulu Natal

A guide to safaris in KwaZulu Natal

KwaZulu Natal, the unexplored safari jewel of Southern Africa.

There are various reasons to opt for a safari holiday in KwaZulu Natal instead of the usual Mpumalanga and Limpopo getaways. Tourism Update delves into why one should book a KwaZulu Natal safari.

According to Craig Rutherfoord, Managing Director of Ghost Mountain Inn, the tourism offering in northern KwaZulu Natal has grown rapidly in recent years in terms of variety, quantity and quality. The traditional game reserves include the Big Five reserves of uMkhuze and Hluhluwe, Tembe, which is home of Africa’s largest African elephants, Ndumo’s inland pans and birding, or the highlands of Itala.

There is also an increase in the variety of private reserves, including Phinda, Thanda and Manyoni.

The iSimangaliso Park is a major draw card as it includes a variety of coastal destinations, such as Sodwana Bay, which is a pull for diving enthusiasts, as well as Cape Vidal, St Lucia and Kosi Bay, all offering a variety of fishing, snorkelling, scuba diving, whale and turtle tours, and numerous other beach activities.

Rutherfoord says: “Combine this with cultural and historical offerings and we have a destination that offers great diversity of experiences, catering for a variety of affordability levels.”

KwaZulu Natal is unique compared with other more traditional safari destinations due to the relative proximity of all the diverse experiences. One need not venture out of the province to get the bush and beach experience, allowing visitors to base themselves in one spot and take day trips for various activities or sightseeing.

The Ghost Mountain Inn in KwaZulu Natal.

Rutherfoord says Ghost Mountain Inn is an ideal base for guests, as they can either explore the variety of offerings in the vicinity with a guide or self-drive; go birding the uMkhuze and Hluhluwe game reserves; opt for boat cruises and fishing on Lake Jozini; and enjoy authentic cultural experiences, homestead visits and numerous hiking options.

His tip to visitors is to allow time, as you need time to explore the diversity that the region offers. He says there are multiple packages available, especially from Ghost Mountain Inn, which also includes Mozambique in one itinerary.

Phinda Forest Lodge.

Northern KZN offers a variety of game reserves to choose from, such as Phinda Game Reserve, Thanda Game Reserve, AmaZulu Game Reserve, Mkuze Falls Game Reserve in Pongola, Zululand Rhino Reserve and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Reserve, which is open to the public and rhino sightings are almost guaranteed.

The game reserves in the region differ hugely from those in the Kruger region, and guests have a good chance of seeing cheetah on their visit.

Lodges in the area generally offer good value for money compared with the rest of South Africa, which has been highly marketed and commercialised.

General Manager of Business Development and Contracting for Tourvest DMC, Renier Friis, said guests looking at KwaZulu Natal on their second or third visit to SA, after already experiencing the Kruger National Park, tend to combine the safari portion of their KwaZulu Natal trip with other attractions such as the coast, Midlands, Drakensberg, and the Battlefields, as well as cultural experiences.

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A round-up of some of the best cultural experiences in KZN

A round-up of some of the best cultural experiences in KZN

KwaZulu Natal has a long history, embedded in the Zulu culture.


KwaZulu Natal boasts a variety of cultural experiences. The province is deeply rooted in the legacy of the great Zulu nation, providing multiple opportunities for visitors to explore various cultural experiences the province has to offer.

Visitors can learn about King Shaka, the great Zulu military leader; visit the site of the most brutal battle for the Zulu throne after King Shaka’s death, eNdondakusuka; the Anglo-Zulu war where two battles were fought in the north coast, or learn about Mahatma Gandhi, who was instrumental in the struggle against the Apartheid regime. Gandhi showed his humility during this time when he provided medical assistance to Chief Bambatha’s injured soldiers during the Bambatha Rebellion.

Tourvest Destination Management offers the Shakaland Nandi Experience, a guided tour that allows guests to experience Zulu culture on a full-day tour to the largest kraal (homestead) in Zululand. Here guests are awarded the opportunity to visit a traditional healer and observe their ancient practices, sample beer, and see weapons used by Shaka Zulu to forge an empire.

Craig Rutherfoord, Managing Director of Ghost Mountain Inn, said being in the heart of the Zulu Kingdom, there are a variety of opportunities to meet locals, and discover and experience Zulu culture first-hand. He said Ghost Mountain Inn offered an authentic experience of rural Zulu culture.

Guests visit a local homestead up in the Lebombo Mountains, where they meet the Headman and his family. The visit may be curated to include a food and beer sampling, a visit to a Sangoma (traditional healer), or a lesson on how to stick fight with some of the locals.

The tour also caters for the more energetic traveller, with a community hike through the Myeni ancestral lands and offers hikers the chance to meet more of the community, as well as take in the views from the top of the Lebombo cliffs towards Lake Jozini.

Aha Shakaland is 160 km north of Durban, in Eshowe, a renowned cultural village tourist attraction.

Aha Shakaland offers 55 traditional thatched Zulu rondavels, comprising twin standard rooms for two adults sharing, double standard rooms for two adults and two children sharing, and family rooms for up to four people. All are en-suite.

It features authentic African décor, complete with wooden furnishings and signature Shakaland Nguni hide mats.

