EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

Wednesday
Oct022019

The Best Honeymoon Safaris

CHOOSING THE BEST HONEYMOON DESTINATIONS IN AFRICA

Planning a honeymoon is the perfect excuse to check something major off your bucket list and really splurge on luxurious one-of-a-kind travel experiences. For many couples who want to celebrate the start of their next chapter in life with a mix of luxury, adventure, and relaxation, there is no better dream honeymoon than the combination of a thrilling luxury safari in Africa paired with an escape to an exotic beach destination. We usually recommend that couples start their honeymoon with a four or five night luxury safari and then relax and unwind - and process the amazing experience! - with at least four nights at a fabulous luxury beach resort. So where should you go and why? It depends on your travel style and what you want to see and do.

If you want...

HEART POUNDING ADVENTURE & CULTURE

Where to go: Tanzania - Serengeti & Zanzibar

Why go here: Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is ground zero for the Great Migration, when 1.5 million wildebeest, zebra, giraffe and other game chase the rains on their never ending quest for food and water. The animals traveling in large numbers attract predators like lions and leopards, and the resulting show is nature at its most stunning. After a few days of game drives, you’ll be ready to unwind in Zanzibar, just a short 1.5 hour flight away. Zanzibar has a main island where Stone Town is made up of busy marketplaces, cobblestone streets, and fascinating cultural experiences like a music festival held in an old stone fort. Nearby, private islands with some of the most picturesque white sand beaches in the world are home to luxurious, tranquil resorts.

When to go on safari: The migration is never ending, and passes through different areas at different times of year.

Highlights: Soaring over the migration in a hot air balloon; a romantic sunset sail on a traditional dhow

CLASSIC BIG FIVE SAFARI & TOP NOTCH LUXURY

Where to go: South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve & Seychelles

Why go here: Sabi Sand is a private game reserve just adjacent to Kruger National Park, which means the same high density of wildlife without the regulations of the national park (think night game drives and walking safaris). The region is known as one of the best places to tick off all of Africa’s big five - elephant, lion, buffalo, rhino, and leopard. The luxury lodges in Sabi Sand in are some of the best on the continent, with excellent amenities like private plunge pools and world class spas. And for travelers without limitations on budget or time, the Seychelles encompass some of the most stunning, luxurious, private beaches on the planet. Scuba diving and snorkeling in the most pristine water you can imagine, deserted island picnics, and spa treatments are just a few indulgences perfect for honeymooners at the best Seychelles beach resorts. If you have time, spend a few days in Cape Town between your safari and Seychelles to experience the excellent food and nightlife and outdoorsy activities like swimming with penguins or climbing Table Mountain.

When to go: The best time for a safari in South Africa is the dry season which is May to September (however if you’re planning to go to Cape Town too it will be chilly there at this time).

Highlights: Sabi Sand Game Reserve has an especially high concentration of leopards.

ALTERNATIVE SAFARI & BAREFOOT LUXURY

Where to go: Namibia & Mozambique

For couples who may have already been to one of the more traditional safari destinations like South Africa, Tanzania or Kenya, Namibia is a perfect choice for a romantic but alternative safari experiences. Quad biking in the vast Namib with its desert-adapted wildlife, climbing the giant dunes of Sossusvlei, flying over the foggy and mysterious skeleton coast, and sleeping out in a desert star bed top some of our favorite honeymoon experiences in Namibia. Likewise, Mozambique is an exotic beach destination known as “the pearl of the Indian ocean” with more than 1500 miles of coastline and several private islands reachable only by helicopter. This is the perfect place to experience Robinson Crusoe-style barefoot luxury.

When to go: Although Namibia can be a year round destination, summer (November to February) is very hot in the desert

Pro tip: if you have time, mix up your time in Namibia with a few days in the desert and a few days at the coast for a more varied experience.

Planning your luxury safari and beach honeymoon can be overwhelming with so many fantastic options! A trusted travel advisor at Epic Road will guide you to make the best choices.

Wednesday
Jul242019

The Best Private Luxury Villas in Africa

The best way to plan a luxury safari or faraway beach escape for a group is to choose a private luxury villa where you can have all of the privacy of an independent residence and all of the service and amenities of a top safari lodge or beach resort. Sometimes families or groups of friends are celebrating a milestone, or a couple is looking for secluded romance on their honeymoon, or a high profile individual needs discretion to truly relax and enjoy time away. Luckily, Epic Road’s team of experts have scoured the globe to find and personally visit the best properties that are specifically designed for exclusive use, and we’re able to make recommendations that suit the needs of each individual group.

What exactly is a private luxury villa? It’s where the privacy and freedom of a separate home meet the level of service and staffing of a top luxury hotel. Sometimes it’s simply a fully staffed residence, sometimes it’s a large separate villa that has at least three separate bedrooms and is an extension of a luxury safari lodge or beach resort, meaning that guests have a dedicated team of staff from the lodge, but the space physically feels more like a private home. Sometimes it’s a multi-bedroom suite at a luxury property. What’s key is that booking a private luxury villa gives you the best of both worlds, where privacy is perhaps the ultimate luxury, and the service and amenities are also always top notch.

THE BEST LUXURY SAFARI VILLAS

If you’re planning a luxury safari in South Africa, Tanzania, or Kenya, a private safari villa in one of these magical destinations in Africa will likely come with a dedicated butler and private chef, exclusive use guide and wildlife tracker and a vehicle for going on game drives at your whim. You can often expect other amazing features like huge private pools, incredible views, outdoor dining areas for private dinners under the stars, temperature-controlled wine cellars, full gym and spa, media or entertaining room, and extra space to accommodate your own nanny, pilot, or photographer. The location is always prime - imagine enjoying your morning coffee as you watch elephants drinking at a waterhole just a few yards away. One of our favorite spots to do just that is Kubili House, located in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, a private residence that houses up to 10 guests in five bedrooms. Near Kruger National Park, Royal Malewane’s Africa House sleeps up to 12 adults and has perhaps the best guides and wildlife trackers on the continent. In Kenya, Ol Jogi can be booked for exclusive use and it has an underground hide where you can safely sip your evening cocktail just a few feet from a massive herd of elephants. In Tanzania, Singita Serengeti House has its own luxurious tented spa and tennis pavilion, situated right in the path of the Great Migration. These are just a few of many incredible options for group safari villas in Southern and Eastern Africa.

If you pair your safari with a few days exploring Cape Town, The One Above is a perfect home base for experiencing the best of this cosmopolitan South African city, like thrilling helicopter rides over the peninsula or day trips to savor the best food and wine in Cape Winelands. The separate two-storey penthouse sits atop the One&Only Cape Town luxury hotel. With fireplaces, a grand piano, marble spiral staircase, open-plan floors and private pools and decks on both levels make this exquisite space perfect for entertaining.

ESCAPE TO THE PERFECT BEACH VILLA IN PARADISE

Maybe you’re dreaming of a group beach trip to the Seychelles, Maldives, Mozambique, or Zanzibar. Picture the ultimate beach house with all of the amenities of a full luxury hotel: massive sunbeds and loungers, private access to the pristine white sandy beach just steps from your own infinity pool, seclusion at the level of a Robinson Crusoe castaway fantasy, incredible ocean views and stunning sunsets. properties can range from multi-bedroom beachside villas to entire private islands, like Thanda Island in Zanzibar or Cousine Island Resort in the Seychelles. Off the coast of Mozambique &Beyond Benguerra is situated on a secluded bay on a private islands where the nearby pristine reef is perfect for divers and snorkelers. The two-bedroom suite here is great for families.

In the Maldives, Soneva Fushi Villas have up to nine bedrooms where larger families can really spread out and enjoy time together and feel at home in paradise. There are many more to choose from.

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Each family, couple or group has different expectations, priorities and preferences when it comes to planning a trip. Design style, size, and amenities at different luxury villas vary greatly. You might prefer a rustic farmhouse style, or something more edgy, artsy and modern. You might be three couples traveling together, or a family of 12 spread over three generations ranging in age from 10-70. To find the right private villa for your group we suggest working with one of Epic Road’s luxury travel designers to walk through specific needs and desires and match you to the best possible private luxury villa in your destination of choice. Contact us at hello@epicroad.com.

Tuesday
Jul232019

Travel Guide to Experience the Best of Cape Winelands

 

The perfect luxury trip to South Africa isn’t complete without a day or two spent exploring Cape Winelands. With hundreds of world-class wineries, innovative restaurants helmed by world-renowned chefs, and beautiful boutique luxury hotels, all just a short distance from Cape Town, both wine connoisseurs and amateur tasters will find themselves enchanted with this beautiful part of the Western Cape. The best way to experience South Africa’s wine region is either a guided day trip with a private car and driver, or if you have more time, a few days spent indulging in the best Cape Winelands has to offer.

First, a geographical guide to this part of the Western Cape: the region is split into different towns including Stellenbosch, Franshhoek, and Constantia Valley, to name a few. Constantia Valley is just on the other side of Table Mountain from Cape Town, barely a 15- minute drive from Cape Town proper, and is home to Groot Constantia, the very first South African wine farm, established in 1685. In Stellenbosch, a town just about a 1-hour drive outside of Cape Town with beautiful Dutch architecture, there are over 150 wineries backdropped by lush green mountains. Franschhoek is a town with its own charm that lies just east of Stellenbosch.

