EPIC ROAD'S SAFARI BLOG

Entries in Vamizi Island (3)

Thursday
Jun132013

ER's Top 10 Romantic Lodges in Africa

Whether your idea of perfect romance is tropical brilliance or exhilarating adventure, old-world safari tents or sleek modern vineyards, surrounded by ocean or surrounded by dunes, eating top gourmet meals or fishing for your own—Africa has it all. Here’s a list of ER’s ten favorite spots to truly feel romance.

Vumbura Plains, Botswana

Vumbura Plains sits in the extreme north of the Okavango Delta. The lodge is styled like a contemporary beachside ranch house—a modern, airy design of light fabrics and pale wood. Each freestanding thatched villa is fitted with a large deck, a private plunge pool and an outdoor shower, all with spectacular views of the surrounding plains. Sit on the deck with your lover and watch as the wildlife pass by: elephants, leopards, hippo, and the famed “Golden Pack” hyenas.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania

The Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Site, is a fantastically romantic destination in its own right, but the Lodge is undoubtedly the most spectacular way to view it. Each suite’s exterior is built in the Masaai’s rustic mud-and-stick manyatta style; each interior is fitted in total luxury, including an ensuite chandelier–lit bathroom and an opulent gem-tone design, all of which offer a plush frame for the dramatic views out your window.

Sindabezi Island, Zambia

Sindabezi is unique: a private island in the middle of the Zambezi River. The five open-plan thatched cottages all directly overlook the water, offering singular access to the river’s flora and fauna, and close proximity to Victoria Falls. The only sounds you’ll hear are the rushing water, the hippos, and you.

Delaire Graff, South Africa

Delaire Graff has everything: two gourmet restaurants, a state-of-the-art winery, a beautiful spa and two luxury boutiques, not to mention the stunning backdrop of Stellenbosch’s famed wine country. Nestled between mountains and vineyards, Delaire is paradise at its most sophisticated. Striking Cape Dutch architecture and stylized African interiors are simply the icing on the cake.

Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania

Most travelers to Africa harbor a fantasy of the tented safari camp, a la Earnest Hemingway, where zebras canter past billowing tents and dinner is served on the open, golden plains. Sabora is the stuff of fantasy-- this northern Tanzanian explorer’s camp is permeated by a sense of nostalgic adventure and by the palpable pulse of the Serengeti.  Guests will delight in the thrill of knowing there isn’t much separating the comforts inside from the wildlife outside.

Vamizi Island, Mozambique

Imagine a tropical paradise, inhabited only by you and your lover, where the breeze blows through white curtains into your villa, and ruffles the surface of your private pool. Just a stone’s throw away, the azure waters teem with turtles, tropical fish, and corals. Samango monkeys chatter in the trees above. Welcome to Vamizi, a private island in the Quirimbas Archipelago of Northern Mozambique.

Kaya Mawa, Malawi

In the middle of spectacular Lake Malawi on Likoma Island sits Kaya Mawa, a luxury waterfront lodge, both chic and rustic. Kaya Mawa was voted as one of the top ten 'Most Romantic Places in the World' by Conde Nast, a Tatler top 101 Hotels in the World, and recently the 3rd Best Beach Property in Africa 2013 by the Good Safari Awards. Dive the unique freshwaters, kitesurf across the surface, or simply enjoy a romantic beachside dinner with your loved one.

Sossusvlei Desert Reserve, Namibia

In the heart of Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert lies the NamibRand Desert Reserve, an oasis of rolling gold, pumpkin and sienna sand dunes—one of the oldest landscapes on Earth. Sossusvlei Deset Lodge is pure luxury, from the air–conditioned desert villas constructed of stone and glass to the private wraparound verandas, outdoor showers, king sized beds, a personal spotting star-scope and the lodge swimming pool and walk-in wine cellar. This is remote, otherworldly wilderness that few will ever experience.

Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania

Faru Faru Lodge is pure classic, arechtypal African luxury. Fantastic views of the plains? Check. Freestanding porcelain tubs? Check. Sleek and modern wooden interiors? Check. Gorgeous outdoor swimming pool? Check. Access to the most spectacular wildlife on Earth? Yes, indeed. Faru Faru is the perfect jumping-off point for your African safari trip.  

