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07 January 2020

Top 20 for 2020: What’s Hot This Year?

Here’s our guide to Safari Africa’s most exciting developments in 2020. Featuring new property openings and destinations set to enter our radar, this is the YZ hotlist for this year:

#20 Victoria Falls – the new foodie destination

In recent months the media have cast some doubt on the water levels of Victoria Falls. However, although the area is presently suffering a drought, the falls are flowing as swiftly as ever. And Vic Falls has made it onto our hotlist because we think it’s going to become a bit of a foodie destination this year.

The stunning Lookout Café, which unfortunately burned down in 2018, has re-opened, perched on the edge of the gorge overlooking the falls area. It has been rebuilt in an environmentally friendly way, with sustainability in mind. Meanwhile the menu is extremely vibrant, featuring new flavours such as from local game meat (warthog, ostrich, crocodile) and seafood. Of course the gorge itself is also the place to get your blood pumping, by taking the plunge on the gorge swing!

 

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Victoria Falls Bridge

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Dusty Road restaurant

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Pot & Paddle experience

Another new opening is the Dusty Road restaurant, a gastronomic adventure like no other in Victoria Falls. Including combinations of authentic Zimbabwean cuisine, this experience aims to ease visitors into traditional dining, as the meals are cooked on an open fire and the ingredients are indigenous to the country.

And finally, pairing delicious food with a paddle along the Zambezi river, Pot & Paddle is a new immersive afternoon activity in which guests are guided by a chef to prepare a traditional potjie dinner (cooked in a cast iron three-legged pot) on the riverbanks, before enjoying an excursion on either an upriver canoe or a raft drift. After the adventure, guests are returned to the waterfront, to enjoy a three-course meal with their potjie dish as the main course.

If you’d like to add any of these food-focused visits or activities to your Victoria Falls itinerary, please don’t hesitate to contact us here to let us know.

#19 Palm River Lodge

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What better way to try the new foodie scene that Victoria Falls is embracing, than by staying in a brand-new falls lodge as well? Currently, Palm River Lodge is still being built, but as the new owners are also behind the perennial favourite Ilala Lodge we have high hopes that Palms will offer the same quality at equally good value. The new property is also located a short distance from the world’s largest waterfall, is inspired by the Queenslander style – think high ceilings and large verandas –, and in common with Ilala will offer a gym, a spa, and an outdoor swimming pool. And here’s an added bonus – guests will have access to the Ilala Lodge Hotel Group’s three cruise boats too!

#18 Migration Expeditions

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The new addition to the African Bush Camps portfolio, Migration Expeditions is an intimate six-tent mobile camp set up within the stunning Nxai Pan National Park, one of the Makgadikgadi Pan salt flats in north-eastern Botswana. The name of the camp refers to the zebra migration that occurs in the green season (December to March), a modest movement of herds compared with the Great Migration yet thrilling to observe! As well as offering a front-row seat to the migration, the camp provides expertly guided game drives, incredible birding, and photography sessions for amateurs and professionals alike, so don’t forget your camera!

#17 DumaTau & Little DumaTau

One of our go-to lodges, DumaTau, has gone through a refurbishment, and in the process it has gained a little sister. Without doubt, one of our highlights for 2020 will be arranging stays for guests at DumaTau and Little DumaTau! Listed in Wilderness Safaris’ Premier property category, these camps are located in the wonder-filled Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in northern Botswana, and both will be intimate, off-the-beaten-track, and incredibly luxurious. They’re due to open in August 2020, so book now to be the first to enjoy exclusive game viewing, nature walks, and star-bed sleep-outs!

 

# 16 Shinde Camp

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The announcement that Shinde Camp is re-opening in May might be the best news we could have wished for this year, as this camp is a real favourite in the YZ office.

Offering Botswana’s high level of luxury but at a really reasonable rate, Shinde also scores highly for its combo of water and land game viewing, its well-run set-up, and the fantastic guides.

 

#15 Jack’s Camp

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Celebrating 25 years of thriving within the harsh yet beautiful landscape of the Makgadikgadi salt pan, Jack’s Camp is being rebuilt and will re-open in May 2020. As well as simply staring out across the lunar-like setting, guests will be able to go quad biking into the remnants of the Makgadikgadi super-lake, meet the local habituated group of meerkats, and see the world through the eyes of the Bushmen on a walking safari with the San Kalahari tribe.

#14 &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

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Following a total rebuild, the formerly stunning &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge has completely outdone itself, to become a masterpiece of glass, rock, steel, and amazing artwork. Spending time in the stark surroundings of Namibia has always been an awesome experience, but now, thanks to Desert Lodge’s sleek interiors, private infinity pools, and bold new design, a stay here is a dramatic combination of otherworldly views and luxuries you didn’t even know existed – such as an on-site observatory, complimentary use of Swarovski binoculars, and availability of a paint set and desktop easel to encourage clients to awaken their inner artist.

#13 Little Kulala

Another comeback to the luxury safari scene for Namibia comes courtesy of a second property in Sossusvlei to be refurbished this year. Little Kulala will retain its signature design, but the camp will be updated with larger rooms interlinked with walkways, expansion of the main area, and something of a makeover to the sleep-out experience – all in time for June 2020!

