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Monday, December 19, 2011

Pemba hotel in Mozambique is the perfect playground

The recent discovery of giant natural gas deposits off the north coast of Mozambique will surely lead to a boom in the country’s economy and consequently increased tourism which is sure to benefit the hospitality industry. Already there are a number of good hotels on the coastline that are popular with leisure travellers in particular and will no doubt be used increasingly by those doing business in the country in the wake of spin-offs from the gas find.

African Encounters’ special packages are offered by top travel agents in South Africa and elsewhere and a hotel in Mozambique that they highly recommend is in the historic port of Pemba. The town is on the north coast of the country at the gateway to the Quirimbas Archipelago and the Pemba Beach Hotel and Spa has wide appeal. There’s an Arabian influence evident in the East African architecture and the hotel’s facilities and services are competitive with those at respectable accommodation establishments the world over.

Only a five-minute drive from the international airport nearby, Pemba Beach Hotel is particularly well frequented by families on holiday, fun-lovers with a thirst for adventure and romantics in search of secluded beaches and amazing sunsets. There are plenty of water-sports to enjoy, the fishing is good and the diving sites are fantastic. And when you get thirsty or hungry – or just feel like chilling somewhere with a wonderful view – there are several options to choose from.

At the nearby Clube Naval (club) there’s a marina where snacks are served. The hotel’s Niassa Bar is the place to enjoy a round of drinks amongst a collection of wildlife trophies. And the Quirimbas Restaurant is where to head for when you’re in the mood for seafood delicacies or one of the other dishes for which the region is famous. Pemba’s top restaurant has air-conditioning indoors, although many guests prefer al-fresco dining on the terrace where they can choose between delicious á la carte dishes or buffet specials.

And the Pemba Beach Hotel is already preparedfor the influx of business visitors bound to result from the gas finds out to sea. The Delgado Conference Room is geared to host up to 200 people, and the Mueda Boardroom is just as well equipped for smaller get-togethers.

Egypt, the perfect destination

Egypt is one of the most countries to be visited this festive season. The country is not just about the pyramids, but visitors are also afforded with a chance of participating in numerous activities whilst staying in luxurious hotels in Egypt. Even though most people don’t celebrate Christmas in Egypt, it does not mean that the festive season spirit dies. Guests still enjoy their holidays because Egypt is a wonderful place to tour.

Touring Egypt is a bit unique since it has unusual sea and different sands, but still manages to attract thousands of visitors. Because of its culture and fantastic climate, the country has managed to gather tourists from all corners of the world. For those who are on holiday, Egypt has sensational accommodation ranging from luxury lodges to 5star hotels. Tourists are always eying the River Nile and the Pyramids of Cairo without realising that there are other fascinations such as watching world class belly dancers and visiting the colourful market place.

It goes without saying that Egypt is one of the most impressive, unique and fascinating destinations in the world. The hotels in Egypt offer something for every age group. These resorts awards guests with the opportunity of enjoying the luxuries of a typical summer holiday. On the other hand, you can finish off your day by sipping a cold-complimentary sun-downer as you watch the clashing waves of the sea. If the Egyptian friendly faces won’t do it, then the unparalleled beaches of the red sea will definitely make you pack your summer kit and head for Egypt.

If you are a first timer in the country, you will realise that Egypt is for the adventurous and the curious at heart. And if you want to learn more about culture, then Egypt is the perfect place for you and your children to experience.

Have a glance at what Malindi offers

A lot of people think that countries like Kenya are just old and wry. What gets them perplexed, however, is when they have a glance at what some of the Malindi resorts offers. Malindi is one of Kenya’s beautiful towns. Guests get to enjoy a luxury tropical retreat on one of the country’s finest beaches. Spending time in the beach is fun, but it is essential to find the best accommodation at the end of the day. That’s why Malindi resorts afford everyone with an ambience of relaxed sophistication, leisure, sensational facilities and world class rooms.

Malindi resorts have spacious rooms that have either double or twin beds. Additionally, these magnificent rooms overlook the beautiful beach and guarantees guests with panoramic views. The rooms also have first class bathrooms, air conditioners, telephones and for those who love the sceneries – outdoor balconies are just the perfect setting. Should you feel hungry, Malindi incorporates restaurants that serve divine cuisine. The waiters are welcoming and forever working hard in assuring the best customer service.

During the festive season kids are at home and probably getting on your nerves. Having a glance at what Malindi resorts offers shouldn’t be too bad as a holiday getaway for the rest of the family. I mean with so much to do, the kids will die for activities that are at Malindi Bay. One of the famous activities is horse riding. Your kids will get a chance to ride some of the fittest horses in the world, under the watchful eyes of highly trained staff. Most of the rides are conducted in the mornings and afternoons, but it really depends on the weather. Some of the resorts in Malindi are fully booked already, and clients will be referred to other Malindi resorts and lodges.

Most of the resorts in Malindi are flooded now that the festive season is underway. Even more guests are expected to flock in as we approach Christmas. All in all, if you do get a chance to visit Kenya, make sure that you have a peek at what the Malindi resorts have to offer.

Summer holidays in Maputo

Welcome to the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. Maputo is a very big city that has plenty attractions and activities to participate in. Even if you are not a fan of history, Maputo has rich history that will leave you nodding your head in disbelief. There are beautiful architectural buildings and magnificent accommodation in Maputo. One thing that will make your summer a lovely one is to go for shopping downtown and see all the fancy stuff that you will like. You will also find banks, coffee shops and restaurants where you will sit, relax and mingle with the locals.

However, for this wonderful summer holiday in Maputo to be possible, you need to book yourself in one of the Maputo accommodation so that you will stand a chance of enjoying all the luxuries that the hotels and resorts offer. Accommodation in Maputo has been designed to help you blend with the nature whilst you escape the commercial city. The accommodation rates in Maputo are quite reasonable putting into consideration that the cuisine is delicious with local ingredients cooked in Maputo or Portuguese style. If you love water sports, make sure that you avail yourself for boat trips and swimming in the Macaneta beach.