The vast number of excellent wineries and restaurants with incredible food in Cape Winelands makes it difficult to name a few and call them the best, but some favorites include Haute Cabriere (Franschhoek), La Petite Colombe (Franschhoek), Overture (Stellenbosch), Terroir (Stell) and Jardine (Stell). It’s possible to visit the Cape Winelands as a day trip but to really immerse yourself in wine culture and explore you can stay at a number of gorgeous properties. Two favorites are Leeu House (Franschhoek) and Delaire Graff Estate (Stellenbosch).

A visit to Cape Winelands is best paired with a luxury South Africa safari, and of course a few days spent in Cape Town. In addition to tasting wines, the Western Cape has other cultural attractions, like the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden with its lifelike wildlife creations. There are also several museums and art galleries in the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.

Unlike other wine regions in the world, South Africa wine country is a year round destination, with high season in the warm and dry summer between November and May - the best time to imbibe a crisp Sauvignon Blanc during a sundrenched picnic. But in wintertime a glass of the region’s famous pinotage next to a roaring fire is tough to beat.

If you have a few days in Cape Town, visiting this uniquely beautiful region is a must, and whether you prefer a one day trip to taste the best South African Wines or want to make it a focal part of your trip to South Africa, advance planning makes for the best possible experience in this beautiful part of South Africa.

Wednesday
Nov072018

Japan's Best Cultural Experiences

 

The best way to experience Japan’s fascinating history and culture is to fully immerse yourself in cultural practices that you would never see or experience elsewhere. Take a tour behind the scenes of Tokyo’s sumo stables, indulge in a private dinner with a geisha, learn a chosen art form like sword-making with an expert craftsman, go back in time with a stay at a traditional ryokan. In Japan, luxury means more than just staying in immaculate five star hotels and eating at Michelin star restaurants, although those are important components of any dream trip to Japan! Rather, luxury here also means discovering Japan’s best kept secrets and hidden gems, many of which are hard to find without the insight and connections of a true inside, making them all that much more special.

For a dining experience unique to Japan, make arrangements for a private kaiseki dinner with geisha entertainers in Kyoto. Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, meticulously prepared by a highly skilled chef. Just experiencing a kaiseki dinner is something many people have on their ultimate travel bucket list, as it may just be the best meal of your life. But we recommend going one step further and arranging for traditional geisha entertainers to join the dinner, which can take place at some of Japan’s best restaurants. In modern day Japan geisha entertainers are highly skilled, training for up to five years to be able to be recognized as geisha.The experience will include traditional music, dancing, and conversation with geisha.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Tokyo’s world famous Sumo matches? Take an insider’s look at this ancient sport that is still practiced in modern day Japan with an early morning tour of the Sumo stables, which is where the athletes train year-round when they’re not competing. With special arrangements and connections you’ll take a private tour with a guide who is also an expert in the sport - sometimes even a former wrestler themselves - and can facilitate direct conversations with the wrestlers following their morning practice.

The art of samurai sword-making is a centuries old tradition that continues to this day, with sword smiths whose special techniques have been passed down for generations. To learn more about this ancient art form you can visit a workshop and learn how it’s done from a master craftsman, who will then help you forge a blade, also called a katana, of your own. An authentic samurai sword of your own is a souvenir unlike anything you could purchase in a store and will always remind you of your once-in a lifetime trip to Japan!

For an unusual and authentic hotel experience in Japan, opt to spend a night at a traditional Ryokan in addition to some time spent at Western-style luxury hotels. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese inn, and they’re usually located near onsen, the Japanese name for a natural hot spring. Ryokans first came about in the 1600’s and most are characterized by their traditional design - old, wooden buildings with pointed roofs, surrounded by beautiful bamboo gardens. The atmosphere inside Ryokans is peaceful and serene, guest rooms are simple, and the level of hospitality is incredibly high.

Japan has a million hidden treasures, and with a little help from an expert you can uncover and experience this amazing country in a deeper way.

Thursday
Sep202018

The Best Luxury Honeymoons For Destination Weddings

 

The best way to kick off a dream honeymoon might be to hold the wedding itself in a beautiful farflung locale. For couples who love to explore the globe, this is a great chance combine two or more of your top bucket list travel destinations at once. Bringing along your wedding guests for the first part of your amazing getaway could be a once in a lifetime opportunity to celebrate your wedding with a bang and also have the best luxury travel experiences with all of the people you love most.  

If you’re planning a Caribbean destination wedding on a balmy tropical island, consider switching gears and heading north into the Arctic for your honeymoon, giving you the chance to experience two different types of climate in one trip. In Iceland, explore the nightlife of Reykjavik, soak in thermal pools in the wilderness, and prepare to be amazed as the northern lights dance across the sky. Another one of the best destinations to witness the magic of the aurora borealis is in the northern reaches of Canada where you can also see incredible wildlife like polar bears, including mothers and babies emerging from their dens in springtime, as well as narwhal, whales, elk, arctic fox, walrus, seals, and more.

If you’re holding a wedding in Europe you’ll already be geographically closer to southern or eastern Africa for a Big Five luxury safari. Jet off to Tanzania’s stunning and ancient Ngorongoro Crater, South Africa’s famous Kruger Park, Kenya’s culturally rich Maasai Mara, or Botswana’s wildlife-dense Okavango Delta to get up close to Africa’s most iconic wildlife including elephant, lion, leopard, cheetah, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, hippo, wild dog, pangolin, among others.

If you want the ultimate barefoot luxury experience for both wedding and honeymoon there are plenty of ways to combine some of the most beautiful beach destinations in the world with deserted beaches, secluded resorts, and aquatic adventures like scuba diving or snorkeling with exotic marine animals. Where should you go and what is there to do in an Indian Ocean paradise? Go for a romantic sunset cruise on a traditional wooden dhow in Zanzibar, take in the mountain top views and stick your toes in the powdery white sand of the Seychelles, or relax in one of those postcard-perfect overwater villas in the Maldives. All of these island destinations have some of the best luxury resorts on the planet.

Choosing the right destination for your honeymoon is important, and so is ensuring the day goes smoothly by using one of best wedding planning experts in the business. Websites like The Knot or Martha Stewart Weddings can help you streamline your wedding planning process, and the right beautiful bridal salon like Bridal Reflections can help you find the perfect dress. Top notch event designer Guerdy Abraira of Ocean Flowers and Events will make sure all the magic comes together on your big day, and Spinners is an awesome wedding entertainment company that will put together your band, DJ, or whatever else you need to make sure everyone has the time of their lives! In fact, they’re known as “Facilitators of Ingenuity.”

Start planning your Epic Road honeymoon, whether it’s a luxury safari, an Indian Ocean beach escape, or an Arctic adventure.

Saturday
Aug112018

The Best Way to Experience the Ngorongoro Crater

 

One of the best places in Africa for a safari to see the Big Five and other wildlife is Tanzania’s Ngorongoro crater. Here in northern Tanzania, the dense concentration of some of Africa’s most iconic species paired with the dramatic landscape formed by the crater makes this one of the best places for a safari for everyone from families to honeymooners. The Ngorongoro crater is the largest volcanic caldera in the world and was formed millions of years ago when an active volcano exploded and collapsed on itself. The crater rim is a natural enclosure inside which is a rich and fertile grazing ground for wildlife that live there, including elephants, lions,  wildebeest, zebra, gazelles, leopards, African wild dogs, cheetah, hyena, buffalo, and flamingos. Most famously, there is a number of critically endangered black rhino living within the protected area.

There are plenty of fantastic options for luxury accommodation around the Ngorongoro Crater. Some of our favorites include the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge for its romantic ambiance, The Highlands for its incredible views all the way to the Serengeti, and Entamanu for its high level of privacy. All of the best properties near the Ngorongoro Crater have expert guides and a variety of activities beyond just the usual descent into the crater to see wildlife from afar. You can have a picnic on the crater floor while hippos come to drink water in the lake, or watch the sunrise or sunset from atop the crater’s rim.

One of the best times to visit the Ngorongoro Crater is from December - March, which is the best time to see the great migration and wildebeest calving. Combine a few days near the Crater with some time in the Serengeti. Understand the best time to go to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater and other safari destinations and make sure to plan the best safari possible with help from our experts at Epic Road.

Saturday
Aug112018

The Best South Africa Luxury Safari Experiences

A luxury safari in South Africa is likely to be one of the most best vacations of your life. For some travelers, seeing iconic African species in the wild and discovering the most beautiful places on the African continent is a life-changing journey. While you stay in some of the top-rated safari lodges with amenities like private plunge pools, award-winning food, and the most stunning views of the African bush, you can also choose to incorporate special experiences that will make your trip more than just an amazing vacation. You can learn about endangered species, interact with wildlife in a natural and respectful way, and have the chance to positively impact local communities.

Curious travelers who are especially interested in endangered species can opt to join a day excursion with a conservation scientist, where they will be able to take part in microchipping or collaring a wild animal in order to help preserve the future of the species. For example, you’d take off in a helicopter with a team of experts and locate a rhino, tranquilize the animal and help the team place a microchip under its horn so it can be tracked remotely and therefore better protected from poachers. You can get a preview of how the magic happens in this short video. It’s an incredible privilege to be in such close proximity to one of these amazing animals.

The endangered pangolin is the world’s most-trafficked animal, and research scientists are doing their best to save this scaly, nocturnal creature from extinction. Travelers who plan their safari with Epic Road can join an expert in the field for a night walk to a pangolin’s burrow, where they may have the chance to see this elusive animal up close, something that few people ever get to do.

For pure fun and exhilaration, go diving to see massive yet harmless whale sharks off the coast of South Africa. Whale sharks can grow over 40 feet long and almost 50,000 lbs, and swimming alongside these gentlest of giants is a true adrenaline rush.

