Rent an African villa for an exclusive safari experience

Renting a private villa, isn’t a new concept for travelers. In fact, many have been doing it for years in a variety of countries throughout Europe. But now, Kensington Tours is bringing the same concept to southern Africa, delivering a unique take on the experience by offering up luxury villas and safari houses for their clients.

According to Kensington travel expert Brad Crockett, a number of luxury villas have begun appearing in both South Africa and Botswana already, and he predicts that it’ll become a very popular option for families or groups of friends traveling together. These rental houses offer all the luxurious (and then some) of home, but in close proximity to some of the best safari destinations on the planet, allowing you to escape to the wild during the day, then return to a comfortable chateau, complete with a deck, pool, modern kitchen, and luxurious beds.

Kensington, who specializes in luxury adventure travel, has a new safari option that includes a stay at the exclusive Ellerman Villa. The ten day trip offers visitors a glimpse at Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa, and includes a number of unique options that aren’t found on any other trip of this kind. For instance, the journey beings with a visit to Victoria Falls and proceeds to South Luangwa, one of the best places in Africa to spot wildlife. Later, back in Cape Town, the travelers will visit the Cape of Good Hope, take a tour of wine country, and trek up Table Mountain. Check out the full itinerary by clicking here.

Having already gone on the traditional African safari a few years back, the thought of gathering up some good friends and renting a villa for a week sounds really appealing. Spending the day on game drives and then retiring to our rental home for the evening for some good food and a bottle of wine sounds like a fantastic escape, and a great alternative to spending the night in a crowded camp site.

Brits complete London to Cape Town drive in record time.

Awhile back we posted a story about three adventurous Brits who had set out to drive from London to Cape Town in the hopes of setting a new speed record for that route. Their road would take them across three continents and 20 countries, covering more than 10,000 miles in the process. Late last week they completed their mission, arriving at the finish line nearly two days ahead of the previous record.

Mac Mackenney, Chris Rawlings and Steve Mackenney drove their Land Rover Discovery into Cape Town last Thursday, arriving 11 days, 14 hours, and 11 minutes after they had set out. That time beat the old mark, which was set by Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers back in 1963, by 1 day, 18 hours, and 37 minutes. Perhaps even more impressive is that the trio had to average approximately 870 miles per day, in a wide variety of conditions, to arrive when they did.

The three men took turns driving, navigating, and resting, staying on the go nearly all the time. They did blog about their journey on the Max Adventure website, where they told tales of harrowing border crossings, interesting encounters with locals along the way, and the blur of countries they passed through as they sped toward the finish line.

While Mac, Chris, and Steve were certainly hoping to break the speed record, they were also hoping to raise some money and awareness for the Help The Heroes organization, a charitable foundation that helps wounded British soldiers to recover and get on with their lives. The team hoped to raise £10,000 through their adventure to donate to this very worthy cause. As of this writing they’ve raised about a third of that.

Personally, I applaud the boys for setting the new record, but this certainly isn’t the way that I would like to make that same journey. Give me that same Land Rover and I’ll take six months to explore the route. Seems like the ultimate road trip to me!

[Photo credit: Max Adventure]

Driving from London to Cape Town for charity

When it comes to epic road trips, it’s tough to beat the one that Mac Mackenney, Chris Rawlings and Steve Mackenney set out on last weekend. The adventurous trio of Brits hit the road in their trusty Range Rover Discovery in hopes of breaking the speed record for driving from London to Cape Town, South Africa. In order to accomplish that feat, they’ll need to reach their destination in less than 13 days, 8 hours, and 48 minutes.

The journey will take the men through three continents (Europe, Asia, and Africa) and into 21 countries, covering more than 10,000 miles in the process. If they hope to set a new record however, they’ll have little time for sightseeing. The three men will take turns driving, and will barely stop at all along their route.

While they are undertaking their Max Adventure for the challenge of it, they’re also looking to do some good as well. Mac, Steve, and Chris are hoping to raise funds for the Help For Heroes organization, a charity foundation dedicated to offering practical assistance to British soldiers that have been injured in the line of duty. The trio hopes to raise as much as £10,000 (Roughly $15,500) during their trip.

You can follow the progress of the expedition on the team’s website, which includes two clocks, one showing the elapsed time of their drive and another showing how much time they have left to beat the old record. After a week of driving, the boys are in Africa and speeding south, but they still have a long way to go before they reach Cape Town.

This seems like the ultimate road trip to me. Lets grab some drinks and munchies and load up in the Land Rover!