With great hospitality and warmth, Maputo accommodation is popular for providing guests with leisure and class. Most of the hotels are less than 10km from the Maputo International Airport. For convenience, it is advisable to find accommodation in Maputo that is nearby the airport. The rooms are phenomenal with first class décor and linen. All rooms offer spacious comfort and detailed luxury. The facilities come with internet connectivity, business centre and sensational conference rooms. Dining offers visitors the opportunity of tasting local and international cuisines. Maputo is solid and driving is great, but watch your speed. As you drive along, you will come across different Maputo accommodations which are popular getaway spots for the Maputo habitats.

Egypt considered the tip of Africa

Passport, valid visa, summer kit-- are the essentials that most people pack when travelling to Egypt. For those who don’t know, the Great Pyramid at Giza is said to be one of the seven wonders that is still standing. Furthermore, travelling to Egypt will grant your family an opportunity of having fun and learning about all that the tip of Africa has to offer. With activities and sites in abundance, people who travel to Egypt will tell you that they will go back any time.

The Egyptian beaches offer a great selection of water sports that kids will love and give you a peace of mind as you lie on the warm and refreshing beach sand. For an adrenaline traveller, you can go to Sharm El Sheikh and get to participate in coral reefs that will offer you a deep exploitation and an adventurous holiday. For profligate travellers, Egypt has great clubbing scenes. When the sun goes down, partying spirits go up. The Egyptian nightlife has sensational restaurants and bars that will make your holiday remarkable. If you are young and enjoy clubbing, travelling to Egypt will be the greatest decision you’ve ever made. Clubbing in Cairo will be a memorable experience.

Egypt can get really hot that’s why most people enjoy visiting the country in winter. However, if you love sunshine and the heat, then this festive season is calling out your name. The beaches are amazing being complimented by soft and white sands that you will never see anywhere in the world, but Egypt. Travelling Egypt is mainly about chilling on the magnificent beaches, submersing yourself in the thrilling underwater theme park and resting in one of the best accommodation in Egypt. As you travel throughout the country, you will also encounter the mystifying tombs of the pharaohs and the mighty River Nile. All of this can be accessed right at the tip of Africa, Egypt.

Malindi makes Kenya shine

Malindi is situated in the north of Mombasa in Kenya. The town is quite old but it has magnificent ancient buildings and dated pottery shards. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kenya; Malindi will be a good start for you. There are sensational Malindi hotels that afford guests with luxury comfort and relaxation. Most of the Malindi hotels are located in the main beach which is in Malindi Bay.

On the other side of the Bay, there is a place called Silversands. Previously, people used to go there because of the casino and night clubs. However, Malindi has ancient mosques, golf course, market and the renowned Malindi Marine National Park. These are just the few attractions that Kenya prides itself in. To add on that, there is a fishing club that is always flooded by stalwarts all over the globe. Moreover, Kenya has set numerous records in the fishing industry and that has caused it to become one of these festive holidays’ getaways.

Kenya has been recorded as a third world country; however, the hotels in Malindi are phenomenal, the people are stunning, the sea is amazing, the weather is epic, gamelife is abundant and there is so much more that will make you wonder why is the country in the third worldcategory. Perhaps the country might be struggling financially, but when it comes to accommodation wise, Malindi hotels are just stunning and should be visited by anyone who loves leisure or anyone who is on a business trip.

Even though there is a heavy reliance on tourism, Malindi still brings life in Kenya because of the reefs, the beaches and the accommodation in Malindi. The Bay is superb, as mentioned above, but take time to participate in other activities such as visiting the forever busy and colourful market, the shops, tourist boutiques, beauty salons and also get to listen to the beautiful sound of the Swahili language.

Newly renovated hotels in Maputo elicit world class accommodation

With lots of activities and wildlife, Maputo still proves to be one of the best getaway holidays. Maputo has some of the finest hotels in Africa with awesome facilities. Some of the hotels in Maputo recently underwent extensive renovation. The renovations are so epic in a way that the hotels have taken up an image of world class amenities.

From historical buildings to scenic spots, Maputo just has numerous attractions that can be enjoyed and loved by any traveller. On the other hand, you will encounter vintage colonial palaces and new high-rise constructions.

Hotels are designed to afford locals and visitors with splendid accommodation, and that is exactly what the hotels in Maputo have. The rooms are spacious with comfortable beds and linen. There are also sensational restaurants that have divine cuisine. Guests are afforded with a unique dining experience. For those who want to relax and have a chilling sessions, a Spa, swimming pool, beautiful gardens, exclusive lounge and balconies. All these are designed to create that peace of mind and commercial escape.

Maputo has a hectic town that is forever flooded with business people and their allies. They also need accommodation. To cover that area, Maputo has brilliant hotels for business executives that will grant them with quietness, convenience and majestic conference rooms. When it comes to location, the hotels are situated in the most prestigious avenues making it easy to reach international embassies, shops, restaurants and government buildings.

When heading off to the western side of Maputo, you will come across stunning hotels that are ideally located and designed for leisure stay, business and all types of meetings and training. Twin rooms, executive suites, family suites, colour TV, air-conditioners and security on point – is what you will experience in these hotels in Maputo. Conference rooms come with office supports such as fax, photocopying, computers, internet and other necessary equipment.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Adventure opportunities aplenty from Victoria Falls lodges

It’s an incredibly large waterfall, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. But there’s so much more to the Victoria Falls than a wonderful sight. A safari to this special place in southern Africa where the mighty Zambezi River plunges into a gorge on the Zambia/Zimbabwe border promises lots to explore. There are thrills aplenty to those in search of adventure, and even looking at the falls can take on a whole new meaning – for example, if done from a helicopter, hot-air balloon or microlight aircraft.

