A yacht crew guide to exploring Southern Africa during downtime

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming in the crew mess about exploring Southern Africa? We’ve been talking to the founder of Tap Expeditions and former chief stewardess Gemma Heyns, to bring crew the top tips and inspiration for planning the trip of a lifetime!

South African Safari Tour - Zebra Sighting Image Credit – Tap Expeditions

Airports in Southern Africa

It does not matter whether you are flying from Europe, America, or Asia. A direct flight to Southern Africa is never far away, making it ideal for a spontaneous and adventurous getaway between a busy charter season and a break away from a dusty shipyard. But where’s the most convenient airport to fly into?

  • Victoria Falls International Airport – VFA provides easy access to Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia. From here, you’ll find direct flights to the Kruger National Park International Airport. Safari goers can easily link a trip to include Chobe National Park in Botswana, the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and the world-famous Kruger National Park with minimal time wasted on travel.
  • O.R. Tambo International Airport – O.R. Tambo International Airport is located in Johannesburg. The airport is not only the largest and busiest airport in Africa, but also the main transport hub of Southern Africa. It offers non-stop flights to over 20 African destinations and six continents globally.

CEO of TAP, Gemma Heyns shares her top travel advice for exploring Southern Africa for the first time:

“People automatically assume that if you book through a travel agent it will be more costly, and you will follow the same itinerary as every other keen holiday maker. However, that is not the case at all, especially when it comes to TAP Expeditions. Our extensive knowledge and love of our beautiful continent helps us to assist tourists to accommodate a trip around their budget, bucket list, and interests. As well as the ability to offer local knowledge. Our team is always on standby to assist with the appropriate ground staff and medical team should anything go wrong.

“Time is precious, and travel is a gift, so treat yourself. The knowledge, respect, and understanding that will grow in people are unmatched through the experience of travel.”

Southern Africa caters to all traveller types. Looking for adventure? TAP Expeditions creates bespoke itineraries curated to your interests and budget, jam-packed with wild activities and unique accommodation. Looking for luxury? Liaise with the TAP team to arrange your once in a life time expedition, fly in and out of the most pristine National Parks, enjoy exclusive dining experiences, and absorb knowledge of the most phenomenal places.

Adventure vs luxury: 8 different accommodations in Southern Africa


Adventure – Linyanti Expeditions 

A remote expedition camp located on the southern banks of the Linyanti River in northern Botswana, Linyanti Expeditions offers everything you need and nothing you don’t, allowing guests to immerse themselves into the wild. A range of activities on offer including walking safaris, Mokoro (traditional canoe) trips, day and night guided safaris provide close interactions with iconic predators like the lion, leopard, and wild dog.

An added bonus: each of the 6 explorer tents has a gazebo extension where guests can slip away into slumber with a bed of stars above.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

Luxury – Little Mombo Camp

The intimate camp is situated on the north-eastern tip of Chiefs Island, inside the Moremi Game Reserve. Little Mombo Camp is nestled under Jackalberry and sausage trees, overlooking the flood plain with 360-degree views of the wilderness beyond.

The camp offers exceptional guiding and luxury facilities including a gym and spa. Camp staff are brilliant at creating unique experiences like bush brunches and close-up wildlife encounters. Conservation is at the heart of the camp, as well as ongoing measures to conserve this environment.

Mombo Camp Botswana - Guided Safaris
Image by Little Mombo Camp


Adventure – Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

The lodge is but a pin prick in the Namib Desert, offering views of the dramatic sand dunes beyond. The lodge offers activities for the avid traveler ranging from scenic drives, guided walks, quad biking and is the gate way to the famous Sossusvlei.

Sossuslei Desert Lodge encompasses its surroundings with indoor and outdoor dining experiences and an on hand astronomer to add new knowledge to the shimmering skies above.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

Luxury – Shipwreck Lodge 

Shipwreck Lodge is 45 kilometers (28 miles) from Möwe Bay, offering guests stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the isolated desert landscapes. Staying in the Shipwreck lodge will allow African travellers to explore and experience an unfiltered and remote slice of the African wilderness.

“There’s much more to the area than simple isolation. Stay at Shipwreck Lodge and game drive in search of desert-dwelling fauna; discover the enchanting desert flora (succulents and lichens); sit atop the dunes as the sun sinks below the horizon; spend the day beach-combing for whale bones and debris from centuries of shipwrecks; and marvel at the geologically-remarkable Clay Castles” – Shipwreck Lodge

Southern Africa:

Adventure – Mjejane River Lodge

Mjejane River Lodge is nestled on the banks of the Crocodile River, a private concession which forms part of the greater Kruger National Park. The Crocodile River attracts a plethora of wildlife looking to quench their thirst. Guests are well positioned to watch the action of the wilderness unfold from their dining table.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

Luxury – Singita Lebombo Lodge

Nestled into the cliff face of the river bank, Singita Lebombo Lodge is filled with organic light-filled structures, floating between the river and sky. “All communal areas of the lodge have been pushed out into nature to ensure that the outside bursts in, offering immersive and meditative spaces set in a dramatic landscape of giant euphorbia trees,” says Lebombo Luxury Lodges.

Apart from the sumptuous private suites, the lodge features a wine studio, library, rooftop terrace, interactive kitchen, espresso bar, help-yourself deli, and a 25-metre lap pool.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions


Adventure – Zambezi Expeditions 

Zambezi Expeditions is a semi-mobile camp situated on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. The camp’s light footprint is reminiscent of the bygone era giving guests an intimate retreat into the untouched Mana Pools National Park. An array of activities are on offer – canoeing on the Zambezi, walking safaris, tiger fishing, and the more conventional game drives.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

Luxury – Somolisa Camp

The two-time award-winning best safari camp is located in the heart of Hwange National Park. The idyllic Somolisa Camp offers an intimate escape into the wilderness. Famous for its elephant pool, it attracts massive herds of elephants to drink at what was once the guest pool. Experience the inquisitive interactions with the herd in this dynamic and intimate setting.

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

READ MORE: Bespoke South African safaris

While many yachties and charter guests are interested in visiting Southern Africa for a safari, they aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to planning one. Southern African safari agency TAP Expeditions have listed 10 recommendations for what to do during a trip to Southern Africa:

1. Victoria Falls flight of the Angels

2. Namibia tour to Sandwich Harbour

Sandwich Harbour in Namibia
Image Credit: Wikipedia

3. Hike to Roland’s cave in the Drakensberg

Roland's cave in the Drakensberg

4. Track Cecil the lions’ pride from Somalisa Camp in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe.

Cecil the lion

5. Experience one of the largest inland deltas in the world by Mokoro. Silently float through the waterways while dodging hippos, watching elephants bathe, and seeing countless other animals.

Exploring Southern Africa by delta

6. Stay at Kruger Shalati – The train on the bridge in Kruger National Park.

Kruger Shalati - The train on the bridge

7. Ride with park rangers (on foot and helicopter) to trek and dart rhinos in Southern Africa to tag and dehorn, joining the ferocious fight against endemic rhino poaching.

Image Credit: TAP Expeditions

8. Hot air balloon over the Namib Desert, Namibia

Hot air balloon over the Namib Desert

9. Wake up in an enchanted villa as giraffes join you for breakfast or a romantic swing in the gardens at the Giraffe Manor, Kenya.

Best things to do when exploring South Africa - Visit the Giraffe Manor
Image Credit: Giraffe Manor

10. Sleep in Meno – a -Kwena sky bed in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana. Nothing between you and wild nature under a blanket of stars.

For inquiries regarding exploring Southern Africa with TAP Expeditions safaris, click here.

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