2023 was an eye-opener for travel, with globetrotting back on the rise. Travel has changed. There’s no getting past that fact. Isolation and social distancing made us look at the world differently and most of us want to experience travel in a novel way.
We’ve put together a guide to some of the most incredible emerging destinations that should be high up on your bucket list.
Sustainable travel and luxurious experiences did not fit together in one vacation a few years ago. However, most of us are more alert to our dramatically changing climate, and with it, everyone from luxury travellers to budget travellers is conscious of how they want to spend their vacations.
When you think about your next adventure, is it increasingly more important for you to choose transport, destinations, accommodations and activities that prioritise sustainability? Like us, you are one of the many travellers seeking companies that show they care for the well-being of the environment, not just through talk, but through notable actions. Where travel companies struggle to implement their own sustainability efforts, there are carbon offset partners that can be donated to, ensuring that they can offset their impact, and their guests can Travel Without Footprints.
Adult loggerhead turtle nesting on Machangulo beach close to Loggerhead Beach Villa
There are some areas, like Machangulo and Ilha do Fogo in Mozambique, where locals and visitors work together to protect the natural world, promising a brighter future for the location and its wildlife. Low-impact travel is not just better for the planet, its animals, plants and people, but also provides you with a soul-rejuvenating connection to nature.
Launching in 2024, Unfound Africa guests will be able to join in one of Mother Nature’s most magnificent phenomenons. Patrolling the beaches to look out for huge nesting turtles embarking on a journey to the dunes to lay their eggs, or witnessing the marvel of a turtle hatchling’s first crawl across the sand, is extraordinary. You will gain a deeper understanding of our love affair with Mother Nature, and our profound need to protect these endearing, vulnerable creatures.
Starry night in the Karoo over an iconic windpomp
South African travel writer, Thomas Victor Bulpin, wrote “…transformed by the approach of night into a place of gorgeous sunsets, with cool shadows rising out of valleys and hollows, slowly enveloping the land in a dark blanket of sleep while the heavens sparkle with so brilliant a display of stars that the Karoo seems to be washed with a soft dew of their falling light.”
It’s this last sentence that stirs our celestial spirit. Looking up into the Karoo’s oftentimes cloudless night sky from the backyard of Klaarstroom Hotel, is an experience that will leave you stunned as the twinkling stars seem neverending. If you’re a frequent stargazer, you’ll be familiar with Greek mythology, such as Sagittarius, Ursa Major and Orion. One of the most famous constellations in this hemisphere is the Southern Cross and it features prominently in star lores you may not be so familiar with.
The Basotho saw the Southern Cross stars as giraffes and would watch them carefully following each sunset. If they were close to the southwestern horizon just after the sun went down, it indicated the beginning of the cultivating season. The San bushmen, however, saw the stars as lions that were once men, but were turned into stars by a magical girl. And the Khoikhoi, saw two of the stars as eyes of a great celestial beast.
Once you know how to spot the Southern Cross, you can rest assured that you can always find your way home since it points due south.
The evening sky from one of The Monarch villa’s balconies
Alongside the Karoo, Kruger National Park, and Mozambique’s coastlines are also incredible locations for star-gazing. There’s very little light pollution, and you’ll be able to spot incredible distant constellations such as Centaurus, Jewel Box Cluster, and Omega Centauri, nebulae including Orion, Ghost of Saturn, and Tarantula nebula, and even galaxies like the Sombrero, and Centaurus A.
There’s nothing more serene than a day spent surrounded by nature and an evening spent under a soothing ethereal celestial blanket.
We are no strangers to TV shows and movies. And let’s face it, most of us have been influenced in some way while watching the box… whether it’s inspiration for the next meal, a lightbulb moment for redesigning a room, or jumping online to search for a wardrobe item you can’t wait to try on.
There’s no surprise then, that we’re often smitten with a destination we’ve clocked on screen. When it comes to our favourite fictional movies and TV, it can lead us to seek out these well-loved filming destinations.
It is very likely that you’ll have unwittingly seen glimpses of Southern Africa while watching a movie or TV show. It’s a very popular location for filmmakers, and such, an equally popular destination for set-jetters seeking a peek of where their much-loved movie was shot.
Official Marvel™ Avengers: Age of Ultron movie poster
Some international tear-jerking, box office hits, have been filmed in South Africa, such as Malcolm X, Hotel Rwanda, and Invictus. And comic-book buffs will be thrilled to know that a chunk of the movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, was also filmed in the country.