World Cup: other things to do in South Africa

While the World Cup is currently taking center stage in South Africa, the country has plenty of other things to offer travelers who venture away from the stadiums to take in some of the amazing culture and adventure there. Here are five other suggestions for things to do while your favorite team isn’t taking the pitch.

Go on Safari
If you’re going to visit Africa, you simply have to go on safari of course, and South Africa has some of the best game preserves on the continent. Chief among them is Kruger National Park, which is home to lions, elephants, zebras, and the famous cape buffalo. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch a glimpse of the rare black rhino and the elusive cheetah. The park has a variety of lodging options as well, including everything from staying in a tent to a fancy, upscale lodge.

Go Surfing
South Africa sits on the far southern tip of the African continent, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans come together at Cape Agulhas and the Cape of Good Hope. This unique confluence of two oceans generates gigantic waves, and world class surfers from around the globe converge on Cape Town, and other South African cities, to ride the supertubes the region is famous for. Whether you’re an expert or beginner surfer, you’ll find plenty of great surf along South Africa’s spectacular beaches.

Go Scuba Diving
Scuba divers will find plenty to love in South Africa as well. The country’s ample coastlines offer some very diverse dive options for those who prefer to play beneath the ocean. For example, in Sodwana Bay you’ll find a beautiful array of coral reefs and bright tropical fish, but if you head further south to Protea Banks, you’ll get a dive of a completely different kind, complete with sharks and ship wrecks that are sure to get the adrenaline going.Go for a Hike
South Africa has amazingly diverse wilderness areas to explore some of which are best seen on foot. If you get the urge to take a walk, the Drakensberg Mountains offer up spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and trails even pass by primitive cave art that has been around for thousands of years. For an equally challenging hike closer to civilization, stay in Cape Town and make the trek to the top of Table Mountain, the 3550 foot tall, flat-topped mountain offers some great views of the city below and the ocean beyond

Go to the Winelands
When you’re done exploring the adventure travel aspects of South Africa, it’s time to relax and savor some of the other things that country is famous for. SA has become famous for its fine wines, which are exported around the globe, as much as its fantastic natural resources. There are multiple routes through the South African wine country, which is located east of Cape Town, and the region is famous for its breathtaking views and fine dining, as well as the amazing wine that is produced there. Whether you go for a day or for a week, you’ll be enchanted with region, that is a bit of a hidden gem in a country that is known for adventure.

Of course, at the moment South Africa is engulfed in a football frenzy, with travelers arriving from around the globe to watch the World Cup matches. But when those visitors are looking for a little escape from the craziness, they’ll certainly have plenty of options to choose from.

Jessica Watson completes round-the-world sail

16-year old Jessica Watson completed her solo, non-stop, circumnavigation of the globe earlier today, sailing into Sydney Harbor, while hundreds of Australians cheered, and thousands more watched on television. Jessica set out from Sydney last October, and has spent the last seven months navigating the high seas. By returning to the place she started on Saturday, she has become the youngest person to sail alone, unassisted, and without stopping, around the world.

Those seven months at sea offered plenty of challenges for Jessica and her 30-foot ship, the Ella’s Pink Lady. At times she faced massive storms, high winds, and 30-foot swells, as she covered more than 23,000 nautical miles in her journey. Her voyage took her briefly north of the equator before sailing through the treacherous waters around South America’s Cape Horn and Africa’s Cape of Good Hope. Even her return home has been a challenging one, with storms near Tasmania slowing her progress and keeping an element of danger even in the final days.

Despite her amazing journey however, there are many who refuse to recognize her claim on the record of the youngest to sail around the world. For instance, the World Sailing Speed Record Council has set a minimum age of 18 as a requirement for a record to be officially recognized. Other long time sailors say that Jessica’s route was not long enough to be officially recognized either, saying that another 2000 miles would need to be added to compare it to similar feats done in the past. To achieve those extra miles, Jess would have had to spend more time in the Northern Hemisphere.

Jessica’s closest competition for the “youngest around” title was American Abby Sunderland, who is also 16-years old, and a few months younger than her Aussie counterpart. Abby was recently forced to pull into shore in Cape Town, South Africa to under go repairs to her ship, and by doing so, she removed the “non-stop” element from her voyage. Abby will continue on her solo sail however, saying she is as determined as ever to finish what she has started.

Regardless of whether or not the accomplishments of these two young women are seen as a record of any kind, their adventurous spirits are something to be recognized and celebrated. Congratulations to Jessica for her amazing accomplishment, and good luck to Abby on the rest of her journey as well.