For a serious adrenaline rush you can jump off the bridge – the Victoria Falls Bridge being one of the highest bungee jumping sites on the planet. You can also abseil and gorge-swing under the bridge. Whereas below the falls the river makes for relaxing river cruises, great kayaking and canoeing, and ultra-energetic pursuits including white water rafting expeditions. Plus there are hiking trails and nature walks, horseback and elephant trails as well as game drives – the Mosi-O-Tunya National Park, for example, stretches for about 12km upriver from the falls.

If you’ve never been to the Victoria Falls it’s hard to imagine how many places there are to stay at in the area – so many that you need the advice of a truly professional tour operator when making your choice. Specialists African Encounters can speak from personal experience in recommending the accommodation that they do, regardless of which country you’d prefer to base yourself in.

Recommended on the Zambian side of the falls are the Zambezi Waterfront, Thorntree Lodge, Zambezi Sun and the Royal Livingstone. And on the Zimbabwe side: Gorges Lodge, Ilala Lodge, A’Zambezi Lodge, the Kingdom Hotel (casino and entertainment centre), the Victoria Falls Hotel and the Elephant Hills Hotel (5 Star resort).

The Zambezi Waterfront, for example, is 4km upstream, right on the river banks, and fly-fishing is among the many activities they offer. Thorntree Lodge is also on the river, within the Mosi-O-Tunya Park, and the attractions there include game-viewing barge cruises.

Gorges Lodge is a fantastic retreat on top of Zimbabwe’s Batoka Gorge, 200m above the Zambezi. It’s literally perched on a cliff, and guests are limited to 20. Whereas Ilala Lodge is an understated oldie English safari lodge within walking distance of the falls and has a luxury cruise boat fitted-out in a style of generations ago.

Seychelles resorts nothing short of fantastic

Paradise! Most of the islands that make up the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Africa feature idyllic beaches and scenic vistas as far as the eye can see. The crystal clear waters and reefs are perfect for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Plus there are forests to be explored, excursion opportunities aplenty, and the resorts on the islands offer a variety of sporting and adventure activities in addition to a wide choice of accommodation and dining options.

There’s a myriad options in terms of where to stay and it pays to heed the recommendations of specialists such as African Encounters, a highly experienced wholesale tour operator servicing South Africa’s top retail travel agencies. African Encounters represent some of the best resort destinations in the Seychelles, destinations such as the Sunset Beach Hotel, Coral Strand Hotel and the Eden Villas on Mahe, the largest of the islands and renowned for its three marine parks.

The Sunset Beach hotel built on a granite outcrop and stretching out over the sea is a private retreat whose many attractions include a high-speed boat charter. The Coral Strand boasts five restaurants/bars, offers excursions in a glass-bottomed boat and runs tours focusing on the culture, history, fauna and flora of Mahe. And the Eden Villas in a small fishing village called Port Glaud are particularly appealing to travellers who enjoy self-catering.

Whereas on Praslin, the Seychelles’ second-largest island, Coco de Mer stands out as a luxurious resort including a private section of beach dotted with palm trees, being great for nature walks and bird-watching, and featuring boat charters and deep-sea fishing amongst the many activities that can be arranged. Berjaya Praslin, on the other hand, is punted by African Encounters for its tropical gardens, its convenient location close to theairport from which to visit some of the other islands, and the resort’s popularity as a wedding venue.

The Seychelles is stunningly beautiful and the resorts make the most of this by offering great views from their rooms. You can take a plane to hop from one island to the next but the boat trips are spectacular in their own right. The food on the archipelago is characterised by interesting Creole dishes, and relaxing at one of the islands’ many cocktail bars just a few steps away from lapping waves is pure bliss.

Mozambique lodges on some of the world’s best beaches

Great weather, palm trees, idyllic islands, coral reefs… It’s a fact that Mozambique has some of the finest beaches on the planet – great for swimming, surfing and diving. And the marine life is one of the biggest attractions: superb fishing opportunities,and one of the best places to see dolphins and whale sharks up close.

So popular have Mozambique safaris become that there are numerous accommodation establishments along the coastline, which makes it all the more important to heed the tips and advice on where to go from tour operators specialising in this area and who speak from personal experience.
African Encounters’ special packages are recommended by top travel agents country-wide and even just the names of the places they recommend are come-ons: Indigo Bay, Pemba Beach, Flamingo Bay, Massinga, Pescador, Casa Do Capitao…

Barra Lodge, for example, is 485km north of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. You can get there by car (although the road is pretty rough in places) or by plane, in which case the lodge staff will meet you at the historic Inhambane for the final leg of the journey. Imagine wide secluded beaches and groves of coconut trees to provide shade after a long stroll. Barra stands out as child-friendly and is suitable for conferences (cinema-style seating for up to 60 guests). Activities include diving, hobie-cat and laser dingy sailing, paddle skiing, surfing and fishing for sailfish or pelagic. Perhaps you’d like to go horse-riding, or quad-biking through coconut plantations, and also popular are the trips across the bay either on Barra’s large catamaran or on a traditional dhow boat.

Another recommendation by African Encounters is Casa Rex in the Vilankulos area, a favourite with couples wanting a romantic getaway. It overlooks the Bazaruto archipelago, perhaps best seen from the lodge’s terrace with a sundowner in hand, and the variety of things to do there is considerable.

Mozambique ranks among the Top 10 diving destinations in the world, it’s no surprise that there are scuba diving courses available at Casa Rex. Game fishing as well as whale- and dolphin-watching boat trips can be arranged with a marine biologist on board to add an educational aspect. Sunset cruises and dhow trips to the archipelago are popular, as is the canoeing and water-skiing. And guests can also adventure out on self-drive safaris – 4×4 vehicles for hire.