For a more human interaction, visit a remote village where members of an indigenous tribe are living without electricity, and give them the gift of solar light which allows them to safely work or study after the sun goes down. Check out this video to see one of Epic Road’s clients take part in this rewarding experience. Travelers who choose this experience will have the opportunity to deliver and demonstrate the use of the lights in person, and then go home knowing they’ve made a difference in the lives of a number of people on the other side of the world.

To add special and impactful activities onto your luxury safari in South Africa, you must plan your safari well in advance with the help of an expert travel advisor who has the connections to create best and most memorable trip possible. Epic Road specializes in custom-made safaris in South Africa and all over the rest of the continent, sending clients to the world’s most exciting destinations.

Sunday
Jun102018

The Best Ways to See Victoria Falls

There are so many reasons to add a visit to Victoria Falls to your bucket list, especially if you’re already planning a trip and want to experience the best of southern Africa and visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Victoria Falls is considered the biggest waterfall in the world, and sits on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe with the source of its cascading water coming from the beautiful Zambezi River. The location of the Falls creates opportunities for several adventurous and memorable ways to explore this incredible natural phenomenon, like wading into the Devil’s Pool or taking a helicopter ride for a bird’s eye view.

For adventurous travelers looking for an adrenaline rush, the Zambezi River is considered one of the top places in the world for a one-day white water rafting excursion where you’ll hike in and out of a gorge to reach the water and then hit series of wild rapids interspersed with periods of calm waters. Or take a dip into the most amazing natural infinity pool in the world, the famous Devil’s Pool, a spot bypassed by the river’s strong currents where people can actually swim right out to a sturdy rock lip that keeps them from falling over the edge, making for some unparalleled photo opps. Finally, thrill-seekers who take the 364-foot bungee jump from the Victoria Falls Bridge will get an unforgettable rush, not just because of the epic fall but because of the stunning cascade of water that acts as a backdrop. Travelers looking for a calmer and more romantic way to see Victoria Falls might opt for a flight through the air for optimal breathtaking views of this amazing natural wonder. There are two options for flying: a helicopter tour or a flight by microlight aircraft, a plane with an open cockpit that fits just a pilot and a passenger and is known as the motorbike of flying for how similar it feels. From ground level, travelers can take a canoe ride through the calmer parts of the Zambezi River or board a sunset cruise on a riverboat for spectacular views of the falls and the surrounding wilderness when it’s time for those sundowners.

Plan your trip to Victoria Falls to include one of these special experiences that allow you to get up close and you’ll really understand why the local indigenous tribe calls it “The Smoke That Thunders.”

When to go to Victoria Falls

It’s possible to add game drives in nearby game parks, or combine a few days near Victoria Falls with a safari in Zambia, Zimbabwe, or Botswana. The best timing for the best views of Victoria Falls is May through August when you’ll have the clearest sight from the river or from the air. Activities that require low water such as swimming in the Devil’s Pool or white water rafting can generally only be done from August to January. The falls are at their most powerful during the wet season from December to March, and therefore the scene is the most dramatic though the extra mist and cloudy skies can hamper viewing.

Sunday
Jun102018

How to Experience the Best of Kenya

Of all of the African countries where you can go to experience the most iconic luxury safari, Kenya has some of the most diverse and stunning landscapes. Kenya offers some of the best game viewing on the continent with huge numbers of lions, leopards, elephants, cheetah, zebra, giraffe, and more. Many people choose a classic safari with expert-led vehicle game drives and perhaps a sunrise balloon ride over the plains, especially if it’s their first safari. But for adventurous travelers who want an alternative kind of safari, it’s possible to create a customized itinerary with special experiences that offer opportunities for heart-pounding, thrilling adventures on foot, on a mountain bike, or in a private plane or helicopter.

A Bike Ride Through The Amboseli-Chyulu Corridor

Join the annual Ride for Lions and embark on an unforgettable mountain biking adventure through the Amboseli-Chyulu corridor, an area of conserved land that serves as a key pathway between national parks for lions and other species. You’ll spend the days biking along the stunningly beautiful corridor of land that you’re helping to preserve, and spend nights under the stars at luxurious mobile camps with a final night at beautiful luxury lodge Ol Donyo. By joining this 6-day adventure, travelers will be directly contributing to wildlife conservation through the Land for Lions Initiative. On top of directly contributing to efforts to save lions and their habitat, the cost of this wild ride is 100% tax deductible. Active and adventurous travelers ready for a wild ride can book directly with Epic Road.

Flying by Helicopter or Plane over the Laikipia Plateau

A sunrise balloon ride while on safari is one way to see the incredible landscapes below, but consider a more unforgettable and over the top safari experience - swooping over Kenya’s awe-inspiring Laikipia Plateau by helicopter or private plane. The sparsely populated Laikipia Plateau is backdropped by Mt. Kenya and is a sprawling wilderness home to stunningly dense concentrations of wildlife, including some of the highest populations of endangered species like the Eastern Black Rhino, the Southern White Rhino, and the African WIld Dog, among others. Travelers can visit private wildlife conservancies and stay at luxurious ranches, including beautiful Ol Jogi and Segera Retreat. Segera is the home to the original biplane made famous in Hollywood masterpiece Out of Africa and for a substantial donation to Segera’s 4C projects (initiatives related to Community, Commerce, Culture, and Conservation) travelers can take a private ride in this relic from a bygone area. A private helicopter ride over the region can also be arranged. Get a taste of what it might feel like to soar across Kenya’s amazing landscapes by checking out a short video from Ol Jogi and Matador Network.

A Walking Safari with a Maasai Tribesman

Explore the Maasai Mara National Reserve and the northern Serengeti plains the slow way, on foot, with a Maasai tribesman as your guide. This region has some of the most spectacular game viewing on the continent, and you have the opportunity to see it all it as part of an authentic cultural experience with this semi-nomadic tribe, one of the last of its kind in the world. Your Maasai guide will teach you their ways - how to reduce your carbon footprint and how to track animals by reading their footprints. You can also join a traditional Maasai jumping ceremony or train in traditional stick fighting, and eat a delicious meal made from local ingredients cooked right there in the bush.

Adding special experiences to customize your luxury safari will make your trip to Kenya that much more memorable. Read more about the exciting adventures you never thought were possible and get inspired to start planning your safari with Epic Road!

Thursday
May102018

Travel to Kanazawa, Japan’s Best Hidden Secret

It would take a lifetime to discover the best of Japan’s hidden secrets, and many travelers with limited time will only see the highlights of major cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Even still, it’s possible to maximize your time and see off the beaten path sites in Japan that will give you a more authentic and unique travel experience in this incredible Asian country with so much fascinating history and culture. History buffs should take a trip to beautiful and historic Kanazawa, just two hours by bullet train from Kyoto, where you’ll explore one of the best preserved castle town from the Edo period. Below are some of the best sites and experiences in Kanazawa.

Considered one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan, Kenrokuen Garden is a beautiful place to visit year-round. In the spring, the garden is decorated by colorful plum and cherry springs, flowers such as azaleas bloom in the summer, and fallen leaves of fiery colors make the garden glow in fall. In winter, the snowy garden has "yukizuri" or "snow hangings" built to protect the plants from heavy snowfall, which includes a conical array of ropes that hold up branches to prevent them from breaking. The name "Kenrokuen" means "having six factors," which were used to design the garden’s perfect landscape: expansiveness, peacefulness, artifice, antiquity, water sources, and fantastic views.

The Nagamachi Samurai District was where samurai families lived during the Edo period, and has some buildings that were spared during WW2 and are centuries old. Narrow pedestrian-only lanes, cobblestoned streets, and winding canals make the area very beautiful and photogenic. Some of the former samurai residences and gardens are even open to the public. A visit to this enchanting neighborhood is like going back in time and visiting a fascinating part of Japan’s history.

Kanazawa Castle’s history begins in the early 1546 when it was founded as a religious school for Kanazawa Mido. One of the most interesting features of Kanazawa Castle is the variety of stonewalls located on the castle park grounds. The castle park is sometimes referred to as a "stonewall museum" due the different eras the walls were constructed. Throughout its history the castle has seen a number of fires and a large fire in 1759 almost burned down the entire castle. In 1996, a project was started to rebuild Kanazawa Castle using original construction techniques.

Finally, the most unforgettable part of your trip to Kanazawa will be a visit to a local master sword maker who will show you how to forge your own blade. Planning a trip to Japan can be overwhelming and is best done with the help of a true expert who can help you discover magical places and experiences you would never find otherwise.

Wednesday
Apr042018

The Best Seychelles Adventure Travel and Conservation

The Seychelles is a remote Indian ocean island nation perfect for travelers looking to unwind on some of the world’s most idyllic beaches and also fit in a bit of adventure. With its unspoiled coral-fringed talcum powder sand beaches, secluded luxury villas surrounded by massive granite rock formations, romantic private island hideaways, some of the best spots for scuba diving in the world, and endless summer climate, a Seychelles honeymoon or family trip is likely to be one of the most memorable vacations of your life.

On top of being a perfect slice of island paradise, the Seychelles are an incredibly biodiverse ecosystem that is home to whale sharks, rare giant tortoises, endangered dugongs, tuna, and more fascinating marine life. With an understanding of how important it is to conserve its pristine natural environment, 99 percent of which is ocean, the Seychelles government is also a top destination committed to environmental protection. In early 2018 the government announced a new conservation measure to create two huge marine protected areas, guaranteeing that 16 percent of the country’s ocean territory will be preserved and better defended against threats like climate change and illegal fishing.  

