One Month in Southern Africa

Rent a 4x4 and spend a month off the beaten tourist path. Eat curry in Durban, walk with elephants on the Garden Route, and surf in Cape Town. Camp at the Fish River Canyon and climb dunes in the Namib Desert. Safari in Etosha and swim with crocs in the Okavango River. Fly over Victoria Falls, look for lions in Hwange, and go tiger fishing at Lake Kariba. Ride a quad through the Makgadikgadi Pans. Sleep under the stars in the Kalahari and then visit Soweto in Johannesburg before flying home.

Highlights
Avoca Road, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa
Royal Malewane is a five-star lodge located on the 34,594-acre Thornybush Private Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park region. Already quite glamorous, it underwent a refurbishment in 2018 and, in addition to several structural upgrades, now features a kosher kitchen and a gin-and-whiskey bar dedicated to the late Wilson Masiya, one of the lodge’s original trackers. All of the guides at Royal Malewane are certified by the Field Guide Association of South Africa, and most have been working in the Greater Kruger National Park area since the early 1990s. Two are Master Trackers, a qualification currently held by only seven rangers in the world. Royal Malewane is so focused on quality guiding that it even started an apprenticeship program in 2008. Students work for two years under the tutelage of the lodge’s senior team, then graduate and move on to jobs at safari lodges in the region.

