Getting to Africa can be a couple of long-haul flights away, which means once there, you’re probably not going to want to rush back onto the plane after safari, which you’ll generally only go on for a few days—max. Once you’re in Africa, however, it’s easy enough to get around. You can travel between camps (and even neighboring countries) via road transfers or small planes. But we suggest you take advantage of being so close to the Indian Ocean and tack on a beach at one of Africa’s islands, which are easily reachable whether you’ve gone to Eastern or Southern Africa. Here, five ways to pull off the ultimate bush-to-beach combo.
Tanzania – Bush
Ruaha National Park isn’t as popular as Tanzania’s Serengeti or Ngorongoro Crater parks, but unknown to most, it’s the country’s largest. Thankfully, being lesser-known has its perks: among them, fewer tourists and as many animals, including the rare and endangered African wild dog. Stay at the gleaming new ten-room Asilia Jabali Ridge, which is set on a rocky outcrop that overlooks the reserve.
Tanzania – Beach
Zanzibar, Tanzania’s most famous tropical isle, is known for its spices and luminescent waters that lap palm-fringed beaches. A short flight away from the mainland, Zanzibar is easily accessible. There are daily nonstop flights from the capital, Dar Es Salaam, as well as flights from smaller runways within the national parks (like in the Ruaha National Park). Stay at Matemwe Retreat, a collection of whitewashed villas flecked with bright interiors, that line a beach on the eastern coast. Asilia Africa offers a package called “Ruaha and Relaxation” that includes three days in the Ruaha reserve and three days in Zanzibar, inclusive of flights from Ruaha to Zanzibar.
Kenya – Bush
In Kenya’s Laikipia region (a five-hour drive from Nairobi) you’ll find the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, which has the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and is home to the world’s last two surviving northern white rhino. To get up close to the magnificent creatures, stay at the Ol Pejeta Bush Camp, an old-worldly tented camp located inside the Ol Pejeta Conservancy. Or, for a true hit of luxury, book one of the six tents at Segera.
Kenya – Beach
Lamu Island is a sleepy isle off the east coast of Kenya, which moves at the pace of a coconut frond in a gentle breeze. The timeless ocean-facing Lamu House has a Moroccan-inspired interior filled with Swahili furniture and sprawling wooden four-poster beds. Low-cost Kenya-based airline Fly540 offers daily flights from Nairobi to Lamu.
Zambia and Madagascar – Bush
South Luangwa National Park, in eastern Zambia, is one of the country’s wildest and most game-dense areas—you’re likely to see anything and everything from elephant to leopard and lion. Stay at Chinzombo, an earthy, contemporary lodge with sweeping views of the Luangwa River. Owned by Time + Tide (which operates Zambia’s most famous walking safari company, Norman Carr Safaris), the camp offers the opportunity to walk in the wild.
Zambia and Madagascar – Beach
Nosy Ankao, a coconut-sized tropical island of Madagascar’s eastern coastline, is home to Time + Tide Miavana. The hotel, which opened in 2017, has 14 retro-chic villas which spill out onto a unsullied beach, from where you can go snorkeling, scuba diving, and stand up paddleboarding. Outfitters Time + Tide offer a “Jetset Safari Package” that combines a Big 5 with a blue ocean safari, where you can view marine life by scuba diving or snorkeling.
Malawi – Bush
The lesser-known Majete Wildlife Reserve, which is part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley in South Malawi, is a protected area that was once rife with poaching until park management was taken over by African Parks in 2003. It’s now crawling with game, and serves as one of Africa’s biggest conservation success stories. Get a tent at the low-key and intimate Mkulumadzi lodge, which has eight fuss-free chalets that look across the Shire River.
Malawi – Beach
The water of Lake Malawi is so blue it could be mistaken for the Caribbean. Book one of the simple villas at Pumlani, an easy-breezy lodge on the southern end of the lake, with private decks over the water. Robin Pope Safaris offers a bush and beach package that includes both lodges.
South Africa and Mauritius – Bush
One of South Africa’s largest (and most well-known) game reserves, Kruger National Park is teeming with animals and easy to reach from Johannesburg. For somewhere truly remote, book The Outpost, a cutting-edge lodge constructed from steel and concrete, overlooking the Luvhuvu River, or opt for full-on bells and whistles at Royal Malewane.
South Africa and Mauritius – Beach
A short, four-hour flight from Johannesburg, Mauritius is one of the most beautiful and accessible tropical islands off the east coast of Africa. We like the newly refurbished One & Only Le Saint Geran, a luxury hotel that sits on a peninsula overlooking a reef. South African Airways flies nonstop from Johannesburg to Mauritius daily.