Read more here about where to stay and what to do in the Seychelles while on an amazing custom trip with Epic Road.

Wednesday
Feb282018

Travel Tips for the Best Gorilla Trekking Safari Experience

 

If it’s not already at the top of your bucket list, gorilla trekking in Africa really should be. For adventurous travelers with an appreciation for wildlife conservation, seeing mountain gorillas in the wild is likely to be one of the best most special travel experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. Watch from just feet away as families of gorillas eat, nest, feed their young and play with each other in their natural habitat. Not only is the experience life-changing for you, but because the species is critically endangered, with just 800 of their kind left in the world, by embarking on a gorilla trekking adventure in Rwanda or Uganda you’re making an important contribution to wildlife conservation.

We’ve put together answers to some common questions you may have when planning a trip to see gorillas in the wild so that you can have the best gorilla safari experience possible:

 Where in Rwanda do mountain gorillas live?

Less than 800 endangered mountain gorillas remain in the world and about half of them live in Volcanoes National Park or Parc Nationale Des Volcans, an extraordinarily beautiful and vast expanse of land where you’ll find dense, rich rainforests, open grasslands, and bamboo forests. Volcanoes National Park borders Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the two parks share eight volcanoes that make up the Virunga mountains. All of the volcanoes in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park are dormant. Legendary primatologist Dian Fossey wrote Gorillas in the Mist about her experience researching mountain gorillas in Volcanoes National Park.

Where in Uganda do mountain gorillas live?

One of the most beautiful places to experience a gorilla trekking safari is Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, in the southwestern corner of Uganda near the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Rift Valley. Approximately 350 gorillas inhabit Bwindi, which is also home to hundreds of rare and beautiful bird and butterfly species.

Are there any other places to see mountain gorillas?

Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a third option for especially intrepid travelers. Due to ongoing instability in the region, trip planning is done on a case by case basis based on experience of the traveler, and the stability of the region at that time.

How much does gorilla trekking cost?

In Rwanda, permits for non-residents are $1500 per person. This does not include transportation or lodging. In Uganda, permits are $600 per person most of the year, and $450 in the low season (April, May, November).

What is the difference between gorilla tracking and gorilla trekking?

Technically, gorilla tracking refers to the work that scientific researchers do to find the families of mountain gorillas in the wild. Gorilla trekking is the act of hiking through the mountains and forest to find and subsequently visit with these remarkable creatures in their natural habitat.

What other animals can you see when you go gorilla trekking?

Rare, endangered golden monkeys also live in Volcanoes National Park. Tracking golden monkeys is exhilarating, as these small and curious animals swing from treetop to treetop at a fast speed. Permits are obtained separately but are much less expensive than the permit for gorilla trekking, and both experiences can be had in the same day. Golden monkeys inhabit an area of the park at a lower altitude than the mountain gorillas. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park’s misty rainforest has a rich biodiversity. Many primate species call the park home, including white colobus monkeys, chimpanzees, and baboons, as do elephants, antelopes, and over 300 bird species.

What is the weather like in Rwanda and Uganda?

Gorilla trekking trips take place year round. In both Uganda and Rwanda’s mountainous regions there are two dry seasons, December - February and June - September, with temperatures averaging in the mid-80s Fahrenheit. Wet seasons run March - May, and September - November. While these parks are year-round travel destinations, it is ideal to travel during the drier months for the best wildlife viewing, including gorillas.

Is there an age restriction for visiting mountain gorillas?

 Yes, you must be over 15 years old to obtain a permit for gorilla trekking in Rwanda or Uganda.  

Other tips for Gorilla Trekking in Africa:

In both Volcanoes National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Park there can only be a maximum of one group of eight visitors per day per group of gorillas. Because of the limited availability it is important to plan your trip along with obtaining permits well in advance of traveling to Rwanda. It’s common for travelers to add their gorilla safari experience to a safari to another part of Africa, like Kenya’s Maasai Mara or Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. See our dedicated pages on Rwanda or Uganda for more details including luxury accommodation options, and get in touch to let Epic Road seamlessly plan your life-changing gorilla trekking adventure in Africa.

Friday
Feb232018

Travel Guide to Namibia’s Best Adventures, Honeymoons, Luxury, and Wildlife

 

Visit Namibia and you’ll find incredible and diverse places, each offering a different kind of perfect luxury vacation depending on the what kind of African safari adventure you’re looking for. Namibia is one of Africa’s best kept secrets, and it’s one of the best countries for a safari because Namibia has thrilling adventures, plenty of opportunities to see rare and endangered wildlife like the desert-adapted black rhino, top choices for secluded romantic lodges with luxurious amenities, and the possibility of an unusual cultural immersion with indigenous Namibian tribes. One of the things that makes Namibia unique is that it is the second least populated country in the world, so if you want an off-the-beaten-path adventure Namibia is a top choice for a rewarding and wild safari experience. Most of the country is mountainous desert - the Namib is the second largest in the world, after the Sahara - but there is also a long stretch of beautiful coastline to explore.

We’ve compiled a Namibia travel guide with the best reasons to travel to Namibia for every kind of traveler:

Namibia for honeymooners

Namibia is one of the best places to experience a romantic safari honeymoon. Known as one of the best destinations in the world for stargazing because of the vast open expanse of desert, cloudless skies, and lack of light pollution. Some of the best and most luxurious and romantic lodging properties in Namibia have rooftop starbeds and telescopes to make the experience extra special. And the remote nature of some of the accomodation options make for plenty of privacy, a lost-in-the-desert fantasy come true.

Namibia for wildlife lovers

Namibia is known worldwide for making efforts toward environmental conservation and protection of wildlife. It was the first country in Africa to include environmental protections in its constitution.Through various organizations like Africat or Save the Rhino Trust it’s possible to visit with rhinos, leopards, lions, cheetahs, and positively impact the preservation of these incredible species. Namibia is home to the iconic animals that make for a perfect luxury safari, as well as lesser known endangered species including the wild dog, oribi, and piku. For birders, Namibia’s Kunene River is one of the best places to observe rare birds from a boat or, for the more adventurous, while white water rafting.

Namibia for luxury seekers

Seeing the topography and ethereal landscapes by air is one of the most special ways to experience in Namibia. Fly by hot air balloon over Sossusvlei, the tallest dunes in the world, or Deadvlei with its wild-looking dried out camel thorn trees. Take a helicopter ride to explore the shipwrecks and seal colonies on the mysterious Skeleton coast. Stay at a luxury lodge and enjoy sundowners, spas, stargazing and more.

Namibia for adventure junkies

There are several ways to experience the soaring scarlet dunes of Sossusvlei, arguably the highest dunes in the world. Climbing them is an adventure in itself, even for very fit travelers, so another option is to jump on a quad bike for a thrilling ride over the hilly sands. The Skeleton coast isn’t your typical beach, so called for the seal and whale remains that have been pushed ashore by strong currents, and also for the ancient shipwrecks just off the coast, where sailors and their vessels met their doom on hidden rocks in the roiling waters. No wonder it was dubbed as “the land God made in anger.” Drive or ride by car or swoop along the rugged terrain in a low-flying plane - both are fun and adventurous ways to see the mysterious sights and wildlife that live in the areas that connect the interior of the country with the coast.

Namibia for cultural enthusiasts

Immerse yourself in local culture with an authentic experience with the Himba tribe, a fascinating semi-nomadic indigenous group living in the remote northwestern corner of Namibia. The Himba’s traditional cultural practices are very different from the western world. Both adults and children wear hairstyles and headdresses that signify certain life milestones have passed or how big their families are. They apply a substance called “otjize” made from butterfat and ochre to their skin for care and beautification, giving it a striking red hue. For a really special and impactful interaction, Epic Road clients can give the gift of light to one of the Himba communities by delivering LUCI solar powered lights. The Himba live without electricity, and solar powered lights help them work or study in the evening and cut back on respiratory illnesses caused by keeping fires lit inside huts.

Check out our Namibia page for the best luxury lodging options in Namibia, and more information on the best time of year to visit.

Monday
Dec112017

MOZAMBIQUE LUXURY TRAVEL TIPS 

There are many reasons why Mozambique is a top choice for a luxury beach vacation. Mozambique has so much to offer - private islands, untouched wilderness areas, deserted sandy white beaches, incredible marine life, freshly caught seafood, and adventurous activities to fill your days. The perfect backdrop for a honeymoon or romantic holiday, Mozambique is also ideal for family vacations, getaways with friends, and bucket list trips for retirees.

There are many types of adventurous activities in Mozambique. For experienced scuba divers Mozambique offers plenty of opportunities for world class scuba diving and one of the best diving spots is Neptune’s Arm, an underwater island surrounded by pristine reefs just waiting to be explored. Mozambique is also one of the best places to swim with whale sharks, in fact Tofu Island is considered the whale shark capital of Africa. You can also participate in a sea turtle conservation program during nesting season with a reputable organization. Other ways to experience the beautiful surrounding land and sea are snorkeling, kayaking, sailing, horseback riding, and swimming with dolphins.

Where should you go in Mozambique? The Bazaruto Archipelago is made up of six stunning islands where you’ll find some of the best beaches in Mozambique. Tourism is still relatively new to the region, so the resorts that have sprung up are remarkably secluded with plenty of privacy and opportunities to feel like a castaway on a deserted island, with all of the luxury amenities you can imagine within reach - barefoot luxury at its best.

