Travellers from the US and Europe are most known to visit Africa, but intra-African travel is slowly on the rise. More and more, African travellers are setting out to explore their own backyard and attractions and holiday options on their continent.
Here are three top destinations showcasing African excellence:
A piece of Moz paradise on Earth…
“There is no need to imagine paradise. Hop on a plane, head to northern Mozambique and you will find it at Ibo Island in Mozambique,” says Natalie Tenzer-Silva, director of Dana Tours.
Located in the Quirimbas Archipelago, the remote Ibo Island is not only a cultural and heritage hotspot, it is also a place lost in time. This little-explored African wonder offers a level of exclusivity which can often be hard to find on those more popular Indian Ocean superpowers Mauritius and Seychelles. It is pretty much untouched by modern tourism, while the hotels and lodges and guesthouses are nevertheless beautiful and quaint.
Tenzer-Silva explains that this remote little island offers the modern luxury traveller who craves silence and quiet time over anything else much-needed calm and serenity. “In a world where everyone is overscheduled, people are willing to pay for silence and serenity. That has become incredibly valuable,” she says.
There is no signal underwater in the Quirimbas National Park and Mozambique offers the ultimate tranquil environment for a lovely snorkelling experience. The more active and adventurous traveller can embark upon a kayak safari to explore the most remote beaches in the area and enjoy nights on other deserted islands, seeing rare mangroves, river mouths, coral reefs and bird species.
Visitors to Ibo Island Lodge are treated like royalty while they dine on a sandbank or enjoy breakfast in the lush palm tree garden. Friendly Mozambican locals share their stories with the resort's guests.
Barefoot luxury in Botswana
A limousine, crystal glasses and caviar… For our grandparents, this was the ultimate luxury experience. Today, our concept of luxury has changed, explains Henk Graaff, the managing director of SW Africa.
“It's not that we don’t want nice things anymore. Of course we do. But we also want unforgettable experiences. We want to enjoy the best in life, from viewing the most exclusive sunsets to sleeping under the stars. No destination that has grasped and embraced these new concepts of luxury better than Botswana in Africa,” says Graaff.
From the biodiverse Okavango Delta to the hard clay beds of the Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana’s pristine natural beauty and vast wilderness never fail to impress. The lodges in Botswana are spread out and exclusive, so your game viewing is private and spectacular.
Who needs crystal chandeliers and golden bathroom taps if you have the luxury of exclusivity in the African savannah in Botswana? Graaff explains that clients are craving a "back to basics" experience without actually wanting to rough it. They want to experience the thrill of sleeping under the stars in the Kalahari and walk to ancient baobabs with the San Bushmen, while still enjoying all the luxuries that make their stay comfortable and special.
Rwanda is the next luxury bleisure hotspot
Rwanda has become a leading Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) market.
In 2014, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) introduced a new MICE strategy with a view of diversifying the current tourism product offered in the country while complementing existing gorilla tourism, eco-tourism and cultural and community-based tourism.
“For South African corporate travellers, the country is an ideal bleisure (business/leisure) destination as they have the opportunity to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking experience. Rwanda is a very organised country; travel distances are relatively small and the roads, in general, are good, making it possible to view the gorillas on a one- or two-day trip after your conference,” says Ryan Potgieter, Flight Centre's business travel general manager.
Gorilla trekking is also a sustainable operation in Rwanda that benefits local communities tremendously. Potgieter explains, with gorilla permit prices going up, the communal revenue sharing rate has gone up from the previous five per cent to 10 per cent, which is an excellent income for the communities.
Clients are craving a "back to basics" experience without actually wanting to rough it.
The country has seen the opening of a high number of new and luxury lodges, including Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, One & Only’s Nyungwe Lodge and the soon-to-open Gorilla’s Nest, as well as Singita Kwitonda, scheduled to open late in 2019 – all of these great options for bleisure travellers.
It can be overwhelming to find the right accommodation option or the right excursions for bleisure travellers. By working with a reputable travel management company such as Flight Centre Business Travel, corporate travellers can save a lot of time and hassles as their travel consultant will help them work around their specific budget and requirements. Says Potgieter: “They will help you cut your research and planning time in half and give you peace of mind if you need to make unforeseen changes throughout your journey.”