Looking for adventure or a pristine place to unplug? Dive into the many coastal charms of Southern Africa travel.
Africa’s wildlife and diverse interior lands are the stuff of safari dreams, often eclipsing the allure of the shores. But along the continent’s southern coast, you can find authentic culture, explore abandoned shipwrecks, and safely face your fears of sharks. Southern Africa travel presents a world of natural treasures beneath the waves and across dramatic, white sand beaches.
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast has earned its name by virtue of its famously treacherous rocky outcroppings, almost constant breaking waves, and miles of thick and unforgiving marshland. The stark beauty of this stretch of coastline inspires both awe and fear. It is at once unmistakably desolate yet harbors a thriving ecosystem all its own. The Skeleton Coast is a unique Southern Africa experience.
Cape fur seals travel to Southern Africa annually in November and December to mate, give birth, and hunt for fish. The colony at Cape Cross Seal Reserve has seen as many as 210,000 seals at once. Often, you may spot them stretched out in the sand singing a chorus of grunts and bleats. The heavy surf and marshes are no match for these agile underwater navigators. But, the orcas and whales farther offshore do prove a danger. Designated Skeleton Coast National Park, most of this 6,200 square miles of coast is only accessible via flying safari. From the air, the overwhelming desolation and contrast with the blue Atlantic is nothing short of astounding.
How to see it: We recommend a flight between tented camps with Skeleton Coast Safaris on this Southern African travel adventure. By day, embark on a private plane to access far-flung areas of the coast. Then, retire to camp in the evening. Each tent includes en suite baths and cozy comforts. Plus, guests have the benefit of seclusion in an untouched and beautiful natural landscape.
The migration of the southern right whale is a well-known natural phenomenon in the waters off the Western Cape. While it is exciting to catch their pilgrimage, they are not the only show in town on your Southern Africa travel journey. Incredible marine sightings might include humpbacks, Bryde’s whales, African penguins, and colonies of over 60,000 cape fur seals. The drive along the Cape Peninsula is among the most beautiful and scenic in the world. Of course, the experience is enhanced by a glimpse of the offshore denizens.
One of the most popular—and daring—marine encounters in Southern Africa travel is cage diving with great white sharks. Skilled guides assist thrill-seeking guests as they climb into the well-secured cages before descending into the water with the amazing sharks.
How to see it: A highlight in South Africa is the exclusive Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. Hidden amid fynbos and milkwood trees on Walker Bay, Grootbos blends breathtaking excursions with opulent accommodations. In addition, the reserve’s location enjoys an excellent vantage point for viewing the southern right whale. During the season, you will see the whales up close aboard the “Dreamcatcher,” a specialized sightseeing boat setting out from Gansbaai. You can also pitch in with the reforestation efforts on the reserve and plant a tree in the Ker & Downey Forest, home to more than 800 indigenous trees.
Situated off the northern coast of Mozambique, the Quirimbas Archipelago area includes 32 unbelievable islands. Outside of a few lodges on these islands, the land has never been fully developed, which results in an air of separation from the rest of the world. In other words, Quirimbas is a spectacular place to include in your Southern Africa travel. These islands contain some of the richest coral reefs in the world, with an unparalleled environment for abundant marine life.
Nearly two-million acres of enchanted forests, mountains, savannas, mangroves, and coral reefs comprise the protected area in Quirimbas National Park. Moreover, its 11 uninhabited coral islands offer an endlessly interesting marine safari experience. Some 375 species of fish have been found beneath the waves. Additionally, the park encompasses feeding and nesting grounds for a variety marine life. This includes sea turtles, dugong, dolphins, sharks, and migrating whales.
There are plenty of excursions to take on this tropical Southern Africa getaway. For example, enjoy snorkeling, fishing, dhow sailing, kayaking, nature hikes, and seasonal whale watching, to name only a few.
How to see it: Grab one of the nine seafront villas at the stunning Azura Quilalea, located on the uninhabited Qualilea private island within the protected Quirimbas area. Azura Quilalea is dedicated in equal measure to ultimate luxury via butler service and eco-conscious living via wind and solar power. Meanwhile, the protected reef system surrounding Azura Quilalea provides incredible snorkeling and diving opportunities directly off of the main beach. Swim with the dolphins and discover a variety of fish and coral in these undisturbed dive sites. Or, stay above water kayaking among the mangroves.