Quick Exotic Breaks in Africa and the Indian Ocean
Everyone loves a ‘quick’ break from our daily routine but if you add an exotic safari or beach destination to the equation, things become really exciting. We live close to many superb African and Indian Ocean Island holiday destinations and after just a short flight you find yourself in a whole new world.
Here are some suggestions for the best quick, exotic breaks in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The island of Zanzibar is the new beach playground for South Africans and it’s less than a four hour flight away. Luxury resorts are dotted along the coastline with wide beaches opening onto the azure waters of the Indian Ocean. You can relax by the pool or beach by day, then dine under the stars and dance the night away to the music of a local band.
Local activities not to miss on a holiday to Zanzibar:
- Diving and snorkeling in the warm Indian Ocean, rich in marine life
- Take a tour around ancient Stone Town with its winding lanes, little donkeys, and famous Arabic doors
- Take a leisurely dhow tour around the island, or enjoy a sunset cruise
- Visit a spice farm and learn why Zanzibar is called the Spice Island
- See the rare red colobus monkeys in the Jozani Forest National Park
How to get to Zanzibar: Either fly direct to Stone Town, or via Dar es Salaam in Tanzania or Nairobi in Kenya, and get ready to enjoy your Zanzibar package holiday.
'The Smoke That Thunders' is a most appropriate name for Victoria Falls which is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site but also one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Falls are surrounded by a lush national park in a rain forest created by the spray. The Falls can be reached from both the Zimbabwean and Zambian sides of the Zambezi River.
Choose carefully as there are too many activities to tackle on a short stay:
- See the magnificent Falls from up close in the rain forest
- Bungy jump from the famous bridge over Batoka Gorge
- The zip line is hair-raising but exhilarating!
- Water activities include sunset river cruises, thrilling white-water rafting, kayaking and fishing
- There is excellent game viewing in the area, or you can enjoy a night over the border in Botswana’s Chobe National Park
- A helicopter or microlight flight will give you a bird's eye view of the entire Falls, and is often referred to as ‘The Flight of Angels’
- Victoria Falls village is a hive of activity with craft markets, restaurants and an active nightlife
- A steam train sunset drinks and dinner package is also a great way to see the Falls from the bridge dating back to 1902.
- Treat yourself to high tea on the patio of the grand old lady – The Victoria Falls Hotel
How to get to Victoria Falls: A direct flight to Victoria Falls Town in Zimbabwe is the easiest entry, although you can also fly directly to Livingstone which is on the Zambian side.
Namibia is a country of great contrasts and home to the oldest desert in the world. But the country is not all desert. The south is home to the Fish River Canyon - the second largest in the world and which forms a natural border between South Africa and Namibia. The mighty Namib Desert in the center of the country dips down to the Skeleton Coast and is home to lion, elephant, giraffe and rhino which are all specially adapted to the desert climate. In the north is Etosha National Park which is centered around a vast salt pan edged with water holes which guarantee a steady footfall of animals.
There are many exciting activities to choose from:
- Climb the highest dunes in the world at Sossusvlei
- Swakopmund is a unique colonial town on the west coast with a promise of German cuisine and local beer when you finish your busy sightseeing schedule
- The really active can hike into the Fish River Canyon and there are many viewpoints to take in the spectacular panorama especially at sunset.
- Etosha National Park is one of the most sought after game parks in Africa – come and find out why
- Windhoek is a great stop off point and a night out in a beer garden is simply a must
How to get to Namibia: self-driving to Namibia is an option from Cape Town (the Cape Namibia Route is long, straight and fairly traffic-free!) but you can also save time by flying to Windhoek (2 hours from either Cape Town or Johannesburg) or to Swakopmund or Walvis Bay on the coast.
The many islands of the Maldives have always been regarded as expensive but the downturn in travel has been to our advantage and there are loads of affordable deals to these shining pearls in the Indian Ocean.
Here are some of our recommended activities:
- Soak up the sun from your water villa, set on stilts over the ocean
- Take every opportunity to scuba dive on the reefs
- Discover the joy of snorkeling in the marine-rich waters
- Enjoy all the water sports on offer
- A sunset cruise is both romantic and unforgettable
How to get to the Maldives: Depending on your airline, you’ll likely have one stop en-route (such as via Doha) before arriving in the capital, Male, for your Maldives holiday.
The long coastline of Mozambique offers many superb and secluded lodges right on the beautiful coastline, as well as the remote and unspoiled islands of Bazaruto, Benguerra, and the Quirimbas. This is a source of many activities not to mention clear warm waters and delectable seafood. Discover cosmopolitan Maputo for a great weekend away or opt for a longer stay at one of the famous beach resorts which are priced for all budgets.
Here are our recommendations:
- Maputo is a great weekend getaway destination
- The coast is a mecca for scuba diving and snorkeling
- Swim with whale sharks
- Sail to remote beaches on a dhow – take a picnic along
- Enjoy all the water sports on offer
- Catch a trophy fish with beach or deep sea fishing
- Eat all the prawns you can – the seafood barbecues are legendary
How to get to Mozambique: You can fly directly to Maputo from South Africa with your Mozambique holiday package, or connect to smaller places like Vilancuos and Pemba. You can also do a land-based border crossing, but be prepared to wait in the queue.
This is the land of big game parks and massive herds in a collection of reserves. The Masai Mara is regarded as one of Africa's most magnificent reserves and should be on the to-do list for all wildlife enthusiasts. While the coastal areas around Mombasa are popular with sun worshippers the game parks are the big attraction. There is a variety of safari accommodation, from safari hotels, classic lodges and tented camps, to a more rustic, mobile bush breaks experience.
Do not miss out on some of the best things to see:
- The Masai Mara Reserve is the northern extension of the Serengeti in bordering Tanzania and here you can view the awesome annual migration from July to October.
- Don't overlook Amboseli National Reserve overlooked by snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro for exceptional elephant sightings
- Lake Nakuru is famous for its huge flocks of pink flamingos during season
- There are many more game parks including Tsavo and Shaba National Parks – the latter made famous in the movie Born Free
How to get to Kenya: you can enjoy direct flights from South Africa to Nairobi with your Kenya holiday package, where you can either catch a shorter connecting flight into the parks, or enjoy a land transfer.
The country is known for its vast wilderness areas including the Serengeti National Park and the Kilimanjaro National Park. Here too, you can witness the yearly great migration when millions of zebra and wildebeest move into Kenya and then follow the rains back into Tanzania again. There is much to do in this vast and unspoiled country:
- View the vast herds on the plains of the magnificent Serengeti National Park
- Take a dawn balloon safari over the Serengeti
- Be sure to stay on the edge of the crater at the Ngorongoro Crater with its unique ecology in this vast collapsed volcanic crater.
- Head to some of the untouched reserves such as the Mahale Mountains or Gombe Stream for unique primate experiences
How to get to Tanzania: You can fly directly to Dar Es Salaam from South Africa with your Tanzania holiday package, or alternatively enjoy a more affordable flight with stopovers.
Call Thompsons Holidays for a list of the latest quick exotic breaks on offer and you will be surprised at the great deals available. Start packing and get going on a refreshing break!