The weakening of South African currency could likely put high-end options at bargain prices for tourists
The back porch of A2A Safaris’ Singita Serengeti House. Photo from A2A Safaris.
As the South African rand dipped to 13 per dollar for the first time in fourteen years last month, speculation arose as to whether or not the country’s tourism market would see a boom in the near future. Many tourists are still impeded from visiting the region by the pervading fear of the Ebola outbreak that gripped West Africa in late 2013. Yet recent WHO reports have been optimistic, and it is likely that considering the weakened rand, tourists will also be able to afford high-end accommodations at bargain rates.
Catering mostly to an Asian market, Singapore-based travel group A2A Safaris has launched a portfolio of luxury villas and private homes spread throughout Africa’s southeastern countries that situate visitors in the middle of the region’s vast cities, plains, lagoons, beaches, and wildlife preserves. Wanting to provide visitors with an absolute experience of residential luxury, most of the villas come with services typical of five-star establishments including personalized butlers and chefs, as well as tour guides and baby-sitters for family groups.
We sifted through A2A’s extensive list of African villas and selected ten locations that best represent the whole lot. Take a look:
1. Zarafa Dhow Suites (Okavango Delta, Botswana)
Located on the Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, Zarafa Dhow Suites overlooks the Zibadianja Lagoon, which sources the Savute Channel, famous for drying up over long periods of time before flowing once again. The lagoon also serves as a water source for a wide variety of animals – buffalos, elephants, and big cats – that have been sighted especially in dry season. The villa occupies a 210-square-meter space, is draped under wide canopy ceilings and netted sides, and can accommodate up to four guests at a time.
2. Singita Serengeti House (Serengeti, Tanzania)
Designed for groups of families and friends, Singita Serengeti is one of Africa’s most stunning safari houses. The property contains two suites in the main house and two garden suites on either side, all of which are maintained by daily onsite staff. Its proximity to a watering hole grants guests a scenic view of passing wildlife, which is only half as spectacular as the million wildebeest who pass every year through the migratory route over which the house is positioned.
3. Villa North Island (North Island, Seychelles)
Almost totally surrounded by sparkling ocean, the Seychelles archipelago is home to thriving populations of giant tortoises. A2A argues that of all the islands of the Seychelles, North Island is its most exclusive one, making it a perfect destination for honeymooners. Visitors can enjoy a range of activities on North Island from traversing cool forest and mountain trails to diving down to come face-to-face with diverse reef life.
4. One Above Penthouse (Cape Town, South Africa)
The One Above Penthouse offers the ultimate in privacy in one of South Africa’s largest cities. The penthouse offers a 360-degree wraparound view of Cape Town, as well as vistas of Table Mountain and Robben Island, two world heritage sites native to Cape Town. It also houses two private swimming pools, an outdoor bar and entertainment deck, a private gym and sauna, and a bottle cellar stocked with up to 280 wines, some of which are the finest that South Africa has to offer. Add to that the services of a private chef and butler, and you’ll find one of the best urban luxury experiences that A2A has to offer.
5. Vamizi Kipila (Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique)
All five bedrooms of the Vamizi Kipila villa face the sea, have private decking, and open up into intimate pathways leading to the beach. Meant to accommodate a large family group, the villa’s dining room is situated under a children’s game room, completely stocked with table-tennis, a television set, books, and board games. The villa is staffed with a private chef and hospitality team, as well as a driver to take guests around in the villa’s 4×4 car. The villa’s activities also include sailing, kayaking, fishing, diving, nature walks, community visits, and picnics.
6. Birkenhead Villa (Hermanus, South Africa)
Birkenhead Villa’s clifftop position affords guests a breathtaking view over Walker Bay, a beach holiday destination in Hermanus best known as a whale watching spot between May and December. Aside from whale watching, families visiting Birkenhead may also embark on voyages around Dyer Island, treks through Hermanus’s lush mountain trails, studies of indigenous birdlife, and adventures in deep-sea fishing.
7. Ellerman House Villa Two (Cape Town, South Africa)
The second house built on the property previously inhabited by shipping magnate Sir John Ellerman and his wife is perched on the slopes of Lion’s Head in Cape Town. The property is the quintessential coastal retreat as it features a panorama view of the Atlantic coastline, which includes world heritage site Robben Island. Ellerman House Villa Two can host up to six people with its three bedrooms, each with an open-plan bathroom and private terrace. The house also has a spacious entertainment area, an outdoor living space, an infinity pool, a designer kitchen, a cinema, and a study.
8. La Clé des Montagnes – Le Colonial (Franschhoek, South Africa)
Le Colonial is one of the La Clé des Montagnes estate’s four villas, each of which owe their names to the unique aesthetic that dictates the villa’s general design. Le Colonial, for instance, is notable for its rich patterns and fabrics, which draw from a fusion of east and north African motifs, including Moroccan tiles. Other than this, there is not much to set apart the four villas from each other, as all of them offer the services of personal butlers and gourmet chefs, and private tours of Franschhoek’s prestigious wine estates, where visitors can create their own unique blend of wine.
9. La Residence Villa Four (Franschhoek, South Africa)
Like La Clé des Montagnes, La Residence is comprised of five villas picturesquely situated in the midst of grape vines and fruit trees on the estate, all of which are distinguished by the theme of the villa’s design. What sets apart Villa Four is that it boasts the largest number of activities to guests – golf, trout fishing, quad-biking, cycling, wine and cheese tasting, helicopter trips, paragliding, hot-air ballooning, and horseback riding. At the same time, the villa’s spaces give guests the best illusion of generosity, thanks to the villa’s high ceilings and open spaces.
10. Grootbos Villa (Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa)
The Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a two and a half hour drive away from Cape Town, immersing visitors into the famous natural shrubland native to the Western Cape of South Africa called fynbos. The Grootbos Villa occupies a thousand-square-meter area and comes with its own private guide, chef, and butler to take care of every visitor’s need. Living spaces open up into sheltered decks and courtyards, allowing the villa to take advantage of the incredible views it affords of hills, dunes, Walker Bay, and the Hermanus mountains in the distance. Guests staying at Grootbos can engage in whale watching, horse riding, quad biking, hiking, fynbos treks, and wine tasting tours.
A2A Safaris’ office can be located at WH Unit 10-B, Lapanday Center, 2263 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City. For inquiries, you can reach them through their website a2asafaris.com or via telephone/fax at +632 9527414.