The super-rich have always liked Africa. Perceived as dark and dangerous, yet vibrant and colourful, the continent has traditionally been a top choice for the wealthy thanks to its ability to deliver holidays unlike anywhere else in the world. Liesl Venter finds out more about these high-end travellers.

Millionaire tourism in Africa has been on the rise for several years. In 2016 a study by a Johannesburg-based research institution found that in a period of 12 months around 43 000 individuals with nett assets of $10 million or more visited the continent for a holiday.

With the current exchange rate this is hardly surprising, says Chris Anagnostellis, Chief Operations Officer of An African Anthology.

“If one considers that in a top luxury establishment in London the super-rich will pay £10 000 for a penthouse per night, then paying R140 000 (£7 700) per night in Africa for a penthouse is not that out of the ordinary.”

While this might sound like a lot of money to the average traveller, for a multi-millionaire, luxury in Africa is relatively cheap – all things considered.

“And our offerings are incredible,” says Anagnostellis.

“Africa has become expert at delivering experiences and this is what the super-rich are craving more than anything else.”

Most people dream of that luxury holiday one day when their ship comes in, but for the average multi-millionaire anything is possible.

“Predominantly these travellers are still from the US, but the Scandinavians, Arabic countries, certain South Americans and Baltic countries have also entered the extreme luxury market in a big way,” says Anita Streich, MD of African Travel Concept luxury division, Elite Travel Concept.

“Africa (mainly the southern part) is considered a safe destination. And it is a new experience for many. They have travelled and seen the world and now they are looking for new and different things to do.”

Ranging in age and income, some are born into wealth while others are self-made.

“We are seeing an increasing amount of visitors who have created their own wealth and are rewarding themselves with luxury experiences in Africa,” says Anagnostellis.

“Because the creation of wealth has been so exponential, so has the demand increased.”

“This market also includes multi-generational families on a trip-of-a-lifetime, business travellers extending their trip to add on some leisure time, and wealthy retired couples,” says Janie van der Spuy, luxury travel and hospitality specialist and Head of Fivestar PR.

“The world is also seeing extreme high-end travellers emerging from a new generation of young entrepreneurs and top earners within the technology, finance and investment, media and entertainment and other industries. This brings a younger, and more adventurous high-end traveller into the mix, some of whom are travelling with young children too,” she said.

What are the experiences they are after?

“Safaris, the bush, remote wilderness locations and Africa’s wild animals are all firm favourites,” says Nik Lloyd-Roberts, Commercial Manager of Federal Airlines.

“The Sabi Sand remains top of the bucket list for most high-end safari travellers. There has also been an increase in guests wanting to visit Zimbabwe and this sees an increase in private charters to remote parts of this beautiful country.”

The Sabi Sand remains top of the bucket list for most high-end safari travellers.

According to Streich, demand for countries like Angola and Zambia is increasing.

“They want to go to places that are not the obvious countries people travel to and that is part of the attraction. Exclusive is the key word.”

She says immersive experiences are also gaining track where the traveller is given the opportunity to live like a local.

“It is all about responsible luxury that involves giving back to society. And something that affords them ‘bragging rights’ among their peers to a certain extent.”

According to Streich, high-end travellers are prepared to pay for exclusive destinations and experiences.

Says Van der Spuy: “Combined with having all, or most of the comforts they are used to at home, high-end travellers are seeking a sense of mystery and adventure. They want to interact with local people and they care about nature and sustainability. They want to be enriched by their travels, get close to the earth and enjoy fresh and simple food that is beautifully presented.”

She says first-class airline passengers are rarely interested in the gourmet fare and French Champagne on offer at 35 000 feet these days. “They are paying for exclusivity and convenience, more space, less chaos, attentive service and comfort. The same expectations exist for their travel experience on the ground.”