A holiday in Zanzibar an exotic experience second to none

For many, Zanzibar (UngujaIsland) is about magnificent beaches, boating of various sorts and getting under the waves to explore the coral reefs. For others, the place appeals for its spicy mix of Afro-Arabic history and culture subjected to European influence in recent centuries. And there are somevisitors who seldom stray from their hotel, relaxing big time, content to enjoy the hospitality and cuisine of the locals.

On this island some 30km off the East African coastline of Tanzania, the accommodation ranges from basic traditional to over-the-top modern, from relatively affordable establishments where they don’t take credit cards to decadent indulgences where each house has a butler standing by. Zanzibar is a place where the options are many and where the recommendations of specialist tour operator African Encounters are invaluable in helping you to choose what’ll suit you best on the basis of their personal experiences.

The 5 Star resort Diamond Dreams of Zanzibar is a palace of sorts, right on the beach, equipped with numerous sports facilities plus an African Rain Spa, and a good location from which to go on a tour of the island’s clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper plantings.

Also situated on a beach, the Azanzi Beach Hotel features multi-tiered decks ideal for taking in the view of the ocean, white beaches and palm trees – luxury accommodation in boutique villas, with the activities offered includingsundowner cruises on a dhow.

One of the most impressive buildings on the island is that of the Gemma Del Est resort with its beautiful beach, huge swimming pool and sunken cocktail bar, plus an entertainment area built on a jetty that juts out some 100 metres over the sea.

The Royal Zanzibar Beach Resort is one of the most opulent on the island. Four restaurants and two bars. And to stay in: superior rooms, large suites and four lavishly appointed villas, eachwith a private pool, Jacuzzi, deck and butler service.

The approach to the decadent Sea Cliff Resort & Spa includes a 4km road through a coconut plantation, withthe resort featuring a jetty bar, dhow sailing trips and sporting activities galore.

And Swahili Beach lodge is of authentic Zanzibar quality – right down to the design and furnishings. It’s in Kizimkazi, famous as a place where people go to swim with dolphins.

Namibia offers more than you can manage in one holiday

To holiday in Namibia’s parks and reserves is to experience nature in the raw, so to speak. The countrycan be a harsh, unforgiving land, yet at the same time spectacular, very special.On safari here you can’t help but be struck by the ancient nature of the place and the resilience of the creatures that survive in it.

At the heart of the famous Etosha National Park is a giant salt pan, home to the Big Five and hundreds of other species on both four legs and two, whereas the Namib is the oldest desert in the world and the only one in which elephants, lions, giraffes and rhinos live. There is said to be more than 1000 shipwrecks along the desert’sSkeleton Coast, and it’s also in the Namib that you’ll find Sossusvlei, a clay pan surrounded by huge red and orange sand dunes – some reaching a height of 300 metres.

Towards the south of the country is the 85-kilometre long, 550-metre deep Fish River Canyon. The Spitskoppe mountain is a magnet for both photographers and mountaineers. And then there’s the ghost town of Kolmanskop, gradually succumbing to the invading dessert sand, and Lüderitz, a 19th century Bavarian village with desolate beaches that support seals and penguins as well as flamingos and ostriches.

Destination specialists African Encounters are tour operators whose experience is invaluable in guiding visitors in their accommodation choices. For example, the Sossusvlei Lodge gets a thumbs up in part because of its adventure centre which offers eco-quad biking and a bird’s eye view of the area from a light aeroplane or hot-air balloon.

Scenic flights are also offered at the Wolwedans Dune Lodge, Dune Camp(on the edge of a huge sand dune) and Private Camp in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. In addition, the management are keen to provide guests with the opportunity to sleep out in the open under the stars should they wish to get really close to nature.

When it comes to Etosha, the Etosha Safari Lodge and self-catering Etosha Safari Camp get the nod together with the Taleni Etosha Village. In the Gondwana Canyon Park near to the Fish River Canyon, the Canon Lodge, Canon Mountain Camp (self-catering) and Canon Roadhouse are recommended, whereas the Namib Desert Lodge is recommended in the Gondwana Namib Park.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unforgettable Tanzania safari

The Serengeti Plains have a certain ring to them – the romance of the great outdoors; the spectacle of the landscape; a promise of wondrous wildlife in their natural habitat.

They are in Africa, of course. Tanzania to be exact, where tourists from around the world gather to witness what is estimated at two million wildebeest as well as herds of zebra, gazelle and buffalo in their annual migration between grazing opportunities along the Serengeti and Kenya’s Maasai Mara. This is the ultimate Tanzania safari and Tanzania hotels rely on it for their livelihood. The timing of the migration is not exact as the herds work by instinct, which is finely tuned to the area’s rainfall pattern.

Plan to be there around October to see them responding to the promised rainfall as they move from the northern hills to the southern plains, across the Mara River. In April, the procedure is reversed. Despite its standing as one of the great travel wonders of the world, it’s a perilous 800km journey for the animals whose lives are under constant threat from thirst, hunger, exhaustion or predation.

Tanzania hotels like the Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge are the ideal choice. Lyrically set “high on the saddle of a tree-clad ridge, commanding panoramic views across the Serengeti”, the Lodge is designed to blend in to its surroundings – impressively unobtrusive.

Ask a tour guide to take you to the nearby two-million-year-old Palaeolithic site of Olduvai Gorge, “birthplace of mankind”, and the Serengeti National Park for a sighting of the Big Five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo).
The game drives are a must. Balloon safaris are a fun alternative if you have a head for heights while nature trails are the soft option for a gentler introduction to these surroundings.

Sate your appetite with a pre-planned bush barbecue for lunch or a bush dinner on the plains. Add to that some traditional dancing, music and cultural displays and you have a holiday experience of a lifetime.

Zanzibar tour packages lead to endemic wildlife

Have you ever made a list of dream holiday destinations? Given the choice, many sun seekers would opt for a Zanzibar beach resort off the Tanzanian coast.

