Anyone who has traveled to Africa knows that trying to combine stopovers in countries as far away as Morocco, South Africa and Rwanda into one trip would be logistically impossible given the difficulty of flight connections on that continent. But starting in September, the travel company Abercrombie & Kent is organizing a comprehensive seven-country tour of the continent’s greatest hits. “Africa: Across a Continent By Private Jet” will span from north to south and east to west, linking iconic views of wildlife, natural wonders and ancient cultures. Price: $134,500.
“We’ve been planning safaris for more than 60 years, and this is the most comprehensive trip to Africa we’ve ever offered,” says A&K founder, co-chairman and CEO Geoffrey Kent. Only after the land mass, it must be. The journey begins in London on September 29th with one night at the Four Seasons Hotel London in Ten Trinity Square. The next day, the 48 guests depart on a customized Boeing 757 (stretch seats, state-of-the-art kitchen, including an espresso machine) to Cairo and a stay at St. Regis Cairo, the city’s best, which opened last year. While there, guests explore the Pyramids of Giza and, accompanied by an Egyptologist, walk between the paws of the Sphinx instead of viewing it from a nearby hill surrounded by tourists. The next day, 757 flies to Luxor for a day trip to see the tombs of the New Kingdom pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings and the Karnak Temple, Egypt’s largest.
The journey continues to Rwanda to experience unique interaction with mountain gorillas, highlighted by a discussion with a gorilla doctor tasked with helping to conserve this endangered species. The next day, there is the opportunity to hike to see the golden monkeys, explore a traditional bazaar, or rest from the previous day’s climbs and enjoy a massage. Followed by visits to the research center founded by renowned anthropologist Dian Fossey and a private visit to the Iby’iwacu Cultural Center to learn about Rwandan culture. Guests stay in two intimate, atmospheric lodges near mountain gorilla habitat in Volcanoes National Park: One & Only Gorillas Nest and Singita Kwitonda Lodge.
Next stop is Tanzania, specifically the Serengeti National Park, host of the annual Great Migration, for essential Big Five wildlife viewing – lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos and Cape buffalo – in one of the richest wildlife areas on earth continent. Apart from safaris and spotting wildlife from above in a hot air balloon, a memorable experience here is meeting the local Maasai tribe and learning about their culture. The hotel is the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti.
Wildlife viewing is just as good, if not better, in the next stop, Botswana, where the two main wildlife areas, the Okavango Delta in the south and Chobe National Park in the northeast have such dense concentrations of wildlife, so you can often have observations without. leaving your lodge tents. But skilled trackers make enlightening journeys in vehicles and through the swamps in wooden canoes known as mokoros. Time is split between Moremi Game Reserve and, after a short flight, Chobe National Park. There is also an opportunity to see the mighty Victoria Falls, which straddles the borders between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Lodges for this section of the trip include the Sanctuary Chief’s Camp and the four-suite Little Mombo Camp in the Delta and Chobe Chilwero Sanctuary.
Moving on to South Africa, this part of the trip is dedicated to a different, non-safari experience: exploring Cape Town and the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, about 45 minutes/an hour outside the city. A helicopter tour around the Cape Peninsula is also a possible option to see Cape Point Nature Reserve, home of African penguins. The base is in Cape Town at One & Only Cape Town.
The last two stops also present two very different experiences. A five-hour flight up the west coast lands guests in the West African nation of Benin and an introduction to true African voodoo, along with local villages, cultural expression, including dance and floating markets. The trip ends in Morocco, first in a tent in the Sahara, riding camels through the dunes, watching the stars and a show by the local tribes. Then to Marrakech in residence at the Oberoi, Marrakech and an exploration of the pink city followed by a Berber celebratory farewell dinner. Then, after a sweep of the continent, Out of Africa and a return to London.