Guests can explore the rich heritage of the Zulu people that is depicted through the ‘Cultural Nandi Experience’. This experience is a three-hour daytime adventure named in honour of King Shaka’s mother, Nandi. It starts with a walk through the village, with a stop at the local sangoma. This is followed by a traditional Zulu beer drinking ceremony. Guests will also learn more about the fighting formations invented by King Shaka. Guests also witness traditional stick fighting demonstrations, and try their hand at spear throwing.

This is followed by a stop at the market, where arts and crafts, including beadwork, carvings and woven baskets, are displayed.

Dining at aha Skakaland gives guests a truly Zulu African experience with a Zulu feast and forms an intrinsic part of the whole cultural experience. Food is prepared on an open fire in the restaurant. ‘Shisa Nyama’ is a traditional method of preparing the meals, with an open flame and three-legged pots.

Guests are shown the traditional methods of how food was prepared, from a maiden grinding corn into maize meal, to the brewing of traditional beer.

Dumazulu Traditional Village in Hluhluwe, allows guests to learn about Zulu culture over a traditionally cooked meal, paired with a vibrant Zulu dance from the local tribe.

Ardmore, founded in the Midlands, was established in 1985 by Zimbabwean-born ceramic artist Fée Halsted on Ardmore farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg. Today one will find a bustling studio, gallery and museum in the Caversham Valley.

Halsted originally took her first student, Bonnie Ntshalintshali, who was her housekeeper’s daughter, and disabled due to polio, and within five years the two found national and international recognition. Soon more members from the local community signed up and today, Ardmore is a collaboration of 40 artists under Halsted’s mentorship.

Photo credits: Patrick Mavros.

Ardmore ceramic art exhibition in London


Ardmore combines ceramic art techniques with African colour and folklore. Since its beginnings, Ardmore has branched out into colourful fabrics too, recently collaborating with the international brand, Hermès.

The collaborative work of Ardmore and Hermès.


The Voortrekker Msunduzi Museum in Pietermaritzburg was created in 1912 to profile the Voortrekkers of the KZN region. The museum has since become fully representative of the different cultures of the area, while retaining a focus on the history and culture of the Voortrekkers.

The museum displays the political shift towards integration and democracy. One of the most notable on-site attractions is the Church of the Vow, which was built in 1839 by the Boers to fulfil a promise that they would construct it in return for victory at the Battle of Blood River.

Further down the road, an extension of the museum sits one of the oldest original Voortrekker houses, dating back to the 1800s. The building focuses on the concentration camps that were established by the British in Natal during the Second South African War (Anglo-Boer war).

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New guided group tour in Madagascar

New guided group tour in Madagascar

Jenman African Safaris has launched a new guided tour in north Madagascar.


Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean, off the eastern coast of Africa and offers the most amazing Madagascar vacations around. Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. It is the home to five percent of the world’s plant and animal species, 80 percent of them are unique to Madagascar which makes a holiday to this area a truly special experience. Most famous among these species are the lemurs and spending time with these fascinating creatures can be done on a Madagascar lemur package. Madagascar is teeming with fertile forests and its geographical isolation have served to preserve and propagate ‘nature’s design laboratory’ in a mix found nowhere else on earth. Madagascar’s forests are a shimmering and seething mass of a trillion stems and dripping leaves. As one can imagine, planning a Madagascar vacation can be an exciting venture, where to go, what to do and more.

Jenman African Safaris has introduced a new guided group tour, the Madagascar North Adventure.

The tour showcases the best of north Madagascar, ensuring that guests can experience all the highlights on that side of the island.

Guests will get the opportunity to see waterfalls, Madagascar’s varied habitats, the lakes of Montagne d’Ambre National Park, the underground caves and limestone ‘tsingy’ of Ankarana Reserve, and the beaches of Nosy Be, as well as being exposed to the flora and fauna that are endemic to Madagascar.

Jenman African Safaris offers small group, scheduled, tailor-made tours. The new Madagascar North Adventure tour is a small group travel.


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Chobe Savanna Lodge completes refurb

Chobe Savanna Lodge completes refurb

Chobe Savanna Lodge has undergone a refurbishment.

Desert and Delta Safaris has reopened Chobe Savanna Lodge in Eastern Caprivi, Namibia, following a refurbishment.

Stuart Parker, Business Development Manager, says: “We did some upgrades, repairs and general maintenance to the lodge, including a new swimming pool and paintwork throughout the property.”

Bathrooms have been revamped and new curtains and room fittings have been added.

Chobe Savanna Lodge accommodates a maximum of 26 guests with 10 twin-bedded chalets, two family units and one family suite.

Activities include boat excursions, village visits and fishing. Guests at Chobe Savanna Lodge get to enjoy boat transfers from Kasane Immigration (Botswana) through Namibia Immigration to Chobe Savanna Lodge.

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New accommodation in Mountain Zebra National Park

New accommodation in Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park celebrates its 80th birthday with the unveiling of its new accommodation.

The Mountain Zebra National Park outside Cradock in the Eastern Cape, celebrated its 80th birthday on July 31, by unveiling new accommodation.

There are two luxury rock chalets accommodating two guests per room, and six two-sleeper cottages.

The new accommodation is in the top region of the rest camp, inside the reserve.

The renovations and upgraded infrastructure cost R13.5 million (€860 000), and took 12 months to complete, creating 40 temporary and six permanent jobs during the construction phase, according to Managing Executive of SANParks, Property Mokoena.

SANParks said bookings would open around October 1, once the lodge has officially opened.




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