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04 December 2019

How to choose your beach extension after an African safari

Not sure about which beach destination to combine with your African safari? Here, YZ’s Kirsten helps you to pick the beach extension that’s the best fit with your safari:

Deciding on where to go for your beach extension can be a really tough decision. However, a few factors should help you to narrow down your choices – namely, location of your safari, time of year you are travelling, and budget. As a general rule, I’d say that if you’re travelling to East Africa then your first choices should be Zanzibar or the Kenyan Coast, and if you’re travelling to Southern African then Mauritius and Seychelles should be your top picks. That said, every itinerary is different, and it’s best to run through your preferences with your safari specialist.

Now I’m going to describe each of the beach destinations, to give you a little more information about what to expect from the area. Under each section, I list all of the safari destinations that the beach area can be combined with.

1. Mauritius

Mauritius is the land of the super-resort, with 150 registered hotels on the island. Service levels on the island are superb, competing with some of the best beach destinations around the world. Mauritius also offers some of the best value for money when it comes to luxury resorts, especially if you’re celebrating your honeymoon or wedding anniversary. Some hotels will offer anything from 5 to 50 per cent discount for a honeymoon couple, so your money certainly does get you a bit more luxury here. However, what Mauritius does not really offer is that exclusive get-away-from-it-all-on-a-private-island feel, so if you’re looking for a more exclusive experience then I would consider the Seychelles – but with the reminder that this destination does come with a hefty surcharge.

The other thing I would consider is the time of year you are travelling. If you’re travelling during the period from January to March, please be aware that this is the cyclone season – there is a chance there will be some grey or wet days. That said, as this is summertime on the island there will also be days of bright sunny skies, so January–March travel is a little risky but worth it if the weather co-operates. May to July is winter in Mauritius, so the ocean temperatures can be slightly chillier than other times of the year and there can be some cooler winds.

sun loungers, oberio beach, north coast mauritius safaris
island view, south coast mauritius, africa safaris

The best safari destinations for a Mauritius add-on

South Africa – Mauritius is one of the best choices for a beach holiday following safari in South Africa. At YZ, we normally suggest spending a night in Johannesburg between your safari and the beach. There are two flights from Johannesburg – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Alternatively, if you are spending time in Cape Town, there is a direct flight from the Mother City to Mauritius.

Tanzania – There are a couple of flights from Kenya’s Nairobi to Mauritius, which does mean you have to spend a night in either Arusha or Nairobi in order to make this flight – but it is possible. However, Mauritius is not my first choice for a beach break after a Tanzania safari.

Kenya – Direct flights from Nairobi to Mauritius makes Mauritius a very convenient add-on from Kenya’s safari areas. Some flights depart early in the day, so you will need to spend a night in Nairobi beforehand, while others leave later in the evening – this means you will get to Mauritius in the early hours of the morning.

Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – All of these areas connect with Mauritius via Johannesburg, so you will need to spend a night there before flying to the island.

2. Seychelles

The Seychelles is made up of roughly 115 islands. The main island, Mahé, is much like Mauritius in terms of offering lots of large resorts, but it does feel a bit more tropical and you do have the option of visiting some of the smaller islands as a day trip from Mahé. Travellers to the Seychelles can also visit the two smaller islands of Praslin and La Digue, which are great additions if you have a bit more time and want to do some island hopping but don’t necessarily have the budget to stay on a private island. Finally, there’s the option of spending time on a private island. This is by far the most expensive option in the Seychelles, as it usually involves flying on small planes or helicopters to get to the island – and the accommodation prices are quite a bit higher than the larger resorts. Flights to the private islands are usually at set times, so you may need a night in Mahé before or after your private island stay.

With regard to the weather on the Seychelles, it’s cyclone season from December to March, but as the archipelago is technically outside the cyclone belt there is little chance of experiencing this. However, the areas situated around the cyclone may have quite a bit of rain and some grey days. Overall, the Seychelles are more expensive than Mauritius, and as there are few all-inclusive options you can end up spending a big chunk of money while you are here.

aerial view of mahe island, seychelles, africa safaris
palm tree, praslin island, seychelles, africa safaris

The best safari destinations for a Seychelles add-on

South Africa – The Seychelles makes for a great addition to a South African safari! There’s a direct afternoon flight from Johannesburg to Mahé, but we do suggest a night in Johannesburg between the two.

Tanzania – It is possible to get to the Seychelles from Tanzania. There’s a midday flight necessitating a night in Nairobi or Arusha before you board, or there is a later flight that gets you into the Seychelles at roughly 2am.

Kenya – Direct flights with Kenya Airways can take you to Mahé. Again, there’s a midday flight or an evening flight. You will still most likely need to stay in Nairobi if you want to take the midday flight, and for the evening flight you should be able to fly into Nairobi in time to connect.

Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia – As with Mauritius, you’ll need to travel via Johannesburg. This option calls for a night in Johannesburg – and then, depending on your destination, you will most likely need a night on Mahé on arrival.

3. Zanzibar

Zanzibar is an island just off Tanzania’s mainland. Together with its surrounding islands Pemba and Mafia, Zanzibar offers some of the best diving in the Indian Ocean. The weather follows the traditional safari patterns, with the best months being December to March and June to October. December to March is summer, so temperatures can get increasingly high, whereas June to October offers very comfortable temperatures for being on the beach. East Africa experiences the long rains from April to May and then the short rains in November. Some properties close during the long rains season. In our opinion, Zanzibar is an excellent choice as it offers so many different options – there’s something to suit all travellers here.

Beach views, Zuri Zanzibar, Tanzania, Africa
39cMeliaZanzibar JettyEntrance

The best safari destinations for a Zanzibar add-on

Tanzania – This is the top choice for clients looking to add on a beach destination from Tanzania. There are flights from all of the country’s safari areas to Zanzibar, Mafia, and Pemba, making this a seamless connection between bush and beach!

Kenya – If you’ve exhausted your options on the Kenyan Coast then Zanzibar is a great choice to combine with your safari in Kenya. There’s a direct daily flight from Nairobi’s Wilson Airport that will get you into Zanzibar in the late afternoon. The downside here is, you will need to get a visa for Tanzania and a yellow fever vaccination.

South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – We normally recommend looking at areas like Mauritius, the Seychelles, or Mozambique due to the distances involved and the lack of connections to Zanzibar. However, these bush-and-beach combinations are possible, as there’s a direct flight on the low-cost airline Mango that goes from Johannesburg to Zanzibar once per week.

4. Mozambique

Mozambique is one of Africa’s best beach destinations. We tend to focus on the Quirimbas and Bazaruto archipelagos. Both offer a more private island feel while keeping the African culture and hospitality that you’re used to on safari. The majority of the properties we focus on require a helicopter or light aircraft flight from the main island, so you really are getting away from it all.

As regards the weather, it’s cyclone season from December to March and I usually suggest looking for an alternative beach option from January to March. April to November is idyllic in Mozambique, with perfect temperatures both in the sea and on land. Overall this is a more expensive beach destination due to the remote location of the islands, but if you have the budget for it then I would strongly suggest it!

Benguerra Island Dhow Bar
aerial view of quirimbas beach, mozambique safaris

The best safari destinations for a Mozambique add-on

South Africa – Mozambique is the perfect add-on from South Africa, especially as there’s a direct flight five times weekly from Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport to Vilanculos, the gateway to Bazaruto. Another option is to drive up from KwaZulu-Natal into southern Mozambique, but this is a long drive through very rural areas.

Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – A great choice after your safari from any of these destinations. There are direct flights daily from Johannesburg to most areas of Mozambique, but please note that, as the departure times are usually in the morning, you’ll need an overnight in Johannesburg between your safari and beach.

Kenya and Tanzania – Currently there are flights from Nairobi to Pemba, but they’re on an airline that’s blacklisted at the moment – for this reason, we don’t recommend this routing.

5. Kenyan Coast

Here’s a summary of this destination. The Kenyan Coast is our top choice when combining safari in Kenya with some time on the beach. The main areas we tend to suggest are Diani and the Lamu Archipelago. Diani is the most commonly visited as it offers seamless connections between the safari areas in Kenya and the coast.

camel back safaris, diani beach, kenya holidays
Manda Bay swing bed

If you’re looking to explore something a little farther afield then the Lamu Archipelago is a great choice – it has been compared with a more authentic Stone Town, so it's perfect if you enjoy your culture. I wouldn’t usually combine the Kenyan Coast with any other areas in Africa. Concerning the weather, you’re following the safari weather patterns, so June to March are your drier months, while April and May see the long rains. All in all, if you’re looking for a convenient beach add-on from Kenya, I would always suggest the Kenyan Coast.

6. Lake Malawi

Finally, what about a lake beach holiday? Lake Malawi is the perfect choice when you’re combining a safari in either Malawi or Zambia’s South Luangwa with some time on the beach. Although this is not your traditional ocean destination, it still offers a very similar experience to the likes of Zanzibar and Mozambique. You’ll be able to do all your usual beach activities, and you’ll enjoy some amazing cultural experiences too.

boat on lake malawi, southern africa safari holidays
gbp pumulani 1016

There’s a direct flight from the South Luangwa to Lilongwe, making this a super-easy connection! The weather follows the safari circuit, so the best time to be here is from May to November. Overall, we feel Lake Malawi is a great option if you’d like to spend some time on a beach after a safari in either Zambia or Malawi.

If you’re interested in a beach break after your African safari, just let us know when you enquire with one of our experts here. Alternatively, please take a look below for more inspiration:

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