Tintswalo Atlantic, South Africa

In the South African Shangaan language, Tintswalo means “the intangible feeling of love, gratitude and peace bestowed upon someone offering you a meaningful and worthy gift.” African vacations are frequently associated with adventure and exoticism, but Tintswalo offers something different: a charming new home. Atlantic is set above the quaint fishing village of Hout Bay, Cape Town, from where you can access both the city and its gorgeous coastal and inland countryside. But the gorgeous Mediterranean luxury of the lodge itself may make it hard to leave.  

 

Friday
May172013

Rebuilding the Circle: Africa's Conservation Success Stories

Africa conservation of animals

The African continent is one of the few remaining places where we can witness the breath-taking range of nature’s diversity. Although 45 percent of the world’s wilderness lies in Africa, the human population is growing at nearly twice the global rate. With a growing population come serious threats to the natural majesty of the continent. From the windy crucible of the Cape to the steaming jungle of the Congo, from the red moonscape of the Kalahari to the blizzards of the Atlas Mountains—totally unique biospheres are disappearing before our eyes.

But the future isn’t hopeless. The tireless efforts of individuals across the continent to turn back the tide of environmental degradation make a difference every day. Here are some inspiring examples of conservation efforts in Africa that are succeeding.

Gorongosa National Park: Gorongosa National Park lies at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley, in the heart of central Mozambique. Known as “Africa’s lost Eden,” Gorongosa was recently and miraculously brought back from the brink of disappearance. Years of civil war in the country decimated the large mammal population (including hippos, elephants, buffalo, zebra, and lions) by over ninety percent, and ravaged the natural landscape.

But in 2004, the American-based Carr Foundation and the Government of Mozambique teamed up to restore the park. They reintroduced both large mammals and tiny critters, like ants, essential to rebuilding a complete ecosystem, and refurbished Chitengo Safari Camp. Since then, Gorongosa has emerged as one of Africa’s greatest success stories—wildlife is thriving and the park is once again beginning to function as a wonderful place to experience African safari. As E.O. Wilson, one of the world’s most celebrated biodiversity scientists, said, Gorongosa gives us the rare opportunity to “see earth as it looked and felt before the coming of humanity.”

Vamizi Turtle Preservation:

Mozambique’s Vamizi Island is famous for its private resort, its simple luxury, and its unspoilt beaches—but it’s also home to a large population of green and hawksbill turtles, who lay their eggs on the same pristine beaches where we tan and swim. When baby turtles hatch each winter, they immediately begin an arduous trek down to the water’s edge. Turtle survival is already one of nature’s greatest lotteries, made much more difficult by the intervention of humans who poach them for their shells or catch them in fishermen’s nets.

Since 2012, the WWF has been working with Vamizi to stabilize the turtle population. A fulltime staff of nine protects the nests, nurtures hatchlings, spreads the turtle news throughout the local community, and encourages the island’s guests to get involved hands-on.

The plight of the turtles is one of the most compelling and accessible conservation stories on Earth, and as a result, success stories are multiplying. Why not combine a world-class luxury retreat in Vamizi with the life-changing opportunity to watch hatchlings emerge from shells, and nudge them towards survival?

Singita Grumeti Anti-Poaching Unit

Before 2002, illegal poaching across Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, west of the Serengeti, was a daily occurrence. Poaching undermined the tourist potential of the reserves and, in doing so, undermined the ability of local communities to reap sustainable benefits from the area’s rich natural resources.

In 2002, Singita Grumeti Lodge, alongside the Tanzanian Wildlife Division, created an anti-poaching unit to patrol the area, consisting of 120 rangers (many of them ex-poachers) and resulting in unprecedented success. Since the creating of the unit, illegal poaching within Singita Grumeti has been virtually eradicated, and ecotourism is thriving.

Recently, Singita Grumeti has reintroduced black rhino into the reserve, as part of the “Save the Rhino” repatriation initiative, in the hope of revitalizing the population’s numbers and genetic diversity.  

Big Life Foundation

Singita Grumeti isn’t the organization that’s successfully tackling poaching in East Africa. The Big Life Foundation, founded in 2010 by photographer Nick Brandt and conservationist Richard Bonham, is dedicated to coordinated cross-border poaching prevention. In its first 22 months of existence, Big Life made 627 arrests and confiscated 1639 weapons in the Amboseli ecosystem across Kenya and Tanzania where Big Life operates. They are successfully protecting 2 million acres on a daily basis with a team of more than 250 rangers—all of whom are hired from local communities.

Since its inception, Big Life has branched out into other, innovative conservation efforts, such as GPS rhino tracking, doggy rangers, a compensation fund for livestock killed by endangered predators, and a Maasai Olympics.