Zanzibar is the proverbial island paradise with luminescent sand stretching along pristine beaches, lapped by waves generated by warm Indian Ocean currents.

Zanzibar tour packages that incorporate a stay at the Diamond Dreams of Zanzibar Resort would be a fitting choice if this exotic island is your ideal destination for the perfect holiday. For starters, it has a five-star rating. It’s built on Kiwengwa Beach, incorporating a mix of contemporary and Afro-Arabic design fit for royalty from a bygone era.

If you don’t feel like sightseeing, there’s nothing stopping you from lazing around the pool or at the seaside. And if you stay close to this Zanzibar beach resort, you’ll be hard-pressed not to sample the delicious menu options offered by its various restaurants.

Tour guides are on hand to guide the more active guests through boat excursions, sightseeing tours, Tanzanian safaris and snorkelling trips to Mnemba Marine Park. Zanzibar boasts some of the best coastal locations for scuba diving and dolphin watching. These gentle creatures love swimming and surfing these waters, and there may be opportunities to swim with them.

If you have energy to explore on land, the Stone Town World Heritage Site is an historic attraction 45km from the resort. Because Zanzibar made its mark in the spice trade, and is still referred to as the Spice Islands, the spice tour is a must. Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and pepper are still grown there.

You could also consider tours to the Mbweni Ruins, Mtonil Ruins and Kidichi Persian Baths or go in search of the Red Colobus Monkeys in Jozani Forest on Unguja Island. Mafia Island has the Ngezi Equatorial Forest, home to the Pemba Flying Fox, while killer whales and dolphins are found near Kizimkazi.

Zanzibar is in a malaria area so precautions should be considered. The yellow fever vaccination is recommended.

Stunning beaches at the most peaceful towns in Mozambique

Picture postcards of exotic holidays in Mozambique don’t lie. And no, they haven’t been photo retouched. The water really is turquoise; the beach sand really is that white and the underwater diving opportunities nothing short of spectacular.

Some visitors like to live like the locals and rent a house or cottage for a spell. Others like to camp on the beach to get a real feel for the island. Roughing it is not everybody’s cup of tea, however, and don’t forget that Mozambique is a third-world country. If taking a holiday means doing it in style, with a few creature comforts to make it special, booking in to hotels in Maputo is your answer.

There are some areas of Mozambique, on the east coast of Africa, that are quite legendary in their universal appeal for natural attractions, relaxed atmosphere, friendly people and magnificent locations. Vilanculos, in the province of Inhambane, is one of them. There you’ll find your pick of hotels in Maputo from which you can indulge your yearning for exploring foreign places and discovering new and interesting things to see and do. Vilanculos Beach Lodge places you close to the awesome Bazaruto Archipelago and the Bazaruto National Park.

Tour guides are always on hand to show you the popular attractions and some might be able to take you off the beaten track. Don’t expect to see sights in the Bazaruto Archipelago though – it’s a protected national park that encompasses one big attraction. It’s beauty. There is nothing touristy about it. That means no roads or shops either.

Barra Lodge is another option for accommodation in Inhambane. This venue boasts unbeatable views of pretty beaches lapped by the Indian Ocean. Or you can try Flamingo Bay Water Lodge, which rises up out of the ocean to stand on stilts. It’s a spectactular setting for an equally magnificent bird – the flamingo. You will also be able to marvel at the tropical fish and the rare dugong, a mammal that is also known as a sea cow.

Seychelles tour packages take you to the beautiful coral reefs

The archipelago of 115 islands that comprise what is referred to as the Seychelles is often likened to a string of pearls. It must have earned the description from someone who first achieved an aerial view of the pretty isles, which comprise granite rock islands with tropical vegetation as well as the hidden gems − coral atolls that barely break the water’s surface.

Seychelles tour packages are designed to give visitors the best experience of these islands, dotted about 1 000 miles off the east coast of Africa in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

The aptly named Coral Strand Hotel is one of the Seychelles hotels that offer special deals on holiday packages, which is good to know when you need to make your travel budget work for you.

You can arrange your visit through a tour operator, who can assist you with your bookings. This Seychelles hotel is located on the largest island of the group. It is called Mahe, which is big enough to have a capital city and an airport.

The hotel is 20 minutes from Seychelles International Airport, which provides easy access to Baie Ternay Marine National Park, Ste Anne Marine National Park, and Port Launay Marine National Park. It’s also worth visiting Morne Seychellois National Park to see, among other wonders, the island’s tallest mountain. Morne Seychellois stands 905 metres high.

Much of Seychelles land is preserved, and still unspoilt. Fishing and waterskiing, for example, are forbidden in Ste Anne Marine National Park, which itself comprises six smaller islands. It is one of the best locations for diving, cruising on glass-bottomed boats and snorkelling among the colourful coral reefs.

Part of the magic of staying at the Coral Sands Hotel is the evening entertainment provided by local musicians. During the day, guests who aren’t into watersports can choose from four different tours of Mahe Island or tour to Praslin and La Digue islands. Praslin is a World Heritage Site, and well worth a visit.

Choose your Victoria Falls safaris

Go big. Why not? A holiday doesn’t come along that often. So live a little… follow your dream. Save to splurge if you must or simply block off the time in your diary and book a break at Victoria Falls lodges.

The attraction? None other than the Smoke that Thunders, of course. The Victoria Falls, so named after Queen Victoria but originally called Mosi-O-Tunya (Smoke that Thunders) by the indigenous Kololo tribe, is one of the world’s greatest spectacles. It’s no wonder that Victoria Falls safaris top the list of things to do by visitors to the area. Tour operators have a number of exciting activities and excursions to offer them.

This is not the type of destination where you can consciously sit in your hotel room or at the pool and do nothing else. There is too much to absorb and experience there, which you can’t accomplish anywhere else. The location also provides easy access to sights in Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa.

