A yacht crew guide to exploring Southern Africa during downtime

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming in the crew mess about exploring Southern Africa and going on your dream African safari as soon as the season comes to an end? 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 your 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 & 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 it’s also the main transport hub of Southern Africa. It offers non-stop flights to over 20 African destinations and six continents globally.

Before we share with you a list of recommended places to stay and things to do on your African Safari, it’s important to consider that Africa is a continent with a lot of diversity. A destination that provides tourists with a wide range of experiences they wouldn’t be aware of without professional advice. Therefore, to make your trip as memorable as possible, we asked for you!

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.”

The best part about Southern Africa is that it caters to all types of travellers. On a budget? TAP Expeditions can create a bespoke itinerary depending on your budget, packed with the best value tours, accommodation and activities. Looking for luxury? All you have to do is liaise with the TAP team, and they can arrange experiences like no other, from fly-in and fly-out operations in the middle of the most remote National Parks to private chefs and guides.

luxury stays in southern africa

Photo Credit: Tap Expeditions

Adventure vs luxury: 8 different budget accommodations  in Southern Africa


Adventure – Linyanti Expeditions 

Located on the southern banks of the Linyanti River in northern Botswana, Linyanti Expeditions offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with unseen wildlife. Surrounding the area is vast herds of African wildlife, from elephants, buffalo, and zebra to iconic predators such as lion, leopard, cheetah, and wild dogs. TAP Expeditions can arrange for guests to experience Linyanti’s range of activities, including walking safaris, river activities, such as Mokoro trips, and guided day and night game drives.

The bush camp itself has only 6 tents, creating an intimate atmosphere to ensure guests receive a 5* personalised service. Each tent has a gazebo extension for guests to move their beds at night and truly immerse themselves in nature.

Luxury – Little Mombo Camp

The luxurious Little Mombo Camp is situated on the North Eastern tip of Chiefs Islan, inside the remote Moremi Game Reserve. Nestled under Jackalberry and sausage trees, overlooking a floodplain, and offering spectacular views of the local fauna and flora, guests can expect to experience a memorable view of Southern Africa’s finest wildlife from the luxury of their suite.

The Southern African camp focuses its priorities on conservation and providing the highest-quality experience for its guests. Amongst their array of facilities and activities are a gym and spa, bush brunches, presentations on rhino conservation, and incomparable hospitality experiences.

Mombo Camp Botswana - Guided Safaris

Image by Little Mombo Camp


Adventure – Sossusvlei Desert Lodge

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is situated in the heart of the Namib Desert on the farm Vreemdelingspoort; one of the 11 farms that make up the NamibRand Nature Reserve. A dining room, a reference library, and a cocktail bar are located in the main lodge building.

The desert lodge also features verandas, an upstairs viewing deck, and a plunge pool. In the nearby area, guests can enjoy several safari activities organised through the Southern African agency, TAP Expeditions. These can include scenic drives, guided walks, and excursions to the famous Sossusvlei.

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 travelers 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 in the Mjejane Game Reserve, which is part of the Kruger National Park. The location provides close-up, exclusive access to the African wilderness, where you’ll often wake up to witness a pride of lions strolling past your suite, or an elephant herd joining you by the river.

Mjejane River Lodge - Southern Africa

Image by Mjejane River Lodge

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-meter lap pool.


Adventure – Zambezi Expeditions 

Zambezi Expeditions is a semi-mobile tented camp situated right on the banks of the Zambezi River, in Mana Pools National Park. Set under the shade of winter thorns and ebony trees, each tent has en suite bathroom facilities with hot bucket showers. The excellent location enables safari guests to have unique access to the Zambezi River. They can spend their days filled with adventurous canoeing safaris, tracking game along the shorelines by foot, or fishing for tiger fish.

Luxury – Somolisa Camp

The luxurious Somolisa camo is a two-time award-winning Southern African camp, located in the heart of the Hwange National Park. Ideal for a romantic getaway, the intimate safari camp is tucked away under the shade of an Acacia grove, along the edge of Zimbabwe’s ancient seasonal floodplain.

A huge wow factor about Somolisa camp is that a full solar power farm and water purity system allows them to recycle 80% of the water that is used! Helping them to lead the way in eco-friendly safari accommodation.


Image by Somalisa Camp – Hwange

READ MORE: Providing tourists with bespoke South African safari’s

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

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.

Sleep in Meno – a -Kwena sky bed in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park

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

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