Robert Veden, destination manager, Africa & Indian Ocean at Cox & Kings, The Americas, spoke to contributing editor Carla Hunt about the luxury landscape in Africa.
Carla Hunt (CH): What defines the luxury Africa experience?
Robert Veden (RV): Service is one of the top elements for a high-end program. Exclusivity is another, and even when traveling to well-visited destinations, finding the camp with the right location or a private concession is necessary in creating the best safari for our guests to avoid the crowds, maintain the sense of remoteness, and offer the widest range of activities. And Africa caters well to guests with high expectations, some looking for expansive terraces and private plunge pools, others choosing understated elegance of the mobile tented experience with little footprint.
CH: Newest in luxury products or destinations?
RV: In Botswana, the exclusive Zarafa Camp opened up its new Dhow Suites—with two bedrooms and private pool deck—in 2014; it operates independently from the rest of the camp with its own staff, chef and guide. Mwiba Lodge on a private concession south of Tanzania’s Serengeti offers incredible exclusivity and access to the short grass plains of the Southern Serengeti. In a stunning setting among boulders overlooking the river gorge, this property will pair well with the top accommodations in Africa. Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited has taken on Mont Rochelle in Franschhoel in the Cape Winelands; it’s the newest property on the continent.
CH: Your what’s hot destination pick is?
RV: We can expect a lot from Zimbabwe as it is poised to grow and reclaim its place among the top safari destinations in the world.
CH: New luxury programs from Cox & Kings?
RV: The company has introduced 12 new private journeys; here are three a bit off the beaten track:
- Zimbabwe offers both fantastic wildlife viewing and excellent value. The 10-night Zimbabwe Rediscovered itinerary includes the Mana Pools National Park along the Zambezi River, Matusandona National Park, Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls. Prices from $6,960 pp dbl.
- Traditionally known just for gorilla trekking, the 9-night Uganda: The Pearl of Africa highlights much more of the country’s stunningly beautiful landscape. But of course clients will follow gregarious chimpanzees in the Kibale Forest National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and view the world’s largest hippo concentration in Queen Elizabeth National Park. Prices from $8,530 pp dbl.
- The new 9-night Lost Pyramids of Northern Sudan itinerary explores the little-known country that bridges the African and Arabian cultures. Traveling along the Nile River and inland from Khartoum to Karima and Meroe, guests visit Nubian villages and discover ancient pyramids of which Northern Sudan has more than in all of Egypt. Prices from $6,695 pp dbl.
For more information on Cox & Kings, call (800) 999-1758 or visit coxandkingsusa.com.