If your goal is to see the Victoria Falls in all their glory, book into Victoria Falls lodges following the peak flood season when that “smoke” can be seen 80km away.
To get the best view of its magnitude, you have to take flight – microlight or helicopter, anyone?

Conversely, the dry season between November and December diminishes the water supply to small rivers of water. Do not be perturbed, however, because that means you can explore more at the bottom of the Falls on foot. One visitor says the best thing to do at what is commonly known as Vic Falls is “an unsolicited walk on the edge of the walls”. Risky, but unforgettable. An elephant was photographed recently doing something similar – he walked right to the edge with his sights firmly set on a succulent leafy plant.

Of all the fascinating activities and tours on offer, Mosi-O-Tunya National Park is another must. In terms of accommodation, the Elephant Hills Resort and the Victoria Falls Hotel are both strong recommendations on the Zimbabwe side.

Unforgettable Tanzania safari

Living life under threat of death by thirst, hunger, exhaustion or predation is not anybody’s idea of fulfilling, but for the two million wildebeest that have made the Serengeti Plains in Tanzania their home – it’s all they know.

Visitors to Africa have developed a fascination for their widely publicised annual migration between the Plains and Kenya’s Maasai Mara. It’s for good reason that it’s nicknamed “the greatest show on earth”.

Tanzania hotels gear up for an influx of tourists between April and June. This time of year offers the best sightings of the wildebeest herds and other grazing mammals like buffalo, eland, zebra and gazelle as they make their way across the Serengeti towards better grazing and water in Kenya’s Maasai Mara.

It’s a circular migration that sees the herds in Kenya from July to November, before they return to their birthing grounds near the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania. So, if you’re planning a visit to this part of the continent, a Tanzania safari must be on your itinerary.

Award-winning Tanzania hotels like Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge have an enviable position on the edge of the Ngorongoro Crater, the largest unflooded and unbroken caldera in the world. The crater measures 20km across, 600m deep and 300sq km in area, and harbours a unique biosphere that provides a magnificent habitat for elephant, rhino and lion.

It looks like something out of the movies… but here, in this part of Africa, it’s very real.

The Lodge is close to the prehistoric site of Olduvai Gorge, which is one of the day tour opportunities. Game drives into the crater are a favourite option. There are adventure hikes too (around the Crater and nearby volcanoes) or more sedate wildlife walks to sign up for. Equally appealing are a barbecue lunch at a hippo-filled pool in the depths of the Crater or a visit to Empakaai, a 300m deep crater with a lake where flamingoes flock.

A tour guide can also lead you to authentic Maasai villages where you can see traditional homesteads, cattle markets and women's handicrafts.

Ease your worries away at a Zanzibar beach resort

If you’ve got your eye on a Zanzibar beach resort for your next holiday, there are several options to choose from. Zanzibar offers an idyllic island getaway off the Tanzanian coast, where Zanzibar tour packages will help you get the most out of your trip.

For those who prefer a more private environment, there is the 35-room boutique establishment simply called Z Hotel. The owners have combined a chic, contemporary design with traditional Zanzibari elements and a luxury approach to the interior furnishings and fittings.

There is no fear of eyeballing your neighbour in the adjacent room if you step out onto your balcony as all the rooms have private decks that provide spectacular views of the sea. The superior Z Suite goes one better with two terraces and an outdoor Jacuzzi.

Z Hotel is set in a tropical garden that leads onto soft white beaches, which beckon you into their warm waters. That’s one of the main reasons to visit Zanzibar: experienced divers will insist on exploring its coral reefs while the less adventurous can happily snorkel among them.

The hotel’s restaurant options and menus are so well planned you might struggle to leave this venue to explore the island but, if you are the adventurous type, it’s worth signing up for one of the Zanzibar tour packages. Just make sure you’re back in time to catch the sunset at Cinnamon Cocktail Bar; it’s said to be the best spot on the island for a sundowner!

Zanzibar tour packages often incorporate Stone Town, the historic centre of the island’s capital city, known as Zanzibar Town or Zanzibar City. Z Hotel is 75km away so the journey there reveals more of the island’s beautiful scenery. It’s also about an hour’s drive from the airport.

Enquire about options for excursions to Jozani Forest (to catch sight of the endangered Red Colobus Monkey) or the Mnarani Turtle Sanctuary, where villagers nurse injured turtles back to health in their natural habitat.

Tours among the spice plantations and to Prison Island are also popular activities at Zanzibar.

Hotels in Namibia reveal the country’s attractions

Beauty is a word that is synonymous with Namibia, not only with reference to its landscape. Michelle McLean topped her win of the Miss Namibia 1991 title with her crowning as Miss Universe 1992, the only Namibian to win it. She hails from Windhoek, which is close to the Etosha National Park.

Hotels in Namibia give visitors different experiences of the country – from the Fish River Canyon to the Namibia and Kalahari deserts found in the Gondwana region. The Gondwana Four Desert Tour is highly recommended.

But Namibia’s desolate landscape is not all desert. Hotels in Namibia like the Etosha Safari Lodge, 10km south of the Etosha National Park’s Andersson Gate, are recommended by reputable tour operators who want to give guests an unforgettable safari experience.

The Lodge is close to this world-renowned, 4 500 square kilometre reserve, which consists of salt pan, woodland and grassland habitats. From a distance, its chalets are barely discernible as they are designed to blend in with their surroundings. Just their tented rooftops peep out above the bush like meerkat sentinels.

Day safaris into the park reveal wildlife incorporating antelope, gemsbok, impala, kudu and springbok; big cats like cheetah, leopard and lion; the mighty elephant and elegant giraffe plus over 300 bird species.

The bush drives start early, to catch the animals at watering holes and before the heat of the sun forces them to seek shelter, and end at sunset. Magnificent photographic opportunities await the keen photographer – of the wildlife, landscape and, of course, the exquisite sunsets.