The best time to visit Mozambique? The optimal dry season runs from April to December, and the wet and rainy season (Mozambique’s summer) goes from January to March. Turtle nesting usually takes place from November to March, Whale shark spotting generally takes place December to March.

How do you get to Mozambique? The capital, Maputo, is just a 45 minute flight from Johannesburg, which is an international hub with direct flights from the United States. We recommend experiencing Mozambique by combining it with a luxury safari in Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe/Victoria Falls, or Botswana, as direct charter flights can be arranged fairly easily.

Check out our complete page on Mozambique including our favorite luxury resorts, and email hello@epicroad.com to plan your upcoming dream trip!

Tuesday
Nov212017

The Best African UNESCO World Heritage Sites to Visit

Curious about how to visit Africa’s best UNESCO World Heritage sites? Amazing African safari experiences can include incredible encounters with exotic wildlife and nomadic tribes, rewarding experiences that contribute to conservation initiatives, relaxation at luxurious lodges and spas, and visits to some of the most interesting historical sites on earth. History or culture buffs looking to cross as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites off their bucket list will find a plethora of fascinating offerings on the African continent, and many of the top UNESCO sites can easily be included on an African Safari trip with Epic Road.

Known by a local tribe as “The Smoke That Thunders,” Victoria Falls makes the UNESCO list and also snags a spot on a the much smaller list of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Marking the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, this soaring waterfall can be explored in numerous thrilling ways - rigorous rafting on the rapids of the connected Zambezi River, flying by helicopter over the falls at sunset, go bungee jumping, and more daring adventurers can swim at the edge in the famous Devil’s Pool.

Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area is perhaps the most wildlife-dense spot on the continent. The protected area’s main feature is the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera, which offers a stunning sunset scene from its rim. The area is a prime place for Big Five game viewing, including critically endangered black rhino. The adjacent Serengeti National Park, another UNESCO site, is a prime spot to see the annual great migration wildebeest, zebra, hippos, giraffes and more of their wild friends as they head into the northern plains on quest for food and water. The most magical way to see to see the largest mammal migration on the planet? By hot air balloon at sunrise.

Even on a short visit to Morocco it’s impossible not to immerse yourself in the country’s fascinating cultural history, and it’s possible to hit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites on a single trip. For a departure from the frenetic energy of Marrakech, visit bohemian seaside Essaouira’s medina and take in the striking blue and white fortified historic walled city that earns a spot on UNESCO’s list. Stroll through the souks looking for beautifully handmade souvenirs and walk along the beach where the coastal winds make cool Essaouira a go-to spot for windsurfing enthusiasts. A few hours inland in the Ouzarzate province, as a sidestep on a visit to the foothills of the breathtaking Atlas Mountains, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou is made up of castle-like structures made from earthen mud brick architecture that is beautifully emblematic of southern Moroccan culture.

Just a short ferry ride from Capetown’s V&A Waterfront district, Robben Island feels a world away. With a somber history, its buildings are powerful symbols of democracy and freedom. Also within suitable distance for a day trip, botany enthusiasts should check out the Cape Floral Region protected areas that are famous for their unparallelled diversity and density of plants, including many species that are endemic to the region and also under threat.

Learn more about Epic Road’s many different types of luxury safaris throughout southern and eastern Africa.

Friday
Oct272017

Family Travel Destinations for Luxury and Adventure

Planning a fun family getaway with kids doesn’t have to mean sacrificing adventure or luxury-style travel in favor of theme parks and all-inclusive resorts. Some of our favorite destinations rank high in terms of safety and tick the right boxes for family travel - optimal weather during school break times, palatable food for picky eaters, sleeping arrangements that are comfortable and convertible, and where you can see a lot in a week or so. What lies beyond those basics is even more of a draw - a bonding opportunity for the whole family through experiences that  will thrill travelers of all ages. Through a face to face encounter with an endangered species, or exposure to a wildly different culture, experiencing the sights and natural wonders that feel a world away from home, or taking the opportunity to give back through conservation initiatives, both parents and children will go home with a feeling of significance and a broader understanding of the world beyond the familiar.

Africa has so much to offer families of all kinds. In fact, we’ve dedicated a whole page to ideas for African family safaris. In particular, Botswana is a sparsely populated country with a peaceful energy and vast open spaces for exploration. A beautiful green season coincides with spring break times and brings about lush vegetation and lots of animal babies. In this atmospheric land reminiscent of the Lion King family members of all ages will find themselves enchanted. Canoe through the Selinda Spillway filled with zebra, hippos and elephants, embark on a meerkat walking safari, or go a step further and take part in a solar light distribution to a village where children can interact with others their own age, taking with them life lessons and memories they will cherish their whole lives.

Iceland has been named the most peaceful country in the world for several years in a row now and its location just a few hours from New York and London makes it a prime choice for families looking for a shorter excursion, as highlights can be seen and done in less than a week. Reykjavik has all the conveniences of a big city and easy day trips to waterfalls and thermal pools will keep everyone occupied and also offer some of the most incredible frame-worthy photo opportunities. More adventurous families with slightly older children can also opt to sleep out in a luxury camp on an ice blue glacier giving them more exposure to incredible nighttime spectacles in the sky, depending on the time of year: the never ending day under the midnight sun, or the mind-blowing northern lights.

New Zealand is also considered one of the safest countries in the world, a utopian paradise where airport security is practically non-existent because it doesn’t have to be. Plentiful outdoors activities including swimming with wild dolphins, exploring coastal waters via catamaran or kayak, fly fishing, hiking, exploring mermaid pools, and much more. Parents will love wine tasting in Marlborough where plenty of the wineries are kid-friendly. There are even cultural immersion opportunities with indigenous Maori groups in their villages that are organized and well-equipped to handle visits from tourists. Finally, visions of the spectacular Aurora Australis (the south pole’s version of the Northern Lights) from New Zealand’s south island will leave everyone spellbound.

In Japan, a culture of respect, rich history and ancient traditions that are strikingly different from most everywhere else will result in a sensory-filled learning experience for the whole family. In Tokyo, older kids and teenagers will delight in a trip to the famous Tsujiki Fish Market or a stroll to experience neon overload in Harajuku. Art, music, and all types of media make this capital city a mecca for pop culture lovers. For more traditional learning experiences, there are dozens more temples and UNESCO World Heritage Sights than one can experience in one trip, as well as plenty of natural wonders in more rural areas. Accommodations range from traditional to modern all over the country, and japan is known for being one of the safest and cleanest places on the planet.

At Epic Road we create custom itineraries for families to ensure all needs and interests are met. Check out our pages with expansive info dedicated to family safaris, Iceland, New Zealand, and Japan.

Sunday
Oct012017

Foodie Destinations in Africa - Capetown, Marrakech, Zanzibar

When you visit some of our top destinations in Africa you’ll find culinary options across the continent that are as diverse as the people and the many cultures and customs that make it so vibrant. And if you’re one of those people with a penchant for both food and adventure, exploring far-flung destinations with your taste buds may be one of your top reasons to travel in the first place. In fact, sampling local flavors is one of the most authentic cultural experiences you can have in a foreign city. In the melting pots of Capetown, Marrakech, and Zanzibar, food influences from across the globe mix together with a result that is nothing like what you will find at home.

Capetown, South Africa

Capetown is not only a culinary capital on the African continent, it’s also known as a top foodie destination around the world. Traditional South African cuisine is hearty and flavorful, and often meaty. One dish you’re likely to find on many menus is boerewors, a coiled sausage made from beef and either pork or lamb that is usually grilled and often served with a porridge called pap. Cape Malay curry is another local favorite, created with local produce and a signature mix of spices like saffron, turmeric and cinnamon. Carb lovers might gravitate toward bunny chow, a curry dish served inside of a hollowed out bread loaf that hails from the coastal city of Durban known for its colonial and Indian influences. For more modern tastes, the Mother City’s food scene is continuously expanding with new cutting edge restaurants popping up on the regular, often helmed by world-famous chefs creating innovative menus that incorporate the most current global food trends. Check out our in-depth survey of the current restaurant scene for more specific restaurant ideas: The Cape of Good Eats.

 Marrakech, Morocco

From high-style modern fusions to the most traditional Moroccan dishes, from food stands inside the frenetic medina to cozy, darkly lit caverns to restaurants on the rooftops of souks, there is something in Marrakech for every taste and budget. Feast under olive trees on locally sourced vegetables and herbs, or oysters fresh from Dakhla, or delectable steak tartare, while Andalusian music plays softly in the background. Not sure what to order? On more traditional Moroccan menus you’re more than likely to see tajine, which is a succulent Berber stew named for the pot in which it is cooked, and Tanjia, which is a simple dish made from beef or lamb slow cooked overnight in urns on hot coals, oil, spices and preserved lemons. Tanjia stalls are prevalent around the city, and they also serve mechoui, which is whole roasted sheep, and roasted sheep’s head. Harira soup is another typical moroccan dish, it’s quite filling and generally combined meat with flavors churned up by a base of tomatoes, lentils and chickpeas. In Marrakech the food is delicious and the richness of the culture and surroundings only enhance the experience. Imagine breakfast in your luxury riad or cocktails with views of the Atlas mountains. Read more about luxury travel to Morocco with Epic Road here.

