Safari and beach – where’s best?

January 28th 2020  |   Family Safaris  |  by   Francis Naumann
safari and beach lemuria seychelles

A few days on the beach complement a safari perfectly.  It’s a great way to prepare for, or relax after, the early morning safari starts.  If you are travelling as a family, it’s something we’d particularly recommend. The variety of accommodation spread along Africa’s glorious Indian Ocean coastline – from barefoot island hideaways to resort-style hotels – means there is something to suit everyone.

Where’s best to go when and what can you combine with what?

Kenya and Tanzania have their own coastlines so offer seamless safari and beach combinations.  You really can leave the depths of the bush and be sipping a drink by the sea in a couple of hours.  The handful of quirky spots around Lamu on Kenya’s northern coast include long time favourite Peponi, while the beaches around Watamu further south are a mecca for snorkelling and fishing and where you’ll find Kinondo Kwetu, beloved by all who visit.

Fun on the beach at Kinondo Kwetu

Fun on the beach at Kinondo Kwetu

It’s a short hop by air from Tanzania’s wildlife reserves to the idyllic spice isle of Zanzibar where most of the resorts are small and intimate, each with a character of its own.  Family favourites here include Zuri Zanzibar and Matemwe Lodge. Head a little further afield and several of the outlying islands offer the ultimate in chic castaway accommodation, with Mnemba and Constance Aiyana being good spots for families.  You an even hire an entire private island in the shape of Thanda Island, a gorgeous speck in the Indian Ocean, perfect for large family groups.   Snorkelling and diving is excellent throughout and exporing Stone Town (if staying on Zanzibar) is a worthy excursion.

Sunny terrace and beach at Constance Aiyana

Sunny terrace and beach at Constance Aiyana

Good all year with the exception of April to May when East Africa’s main rains come.

Madagascar is another destination where you can combine wildlife and beach within the same boundary.  With a natural history rich beyond belief, and an amazingly diverse variety of landscape, it’s an enchanting mix of wildlife and breath-taking beaches.   With over 3,000 miles of Indian Ocean coastline and 250 islands, adventurous beach goers (you need a certain spirit to enjoy the vagaries of Madagascar) will find everything from hammocks strung between palm trees to snorkelling the colourful barrier reefs.  The current hot spot is Time + Tide Miavana, an exclusive island retreat combining both safari and beach activities.  For something truly extraordinary, an exclusive ‘jet set’ safari combines Miavana with a safari in Zambia – it’s a blow the budget option, but for an intrepid family would be an incredible adventure.  Ask us for more details.

Time + Tide Miavana's exotic island setting

Time + Tide Miavana’s exotic island setting

Generally best between April and October but Madagascar encompasses such a range of climatic zones, visits will be dictated by where you want to travel and what you want to see.

South Africa and Mauritius/Seychelles, or Kenya/Seychelles is an intoxicating combination of fine safaris and some of the best beaches in the world.  Mauritius is surrounded by perfect white sand beaches protected from the open sea by the world’s third largest coral reef.  The One and Only St Geran has been a firm favourite with family travellers for years and Le Paradis on the island’s southern tip is another excellent family choice.  Home to superb hotels, food and hospitality with Gallic flair, and a range of family friendly activities, Mauritius works brilliantly with a safari.   Seychelles’ inner islands of Praslin, where Lemuria would be a great option, and Mahe offer sophisticated resort style accommodation and exquisite beaches.  The more remote outer islands offer the ultimate in privacy with the chance to swim, dive, snorkel and fish in parts of the world that no castaway would want to leave.  The teams at Denis Island and Fregate Island always go the extra mile to entertain their family guests.

Perfect beach at Fregate Island

Perfect beach at Fregate Island

South Africa combines year round with Seychelles and Mauritius via direct flights from Johannesburg.  Seychelles and Kenya combine easily thanks to daily direct flights between the two.  This option is good all year apart from East Africa’s rainy season between April and May.

Zambia and Lake Malawi might not look like an obvious choice but it’s a classic safari and beach adventure.  Explore the Victoria Falls, Livingstone and the wonderful parks in the South Luangwa and Lower Zambezi regions where you can walk, canoe, day and night game drive and then head to the peaceful shores of Africa’s third largest lake for some R&R.   With none of the pressures of a large-scale tourist industry, the deserted beaches and incredibly clear waters lend themselves to all manner of activities including water skiing, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing and enjoying a fine view.  Among our favourite spots here are two lodges, Kaya Mawa and Pumulani, and Ndomo Point, a lovely beach front house.

Exploring Lake Malawi from Pumulani

Exploring Lake Malawi from Pumulani

Malawi can be enjoyed year round, but as a combination with Zambia it is best May through to October.

South Africa and Mozambique works year round with Southern Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago boasting some of the best beach hideaways in Africa. One of Aardvark Safaris’ current top choices for families is Benguerra Island Lodge but we’re particularly looking forward to being able to suggest Azura Marlin Beach which is due to re-open later this year.

Enjoying the pool at Benguerra Island Lodge

Enjoying the pool at Benguerra Island Lodge

Good all year and regular flights from Johannesburg ensure easy access.

Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia can all be combined with the beach but tend to require an overnight in Johannesburg.   Not that this is a real bother since most safari flights arrive mid-to-late afternoon, with the onward beach hop departing early the following morning.  Alternatively, the Maldives can be reached via an overnight flight from Johannesburg. Likewise gorilla tracking in Uganda and Rwanda can be mixed with Kenyan or Tanzania beach spots.

The beach at Lux South Ari Atoll all ready for younger visitors

The beach at Lux South Ari Atoll all ready for younger visitors

What next?

We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about the best time for visiting the Africa’s safari and beach destinations. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from family and beach holidays to riding and primate safaris.  If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.

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