Unforgettable travel experiences come in all shapes and sizes – to some it’s about luxury, to others it’s adventure, and for some it’s about learning skills.
- Iconic Rail Journeys Of The World
Suzanne Benadie, from Your Africa, says South Africa’s ultra-luxurious train operators, Rovos Rail and The Blue Train, remain some of the most popular luxury experiences for tourists, often in demand for anniversaries and special occasions.
- Rovos Rail is a step back in time to the heyday of Edwardian steam travel, when guests dressed for dinner and were summoned by a gong. The coaches feature wood-panelled plushness, leather, historical prints and antique touches. The train travels to Cape Town, Victoria Falls, Durban, Namibia and Dar es Salaam, and also offers nine- and 10-day golf safaris. Departure point is a private station at Capital Park, Pretoria, a gracious colonial-style building that was once the hub of steam locomotion.
- The Blue Train is an all-suite, five-star hotel on wheels – think goose down duvets, marble-and-gold bathrooms, butler service and cordon bleu dining. Travelling between Pretoria and Cape Town, and Pretoria and Hoedspruit, on the border of South Africa’s premier wildlife reserves, some of most impressive scenery in the country can be seen on the journey.
- Vic Falls – The Luxury Version
“Each full moon, the Victoria Falls rainforest opens in the evening for special tours to witness the mystical magic of the lunar rainbow spray, cloud permitting,” says Lindi Mthetwa, Regional Sales & Marketing Manager for African Sun Hotels, which operates the Victoria Falls Hotel, synonymous with luxury. Victoria Falls is one of the few places on earth where this natural phenomenon occurs regularly. “Yet many visitors are unaware of it”, says Mthetwa, “missing out on one of the most impressive facets of the World Wonder.” The lunar rainbow, or ‘moonbow’, occurs as a result of light refracted by water particles in the spray of the falls.
For yet another falls perspective, a helicopter flight is a further recommendation from Mthetwa. A heli flip offers viewing over the Upper Gorges of the Falls, the Upper Zambezi, the magnificent Batoka Gorge as well as the Zambezi National Park. Visitors can top off a day of falls viewing with the elegant, five-star steam train dinner experience. The renovated steam train travels over the Victoria Falls Bridge, built by Cecil John Rhodes in 1905, who sited it at a spot where the spray from the falls hits the carriages. The experience is all about a red carpet welcome, canapés and champagne, and a five-course dinner and full bar as the sun sets, catered and serviced by The Victoria Falls Hotel.
- Bucket-List Ballooning
“Kadizora Camp, our luxury offering in the Okavango Delta, offers an amazing hot-air balloon experience,” says An African Anthology’s Chris Anagnostellis. “This is, without doubt, a bucket-list luxury and once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Anagnostellis says this is the only hot-air balloon that flies in the whole of Botswana and “the exclusivity of softly floating across our concession makes for an unforgettable experience, with unparalleled vistas of the Okavango and its myriad game and birdlife beneath your feet.”
Kadizora Camp sits on the bank of a lagoon in the Delta, beneath a canopy of trees and along a peninsula. Its 10 luxury tents are generously spaced, furnished with sophistication, and feature full en-suite bathrooms. In addition to open-vehicle and walking safaris, mokoro (canoe) excursions explore the endless flow of rivers and tributaries. The camp is reached by 40-minute flight from Maun.
- Photography And Wildlife
Makanyi Private Lodge’s four-day photographic safari under the guidance of a professional tutor is an experience that will put novices on the road to quality photography and enhance the skills of advanced shutterbugs. Award-winning photographer, Hilton Kotze of Africa Photographic Services in Hoedspruit (who also has the wildlife knowledge of 15 years spent in natural environments) offers coaching at Timbavati Game Reserve on a one-on-one basis, or for small groups not exceeding four.
The safari focuses on practical and technical skills both during game drives and back at the lodge. ‘On location’ tuition takes place at specific sightings and workshops are conducted after brunch on points such as the workings of a camera and how to use a light room. Participants can rent equipment if necessary.
- Art, Architecture And Safari
From Dare to Explore comes a treat for visual art fundis, a 14-night guided exploration of art and architecture in South Africa, coupled with an East African safari element. According to co-owner, Louise Dreyer, the tour kicks off in Cape Town where the itinerary includes a number of art galleries, including – from late September 2017 – the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, due to open that month on the V&A Waterfront. Also visited in the Mother City are remarkable heritage houses and, as some are privately owned, access is a privilege. Guidance is by a renowned South African architect.
Galleries and a private collection of contemporary art are viewed in Johannesburg, along with artists’ studios. A local goldsmith, well known for providing a platform for contemporary jewellers to display their work, is included.
In Kenya, the tour visits Mara Plains in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, before ending at Segera Retreat in Laikipia, where Jochen Zeitz’s stunning African art collection is displayed. Transportation on the Kenyan leg is done by private charter. A specialist South African art critic and judge will accompany the trip, which is based on 10 participants.
Source: Michelle Colman. Image: Pixabay