 Stone Town, Zanzibar

In Zanzibar’s capital city its historically Swahili cuisine has evolved over time to incorporate Chinese, Indian, Portuguese, and Arabian influences, which means for a smaller city the options are very diverse. Bucket list food items in Zanzibar include sorpotel, a combination of boiled diced meats that usually include some combination of tongue, heart and liver. Sorpotel is emblematic of the international nature of Zanzibari cuisine as it is originally a dish of Portuguese origin that gained its true identity by way of Goa. A menu item you likely won’t leave the region without trying is Pilau, a rice similar to what westerners call pilaf that cooks while soaking in a broth with a medley of spices, fried onions, meat and vegetables. Biryani is similar to pilau only the meat sauce is added after rather than during cooking. Boku boku is a good option for the less adventurous - a relatively simple dish of meat skewers flavored by cumin and ginger. As a seaside city, high quality fresh seafood of many kinds and in many forms is also readily available. The inner city of Stone Town is a UNESCO world heritage site with beautiful architecture, and you can’t beat eating on a rooftop, watching the sun set on the Indian Ocean, surrounded by the sounds of prayer calls. Stone Town and its surroundings will tantalize all your senses - read more about luxury travel to Zanzibar with Epic Road here.

Wednesday
Sep202017

Cape of Good Eats

Cape Town’s Jet Set Dining Scene Takes Center Stage

You’ve frolicked with penguins, hiked to the top of Table Mountain and navigated Noordhoek Beach on horseback.   If you think your luxury safari trip can’t get any better, think again.  Cape Town’s Jet Set dining scene is an eclectic feast, with world-class menus built around an evolving array of food and flavors, and restaurants characterized by their cool vibe, gorgeous patrons and edgy design.  This dynamic global city offers a fusion of influences—African, Mediterranean, Asian and French—and one-of-a-kind eateries abound.  It’s a foodie’s delight, serving everything from fresh seafood to imaginative gourmet dishes, and here are a few of our favorites.

THE SHORT MARKET CLUB: Located just off happening Bree Street, The Short Market Club is chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ newest venture, following the success of his other restaurants Test Kitchen and The Pot Luck Club. Dale-Roberts’ wife Sandalene has spearheaded the design here, creating an impressive ambiance by marrying old-world elements like antique barn doors and leather covered tables with a modern open kitchen that includes a Braai barbeque. The menu takes a cue from the design (or perhaps vice-versa) by re-inventing old classics with contemporary touches: Highlights include beef carpaccio with a miso-cured egg yolk, a crispy pig cheek with gorgonzola and granny smith apple, and perfect West Coast oysters.

BOUCHON BISTRO: Centrally located Bouchon Bistro is situated inside a winery which makes for earthy, cellar-like ambiance while still feeling upscale. Small plates and desserts are expertly paired with worldly wines, and the “Travel Through Your Glass” option, a weekly selection of wines by the glass, is a great way to taste and learn. Patrons come for the intricate dishes like artichoke and pea risotto or tender beef tataki and stay well into the evening for the romantic and cozy atmosphere. 

THE SILO HOTEL: Inside the brand new, luxurious Silo Hotel are three noteworthy spots to satisfy any discerning traveler’s food and drink cravings. On the sixth floor of the hotel, formerly a grain factory, is the Willaston Bar, a vibrant space with a long bar, deep blue velvet banquettes and soaring, pillowed glass windows that look out over the harbor. The bar then opens into the Granary Cafe, a refined eatery with an eclectic menu featuring delectable items like beef tartare, fresh seafood bouillabaise and a special Sunday Roast served on a carving trolley. Reservations at the Granary are advised. To round out the options, the Rooftop Bar at the Silo is an ideal spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand. The menu offers light fare and is open for lunch, too. 

THALI: Both menu and space are designed with groups both large and small in mind at atmospheric Indian tapas restaurant Thali. Exotic colors and patterns in the decor fill the restaurant’s multiple spaces, including a beautiful outdoor patio. Chef Liam Tomlin from Chef’s Warehouse does up an impressive menu with the highlight and most popular item being his signture “Tapas for 2” that may include such delicacies as black dhal, butter chicken, banana leaf steamed fish and tandoori cauliflower. Thali doesn’t take reservations but the bar is a cool spot to wait out a table.

VILLA 47: Family-owned Villa 47 offers three separate menus in a dynamic, multi-level space. Ground floor Locanda is a sleek Italian bistro and a choice spot for a mouthwatering eggs Benedict breakfast. One floor up, tapas bar and event space Stuzzico oozes a sultry nighttime vibe, an ideal place to sip an aperol spritz during DJ nights and First Thursday celebrations. The top floor venue, called simply Restaurant, offers a unique Asian-Mediterranean fusion menu in a luxurious space with rose gold mirrors and a central skylight. Yet another soon-to-be favorite, see-and-be-seen spot on buzzy Bree Street.

THE STACK: Housed in historic, 160-year old Leinster Hall, this traditional bistro proves that classic French fare need not be inventive to be delicious. An air of exclusivity trickles down from the members-only club upstairs while diners delve into a perfectly crusty croque madame or richly flavored coq au vin. The accomplished husband and wife team are trained hotelier and interior designer respectively, which is evident in the bold colors and high quality furnishings set between wood floors and pressed steel ceilings. 

HOKEY POKE: The Hawaian raw fish craze has officially come to the Mother City in the form of cool and funky Hokey Poke. The Menu features classic poke bowls as well as the option to choose innovative ingredients like samphire, jalapenos, or something called “nacho dust.” A strip of pink neon marks the entrance on narrow Church Street, and the interior white tiled tables and whitewashed walls are bathed in the same glow from a pink neon palm tree sign. Hokey Poke is decidedly casual - customers can order for takeaway and it’s still BYOB while they wait for their liquor license. 

CAFE CAPRICE: Café Caprice is where the cool kids are on a Sunday night. Combining artisan cocktails, a casual menu, relaxing landscapes and sidewalk seating, Caprice is at the heart of Cape Town's cosmopolitan social scene and has become a virtual landmark on the Camps Bay promenade. The ultimate sunset viewing spot but the fun doesn't stop there because hours are '9 a.m. till late'. *Thursday-Sunday, DJ's fill the space with laid-back house music.

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB: As soon as you see the bejeweled tiger suspended from the ceiling, you know you’re in a quirky place.  With its bohemian vibe and kitschy, over-the-top neon décor, the design of the Bombay Bicycle Club may seem as though it would trump the menu.  But the restaurant takes its food very seriously, and offers an outstanding menu of fresh fish, giant juicy prawns, and gourmet platters of local meat, including venison tapenade, lamb shanks, and what many claim are the best ribs in Cape Town. 

THE BUNGALOW: Delicate plump sushi, smooth fleshy slivers of line fish, beef carpaccio, piles of prawns, panna cotta that wobbles like a voluptuous woman on stilettos…rustic The Bungalow may be, but food has never made the wooden board it's served on look so good.  Add to that a list of South Africa's best wines and champagnes (yes they stock French Champagne too), along with cocktails that preen and pose on the menu like a line of chorus girls waiting to be cast.  Despite all the fanfare about the food and the booze, nothing will prepare you for the magnificent view of the Atlantic Ocean afforded from the dramatic cliff upon which The Bungalow sits in the ever-chic Clifton neighborhood—and never mind the well-heeled, gorgeous local patrons you will encounter.  Barefoot is the new Louboutin at The Bungalow, and as the sun drowns itself in a puddle as pink as rose champagne, curl up with your lover in a velvety private nook, or go find a new one on the sun-dappled deck.

ASOKA: In the shadow of Table Mountain on Kloof Street is Asoka, a stylish Asian fusion restaurant, bar and lounge, known for its distinctive design.  Located in a charming Victorian townhouse, Asoka’s main dining room is build around an open courtyard with an ancient olive tree—referred to as the Dharma Tree—growing straight up the middle.  An outdoor deck with a cozy copper fireplace, inventive menu of tapas and cocktails, and regular live jazz also add to Asoka’s ambiance of comfortable elegance and laid-back romance.

GRAND CAFÉ & BEACH: Perched on the pristine beach of Granger Bay, this local favorite is barefoot elegance at its best. More casual and less menu-focused than some of its competitors, Grand Cafe & Beach is a prime spot for groups to grab pizza and and libations on a sunny day. 

THE POT LUCK CLUB: Located on the top floor of the Old Biscuit Mill on Albert Road, Woodstock - a former industrial complex taken over & reinvented by new merchants, night markets, restaurants and designer stores. The Pot Luck opened its doors in February of 2013 and has since filled 2 sittings every night throughout high and low season alike, running to capacity of one hundred and twenty guests. Dubbed one of the coolest spots to kick back in Cape Town, the Pot Luck owes its success to fantastic views, innovative tapas-style cuisine & a relaxed yet edgy environment in a part of the Cape that has never before attracted an evening dining crowd.

HEMELHUIJS: Hemelhuijs is Dutch for heaven’s house. And if it's any indication of what breakfast tastes like in heaven, you might want to consider behaving yourself from here on out. You should also know that lunch is just as divine...mouth-watering creations such as pear-and-celeriac salad accompanied by hazelnuts & trout. Located on one of Cape Town's few pedestrian walkways, at the corner of exquisite and sublime, where fanciful treats are displayed in gold-painted bowls and beneath a collection of chandeliers intricately crafted from driftwood & star-shaped seedpods (whatever those may be). Hemelhuijs is an impressive showcasing of food, ceramic ware & lighting - so be prepared to take home some extra weight both on your person & and in your suitcase. Not to worry though, it will all be offset by much lighter wallets.

