Should I Visit Africa or Australia?
Published on: February 12th, 2020
Last modified: July 27th, 2023
Although they’re on opposite sides of the globe, Africa and Australia have a surprising number of things in common. A trip to either one promises stunning landscapes, unique wildlife, fascinating cities and fantastic food – so which should you visit?
We’ve compiled all the information you need in order to choose. There are countless reasons to visit Australia and Africa alike; from the wide-open Outback and African plains to some of the world’s best winemaking regions, each of these destinations offers something for everyone.
Africa is home to pretty much every kind of landscape imaginable. Here you can explore the sweeping savannahs of the African Bush and visit various private game reserves and conservancies. Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the rainforests of Rwanda provide some of the most iconic settings for Africa vacations, while the sandy shores of South Africa and Namibia’s Skeleton Coast offer unique seaside escapes.
The land down under is also legendary for its vast and untouched wilderness. While most of its cities line the coasts, the interior region features the majestic Australian Outback. This is where you’ll find the towering red rock of Uluru, a sacred spot imbued with spiritual significance. The Daintree Rainforest and Kakadu National Park are also bursting with natural splendours – and don’t forget the idyllic beaches of the Gold Coast and Lizard Island.
Stay in Iconic Settings
Wilderness DumaTauWith uninterrupted views over Osprey Lagoon, and a fantastic vantage point from which to watch the areas mega-herds of elephants, Wilderness DumaTau and nearby Wilderness Little DumaTau are perfectly located for making the most of your stay in the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. Each spacious tented guest suite has been positioned to offer great views whether you’re relaxing on your deck, or cooling off in your plunge pool. You’ll also find the tents include spot-cooling, meaning you can find respite from the hot afternoons indoors. Spend time investigating the ‘curiosity boxes’ you’ll find mounted on the walls in your room and the drawers filled with fascinating artefacts and information. They’re a great way to learn more about the area’s wildlife and rich history. Look out for unique elephant and wild dog art in the rooms and library made from reclaimed snare wire. Wilderness Safaris have constructed both camps to give maximum comfort and offer guests a large array of facilities. In addition to the in-tent cooling systems, you’ll discover that the central Osprey Retreat which sits between the two camps boasts a pool, drink and snack counter and a Safari Boutique area, offering you more space to mingle with your fellow guests if you choose to do so. Large decks, plunge pools and awnings are attached to each of Wilderness Duma Tau’s eight tented suites as well as at the four at Wilderness Little DumaTau. The Wilderness DumaTau team continues to focus on the sustainability of wildlife corridors, as they have done since 1997. They believe that it is more vital than ever to protect large wildlife corridors of wilderness, like those within the vast Linyanti Wildlife Reserve – especially for the African elephant and wild dog that cover extensive ground. Staying at Wilderness DumaTau offers you easy access to the Linyanti floodplain as well as the Savuti Channel, in fact, it’s the only concession from which you can access both. The region has all the habitat diversity to make it a haven for wildlife, and is well-known for its elephant concentrations as they congregate along the waterways and lagoons during the dry winter months. General wildlife viewing is excellent year round including impala, wildebeest, red lechwe, Burchell’s zebra, giraffe, Cape buffalo, chacma baboon, vervet monkey, and warthog. Predator sightings of lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog and spotted hyena are good. As well as day and night game drives, you can explore on nature walks or take to the water on motorboats or the river barge (depending on water levels).