The efforts of these committed conservationists are keeping certain species afloat. But much of their success depends on continued interest in the region, which spurs demand for conservation and makes it financially viable. Tourism is essential to keeping Africa’s biodiversity alive.

By choosing an African safari that engages and explores these issues, you’re choosing to keep the efforts to solve them alive.  

Friday
May032013

Epic Road's Most Romantic Honeymoon Safaris

romantic honeymoon safari

Whether you're looking to relax together in the utmost elegant luxury, or to strengthen your bond over thrilling natural adventures, Epic Road has the most romantic trip for you. 

Rwanda: Trekking with Gorillas

With less than 800 mountain gorillas remaining in the wild, the time to see them is now. Ascend the slopes of Rwanda’s dormant volcanoes into dense, misty green forest, and come face-to-face with the great ape who shares 95% of our DNA. Be amazed by the eerily familiar behavior of these intelligent, charismatic and endangered apes as they eat, nap, and play in family groups.

Cape Town, South Africa: Jet-set holiday

Cape Town is the most European of African cities–a true melting pot, molded by Dutch and English imperialism, and deeply infused by the indigenous African cultures. The glittering skyscrapers that stretch towards the cloud-wreathed peak of Table Mountain are punctuated by the shouts of children in the townships and the call of the muezzin from the mosque. In one day, you can experience dazzling landscapes, visit cutting-edge art galleries, and enjoy a world-class meal made from the region’s many farms and vineyards.

Serengeti Plains, Tanzania: Africa's vast plains and you

Experience the Africa of storybooks and documentaries of the Serengeti Plains. Wide open savannahs, herds of wildebeest and big cats tracking them down. Zebras, elephants, lions, cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes and you. Reminiscent of a bygone era, Singita Sabora Tented Camp dishes up lavish doses of romance, exploration and intrigue. It's location on a private reserve in the Serengeti will often make you feel like you’re the only one on the planet. Alone to experience Africa’s vastness.

Arctic Circle: Northern Lights

The delicate, painterly wash of the Aurora Borealis is worth staying up for. Nestle close with your loved one outside of your safari-style luxury igloo while the sky lights up in psychedelic pinks and greens. In the morning, helicopter over the ice floes in search of a mother polar bear with her cubs, and the rare Torngat caribou herds. When night falls, settle once again into the warmth and luxury of your own personal igloo.

Mozambique Archipelago: Lost in the Indian Ocean

Aside from the wonderful staff on Mozambique’s Vamizi Island, who provide everything—shade, lunch, drinks, snorkeling equipment—don’t expect to see a soul. In this most remote, pristine setting, you and your loved one can dive with whales, dolphins, turtles, giant parrotfish, and manta rays, fish for your dinner, explore the island’s conservation activities with the World Wildlife Fund, or simply lie on the beach and let your worries be washed away by the island’s beauty and gentle surf.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe: Wonders of the World

Few natural sights are as arresting as the massive Victoria Falls, the biggest waterfall in the world and one of Africa’s top draws. Less known however, are the wonders that surround the waterfall in this rich and diverse regions—one of Africa’s most beautiful. Swim in the thrilling precariousness of Victoria Falls’ Devil’s pool. Lounge beside hippos as they bathe in the great Zambezi River. Bungee jump next to the awesome, powerful Falls. Safari on the back of an elephant. This is romance at its most exciting.

Namibia and Botswana: Animal Adventure

The Kalahari Desert, stretching across Namibia and Botswana, is Africa’s oldest, unchanged landscape. This land of epic dunes, volcanic mountains, and prolific plains is also home to some of Africa’s most luxury safari lodges. In addition to spectacular landscapes—vast deserts with thousand-foot sand dunes and a coastline strewn with bleached whalebones and ancient shipwrecks. Stay at the Serra Cafema Camp in the northwest corner of Kakaoland to enjoy the mars-like landscape in luxury. Then head to greener Botswana’s Okavango Delta, where you can spot some of Earth’s most adorable creatures (giraffes, elephants, zebra, wild dog, hippopotami, lions, and leopards) gather at the rich floodplains near Selinda Camp.

Stellenbosch and Franschoek, South Africa: Food and Wine

Few regions on earth rival the gustatory bounty of South Africa’s Western Cape. This is the heart of Africa’s farm-to-table movement, a veritable eden of vegetable garden’s, sheep farms, vineyards, orchards, and even apiaries. Feast your eyes and stomach on the best that culinary Africa has to offer—from famous fine dining to over one hundred wine cellars open to the public.