• The ultimate African bush and beach safari

    Text by Gareth Hardres-Williams

    Images by Gavin Lautenbach

The ultimate African bush and beach safari… 

by Gareth Hardres-Williams and Gavin Lautenbach, 7 September 2017

A Mammoth Safari that gives you both the delights of the African bush and the escape of the wonderful African beaches is the ultimate in luxurious safari.

Holiday bucket lists are very often filled with idyllic beach destinations, featuring white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters and soft white cotton sheets on the beds that offer spectacular views of the mornings sunrise.  Often too is the same list populated by the wilderness of safari destinations, with open savanna’s and treed bushveld and the glorious wonders of the natural world on display.

We at Mammoth Safaris have designed many a safari incorporating the best of both these worlds and here is a photographic journey through just such a bush and beach safari experience we recently enjoyed.

Londolozi Private Game Reserve is one of the ultimate destinations for big cat viewing.  Here is an example of a typical game drive experience at the world-renowned reserve.  Private, personal and intimate – Londolozi offered us unobscured views of a gorgeous and relaxed leopard.

The bush safari – Londolozi Private Game Reserve

Our safari began in the bush, at Londolozi Private Game Reserve within the broader Sabi Sand Game Reserve.  The Sabi Sands is a private game reserve in South Africa that shares an unfenced boundary with the world-renowned Kruger National Park, making it a part of a 7,500 square mile wilderness area.  Here you will swap the vast open plains of East Africa with the enormous herds of plains game for an entirely more intimate wildlife experience.  We chose the incredibly comfortable Varty Camp at Londolozi as our base here in the reserve – one of the 5 luxurious lodge offerings to be enjoyed here.  Over and above the luxury, we were expertly guided on our game drives, during which we experienced unrivaled views of many of the big cats and often in very close quarters.

The greater Kruger National Park, of which Londolozi forms a part, is home to the Big 5 (and so much more).  Here a lioness finds rest and cool respite on the soft sands of a dry river bed, again offering unfettered views and promising great action.

Londolozi – home of the leopard

An African bush safari in the Sabi Sands reserve has a reputation for great lion and leopard sightings, with decent cheetah viewing also in the offing.  The cheetah though are far more wide ranging and will tend to move to avoid contact with the other two big cats, so often one will end up compromising a view of one species for another.  This said, the skill of both tracker and guide as well as the network of vehicles in the reserve often ensure that sightings of all 3 of the big cats are not out of the question.  This region sees a typical predator hierarchy topped by lions, who are closely followed by the spotted hyena – existing here in small clans, then the mostly solitary leopard ahead of  the wild dog and lastly the cheetah is on the lowest rung.  All these predators occur in this reserve and there is a decent chance of seeing them here, perhaps not all on your first visit though.  Londolozi in particular has developed a reputation over the years as one of the best leopard viewing destinations on earth, and we were not disappointed during our safari – being spoilt with sightings of 4 different cats during our 6 game drive stay here.  Including unrivaled views of the cutest little leopard cubs pictured below.

So much cuteness!  Londolozi has established itself as one of the ultimate leopard viewing destinations of the world and here one can clearly see why.  Two leopard cub siblings looking directly at the camera as if modeling for a fashion shoot.

The much maligned spotted hyena is another of the predators that roams the reserve areas of the Kruger.  Here a young hyena cub is strolling around the fringes of the protection-offering den.  The clan sizes in this area are not the biggest, but this predator still remains high up the hierarchy of successful carnivores.

A bush safari – much more than just the Big 5

A safari at Londolozi is certainly not just about the Big 5 (although one can also expect to see some wonderful elephant, rhino and African buffalo here too) and the predators, there is so much more to be seen and enjoyed in this wildlife eden.  Our guide unlocked this world with great skill and ensured that their was a never a dull moment on game drive.  Working in partnership with a tracker, the guiding duo ensured that we were afforded superb views of plains game such as giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, impala and a host of other smaller mammals which are plentiful here.  Whilst herd sizes tend to be smaller than their East African counterparts – the animals are all here.  Bird life too is a wonder with over 500 species for the avid birder to attempt to check off.

The ever-graceful giraffe is yet another species under threat in Africa.  This young cow – easily distinguishable as female by her size and tufty horns – was captured possibly sorting out a somewhat itchy nose.

The beach safari – Azura Benguerra Island, Mozambique

Either prior to or after your bush safari, a beach safari is a perfect partner to the bush companion.  A short flight away from the Sabi Sands wilderness and the safari adventures of Londolozi are the incredible beaches and resorts on the Benguerra Archipelago on the Indian Ocean off the coast of Mozambique.    We chose the Azura Benguerra Island as our next port of call and were so thrilled with the choice.  It simply is one of the most romantic of destinations one could ever hope to experience.  The helicopter ride from Vilanculos to the island is absolutely breathtaking and was one of many highlights we enjoyed.

The Benguerra Archipelago, home to the Azura Benguerra Island lodge, off the coast of Mozambique offers some of the most spectacular scenery.  Expansive white sand beaches and azure waters welcome diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing alike.  Here the low tide holds a small fishing boat ransom on the sandy flats.

A beach safari is all about relaxation and experiencing the extraordinary.  Like this incredible picnic stop laid out for us on the very edge of warm waters of the Indian Ocean – what a highlight this was for us.  We enjoyed the most delicious fresh seafood and other decadent treats on this private stretch of beach.

A safari experience is always about more than just the scenery, the animals and the wilderness – the people you encounter along your journey will make an enormous impact too.  Mammoth Safaris prides itself on ensuring that only the “best of the best” take care of you on your trip.  These two smiling faces epitomize our people-centre approach to delivering a world class safari.  The staff at Azura Benguerra Island are exceptional.

The sunsets out across the Indian Ocean are quite spectacular and can be enjoyed from the luxury of your room’s deck or from the deck of a comfortable sailing vessel.  

A few things to consider about bush and beach…

Believe it or not, but a safari to the bush can actually be quite a tiring holiday.  One often travels quite some distance to get to the wilderness destination and once there the game viewing “work” begins quickly and in earnest.  Mornings are early and the days can be quite long, with the heat of the African sun taking its toll – even in the relative comfort of a game viewer.  Evenings can often been quite festive and run late into the night after an exciting day’s game viewing.  With the rooms being always more than comfortable and supremely luxurious, you do end up often wishing you had more time to enjoy them and just do nothing.  Enter then the beach safari, without the intense pressures of a game viewing schedule and the “rush” of a wildlife safari.  At the beach you have a similarly luxurious space to enjoy, but all the time in the world in which to to enjoy it – relax with the wonderful memories of your wildlife sightings or whilst preparing yourself for the excitement that is to come.  That is not to say that a beach break is dull at all, as here activities too abound – from snorkeling and diving, to deep sea fishing and sailing.  The pace is definitely slower and the rest more available should you chose it.

On the largely unspoiled coastline of the islands on the Benguerra Archipelago, the Azure Benguerra Island lodge is a stone’s throw from the water’s edge.  There is much to enjoy on this island, including a cultural programme that offers fascinating insights into the lives and traditions of the islanders.

With a blend of engaging activities such as deep sea fishing, to the ultimate relaxation of sundowners on the beach – a safari on the Benguerra archipelago is the perfect way to either prepare for or “recover” from your bush experience.

How to make this journey of a lifetime a reality…
For more information on how to book your Mammoth Safari to search for wilderness, adventure and to twin bush and beach safaris, please contact a member of our sales team by sending an email to info@mammothsafaris.com and visit www.mammothsafaris.com for more destinations and journey ideas.