CHEF'S WAREHOUSE & CANTEEN: In need of a food fix & a good book list? Chef's Warehouse & Canteen gives you Liam Tomlin inspired tapas to take in on Bree Street and recommended recipe books to take home on the plane. Mediterranean, European and Spanish make for an ever changing menu with reoccurring favorites such as the feather-light gnocchi, al dente risotto or fresh oysters with shredded nori & lime, to be enjoyed with a side of Parmesan crisps and a cold craft beer or warm artisanal tea depending on the day. Rain or shine, desert is non-negotiable - silky smooth lemon posset & chocolate fondant with essence of orange and a scoop of orange ice cream. Don't trouble yourself with difficult decisions, you're on vacation, get both. 

MULBERRY & PRINCE: A stylish New York inspired eatery located at 12 Pepper Street, Cape Town. A marriage of South African & American conceives unto you creamy stracciatella with lovage and charred bread; cod with an ajo-blanco-inspired sauce; slow-cooked pork shoulder in brodo with burnt leeks and cucumbers & ricotta gnudi with parmesan broth and mushrooms. To complement Mulberry & Prince edgy menu, the space adheres to understated elegance and gives you a chic New-York feel with a South African flair. Expect stained glass, dirty pinks, lush velvets and an eclectic mix of custom-made and modern furniture alongside walls clad in the works of Cape-Town-based artist Kurt Pio.

TEST KITCHEN: A revolutionary blend and beautiful harmony of Peruvian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorean flavors. The Test Kitchen will not only inspire your taste for fine food but will further support your desire for mind-expansive travels. Award-winning chef Luke Dale-Roberts' appoints travel as his muse and the base for most if not all of his delicious creations - "my time in Europe taught me to cook; my time in Asia broadened my horizons". Exceptional South African produce, hand-made plates and bowls, accomplished wine flights, delectable nine-course tasting menus, theatrical style and risky food pairings make for an extraordinary gastronomical experience. Plan ahead, as tables at Test Kitchen can be booked online as far as three months in advance and it’s the most sought-after reservation in town. 

BELUGA: European and cosmopolitan, Beluga is housed in a century-old building and features an open-plan kitchen. It’s renowned for a sophisticated menu of sushi, dim sum and seafood selections, as well as contemporary twists on more traditional meat platters like Lamb Shank with wasabi mash, and Beef Ribs braised in coriander and ginger. On a warm night, ask to be seated in their beautiful stone courtyard. Beluga also has a very vibrant bar scene, offering a fun selection of cocktails—like white chocolate martinis and mojito lollies—that can double as desert. 

NOBU: For those craving a familiar taste, Nobu Cape Town at the luxurious One & Only Hotel and Resort is the first African outpost of the high-end sushi empire, and the menu features unique twists on the restaurant’s classic Japanese cuisine. Indulge in fresh local seafood with indigenous spices and flavors—like the popular Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno—paired with inventive Sake based cocktails from the restaurant’s trendy lounge.  After experiencing Nobu South Africa, home won’t feel so far away. 

THE ROUNDHOUSE: Nestled in the glens of Table Mountain and with sweeping views of Camps Bay and the expansive Atlantic waters, the Roundhouse will inevitably appeal to more than one of your senses. Tapas-style European cuisine with a touch of South African character and an extensive wine collection allow for unique tailored pairings and beautiful displays - every dish is truly a work of art. 

DUTCHESS OF WISBEACH: A restaurant that operates by Mae West's wise words, "you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough". Written up as a hip cross between a New York speakeasy and a Parisian cafe, with fun music and a Mediterranean menu that all help to create a buzzing cool vibe. Homemade ice cream flavors change all the time so no matter how many times you go, you're always in for a delicious surprise. 

KLOOF STREET HOUSE: Dark, boozy and cool. Kloof Street House is an eclectic restaurant, bar and lounge, featuring richly furnished dining rooms set in a gorgeous character-filled Victorian room. Go back in time and go for Sunday lunch Jazz, a romantic candle lit dinner or drinks in their cozy garden resting under the shade of cooling lush palm trees. This is a top choice for a young, hip crowd on weekends. Enjoy mouthwatering sharing boards, Saldanha Bay Oysters and a variety of Moroccan, French and locally inspired dishes. Another favorite dish is the baked Camembert. 

HARBOUR HOUSE: At Harbour House in Kalk Bay, the floor to ceiling windows give way to views of the beautiful bay and the Hottentots Mountain range, an ideal backdrop for enjoying the best item on the menu – their infamous fresh seafood platter. Although we prefer this original location,  an outpost with the same name can be found in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront. At the same location in Kalk Bay, Live Bait is a more casual restaurant with a cool vibe and the same quality food. 

FYN: Helmed by famous chef Peter Templehoff, Fyn opened in 2019 in a top floor free flowing space in the heart of downtown Cape Town with excellent views of Table Mountain. The Africa-Japanese fusion menu includes a five course Keiseki-style tasting experience with excellent wine pairings. 

JANSE & CO: With an emphasis on ethically sourced, fresh and seasonal local ingredients this slick, stylish Kloof Street restaurant brands itself as “casual fine dining.” The three-course tasting menu and concise wine list keep choices simple, but the flavors are not - some examples from the menu include grilled leek topped with almonds and creme fraiche, thin sliced sous-vide lamb, and other combinations you are unlikely to experience elsewhere.

MACAU ASIAN TAVERN: This colorful, fun and flavorful feast for the senses is a great spot to hit on Thursday nights for great live music, though it’s generally a lively place with a rotating roster of excellent DJs on weekends. The menu is varied, with some of the city’s best sushi and other Asian-inspired delicacies. 

IL LEONE: The menu at Il Leone is a mix of traditional and modern Italian. Expect classic carnivore staples like delicious imported cured meats, beef carpaccio, and veal meatballs, and there are plenty of pasta dishes and other options for vegetarians and pescatarians. A walk-in wine cellar is one of the charming aspects of the rustic interior that some say feels straight out of Sicily.

WILLOUGHBY & CO: Probably the best casual Japanese restaurant in town, Willoughby & Co is located in Victoria Wharf Shopping Center in the V&A Waterfront. This central spot is always busy and buzzing with both tourists and locals who come for the fresh sushi and popular tempura options as well as Asian fusion-style dishes and simple yet delicious soups and salads. The salmon roses are a must-order and the best in Cape Town. 

LA PERLA: Located near the Sea Point promenade, La Perla’s spacious oceanfront terrace is a prime spot for grabbing drinks and prawns in the late afternoon as the horizon turns into a spectacular sunset. The Italian menu has a strong focus on seafood, locally grown produce and handmade pasta. La Perla has been known as a top choice for celebrity and VIP visitors to Cape Town for more than four decades.  

BUTCHER SHOP & GRILL: Some will argue the Butcher Shop & Grill has the best steak in town, always huge cuts of meat cooked to perfection (never past medium, as beef in South Africa tends to be leaner than in other parts of the world and therefore dries out more easily). In addition to the local beef and lamb, the team at Butcher Shop & grill sources Argentinian ribeye, Dutch veal, and Kobe-style wagyu to round out the delectable offerings. The restaurant is both family-owned and family friendly.

Looking to lunch like a local and have a casual bite? Try Culture Club Cheese or Bacon on Bree, which are right next door to each other. 

SOUTHERN SUBURBS - Constantia, Noordhoek, Stellenbosch, Simons Town

Cape Town’s southern suburbs hold their own in terms of gastronomical delights. We’ve mined the options and picked the best in case you find yourself out that way or feel like getting out of the fray of the city - these are worth the trek. 

In Constantia...

GREENHOUSE: Modern South African fine dining at the serene Cellars-Hohenhort Hotel. Acres of lush gardens and vineyards surround the property where the restaurant has been carefully built around a beautiful 300-year old oak tree. Perhaps inspired by these surroundings, ever dish at Greenhouse tells a story, or such is the motto from this team of accomplished chefs, who make painstaking effort to create a harmony of flavors by selecting and combining local and meaningful ingredients. The artful presentation is almost as impressive as the food itself, and the kitchen is especially accommodating to vegetarians and other dietary restrictions. Greenhouse has won multiple culinary awards and is hailed as one of the country’s best restaurants.

CHEF’S WAREHOUSE AT BEAU CONSTANTIA: Chef Liam Tomlin’s newest outpost is situated inside beautiful boutique wine farm Beau Constantia. The open plan kitchen helmed by Ivor Jones, previously of Test Kitchen, and the elegant space offers some of the best views over the valley and False Bay. As with Chef’s Warehouse downtown outpost the signature experience here is “tapas for 2”. The ever-changing menu of chef’s selections is driven by seasonal and produce-driven mix of ingredients; current or past examples include coal seared blesbok and pork fillet with roasted apple. Of course, the excellent array of wines to pair with the food enhances the experience with opportunities to sample the farm’s own range called Pas de Nom and their bespoke Beau Constantia label, among many others. 

LA COLOMBE: La Colombe is contemporary cuisine at its finest. A creative twist of Asian, a touch of French and a flair of local inspiration make for an unexpectedly delightful fusion. Sourced from the restaurant's organic gardens, paired with an award-wining wine list & served over sweeping views of Constantia Valley, it's no wonder La Colombe is a frequent contender on Cape Town's Top 10 and no stranger to S.Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants. "The freshest seasonal produce, uncomplicated clean flavours and classical elegance are the essence of my inspiration and the passion for my food” - Chef Scot Kirton.

