Africa’s safari areas have made great strides in recent years to combat poaching and promote conservation. Tour operators on the ground, led by some of our favorite preferred partners, have done admirable work not only in fostering wildlife preserves but also in making sure the communities they operate within benefit from the tourism dollars flowing in. From jobs to schools to health initiatives, safari-goers and safari companies have been supporting the communities that support them. The COVID-19 pandemic has threatened that, as a lack of business leads to less funding for animal sanctuaries, fewer jobs for locals and more poaching as opportunities to earn money dwindle.
There are, however, now several countries in Africa’s safari areas that are accepting American travelers. With that comes the opportunity to glimpse some of the world’s most stunning wildlife and stay in some of the world’s best lodges and have the places practically to yourself.
The vast grasslands of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa are open to travelers. Kenya requires a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 96 hours of arrival, along with a health screening upon landing. Tanzania might test you on arrival depending on your screening. Once there, you have open to you the majesty of Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Olduvai Gorge open to you, along with cultural visits with the Maasai people and oh so many beautiful creatures.
Neighboring Rwanda is also open to visitors with a negative test within five days of arrival in addition to a negative test on arrival (you’ll have to spend a day in quarantine at your lodging to await results). Once cleared, travelers can go gorilla trekking and birding in the country’s verdant national parks. Uganda is also open, with a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival required.
Moving south, Zambia allows visitors in with a negative PCR test taken within two weeks of arrival. You will also need to inform officials of where you will be staying for potential follow-up screening. You can still go on safari there and visit Victoria Falls, though anyone crossing to Zimbabwe not only needs a negative test taken within 48 hours, there is a 14-day quarantine.
Namibia’s dunes, wildlife and birds are open to you if you have a negative test taken at least 72 hours but no more than seven days before your departure. Going to South Africa is more complicated but possible as part of a longer itinerary as you’ll need to spend at least 10 days in a low-risk country (the U.S. is high-risk) first. You’ll also need a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure, a government contact tracing app, mandatory travel insurance and a health screening on arrival.
In the wide open spaces of Africa’s safari areas, you’ll be able to go on private or small group tours with a feeling of safety and security, see amazing animals and cultures up close and help spur the local economies. And you’ll easily avoid the crowds.
It’s hard to believe that not even 2 months ago I was having lunch with Paul Bruce Brand, General Manager at the Ellerman House, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and savoring each bite of their homemade olive butter and now this hotel is temporarily closed due to Coronavirus. I have no doubt it will fill back up once it reopens. This Virtuoso hotel is amazing from the striking view, to the feel of being in a luxury home, to the art collection and the cool wine cellar. This hotel is in the exclusive neighborhood of Bantry Bay, which is 10 minutes away from the V&A Waterfront.
The view outside of Villa 1 at the Ellerman House in Cape Town swept me off my feet!
Originally a mansion, this hotel has 13 rooms and 2 villas, each with its own decor and is also a member of Relais & Châteaux-so you know the food will be good! Besides this spectacular view, you can also enjoy tasting vintage wine and observing a private art collection! Camps Bay and Clifton beaches are within walking distance.
Your Virtuoso amenities here are:
Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
Daily full breakfast for two guests per bedroom
A paired chocolate and South African Brandy tasting with our sommelier ($150 value) in the Wine Gallery and 10% discount on first spa treatment at EH Spa*
OR in lieu of the above*, a donation towards Click Foundation, to support the education of a South African child for one year
Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
Do you want to see the Big Five? Do you like wine country and beautiful coastal views? If so, South Africa is for you!
I spotted my first leopard in South Africa! We first saw the leopard close to our jeep crossing in front of us. We all stayed quiet to see what his next move would be. He proceeded to circle back around to come to the side of the vehicle I was on. Another travel advisor was snapping a shot of me with the leopard in the background, but little did I know how close he was! I turned around, jolted a bit from the shock, as I looked into his big bright green eyes that were glaring up at me. It was a moment I will never forget.
I went on an educational trip with African Travel to Cape Town, the winelands and did safaris in Sabi Sands and Kapama Private Game Reserve. It was a trip of a lifetime!
South Africa is guaranteed to deliver you an unforgettable journey. With its fantastic adventures, pristine coastline, and a remarkable climate, here are some of the several reasons to visit.
With friendly towns, beaches, lakes, and evergreen vegetation, the Garden Route is an area of exceptional beauty. Sunbathe, play golf, dine, and experience one-of-a-kind nature, marine, ancient forests, and the breathtaking mountain scenery of South Africa.
Undoubtedly, one of the most gorgeous regions in South Africa, the Cape Peninsula is a wealth of scenic beauty, beaches, and mountains. Enjoy the scene from Table Mountain, take trips to one of its beaches, and immerse yourself into the history of Robben Island.
Head over to the Town of Hermanus where they offer the chance to see the brilliant Southern Right Whales. Along the Coast of the Western Cape, Southern Right Whales are extremely visible from June through November. You do not even have to head out on a boat to view these beautiful creatures since the Town of Hermanus is considered to be one of the best whale-watching areas in the world. In fact, Southern Right Whales are often spotted close to the shoreline.
The best way to finish your journey is with a South Africa safari and there are many to choose them.
There is never a bad time to tour the Winelands in the Cape. Ranked amongst the best, the greatly-priced wines, as well as sixteen wine routes will leave you spoiled for choices.