 

#12 Pangolin Conservation

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In a laudable conservation effort, &Beyond has recently re-introduced three rescued pangolins to the wild in Phinda Game Reserve, South Africa. To spot this incredibly rare species, which has sadly become the most trafficked mammal on our planet, safarists can join Phinda’s specialist conservation team in searching the reserve. And having located the pangolins, you can help to replace their tags and check their tracking devices. Please note that pre-booking is essential.

Alternatively, &Beyond has also launched new night safaris, the best way to catch sight of nocturnal wildlife. Using high-definition infrared cameras, guests are able to watch all of an evening’s action unfold on screen monitors set up on the vehicle, manned by a dedicated guide, tracker, and specialist cameraman.

#11 Mara Nyika

There’s definitely a buzz about the Maasai Mara this year! 2020 sees the newly opened Great Plains property Mara Nyika gain a gorgeous two-bedroom suite, which will comprise a private villa concept with five interconnecting tents – there’ll be a central lounge, with bedroom and bathroom tents either side.

 

#10 Maasai Mara Photography Competition

This Mara photography competition is now open for the year 2020 and offers a very exciting prize! Enter a photograph that you’ve taken while staying in the Maasai Mara, and you could win US$10,000 plus a five-night stay at luxury lodge Angama Mara. What’s more, if you win, the guide who was with you at the time of taking the photograph will win a trip to England to watch a Premier League football match in London! Enter here.

 

#9 Asilia Adventures

A series of mini-safaris, Asilia Adventures are fantastic and unique experiences that can be added on to your safari in Kenya or Tanzania between November and May. The Adventures offer genuine insights into regions, get you well off the tourist trail, and immerse you in the local culture. This year, they’ll include traversing the Serengeti on foot, enabling you to walk amongst the Great Migration; enjoying a health and wellness retreat on Zanzibar; and going on a horseback riding safari in Tanzania. Contact us for more details.

 

#8 Namiri Plains & Sayari by Asilia Serengeti

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Namiri Plains

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Sayari

It was a big year for Asilia in 2019. The luxury company celebrated its 15th birthday and rebuilt two camps, Namiri Plains and Sayari, both set in Tanzania’s Serengeti. Sayari is due to welcome its first guests in June 2020 in time for the annual wildebeest crossings, while Namiri Plains is already open and has shot right to the top of our list of favourite properties!

#7 Ingwe Pan

Providing another reason why we love Mana Pools National Park, Ingwe Pan, a new permanent tented camp, is due to open here in May 2020. Set a few kilometres south of the River Zambezi, this camp is being built by the excellent Machaba Safaris – we have high expectations it’s going to be a good one. Each of the eight eco-luxury canvas tents is positioned on an elevated deck with sweeping views, and the camp will offer a range of expertly guided safari activities.

 

#6 The luxurious side of Rwanda

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Singita Kwitonda

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Magashi

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One&Only Nyungwe House

Now that Rwanda is firmly on the hotlist thanks to its stable gorilla population, it is setting itself apart from Uganda’s similar tourism draw by self-transforming into a luxury location that’s suitable for a single-destination holiday. We’ve been blown away by the luxuries seen in properties like Singita Kwitonda, Magashi, and One&Only Nyungwe House, which are really raising the standards of accommodation across the board in Rwanda. This country is certainly a contender for your next holiday destination!

 

#5 Treehouses

Treehouses are fabulous for spending a night out amongst the stars, surrounded by the local animals. Being so close to nature is utterly thrilling yet there’s a reassuring sense of security as you are suspended well above the wildlife. The company Serian, an operator of industry-defining mobile camps, has decided to build a treehouse called ‘The Nest’, perching it out on a limb in a warburgia tree overlooking the Mara river! Our recommendation? Add a night in The Nest to a stay at Ngare Serian.

#4 Bird nests

If you think treehouses are interesting, what about bird nests? Green Safaris, the pioneering eco-friendly safari operator, has announced that its next property will be Chisa Busanga Camp, aka ‘The Nest’. This property will be located in the heart of the remote Busanga Plains in Kafue National Park, Zambia. It’ll open in June 2020 and its design is inspired by the weaver nests found in the area. Four human-sized birds’ nests will be raised up into the treetops, each boasting outstanding views out over the surrounding floodplains.

#3 YZ New Look

We couldn’t mention the new things happening this year without adding our own new look! 2019 proved to be a big year for us, from the growth of the YZ herd to the latest rebrand – we are now very yellow! And 2020 is set to be even bigger – if you haven’t already, please subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with the latest news.

 

#2 Azura Marlin Beach Lodge

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Due to open in mid-2020, this is a brand-new five-star boutique hotel on one of the most beautiful islands we’ve ever visited. The eco-chic property will include 20 rooms, a watersports and spa area, and a main pool area. Providing a high-end beach property in Mozambique, Azura Marlin Beach Lodge will be ideal for couples and honeymooners looking for a post-safari break!

 

#1 Tusk & Mane Safaris

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Chula Island

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Kutali

This company was founded by Luke Evans and Kyle Branch, private guides who were born and raised in Zambia and Southern Africa. At present, Tusk & Mane operates two camps, Chula Island and Kutali, both located on their own island along the Zambezi river. YZ co-founder Julian visited the camps at the end of 2019 and reckons they offer one of the best experiences in the industry. These camps are seriously adventurous – being static fly-camps, their style is very simple, but for the right kind of traveller, the experience here will blow your mind!

If any of these new camps, lodges, or experiences takes your fancy, please don’t hesitate to contact our experts. We’re happy to answer all enquiries about a tailored safari in 2020 or beyond!