Some underrated destinations have been the main location for blockbusters like Zulu, filmed in the stunning Drakensberg mountains and The Dark Tower, filmed in the pretty Karoo platteland. Kruger National Park is no stranger to filming productions, and boasts being the location for the binge-worthy I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
Safe House movie poster
However, the most popular filming location is the mother city itself. Cape Town has been host to dozens of famous movies and TV shows, with Blood Diamond, Beast, Safe House, Dark Tide, and The Last House on the Left bringing some huge stars to the city. And for TV series addicts, you might be surprised to see some huge hits have been filmed around Cape Town, including Doctor Who, Outlander, The Crown, Good Omens, Homeland, Black Sails, and Black Mirror.
Scene from Outlander on Silverstroom Beach, Cape Town
Although South Africa’s list is a lot longer, we can’t forget about the picture-perfect locations around Mozambique, which has seen the movies Ali, with Will Smith, and The Interpreter, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Nicole Kidman, set up studio there. The lesser-known, and amusing rather than horrifying, Deep Blue Sea 3, is based off the coast of Mozambique (albeit not actually filmed there).
So, with the destination being a popular choice for location scouts, you might bump into a Hollywood star on your next adventure to Africa.
South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)’s show, The Insider SA recently visited Mozambique’s secret southern coast. Sneak a look at the sumptuous Machangulo Peninsula and some of the incredible villas available to rent there.
Machangulo, Southern Mozambique
It’s so easy to share your travel experiences with the world. Just pop a post or story up on Instagram, or put the highlights together in a Reel for YouTube or TikTok. It will practically feel like the viewer is there with you. Right?
Not really. Although it is amazing to be able to share your stories with the world quickly and easily via social media, isn’t it better to have the closest people in your life be part of that story? This is where multigenerational and group travel is making strides.
Family travel in Mozambique
When you have children, taking your parents along with you on a vacation is not just a way to spend significant quality time together, but it also gives each generation the option to experience certain things together, or apart, depending on what’s on their bucket list. When it’s just you and the kids, everything you organise has to be centred around experiences that include them. When you have the grandparents travelling with you, there will be times that you can plan activities that are not so kid-friendly and give you a chance to ‘adult’.
“We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.”
-Robert Louis Stevenson
Friends enjoying breakfast under the pergola at Kilima Sanctuary
Or even better, is taking friends with you from the start. There’s something to be said about travelling with your closest friends. Imagine the memories you will make together that you will be reminiscing about for years, and that extra bond that will be forged.
You already know each other well enough to get an idea of the type of vacation you should book together, that will keep everyone happy. Even then, some of you will be the type who just wants to laze by the pool and sip cocktails, and others might want to try some more adventurous activities. Travelling with a few people in tow means that there will likely be someone who wants to join you on your chosen activity and it’s easy enough to separate in the day and all meet up again later. That way, everyone is kept happy.
We do, however, recommend that for group friend travel, you find accommodation with staff on hand for cooking and cleaning, be it at a hotel or private villa. Piles of dishes or dealing with other people’s messiness can certainly be a make or break for long-term stays. This probably wouldn’t be such a problem for the next type of adventure…
Spa break at Vida Nova Retreat in Hout Bay, Cape Town
Sometimes there just aren’t enough annual leave days in a year to take you too far from home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing getaway. Microcations are ideal for a quick break to locations that are easy to reach by car or a short flight. They’re a great go-to for celebrating a special event or exploring your home country. Especially if you only have a long weekend or so to spend away from home.
Just consider what you want out of it. Some R&R? Or to fit in as many adventures as possible? I think we were too hasty saying above that mess won’t be a problem though. We’re sure you won’t want to have to spend your precious time making meals or cleaning, so perhaps a villa with a team on hand or a hotel or lodge would be the best choice.
Look out for part two of this feature, to read more about bush & beach, personalised travel, immersive adventures, digital nomad travel, transformational travel for health and wellness, and food adventures.
Have you seen our curated collection? We have researched and selected bucket list destinations and extraordinarily unforgettable experiences. We proudly offer unfaltering service and unbroke promises, with a tailored concierge service to ensure you get the perfect trip.
We know that travelling is not just about a getaway. It’s about nature, connections, inspiration, and adventure.