Amazing wildlife experiences aside, what makes Royal Malewane unique is its sense of style. Owners Liz and Phil Biden have seamlessly melded contemporary furniture with colonial-style accommodations, all at their family-home-turned-safari-lodge in the middle of the South African bush. In 2019, they plan to open a new lodge on the property called the Farmstead at Royal Malewane, giving guests even more reason to book a stay.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, Hazyview, 1242, South Africa
An award-winning hotel company, Singita is lauded not only for its luxurious properties but also for its dedication to the environment and uplifting communities. To reach Singita Boulders Lodge, guests can fly direct from Johannesburg to Sabi Sand Game Reserve on Federal Airlines’ daily jet service. Once there, they can expect open-air common spaces that provide a continuous connection to the outdoors, as well as spacious suites with game-viewing decks and private plunge pools. Also on-site is a swimming pool in the main lodge area, spa and gym facilities, and a wine boutique selling premier South African vintages. In addition to daily game drives, guests can indulge in activities like guided safari walks, photography lessons, stargazing, and archery, making for the stay of a lifetime.
Safari Lodge, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
If you’re spending any time in Victoria Falls, the town on the Zimbabwean side of the falls, you have to plan to have a dinner at The Boma. It’s a restaurant set within the woods with an all you-can-eat African buffet setup. The highlight is the variety of exotic meats. There are performances, both drumming and singing, and diners are encouraged to join in. There is even a sangoma (like a medicine man) on site who will “throw bones” to tell you your future. If you’re going to wear something with a kitschy animal print on it during your time in Africa, this is a place you can get away with it.
Harare, Zimbabwe
If you’re looking to try authentic local food in Harare, PaGokoro (meaning ‘meeting place’) is where you’ll want to go. The idea for the restaurant came out of the desire for a place for the owner, Judith, to meet with her friends that wasn’t as crowded as other restaurants in the area. After saving for some time and what felt like an impossible search for just the right venue, she came upon this house in the Highlands neighborhood in 2011. Dining is casual here - dishes like sadza and beef bones in vegetables are eaten with your hands. You can sit a table or in the cozy ‘cushion room’, where beanbag chairs surround a lower table.
10 Forest Road,, Mount Pleasant,, (Behind Arundel Village Shopping Center), Harare, Zimbabwe
Within the Arundel Village shopping complex in the suburb of Mt. Pleasant you’ll find Alo Alo, a small cafe with an outdoor patio. It’s the perfect spot to have lunch and take a rest after doing a bit of shopping. Local beer, fresh coffee, and toasted open sandwiches are all good options here. If you’re staying in the city center, this shopping center is just a quick 10 minute cab ride away.
P.O.Box 5140, Divundu, D3430, Namibia
The cheeky signs leading you down the sand road to Ngepi Camp are your first indication this is no ordinary campsite. First, you’ll check in at the bar, which is decked out in currency from around the world. The campsites and chalets along the shores of the Okavango River and are decently spread out, providing the ultimate backyard to escape to with a good book. Watch crocs drift by as your morning kettle boils for coffee. This is an eco-friendly camp, with fun informative signs all over the property which tell you more about exactly how things work. The bathrooms at the campsite are totally outdoors. There’s nothing like showering and looking up at the tree tops and listening to the birds as you wash. The highlight of Ngepi Camp is the special cage floating in the river so you can swim ‘safely’ among the crocs and hippos - if you dare.
One of the top restaurants in Namibia is located in the tiny shipping industry town of Walvis Bay. Lyon des Sables is located on the upstairs level of a small oceanfront shopping complex and boardwalk. The restaurant is run by two French men, so you can expect dishes like chanterelle mushroom and parmesan risotto and apple tart. Game meats are particularly popular in Namibia, so this is also a great place to try oryx steak.
The closest camping accommodation to the entrance of the Fish River Canyon is the no-frills Hobas camp run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts. You’ll want to make sure your vehicle has enough gas to get in and out, as well as, carry enough cash to pay your park entrance fees and camping fees when you arrive. There is a small tuck shop on site for snacks, so it’s best if you carry all food and water in with you. Staying at the campsite gives you direct access to the park rim at sunrise and sunset, the best times to take photos of the Fish River Canyon.
160 Nelson Mandela Ave, Windhoek, Namibia
Joe’s Beerhouse is a must visit place for a hearty dinner in Windhoek. Lanterns illuminate the partially open-air dining area. Locals and foreigners mingle and drink craft Camelthorn Brewing Company beers while sat around picnic tables and makeshift barrel tables with wooden tops. A patchwork roof covers some of the boma encircles the dining area and the crowd is always a lively. The menu is a mix of German and Namibian dishes, so whether you’re in the mood for a good bratwurst or more exotic eland steak, this is where you’ll want to go. This restaurant is the perfect place to celebrate the start or finish of a great safari adventure.
Swakopmund, Namibia
Peter’s Antiques is a legendary second hand shop in Swakopmund. It originally opened in 1983 and has grown over time to hold a rather large collection of German colonial memorabilia. A walk around the shop and a chat with the shopkeeper provides unique insight into Namibia’s history. Even if you don’t like shopping for antiques, it’s an interesting place to poke your head into.
90 De Korte St, Johannesburg, 2017, South Africa
If you’re lucky enough to live in a place as magical as South Africa, you get some amazing sunrises & sunsets most mornings & evenings. What’s great about living in Johannesburg is that you get to experience the magic while overlooking an amazing city! With rooftop venues opening up all over the inner city, catching such a magnificent view, while sipping on cocktails and listening to some soulful live music with your friends is getting so much easier!
The Carnivore is a long time favourite for locals and tourists alike who want to have a good buffet of game meat. There’s Giraffe, Crocodile, Imapala, Kudu, Springbok, amongst other traditional and more western dishes on the menu and all are very tasty! The restaurant works on a stop-go basis with servers coming to your table with large skewers of sizzling meat, straight off the grill, and only ceasing when the stop sign is displayed. However if red meat isn’t your thing, there are vegetarian and fish dishes available. The decor really makes you feel like you’re in the deepest, darkest reaches of Africa, even though you’re just a stone’s throw away from civilization!
Old Breweries Building, Tal Street, Windhoek, Namibia
No shopping trip in Windhoek is complete without a stop at the Craft Cafe. A small brewery and warehouse space has been converted into a venue for shopping and dining, featuring many local artisan products from around the country. On the top floor, the restaurant Craft Cafe serves an excellent Western-style breakfasts and large mugs of coffee at a reasonable price. Sit on the balcony overlooking the complex for a dose of fresh air while you dine. A small, secure parking lot is available to park if you have your vehicle with you.
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AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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