Safaris equal early mornings – that’s a fact. And after a few days of game drives at dawn and coffee with the proverbial sparrows, a spot of hammock-lounging by the sea might be just the ticket.
Roll up the ‘bush-and-beach combo’, which is exactly what it says on the tin.
With more and more daily flights out to the picture-perfect coastline and the tiny islands of the Indian Ocean, East Africa is one of the easiest destinations to combine bush and beach safaris. Read on for our pick of the bunch…
1. Serengeti & Zanzibar Island
Salt & pepper, gin & tonic, Serengeti & Zanzibar. Some combinations shouldn’t be messed with and a safari across the golden-hued plains of the Serengeti followed by some downtime on the Spice Island is one of them. With six flights a day from Arusha to Zanzibar and only one and half hours flying time, the sultry island couldn’t be easier to get to. Wake up to the pastel-hued sunrise of the Serengeti and fall sleep to the languid rhythm of island life – this is flying-and-flopping made easy.
2. Selous & Mafia Island
Most people come to Tanzania looking for big cats and maybe an elephant or fifty. But what about rainbow-tinged clownfish, enormous, prehistoric turtles and clouds of tropical rays? Seek out both with a safari in Selous, followed by a quick jaunt to Mafia Island and dive one of the best sites in the world, the Mafia Island Marine Park. If diving’s not your thing, take a visit anyway – in amongst the coral and clownfish you’ll find white sandy beaches of the deserted kind, crying out for cocktail-sipping. With a direct flight from the Selous of just under two hours (and a brief stopover in Dar), it would be rude not to….
3. Samburu & Msambweni Beach
Swap your dusty boots for sandy flip-flops and see a different side to Kenya at Msambweni Beach, just south of Mombassa. Literally worlds apart from the Samburu warriors and dusty savannah-scapes of the north, Msambweni is all about the coconut palms, pristine sands and azure waters. It’s also one of the lesser known spots on the Kenya coast so whilst it might require an extra hour on the road, it’s worth every second for the secluded, blissed-out luxury at the end. Flights from Samburu will all stop briefly in Nairobi before heading down to the coast, but with no border crossings to deal with it’s still a hassle-free combination.
Itinerary: Samburu, Mara & the Sea
4. Masai Mara & the Seychelles
No longer only the preserve of high-spending, yacht-mooring beach aficionados, the glittering islands of the Seychelles can make an excellent addition to a safari in the Mara. Travel does involve an overnight stay in Nairobi but with direct flights out of the city landing on the beach in Mahe three hours later, it’s still an easy journey from the bush. Once in Mahe, hop on a ferry to Praslin; it’s quick and easy on the wallet, leaving you more pennies to enjoy the high-life in this extraordinary paradise.
Itinerary: East Africa Bush and Beach on a Budget
5. Serengeti & Mauritius
For a truly wildlife-centric holiday, try combining a classic Serengeti trip with a marine safari in Mauritius. Yes, it’s got palm fringed beaches and talcum-white sands by the bucket load but there’s a different side to the island too. We’re talking clouds of tropical fish, whale and dolphin in the gin-clear waters and the rare pink pigeon, Mauritian kestrel and giant tortoise on land, as well as some of the richest and mesmerising jungle-scapes of any tropical island. Flights from Dar tend to route through Nairobi so tick off another wildlife-hotspot with a few days in the Mara on the way.