All-in-one bush & beach spots you'll love
To take in the best of Africa’s wildlife offerings or relax on its sandy beaches, soothed by the sound of the azure ocean waves? Bush or beach – a conundrum that could tear friends and families asunder when selecting their next holiday destination. Fortunately, there are a few magical destinations on the continent where one can have the best of both worlds in one spot.
So, where in Africa can you find these all-in-one destinations, where both the bush and beach are a hop, skip and jump away from your lodge? Where species such as whales, dolphins, beach-loving elephants and lemurs can add to your bush experience? Have a look at a list of our favourites.
For our recommendations on Africa’s best traditional tried-and-tested bush/beach combo safaris – which require some travel in between destinations – check out our ultimate guide here. Want to go on a one-stop bush-and-beach safari? Check out the various African safari experiences we have on offer here.
The beach safari
Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
As the name suggests, Addo is famous for its elephant sightings, but recent years have seen the park expand to include the Woody Cape Nature Reserve, the Alexandria dune field and a marine portion extending to St. Croix Island and Bird Island. Thus, Addo is the only place in Africa where visitors can see the ‘Big 7’ – the ‘Big 5’ plus dolphins and whales.
The greater Addo ecosystem extends to several private reserves offering all the bells and whistles of the conventional safari experience, with the bonus of being just a short drive from the magnificent Eastern Cape coastline.
For breathtaking views and luxurious chalets, check out Kuzuko Lodge, bordering the national park.
iSimangaliso Wetland Park, South Africa
“iSimangaliso” translates as something “wonderous” or “miraculous” in Zulu, the perfect description for this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hippos abound in the lake systems and reedbeds, while buffalo, rhinos and elephants graze across coastal dune plains and leopards and lions lurk in the thickets.
Offshore migrating humpback whales breach, and from November to February, loggerhead and leatherback turtles drag themselves up the long stretches of sandy beaches. From snorkelling to safari and the Big 5, the massive iSimangaliso Wetland Park has it all.
Kosi Forest Lodge offers an affordable escape amongst the rich biodiversity of the area. At Makakatana Bay Lodge, guests can explore the ecological gem by boat from within the world heritage site. Or try Thonga Beach Lodge, situated deep in this wilderness of white beaches, blazing corals and freshwater lakes.
The beach with added safari
Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique
Mozambique is famous for its spectacular coastlines with soft white sands and crystal-clear waters. It is the perfect spot to settle in the shade of an overhanging palm tree with a cocktail in hand.
However, venturing further inland, intrepid explorers will find a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, giraffes, and a plethora of antelope species. A founding population of cheetahs were also recently released into the park. For a pristine base from which to explore both the bushveld and beach of Maputo Special Reserve, check out barefoot-luxury beach lodge, Anvil Bay.
Hermanus, South Africa
Nestled against the Olifantsberg Mountains and surrounded by nature reserves, the charming seaside town of Hermanus is the complete package. It is famous for whale-watching, shark diving in Walker Bay, and strips of rugged and rocky coastline give way to long stretches of sand.
Not far from Hermanus lies the city of Cape Town, known for its spectacular hikes that look down over the world-famous beaches. Table Mountain National Park, Cape Peninsula National Park, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and several other protected areas display the best of the region’s indigenous flora and fauna, making this a nature lover’s playground.
The safari-style suites at Mosaic Lagoon Lodge, on the edge of the Hermanus Lagoon, border a bird sanctuary and offer many special and picturesque spots for photography enthusiasts.
Incredible coastal wilderness
Loango National Park, Gabon
Nowhere better epitomises the meeting of bushveld and beach than Gabon’s Loango National Park, renowned for its ocean-frolicking hippos and beach-loving forest elephants. Imagine watching the sun rising over the sea as forest buffaloes snooze in the distance in the sand. Away from the beaches, the forests of the Congo basin extend as far as the eye can see, hiding a precious population of Western lowland gorillas in their midst.
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
The beaches of the Skeleton Coast mark the point where the Namib Desert tumbles towards the perfidious, icy currents of the Atlantic Ocean below. Admittedly this is no place to settle on a beach towel with a suitably light novel, but the eldritch setting is astonishingly beautiful. Even more remarkable in this desolate setting, the Skeleton Coast is home to desert-adapted lions, elephants, rhinos, brown hyenas and jackals. Their ability to eke out an existence under such extraordinary conditions truly encapsulates the resilient spirit of wild Africa.
Striking Shipwreck Lodge is the perfect escape for enjoying game drives in search of desert-dwelling fauna, and days spent beachcombing.
Nosy Komba, Madagascar
Madagascar is an island of fascinating evolutionary oddities and myriad diverse travel experiences. Unbeknown to most, its beaches rival those of the more conventional, tropical island paradises like Seychelles or the Maldives.
The best place to enjoy them is on one of the volcanic islands on the country’s northernmost tip. Nosy Komba is unofficially nicknamed the “island of lemurs”, as the densely vegetated interior is home to a vital population of endangered black lemurs. This otherworldly escape will delight wildlife enthusiasts and beach lovers.
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