There's surely no continent as beguiling, as inspiring or as moving as Africa. There's just something about this place that seeps into your bones, that changes you forever, that leaves marks as deep as any rugged gorge. From the first rays of sunrise on a dawn safari, to the dying embers of a campfire in the cool evening, there's never a dull moment during a day in Africa, never a time you don't feel charged and alive. This continent is famous, of course, for its wildlife viewing opportunities, for the "Big Five", for endless savannahs and rivers and trees. And it has all of those things, in abundance. However, there's even more to Africa than these expected attractions, even more that will tug at you to return: luxurious journeys by land and by water; authentic cultural experiences you'll remember for a lifetime; and personalised itineraries that showcase what life is all about.
Game viewing on the Chobe River
The Zambezi Queen on the Chobe River.
There's never any guarantees in the safari world: however, you could consider yourself very unlucky to miss out on the sight of elephants in Botswana's amazing Chobe National Park. This reserve supports the largest elephant populations in the world, as many as 120,000 at any one time, and there's no better way to find them than by taking to a small boat and floating down the Chobe River with a professional guide. From here you'll see hippos, their eyes just above the waterline; you'll see crocodiles, enjoying the sun; and of course, you'll spot the majestic bulk of the African elephant.
DON'T MISS APT guests will enjoy cruising through Chobe aboard the Zambezi Queen, a beautiful 14-suite ship that provides an African river safari unlike any other. On board you'll find an outdoor deck with plunge pool, suites with king-sized beds and floor-toceiling windows in the lounge where you can enjoy a drink with an intimate group while viewing animals in their natural habitat.
Drive the Garden Route
South Africa's famous Garden Route is a stretch of highways that only lasts about 200 kilometres, and yet it's so jam-packed with incredible and diverse scenery that you'll be convinced it's far longer. The drive along the south-western coast of South Africa, from Oudtshoorn, where you will enjoy Karoo cuisine at the Rosenhof, to Storm River in the Eastern Cape, takes in some of the country's most ruggedly beautiful landscapes, including windswept beaches and hidden lagoons, rolling hills and steep ocean cliffs, fields of wildflowers and quaint little villages, all bathed in sun and piqued with salty air. You'll never want this drive to end.
DON'T MISS Midway through the Garden Route lies Knysna, a small coastal town in a stunning location, and the perfect base from which to explore the area. From Knysna, APT guests have the chance to visit Featherbed Nature Reserve, a coastal area filled with sandstone cliffs and sea caves, or take a bushwalk before enjoying a buffet lunch.
Experience the game parks of East Africa
Flat-topped acacia trees on grassy savannah; huge herds of antelope roaming the plains; prides of lions stalking their prey; gin-and-tonics at sunset in a luxurious abode – you will find exactly that, and more, in the game parks of East Africa. In world-famous reserves such as the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Masai Mara, you will find safari perfection. There's wildlife here, of course: great masses roaming the plains, from the largest elephants to the smallest birds. There's also true joy in seeing these species in the wild, in being part of an expedition that finds their tracks in the soft dawn light – the paw prints of a leopard, the huge pads of an elephant – and follows them to their source. In truth, however, it's the entire safari experience, from five-star service to the insights into the local culture, that's so magical and memorable.
DON'T MISS APT guests have the chance to stay in some pretty special and often unique accommodation in these famous game parks. Perhaps the most impressive is the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, a 77-room property in the heart of the Serengeti National Park.
Enjoy the culture of East Africa
Though it's often the natural attractions that bring visitors to East Africa, there are also plenty of fascinating and unique cultural moments to enjoy in this part of the world. That might include exploring Olduvai Gorge, one of the world's most important prehistoric archaeological sites, in Tanzania. It might mean paying a visit to a school to interact with local children. And it might even include a visit to a Maasai village to learn about how this ancient tribe continues its way of life in a modern world. East Africa is alive with culture, and it isn't difficult to find it.
DON'T MISS The Kenyan Boys Choir is a choral ensemble of talented boys drawn from high schools and colleges around Kenya, an organisation that offers a platform for students to nurture their natural talents in music, dance and drama, while advocating for the attainment of quality education. Listening to the harmonies of a performance by this choir is something you'll never forget, and it's an experience APT guests are treated to on their final night in Nairobi.
Ride the Rovos Rail
Experience train travel in Africa on the Rovos Rail.
Think of the great train journeys of the world: the Venice Simplon-Orient Express; the Rocky Mountaineer; the Eastern & Oriental Express. Now, add one more to the list: the Rovos Rail. This train, billed as "the most luxurious train in the world", deserves its place with the greats, such is the classic beauty of the train itself, as well as the rugged African countryside through which it meanders. The Rovos Rail's refined interior is punctuated by lavish décor and original wooden finishes, and each train has two Victorian-style dining cars, a lounge car, and an observation car, a genuine 1930s carriage that has been beautifully restored with large windows and open-air balconies. .
DON'T MISS Every dinner aboard the Rovos Rail is an experience in itself, a step back into a more refined era, with world-class food and wine that are included in the itinerary to match. Gentlemen require a jacket and tie and women a cocktail dress or suit to sit down in one of the train's two pre-1940 dining cars for a meal to remember.
Raymond Alais Teekishe – Tour Director in East Africa for APT
Raymond Alais Teekishe always wanted a job that would keep him close to wildlife and allow him to share that passion with visitors to East Africa. He's found it as a Tour Director with APT. Raymond says, "I started working as a camp manager and guide, then became qualified to take clients to different places outside of the camps. I deliver the true experience of Africa to our clients, to ensure they're delighted with our tours." Raymond's favourite game parks in East Africa include the Serengeti, the Ngorongoro Crater and the Masai Mara. He had one of his most memorable moments on a tour, during the wildebeest migration at the Mara River. "I witnessed a baby zebra attempting to cross the river, while crocodiles watched on, ready to attack," he says. "A female hippopotamus protected the zebra as it crossed, safe and sound. It was an incredible thing to see!"
This article has been produced in association with APT.
From the first rays of sunrise on a dawn safari, to the dying embers of a campfire in the cool evening, there's never a dull moment during a day in Africa. Everything is taken care of in an unforgettable luxury journey with APT. For more information visit www.aptouring.com.au/traveller, call 1300 290 669 or contact your local travel agent.