What did Conde Nast's readers select as the Best in Africa?

Nicola Shepherd By Nicola Shepherd
14 Feb 2017
Zambia - Livingstone - Royal Chundu - deck - bkgrnd.jpg

I recently read a copy of the Conde Nast Traveler and was delighted to see that many of my very favourite properties in Africa were featured on the Readers’ Choice Awards 2016 for Africa.

The Readers' Choice Awards represents a resounding vote of very well-travelled people with enquiring minds, who have sampled the best that Africa has to offer, and should not be ignored by anybody thinking of traveling on safari in Africa.

For anybody looking for the very best in luxury travel, I would thoroughly recommend these properties from my own travels. If you have the time, you should visit these all in one vacation to take in the best of Africa’s wildlife and experience an all-round quintessentially African mega-safari.

So what are the best of the best?

Kenya and Tanzania

This is where the finest concentrations of wildlife can be found and of course, the wildebeest migration. 2 million animals cross the Mara river and flood the Serengeti plains where they come to calve. The whole cycle of the migration is one of Africa’s greatest wildlife phenomena.

Nothing can compare to the infinite Savannah plains of the Mara-Serengeti ecosystem, where this mass of ungulates converges in the Masai Mara from July through to September and then onto the Serengeti plains from December through to March. Having said that, wildlife viewing in these two regions is always of top notch quality, all year round.

  • Kenya - Laikipia - SEGERA - house.jpg

Segera Retreat in Laikipia, Kenya scored 98.57 on the Readers' Choice Awards. Conservationist Jochen Zeitz has created a perfect, ecologically sound retreat where you can relax and learn more about his efforts to ensure that luxury can be sustainable.

The traditional Kenyan farmhouse has been complemented with luxury villas for the guests, a salt-water swimming pool, lounge areas and of course the 500,000 acre ranch which is home to many game species and three endangered species.

Experiences at Segera include wildlife safaris where you can see herds of elephant and buffalo, predators such as lion, leopard and cheetah, and many species of antelope and zebra. There is also the endangered wild dog here.

You can take a helicopter flight to local landmarks such as Mount Kenya, Suguta Valley or Lake Turkana. Or you can visit a local village and find out how Segera collaborates closely with the local communities and helps to enhance their wellbeing.

Richard’s River Camp (which scored 99.05) is a private and exclusive camp located in the heart of the Masai Mara. This camp is run by a third-generation Kenyan, Richard Roberts, and his American wife Liz.

  • Kenya - Masai Mara - Richard's Camp - Elephant game drive.jpg

The camp itself is authentic and stylish, but the real reason for coming here is the unparalleled wildlife of the Masai Mara, which has the most exceptional big-game viewing found anywhere.

During the Migration you can see the Wildebeest herds, but throughout the year there are amazing sightings here of elephant, cheetah, lion and many other species. You can see these for yourself on game drives, bush walks and birding walks.

Richard is deeply involved in conservation and founded the Mara Elephant Project, which aims to protect elephants in the Mara by mitigating human-elephant conflicts and contributing to anti-poaching efforts such as collaring and tracking elephant herds. They also have a fast-response aid unit for injured elephants.

Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp scored 96.38 in the Readers' Choice Awards and provides a private experience with exclusive game viewing in one of the most secluded parts of Tanzania’s Serengeti. It is placed in the path of the Great Migration and allows guests, at the right time of year, to witness first-hand the dramatic river crossings that are the highlight of many nature documentaries.

  • Tanzania - Serengeti - Grumeti - hippo pool.jpg

Game drives from the camp allow you to see large lion prides and clans of hyena up to a hundred strong. But without even leaving the camp, you can hear the chatter of colobus monkeys in the trees around, and see the resident pod of hippo in the pool in front of the camp. Rustic and sophisticated, luxury tented camping is absolutely my favourite way to experience the Serengeti.

Zambia is home to the world-famous Victoria Falls as well as a plethora of wonderful wildlife and game viewing areas. Royal Chundu Lodge in Livingstone scored 97.8 and offers a wonderful opportunity to spend time relaxing on the peaceful Zambezi river, just 30km upstream from the “Smoke that Thunders” – the magnificent Falls.

  • Zambia - Livingstone - Royal Chundu - Picnic.jpg

This lodge is located on a private stretch of the river offering total exclusivity. You can stay in the River Lodge in a spacious, thatched river-front suite with a private deck overlooking the river. This lodge is perfect for families and they run a Kid’s Club to keep the little ones entertained. Or for those looking for total privacy, you can stay in the secluded Island Lodge, surrounded by baobabs, located on an island in the river.

You can spend your days canoeing on the Zambezi river or take a private picnic on the river banks. Fishing is also wonderful here, as is relaxing in the spa. Or a real treat is to take a helicopter flight downstream over the winding Zambezi to see the Falls, where you fly into the gorge for phenomenal photographic opportunities!

  • Botswana - Okavango - Mombo - bush picnic.jpg

In the Okavango Delta in Botswana, the eponymous Mombo Camp scored 95.15. This camp is based in the Moremi Game Reserve, well-known as the best game viewing area in Botswana, and the camp is one of the very few places to provide world-class game viewing throughout all the seasons.

You can see the very rare resident rhino, here due to a re-introduction project aiming to bring white and black rhino back to Botswana. The camp and the Botswana Government are working together on this project which is proving to be hugely successful, and there is a rhino monitor in camp.

There are also leopard, wild dog and great lion populations and local projects include the Botswana Lion Genetics study and the Okavango Large Herbivore Project.

If you have time to cover all of these amazing places, you will have a one-of-a-kind safari that embraces the very best parts of Africa – cherry picked just for you.

Segera Retreat images courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Mombo Camp images courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Richard's Camp images courtesy of Richard's Camp

Royal Chundu Lodge images courtesy of Royal Chundu

Grumeti Serengeti Camp images courtesy of &Beyond

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Posted by: Nicola Shepherd

Posted on: 14th February 2017

Read more: Posts about Africa

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