Route 62 provides a laid-back adventure for anyone who wants to discover the world’s longest wine route. In addition to wine tasting, enjoy a holiday full of country shopping, dining, unforgettable characters as well as homely hospitality.
South Africa is the perfect blend of wild and sophisticated. A few days in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands reveal a magnificent culture, while a safari shows off the spectacular wildlife you expect on a trip to Africa.
Stefany got to see the beauty firsthand on a recent study tour with African Travel. The journey began in Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands with a night at the boutique Le Quartier Francais. The hotel has the feel of a bed and breakfast with stunning mountain views from the pool area. Among the other properties in the Leeu Collection, Leeu Estates has magnificent views of vineyards and mountains, really providing a wow factor, while the 12-room Leeu House has a charming homey ambiance.
Each property is conveniently located near the wineries at La Bourgogne Farm and Haute Cabriere. The charming La Bourgogne offers tastings at a picnic out back with pleasant views, while the larger Haute Cabriere has grand views and allows guests down into the wine cellar for some hands-on learning.
About an hour from the Winelands, Cape Grace Hotel across from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a revelation. Views from the rooms are either of the harbor or Table Mountain. Each floor has different decor while maintaining an overall nautical theme. Tastings with a whisky expert can be arranged, and the wonderful Pinotage served is South Africa’s signature red wine. Virtuoso guests can have their own lockers to store wine or liquor. The service is excellent, and it’s possible to reserve a BMW car service with advance planning. Michael, the Cape Town guide, even managed to get them to the top of Table Mountain despite inclement weather that threatened to shut down the cable cars.
A day exploring the Cape Peninsula is a must, but be sure to dress in layers so you can enjoy the seaside views in comfort. A stop at Boulders Bay gave a preview of the amazing wildlife South Africa boasts, as a colony of African penguins calls the beach home. There are now 3,000 of the penguins thanks to a conservation effort that started with a single pair of breeding birds in 1982. Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa on the peninsula offers panoramic views.
From the Cape, the group headed out on safari. The first stops were Lion Sands River Lodge and Kapama Karula in the country’s northeast. They also saw the Tree House at Lion Sands, a great escape for honeymooners, and the upscale Lions Sands Ivory Lodge. Morne, the safari guide at Lion Sands River Lodge, was fabulous. His passion for the animals and sharing them with guests was on full display. He really got into the game drives, cutting his way through trees to make sure the group saw lions. He has a deep knowledge of the wildlife and their habits, helping to maximize the game-viewing experience. They even came across a leopard that got up close to Stefany’s feet! Every day was a new adventure!
Kapama Karula was breathtaking. The service, the food, and the decor all had a wow factor that made the stay so memorable. The guide here, Elmero, was just as passionate and knowledgeable as Morne. He made sure to explain the animals’ behaviors, which added a great deal to the game drives. They even pursued a leopard through the bush at night! All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and one DMC Travel Tailor is happy to specially arrange with valued clients.
As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome in 2019, we have a lot of travel plans for the coming year. We’re celebrating 50 years of helping clients make their travel dreams come true, and along the way we’ve picked up some favorite New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2019. Use some of these tricks from other cultures to ensure a prosperous new year.
At the clock hits midnight, Spaniards eat a grape at each chime. The 12 grapes represent good luck in each month of the coming year. After midnight, the party really begins, as Spaniards take to the streets and pass around bottles of cava. In large cities, especially the capital of Madrid, they gather in the main squares and celebrate deep into the night. As the sun rises, they drink hot chocolate and eat churros before heading to bed for most of the day. Sounds like something we can get behind.
It being summertime and water being such a big part of Brazilian culture, a lot of New Year’s traditions are centered around the ocean. Flowers and floating candles are put to sea as offerings to the goddess Iemanja, a water deity from the Yoruba religion brought to the Americas by African slaves. Some people jump over seven waves, making a wish with each hop. Others eat seven raisins and keep the seeds in their wallets to encourage money to grow. Most wear white as a symbol of peace, mixing in green for health, yellow for money, red for passion and purple for inspiration.
The Japanese hold bonenkai parties to forget the old year’s troubles and leave them in the past. The traditional meal is soba noodles to promote a long life. Watching the sunrise on Jan. 1 to greet the new year is a popular pastime. Temples and shrines attract visitors from across the country by the millions from Jan. 1-3, when most businesses are closed. People send out cards to friends, loved ones and co-workers that are marked for delivery on New Year’s Day, and the first three days of the year are spent with family.
In Cape Town, people head up to the top of Table Mountain before a night on the waterfront. There’s a sunset concert at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the slopes of the mountain, and the last tram back down to the city is at 9:30 p.m. Fireworks light up the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at midnight, and afterward revelers head to all-night beach parties by candlelight. A day outside the city in the Cape Winelands is also a terrific getaway, and it stays light out until around 8 p.m.
The evening starts out rather tame, with a speech from the queen at 6 p.m. Things get progressively more rowdy, as Danes meet friends for a big late dinner after a snack of cod with mustard sauce at home. It’s one of the six nights a year shooting off fireworks is legal, and Danes make the most of it. At midnight, they smash old dishes on the doors of friends. While cleaning up in the morning might not be the most fun thing in the world, a big mess means you have lots of friends who love you enough to trash your house.