Those who still want a taste of the city can book a day trip to Windhoek by minibus shuttle or laze around the swimming pool after a morning game drive. This Namibia hotel has disabled access and provides a babysitting service for parents who really need a break.

Don’t forget to take the necessary precautions against malaria, as mosquitoes are found in this area of Namibia.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Seychelles tour packages offer value for money

When it comes to island holidays, the Seychelles is one of the most recommended. The Seychelles comprises a group of 115 islands literally in the middle of the deep blue sea; the Indian Ocean. Part of their attraction is their isolation, which gives new meaning to the need to ‘get away from it all’. Cliché or not, it’s the reality of our existence today.

Seychelles hotels often offer specials in conjunction with Seychelles tour packages, so these are the ones to look out for if you want the best value for money. Expect to have a blissful beach experience, see incredible marine life, and explore captivating coral reefs. These are just some of the significant Seychelles attractions.

Described as an ecologist’s dream, because so much of the country’s land is preserved, it even has a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Aldabra. This island in the archipelago is the second largest atoll in the world, and is noted for its giant land tortoise population.

Coco de Mer is one of the Seychelles hotels on Praslin Island, which is the second largest of the Seychelles islands covering just 38 square kilometers. It is named after a rare palm tree found in the archipelago. On the subject of the sea, look out for ‘fruits de mer’ on the restaurant and Seychelles hotels menus. These promise some of the tastiest seafood you will ever savour.

Getting to Praslin Island is a fun excursion in itself, made easier if you work through a trusted tour operator. You can fly there in 15 minutes from Mahe Island or take a 45-minute ferry ride across the water. The hotel grounds cover 200 acres, adjacent to Anse Bois de Rose, a popular beach for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving with a special section for Seychelles hotels’ guests.

For something different, ask a tour guide to show you sights like Praslin’s ‘Garden of Eden’ – the Vallee de Mai Nature Preserve with its plentiful Coco de Mer trees and vanilla orchids is worth a visit.

Take time out at hotels in Maputo

Sun, sand and sea… It may sound simplistic, but it’s one of the best prescriptions you can get for relaxing and unwinding.

You can get it all and more with holidays in Mozambique.

There is something about the salt air and the warm water of the Indian Ocean that attracts holidaymakers from around the world to these shores, which are all the more appealing for their relative isolation.

Hotels in Maputo believe their third-world location with all the luxury you could ask for, if that’s what you look for in a holiday. Mozambique has two main archipelagos – Bazaruto in the south and Quirimbas in the north.

Some say that it is the undiscovered jewels in the Quirimbas crown that make it so special. And they’re right. The Cabo Delgado Province in northern Mozambique is where you’ll find the 32 coral islands that create this archipelago as well as several top hotels in Maputo and tour guides happy to show you around.

Pemba Beach Hotel and Spa is described as the gateway to the islands as well as the Niassa National Reserve. This is the largest conservation area in Mozambique. Covering 42 000sq km, it’s also double the size of South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park. There you’ll see three endemic species: the Niassa wildebeest, Boehm’s zebra, and Johnston’s impala, which are considered rare anywhere else. Its teeming bird population includes several majestic raptor species too.

Matemo Lodge provides alternative accommodation in the Quirimbas Archipelago while the resort on Medjumbe private island is just that − an exclusive retreat par excellence. The island is only one kilometre long and 500 metres wide. For romance, it’s hard to beat. With pristine beaches, pretty coves, inimitable palm trees and magnificent marine life, what’s not to love? PS. There are only 13 beach chalets in the resort.

Hotels in Namibia reveal the country’s attractions

Nambia offers tremendous opportunities for keen travellers wanting to explore an African country that incorporates a diverse array of sights, vegetation and wildlife.

It’s one of those destinations where you can lose yourself in the peace and quiet of a safari location at a Namibia Hotel, where you can tune in to nature and its special sounds after shedding the stress of your busy daily life.

Hotels in Namibia give visitors access to aspects of vegetation at opposite ends of the landscape spectrum, with corresponding wildlife. This country is on the west coast of Africa, bordered on one side by the Atlantic Ocean. It has 14 vegetation zones including desert, woodlands, and savannahs.

Visitors who go on safari with good tour guides will learn about some of the country’s more astonishing attributes. For example, the Namib is the oldest desert in the world and the only one where you will find elephant, lion, giraffe and rhino.

On the subject of big cats, Namibia has the biggest free-roaming cheetah count in the world (one estimate counts 2 500), so it’s not surprising to learn about conservation efforts that have been established to protect the beautiful beast.

However, these cats also enjoy the habitat provided by the Etosha National Park, close to Namibia Hotels like the self-catering Etosha Safari Camp. This is a no-frills set-up, in close proximity to a slightly more sophisticated lodge complete with restaurant and bar.

Visitors must take the necessary malaria precautions to make sure they get the most out of this part of the country, without fear of infection by mosquitoes.

Day safaris will entertain guests with potential sightings of resident elephant, buck and cat species, giraffe and zebra, among others. Early morning sightings as well as those at sundown comprise some of the most memorable, so charge your camera batteries and invest in a long-distance lens to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Victoria Falls Safaris show tourists the best of the attractions

Wet or dry? Once you arrive at Victoria Falls lodges on the Zambia side, that’s all you have to decide. Do you want your tour guide to show you around on water or on land?

Victoria Falls safaris incorporate canoeing on the upper and lower Zambezi River for a completely different vantage point of all the animals that frequent the river banks and surrounds.

River cruises are another tamer touring option compared to white-water rafting, which is guaranteed to get your adrenalin pumping on day trips or expeditions.

Mosi-O-Tunya National Park incorporates the Victoria Falls as it stretches about 12km along the upper Zambezi. It’s a good ‘dry’ tour if you want to see antelope, zebra, giraffe and the only white rhinos to have a safe haven in the country.

