Safari breaks: Beauty and the beasts in amazing Africa

Jaci's Safari Lodge is unusual because it welcomes young children, even toddlers.

Specially designed 'jungle drives' are tailormade for kids under seven and excellent childminders are on hand to take charge while parents and older children go on more adventurous game drives.

The funky African-inspired accommodation overlooks an important waterhole  -  great for animal spotting before you head for a hearty alfresco supper in the boma (South African corral) or in the bush.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Big Five (black and white rhino), wild dog, giraffe and bush babies.

TIME TO GO: October-April.

COSTS: From £4,930 for a family of four, three nights at Jaci's and four at the Vineyard, Cape Town, all inclusive.; 020 7226 1004.

Pink flamingo

Under African skies: See wildlife as it should be seen...


Don't mistake safari luxury for gold taps and marble baths. At Mombo Camp you're buying into isolation, exclusivity and quiet sophistication. Nine generous tents built on stilts ensure fabulous views of the surrounding plains and the huge herds gathered near this remote, beautiful camp. 'Low-intensity' safari use ensures the area remains very private  -  ideal for the morning and afternoon drives in 4x4s without the distraction of other visitors.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Superb diversity, Big Five and wonderful bird life.

TIME TO GO: Year round, but September and October are very hot.

COSTS: From £4,400pp fully inclusive of international, domestic and transfer flights, all meals, drinks and activities.; 01604 628979.


Thanda is Zulu for love  -  each of the nine romantic villas has an infinity pool, individual boma for private dining and salas (thatched outdoor daybed areas), and access to a spa.

If you can escape from the villa, two game drives a day are included, but for those seeking a change of scene, Robinson Crusoe beach picnics can be arranged as a day trip.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Big Five and more than 400 bird species.

TIME TO GO: September-April.

COSTS: From £2,844 pp sharing; three nights at Thanda and six at Thonga Beach Lodge, including private transfers, meals, activities and flights.; 020 7226 1004.


Huge zebra and wildebeest migrations are usually the sole domain of TV documentaries  -  but you can witness this impressive sight yourself.

Serengeti Under Canvas follows the herds as they move on to new pastures. This safari is full of drama as animals attempt to dodge hungry crocodiles in the Grumeti River and escape from lion and leopard on the plains.

After all that excitement, settling in at the luxurious and stylish camp comes as a welcome relief.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Extraordinary herds and associated predators.

TIME TO GO: July for the river crossing, February and March for the birthing season.

COSTS: From £3,997 pp sharing; four nights Serengeti Under Canvas and four at Fundu Lagoon beach resort, including all flights.; 020 8682 5070.


Namibia is the perfect starting point for anyone who has never driven in Africa before.

After briefing and Land Rover handover, you'll get a personal itinerary that takes you from camp to hotel in this astonishing country.

The geographic variety is stunning, ranging from the Kalahari Desert to the lush game-rich Etosha Pan via the Skeleton Coast and the largest sand dunes in the world.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Don't miss the meercats and rhino.

TIME TO GO: All year round but worth avoiding school holidays if you can.

COSTS: From £2,038pp for two sharing;14 days including lodge and camp accommodation, 4x4 and international flights.; 01273 600030.


Family fun: Spotting the Big Five can be twinned with a beach break


Cottars is the longest-established safari in Africa, dating back to 1919. And you'll get plenty of that old-time Hemingway-esque glamour.

The camp  -  an attractive mixture of macho canvas and comfortable colonial furnishings  -  captures the spirit of the early explorers. As does its immense 250,000-acre concession in the Masai Mara. Because it has exclusive rights, an 'Out Of Africa' experience without being pestered by other tourists is guaranteed.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Excellent for big cats, elephant and Coke's hartebeest.

TIME TO GO: October and November.

COSTS: From £3,064 pp sharing; three nights at the Loisaba Lodge and four at the Cottars 1920s Camp, including all meals, safari activities and domestic and international flights.; 020 7834 0380.


This unique house accommodates up to eight guests in eccentric ethnic splendour.

Custom-built around rough branches, it claims there isn't a straight line to be seen.

Apart from great style, Chongwe boasts excellent staff: a private chef will discuss each day's menu after you've plotted safaris, boat and fishing trips with one of your two guides.

And if you're worn out, you can always retire to your swimming pool.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Famous for its enormous bull elephants.

TIME TO GO: Closed December-March.

COSTS: From £3,505 pp per week including flights, transfers, all activities and meals. www.theultimatetravel; 020 7386 4646.


The Selous hasn't quite made it onto the main tourist map, making it perfect for a walking and fly-camping safari.

Groups, limited to six, hike for up to 13 km each day with expert guides (you need a good basic fitness level).

Afterwards, 4x4s return you to camp for authentic cooking from the bush kitchen and a good night's sleep  -  in domed tents made of mosquito netting that let in the stars.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Rare wild dogs, predators, elephant.

TIME TO GO: October-March.

COSTS: From £3,408pp sharing; four nights (one fly-camping) at Selous Safari Camp, three at Jongomero Camp, all inclusive.; 020 8232 9777.


Catching the eye of a silverback is an unforgettable experience  -  as is getting to him. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is aptly named; but the long hike through dense jungle with armed guides is so rewarding when you discover an extended family of extremely rare Mountain Gorillas. feeding and grooming in a clearing.

ANIMAL MAGIC: There are just 600 Mountain Gorillas left in the wild.

TIME TO GO: Avoid April/May - the rainy season.

COSTS: From £2,780pp sharing; eight-night lodge safari fully inclusive, including two nights at Gorilla Forest Camp, all permits, private driver and all flights.; 020 7622 5114.


A desert isn't the obvious place to look for game, but rare desert-adapted elephant and rhino, oryx, kudu and springbok live here; even lion and cheetah visit occasionally. The animals can travel huge distances in the vast 445,000-acre conservancy area seeking food and water. Your camp, in the middle of the park, boasts large, comfortable tents, a natural rock pool for cooling dips and a great restaurant.

ANIMAL MAGIC: Rare desert rhino and elephant.

TIME TO GO: High season is July-November.

COSTS: From £2,078 for four nights including flights, meals and transfers.; 0207 386 4646.

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