FOXCROFT: Renowned chef Scot Kirton has opened a sister restaurant to famed La Colombe in partnership with his pastry chef - and Foxcroft’s namesake - Glen Foxcroft Williams.  The airy, welcoming space has a freestanding central fireplace and an open kitchen and the menu focuses on quality, seasonal ingredients, like a 7-day dry aged duck breast with turnips and fermented plum. And Williams’ in-house bakery serves up crave-worthy homemade breads and freshly made pastries. Foxcroft has a laidback and comfortable design, while much of the furniture and lighting fixtures are locally designed. 

In Noordhoek...

THE FOODBARN:

The Foodbarn serves fine dining-quality food in a relaxed setting within family-friendly Noordhoek Farm Village. Chef Franck Dangereux, who got his start at La Colombe, has succeeded in creating a comfortable space for both adults and kids to enjoy beautiful food prepared with respect and love, without all the fancy bells and whistles. A place with a focus on sustainable and organic ingredients where one will find fresh bread and coffee roasted from local beans. And beyond just the restaurant, the experience here includes the Foodbarn Deli, a space that sells pastries and other takeaway items during the day and then turns into a vibey tapas bar at night. There’s also a secondhand Barn Bookshop, a favorite among area locals, and at Foodbarn Studio occasional interactive cooking demonstrations.

In Simons Town...

MANGATA: Located on busy St. Georges Street in Simons Town, the chef team behind Mangata, lead by owner William Sharp, has created a contemporary French fusion menu with staples like delicate ostrich carpaccio with bloody Mary jelly, a richly delicious duck breast, and a fantistic creme brulee. Also highly recommended are the 3- or 7-course chef’s tasting menu. The ambiance here is relaxed yet romantic - in colder months it’s a great spot to enjoy a drink by the log fireplace, or in the summer snag a spot on the balcony for views of Simons Town Harbor out to False Bay. If you’re doing a peninsula tour Mangata is the best alternative to some of the more touristy eateries. 

In Stellenbosch...

DELAIRE GRAFF ESTATE: Situated in picturesque Stellenbosch, Delaire Graff Estate includes a luxury lodge, a renowned winery, art gallery, and two restaurants – Asian inspired Indochine and one of which is simply named Delaire Graff Restaurant. The philosophy at Delaire is that the best food starts with the best ingredients (and is paired with the best wines), so vegetables and herbs are plucked directly from the estate’s own picturesque garden. Even if you’re not staying at the lovely hotel, the namesake eatery is worth stopping by to indulge in a platter of divine fresh oysters and take in the breathtaking views of Stellenbosch Valley.

 

 

Tuesday
Sep122017

Top Destinations for Foodies in Japan, India, and Sri Lanka

Japan, India, and Sri Lanka have some of the most incredible offerings for food lovers that complement or even anchor the extraordinary experiences that can be had on a bespoke luxury trip to Asia with Epic Road. For some people, sightseeing and adventurous excursions are even just a way to fill the time in between meals, and even if you don’t consider yourself a true “foodie” a fantastic meal may end up being one of your favorite trip memories. Maybe it has something to do with sensory overload - the texture of the freshest sushi, the exotic aroma of the spiciest curries, that sleepy satisfaction following the finest meal that’s heightened by tropical surroundings.

TOKYO, Japan

Serious foodies know that Japan’s capital city has some of the best restaurants in the country, which as a whole is known for its incredible cuisine, and boasts some of the best food on Earth. In fact, Tokyo is the city with the highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world. Fresh and innovative sushi is an obvious choice, and a visit to the world-famous Tsukiji Market is a must. Tokyo has excellent food offerings of all kinds that prioritize high-quality seasonal ingredients. Specifically, Yakitori - skewers of meat roasted over hot coals - is a good option for carnivores, as is Kobe beef and Wagyu, a delectable marbled beef that comes from a breed of Japanese cattle. For the Japanese comfort food comes in the form of noodles; in a place known as Ramen Street eight of the best shops cluster together. A visit to a brewery to taste the best sake in the world comes at a price but is worth the indulgence. Excellent dining options are found everywhere from street stalls to back alleys to exclusive eateries, including an Epic Road signature experience involving a private dinner with a geisha and musicians. 

RAJASTHAN, India

India’s Rajasthan region has some of the best food in this colorful nation, and the city of Jaipur sits at the top of the list of foodie hot spots with a cuisine that is influenced by a rich culture of exotic spices, busy bazaars, and diverse religious influences, as well as by its environment. Rajasthan is arid, but despite the dearth of vegetables that grow here the food is primarily vegetarian, with recipes including an abundance of lentils, beans, red chilies, buttermilk, flatbread, rice, garlic, and different types of curries mixing together various spices like fennel, turmeric, and cumin. Perhaps the most famous Rajasthani dish is called dal baati churma, a combination of three distinct flavors and textures: balls of dough (baati) that are usually dipped into a bowl of spice lentils (dal) and then churma, a mixture of wheat, ghee and sugar. Dal baati churma is emblematic of the Rajasthani way of combining sweet and savory in one meal, with no demarcation between entree and dessert. To sweeten the overall experience in Rajasthan, Epic Road can arrange a private full moon excursion to the magnificent Taj Mahal at sunset or a stay at the sophisticated Jawai Leopard Camp in the Aravalli Hills where meals include organic produce from their own garden. 

SRI LANKA

In Sri Lanka, the island’s colonial history means that the culture and gastronomy both have Portugese, Dutch and English influences. The food also takes a cue from nearby India with a strong focus on rice and curries, albeit without the bite - Sri Lankan food tends to incorporate milder spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Expect to see a huge variety of flavors in menu offerings, with unusual options like pumpkin curry with mustard seeds, jackfruit curry, and side dishes like mixed leafy greens with coconut, flatbreads and homemade chutneys. As a relatively small country, it’s possible to sample and savor it all in one trip: a visit to the tea plantations in the southern hill country, the high end restaurants and street food stalls in cosmopolitan Colombo, and fresh seafood restaurants in northern Jaffna. For a really special experience, Epic Road can set up private cooking lessons for a chance to learn - and taste! - more about this underappreciated cuisine. 

Click here to a deeper look at the incredible travel experiences to be had in different parts of Asia with Epic Road, and read more in depth information on our pages about Japan, India, and Sri Lanka

 

Wednesday
Sep062017

Off the Beaten Path Travel in Africa - Festivals and Ceremonies

 For a truly unique adventure in Africa, consider a trip to take part in a colorful arts & music festival or an authentic tribal ceremony. Africa has so much to offer in the way of fascinating cultural experiences where visitors are more than welcome to join in the festivities, and keep in mind that the less-visited places can sometimes be the most culturally rich. Tourists have a unique opportunity to support locals in nations where the local people are some of the most welcoming in all the world. Below are a few examples of experiences to be had across the continent at different times of year: from a courtship ritual in Chad to a sacrificial voodoo ceremony in Benin or a Burning Man-style festival in South Africa, there is so much to explore. 

AfrikaBurn - South Africa - Much like its U.S. counterpart Burning Man, AfrikaBurn is a collaborative celebration of the arts where a community of volunteers and participants create a temporary city of theme camps, musical performances, visual art creation, elaborate costume exhibitions, and more. Located in the remote and arid Tankwe Karoo National Park, a beautiful spot to experience the region’s desert flora, fauna, and wildlife. 

Sauti za Busara - Tanzania - Each February, vibrant Stone Town in Zanzibar hosts a music festival where locals and visitors come together to experience the best of East African music through performances by hundreds of local artists. Visitors can expect an atmosphere filled with electric energy set against an incomparable backdrop of coastal scenery, including some of the world’s best sunsets. 

Timkat - Ethiopia - Celebrated every January over three days, Timkat - also called the Feast of the Epiphany - is a colorful religious event involving horsemen, bells, trumpets, and a mass. Priests ceremoniously extinguish a candle in a river which is generally followed by participants jumping into the water.

Lake of Stars Music Festival - Malawi - On the banks of Lake Malawi, arguably one of the most picturesque locations for a music festival in the world, the town of Chintheche hosts Malawian musicians as well as globally famous artists, and the music-lovers who celebrate them, for an annual festival in September/October that also honors Malawian culture and raises money for local charities. 

Panafest - Ghana - a biennial celebration of music, performance, strength and resilience, Panafest promotes unity of Africans and people of African descent. The weeklong festival hosts creative performers of all kind in the realms of theater, music, poetry, and more.

Durbar - Nigeria  -  An annual tourist-friendly festival in various cities of northern Nigeria, Durbar marks the end of Ramadan with a roaring celebration of loyalty to the Emir. Men in extravagant turbans show off their horsemanship while wild performances by musicians and acrobats are accompanied by the shooting of muskets.

Gerewol Festival - Chad - Gerewol is a colorful and exuberant festival of courtship that takes place annually in Chad among the Wodaabe, a tribe of nomadic cattle herders.  The young men dress up in elaborate costumes and engage with young female tribe members in dancing, singing, feasting and flirting rituals.

The Nguon Festival - Cameroon - A biennial event dating back over 500 years, the Nguon Festival celebrates the culture of the Bemouan people with stunning costumes, dancing and rituals. Named for a type of locust to celebrate the harvest, the festivities hit a high point when the current king is deposed, critiqued and then ceremoniously reinstated to his throne.  

Voodoo Festival - Benin - Once a year in January the Beninese people come together to honor their spirits with a ceremonial goat sacrifice, and to dance and chant to drumbeats and drink gin. The event happily intermingles thousands of voodoo devotees and plenty of curious tourists. 

Interested in planning an unforgettable trip to the heart of Africa? Email us at hello@epicroad.com.