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Top Safari Upgrades

May 18, 2023  By: Gretchen

The simple act of getting away often seems like a luxury these days, which is why we like to maximize our experiences when traveling. We work hard to plan customized, memorable trips, and we think it’s a great idea to add some special touches to take your safari to the next level. With that in mind, we’d like to share our top safari upgrades to consider for your next safari!

Photo courtesy Scenic Air Namibia
Namibia's Diamond Coast from above


There is often a lot of movement while on safari –between destinations and activities like a game drive or a hot air balloon ride. We are big proponents of upgrading these forms of transportation, or in many cases, taking them private. Here are a few ideas…

  • Helicopter rides – these can be scenic or for speedier transport (though still scenic!) and can be shared or private. We’ve soared above the Busanga Plains in Zambia, along Cape Town’s scenic coastline, above the ‘Thousand Hills’ of Rwanda, over Botswana’s Okavango Delta and more – and there’s no more breathtaking way to see Africa than from above!
  • Scenic flights – another ‘from the air’ opportunity! These can be as simple as flights between camps which are invariably scenic, or more focused like soaring above Namibia’s Diamond Coast. It’s one of the most remote areas in the world and the sight of endless dunes, shipwrecks and colonies of sea lions leaves a lasting impression.
  • Hot air balloon rides – can you tell we like taking to the skies? This is a wonderful and peaceful way to soar above sights like the Serengeti’s endless plains or Namibia’s crimson dunes.
  • Private vehicles – if you’d like for your game drive to be 100% your own, consider a private vehicle. You can decide how your days will flow, how long you are at a sighting and make every moment yours.
  • Train journeys – you can fly from Johannesburg to Cape Town, but what about a luxury train journey? We love a trip on Rovos Rail, which harkens back to a different age in Africa, or on the more contemporary-styled Blue Train. The romance of the journey and the chance to slow down and soak in the sights is mesmerizing.

Private guiding

Do you have special interests? Hiring a private, specialist guide affords you exclusive access to incredible expertise and a focus on what you most want to see, such as a rare bird like the Shoebill in Uganda, the life of desert lions in Namibia, or the history of Zululand in South Africa. How about a private jewelry shopping guide or art expert in Johannesburg?

Safari at Cottar's Private Bush Villa in the Masai Mara, Kenya
Staying in a private villa is the ultimate luxury


There is a huge variety of properties throughout Africa, and we will work with you to select the level of accommodation that’s right for you. For the ultimate in luxury or for families traveling together, we suggest booking a private villa for your safari. You can count on total privacy, the ability to set your own schedule, all the amenities of a regular camp or lodge (and then some) and more such as private chefs, private pools, butler service and private vehicles!

Cape Grace Bascule Bar in Cape Town, South Africa
Bascule Bar at the Cape Grace stocks more than 400 whiskies, along with an exceptional wine collection

Food & Wine

There are so many opportunities to delve into the food and beverage cultures of Africa – from private wine tastings in historic properties to whisky flight tastings at Bascule Bar in the Cape Grace, one of Cape Town’s best hotels. We can arrange cooking classes with renowned chefs, as well as culinary instruction in regional cuisine, giving the chance to explore unusual local ingredients.

Maybe you’d rather eat than cook? We can recommend restaurants to suit your taste from Kloof Street House and The Potluck Club in Cape Town to sumptuous Ethiopian dinners and traditional entertainment in Addis Ababa. We can also arrange private dining, access to pop-up dinners, culinary tasting tours…the sky’s the limit! Our Safari Concierge team will assist you with dining arrangements before you depart.

Gootbos Spa in South Africa
The spa at Grootbos Lodge is one of our favorites

Spa Treatments

We love spending time at the spa to feel truly indulged and doing it while on vacation makes it doubly special! Not all spas are created equally, so we’ve done the hard work of selecting an exclusive list of our favorites. While we think a massage on the banks of the Zambezi is every bit as amazing as one in a plush environment, for our list, we concentrated on full-service spas that are renowned for their facilities, services and experiences. Visit our blog to check out our list of top spas, then contact a Journey Specialist to talk through incorporating one into your safari!

Kids at aquarium
Kids and adults alike will love a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium

Family Upgrades

Family travelers need luxury too, and we haven’t forgotten about you and the kids! Family fun ideas include Cape Town’s Two Oceans aquarium followed by family movie night complete with popcorn and milkshakes, preceded by a specially prepared in-room meal. With gingerbread decorating, Africa-themed story-time, bath-time toys and special kiddies’ menus, a family escape will be made memorable for all.

While on safari, we recommend upgrading to a private vehicle for families with younger children or for those who want a more intimate family vacation. If you let us know in advance, we can also arrange childcare at most of our camps and lodges so you can have a twilight dinner, a romantic stargazing session or a private game drive without the children.

Do You Want to Add Something Extra to Your Safari?