With a shift from traditional to more authentic safari experiences, increasing numbers of travellers want the bucket-list African experience without sacrificing luxury elements, such as service, accommodation, and cuisine. Tourism Update unpacks the term ‘luxury adventure’, as the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

According to Chris Anagnostellis, CEO of An African Anthology, the definition of luxury adventure would depend on the adventure undertaken and, as a result, is a relative term. One can relate adventure to a number of activities, says Anagnostellis. “In other words any adventure that has a degree of luxury built around it – be it accommodation, transport, cuisine or location – would define the adventure as luxury.”  

More and more tourists are opting for luxury adventures. “Certain travellers, whilst wanting to experience the adventure, don’t necessarily want to ‘rough it’ in order to take part in the experience, and have the discretionary spend to ensure that their experience includes the luxury component,” says Anagnostellis.

According to Dean Cherry, Director of Nhongo Safaris and Satsa Vice Chairman – Gauteng Chapter, luxury adventure is on the rise, as an increasing amount of people are making a considerable more money these days, therefore there is a natural growth in demand.

An African Anthology has noted that luxury adventure appeals to a broad market, and typically throughout all source market there are high-income individuals who have the means to take advantage of luxury travel. Adding to this, Anagnostellis says An African Anthology thus far has seen luxury adventure travellers mainly from the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, as well as Europe.

Luxury adventure has been seen mainly in the traditional source markets, says Cherry, such as the US, UK, India, Germany, Middle East. “But there are some new ones. We have just had a group of ladies in their fifties from Australia and New Zealand, travelling on Rovos Rail. So I think there are many more source markets that would go for the luxury bracket of travel, if they knew more about it.”

What sets Africa apart from other destinations is its ability to offer unique natural activities compared with other adventure activities that might be on offer elsewhere, says Anagnostellis.

Southern and East Africa offer some of the finest natural adventures, ranging from safaris, marine activities, mountain adventures and wildlife experiences and, as a result, An African Anthology has built unique luxury offerings around these, ranging from accommodation, transport (be it helicopter, aircraft, vehicle) to cuisine and hosting.

Credits: An African Anthology.

Anagnostellis explains: “In a nutshell we have taken maximum advantage of our offerings and exploited them to a higher Living Standards Measure (LSM) in order to maximise the opportunity. A good example of this is the Okavango Delta and Victoria Falls – natural wonders of the world. It is an adventure to visit these areas and around this we have built a luxury offering coupling the adventure.”

Credits: Camp Jabulani.

Camp Jabulani in Kapama Game Reserve, offers guests an array of decadent add-ons and services; however it is best known for its Big Five safari experience, and one-of-a-kind elephant experience, known for its rescued herd.  

Credits: Camp Jabulani.

Guests opting for the Jabulani Elephant Interactions at the camp are afforded the opportunity to interact closely with Africa’s gentle giants. In addition, the camp provides a number of luxury driven adventures, such as hot air ballooning in Hoedspruit and helicopter flights.  After a full day in the sun, guests can retreat to Camp Jabulani’s world-class accommodation, with a glass of wine and a dip in their private pool.

Credits: Zambezi Crescent, Victoria Falls River Lodge.

The luxury Victoria Falls River Lodge in Zimbabwe offers guests a variety of on- and off-site adventure activities, such as the longest zip-line in the world, suspended 120 metres above the Zambezi River, hurtling 425 metres across the gorge; the Flying Fox, where guests get to take a running jump into thin air over the Zambezi below, with the gorge being 200 metres wide and 120 metres deep; helicopter flights of Victoria Falls and surrounds are available; as well as the Zambezi river cruise, a relaxed luxury adventure in itself, as guests float down the river, whilst enjoying sundowners amongst hippos and elephants.

Credits: Zambezi Crescent, Victoria Falls River Lodge.

Great Plains Conservation runs the seven days/six nights Greater Mana Expedition, which opened for the first time in June, every second day, between May and November, a journey of adventure taking in three distinct camps spaced 20km apart. Each of the camps has just three accommodation units, taking just six guests with the same highly skilled Zimbabwean professional guide throughout.

Guests explore the Sapi Reserve, as well as a day in the neighbouring Mana Pools National Park, with guided walks and, when based beside the Zambezi River, canoeing, boating and catch-and-release fishing is on offer, as well as day and night game drives.

Whilst the first and last of the three camps are authentic, tented ‘bush camps with style’ on the banks of the Zambezi, the middle camp is set deep in the interior, a raised tree camp, with star-bed platforms overlooking the dry bed of the Sapi River and a life-giving spring.

Another authentic African adventure is stargazing and gorilla trekking and, with the new One&Only Nyungwe House Rwanda, guests can rest assured no element of luxury will be compromised.

Wilderness Safaris has also tapped into luxury adventure with Bisate Lodge, adjacent to the Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda. It combines the bucket-list gorilla trek with pioneering vision of reforestation, and community partnerships. Bisate was one of Rwanda’s first genuinely luxurious and eco-sensitive safari camps.

Credits: Wilderness Safaris.

Luxury adventure is not about the activity per se, but more about the entire adventure, incorporating a sense of luxury amongst adventure when in Africa.