Victoria Falls lodges like the Victoria Falls Hotel provide quick access to Namibia, Botswana and Zambia if you have time to wander beyond the immediate vicinity of this world-renowned landmark and its nearby attractions. The Victoria Falls Hotel is perched on the edge of the Batoka Gorge with a view of the railway bridge named after the spectacle.

Bear in mind that even on a ‘dry’ tour, you must be prepared to get a little wet for the spray from the ‘Smoke that Thunders’ is far-reaching.

Attempting the world's highest free-standing bungee jump from the Victoria Falls bridge is one way to get your adrenalin pumping. Hot air ballooning is something else to do from a great height, and provides unforgettable views of this natural wonder.

The conventional day and night game drives; traditional, cultural, Zambezi Nature Sanctuary and Falls tours; horseback and elephant trails are highly recommended too.

David Livingstone’s discovery of the Victoria Falls in November 1855 is commemorated through Livingstone Island and Livingstone Town. The Island is where he first sighted the Falls, which are so large that they are identified in five parts, namely: the Devil's Cataract, Cataract Island, the Main Falls, Rainbow Falls and the Eastern Cataract.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Great Feedback from one of African Encounters' Customers!

Re: Zanzibar trip – Aug/Sept 2011

Once again, thank you so much for assisting Stefan and me with our Zanzibar holiday. We had the most fantastic time.

I would like to give you some feedback and some pictures just so you can share a little of the trip
with us

To start with, we had to leave on the Friday night as the Onetime flight to Zanzibar left early on
Saturday morning. At your suggestion, we spent the night in the hotel at O.R.Tambo. Brilliant idea.

Once we had collected our luggage, we walked to the hotel, well sign posted (once we had the
general direction) and spent the night. We did have to leave before breakfast (pity because we paid for bed and breakfast) so as to get checked in to the Zanzibar flight.

The Onetime fight left on time and it was a pleasant approximately 3 ½ hour flight. I would
suggest that you let people know that they need to purchase food and drink on the flight, so take
along some ‘smallish’ money as they don’t always have lots of change. In hind sight, we should have bought the breakfast on the plane rather than the muffin as it was to be quite a long day

On arrival at Zanzibar International we had a long wait in the immigration queue to buy our $ 50

Maybe, let people know, that this is the start to the holiday and to just relax, chat to other travellers and go with the flow, they will eventually get their visas....I think we took over an hour to do this. (I must admit to getting a bit fed up hearing people moaning and commenting about “being in Africa”-where did they think they were going??? And all in South African accents!! )

Then, once we had our visas, we went to get our luggage, and met up with the airport official who
was expecting us to ‘pay’ him for passing us our suitcases. Another suggestion to future travellers, when getting their dollars, get $1 and $5 notes, in fact lots of 1’s and 5’s, as there will be many times during the holiday when porters, waiters etc etc will need to be tipped.

That said, once we were out of the airport the driver from Exotic Tours was waiting for us and after loading the luggage (and tipping a couple of porters who were carrying the bags we could happily have carried ) we were on our way to the Dhow Palace Hotel in Stone Town. There was another chap with the driver – sorry, don’t remember his name- and he told us a bit about the history of Stone Town and Zanzibar. I think it would have been very interesting, if we had not been so busy just looking at all the new sights etc, so didn’t really listen very well .

The Dhow Palace was beautiful. You somehow got us the executive suit – and thank you for that-managed to chat a little – his English is better than my Swahili!

Please tell future travellers they must do the Safari Blue. We had fantastic snorkelling, saw the wild dolphin, had an amazing lunch and in fact a stunning day all round. People must just remember sun hats and lots of sun block – it was easy to see who the South Africans were, they were all sunburned . Also, take along shoes that can be worn in the water, and for walking over the various reefs.

The Spice Tour was interesting; we were taken to Jumbo Spice Farm and had a lovely tour of the area, just Stefan and myself with the guide. Talk about personal service

On the Wednesday we spent the day relaxing at the hotel, and found that there was a Tourist
information place where one could book and pay for any and all of the possible tours to be done in Zanzibar. So, for the Thursday we booked and paid for, through the hotel provided tour agency a trip to Prison Island to see the giant “tort- toises” and more snorkelling. This trip included the transportation into Stone Town, the guide, the small ferry to take us to Prison Island and flippers (we had our own goggles) for the snorkelling afterwards. Again, an awesome day out with amazing snorkelling.

As the hotel was about an hours drive from Stone Town we decided that we needed to do the ‘lie-on-the-bed-in the sun-thing’ on Friday. Easier said than done for me.... and I managed to find one of the staff at the hotel who did a short walking tour to the nearby village, so off we went again.

At this stage Andrea, I have to tell you, I have totally fallen in love with Zanzibar, and if I did not have a daughter to educate....etc I would up sticks and go and live and work there.

But back to our well planned and organised holiday. Actually, I don’t know what else to tell you,
because we had to leave on the Saturday morning, so once Hassan had picked us up and dropped us at Zanzibar International airport (where the electricity went off as we were having our bags wrapped in plastic- never mind, go do the departure admin, it will come on again
and it did) we had about and hour and a half wait in the rather hot departure lounge and were off back home to cold wet Cape Town.

I hope this gives you some idea of the holiday. I do need to add that neither Stefan or I are fussy
or moany-bag people, so to us it was all just fantastic, amazing, splendid etc etc etc. We enjoyed
both hotels (but loved the outside shower at Dhow Palace), we happy with all the food and drink
we had, found everyone we dealt with to be polite, kind and extremely helpful and just generally
had the most fantastic holiday/second honeymoon/60th birthday present...... and can only say an enormous THANK YOU to you for all your assistance and guidance in getting our holiday together.

You did an amazing job!!!

Thank you


Jane and Stefan Erasmus

PS hopefully I have attached some photos to give you a brief overview. Got lots more