Longitude 131°The scale and beauty of the Australian outback is truly awe inspiring. Longitude 131° allows you to really experience the magic of the country’s spiritual heart and discover the rich history and indigenous culture. Always in sight, Uluru dominates the sparse landscape of the Red Centre, and guests are rewarded with ever-changing views as the light dances across the rock face. 15 luxury tents are nestled among the rust-red dunes, their canopied roofs dotted across swathes of sand. Each tent is beautifully furnished and features floor-to-ceiling windows that open out onto a private deck with day bed, armchairs and a fireplace. Here you can gaze out across the ochre landscape, and really appreciate the beauty of this vast undisturbed wilderness. Each tent is named after an explorer or pioneer and framed artifacts are displayed on the walls, complimented by colourful works of indigenous art. Longitude 131° showcases the very best of contemporary Australian cuisine, complimented by an excellent selection of fine wines. Choose to dine in the Dune House or under the stars at Table 131, the ultimate dining experience. Sunset drinks are served each evening and after dinner, the resident astronomer will regale guests with tales of the southern constellations. Acquire some respite from the warm weather at Red Ochre Spa, located at the nearby Ayers Rock Resort. Return transfers to the spa are included and guests can relax with treatments inspired by nature. There is so much to explore in this beautiful and spiritual land, and all your tours and excursions are included. Learn about the history of the sacred Uluru, explore gorges and visit the Field of Light solar installation, an international-acclaimed work of art. Blooming and glowing in the deepening darkness of the evening, small stems sway in the breeze to create a remarkable and enchanting scene.
Singita Boulders LodgeSingita Boulders Lodge is set along the banks of the Sand River in Singita’s privately owned reserve within the Sabi Sand Reserve. Consistently one of the most popular lodges in the area, Boulders design concept effortlessly mixes modern contemporary touches such as floor to ceiling windows, clean white fabrics and neutral tones with a distinctly African feel accented by natural stone and wood, perfectly at home in its pristine setting. Whether through walls of glass or open-air areas, the surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience. The lodge sits in an elevated area, offering views from almost all angles and there are large communal areas to relax in, as well as twelve vast villa suites, each with a private heated pool. Daily game drives with professional guides and trackers provide the perfect opportunity to get up close to Africa’s incredible animals, while spot lit nighttime drives reveal the elusive magic of nocturnal Africa and guided walking safaris can uncover a more intimate side of the bush. During your stay you are likely to spot a great variety of wildlife including leopard, lion, rhino, large herds of buffalo, elephant, reedbuck, hyena, hippopotamus, nyala, cheetah, wild dogs and many species of birds. Stargazing is another special way to enjoy the wilderness.
If you want to see some of the world’s most incredible animals, an African safari should be at the top of your list. This is your best chance to see the Big Five – lions, leopard, elephants, rhinos and buffalo – in the wild. You can also experience the Great Migration up close, come face to face with mountain gorillas in Rwanda or meet penguins at Boulders Beach. Stay at one of our favourite lodges in Africa for a fully immersive experience.
On the other hand, an Australian safari offers an entirely different set of unforgettable wildlife. Here you’ll find kangaroos, koalas, dingoes, wallabies and even the famed Tasmanian devil. Explore the protected habitats of Kangaroo Island, snorkel through the Great Barrier Reef and see saltwater crocodiles in the Whitsundays. When it comes to Australian wildlife, the options are infinite.
Stay Close to the Wildlife
Tswalu Kalahari ReserveThe malaria free Tswalu Reserve, owned by the Oppenheimer family, consists of over 100,000 hectares of the ‘green’ Kalahari grasslands home to eighty mammal species and 340 varieties of bird. Furthermore, the reserve is not further divided up into concessions or reserves and the only accommodation is the Motse Camp and Tarkuni House, which only allow for a maximum of thirty guests at one time in the entire of Tswalu. If you are staying for three nights or more you’ll also get a complimentary private vehicle, guide and tracker to make this your very own private Kalahari. The motto is, if you see another Range Rover on your game drives, complain. And whilst you really couldn’t get any further from a package holiday, the accommodation at Tswalu truly does have it all ‘wrapped up’ as far as a five-star safari lodge goes, with more luxury, authenticity, exclusivity and conscientiousness than any other in Africa. Having won awards for both their spa and conservation work, you just have to see the efforts they make to look after the wildlife and support local communities to know the lengths they go to look after you.
Wilderness Bisate LodgeUtterly unique in its design, six sumptuous forest villas are luxurious while retaining environmental principles and reflecting the culture of the surrounding country. Each has a generous yet intimate combination of bedroom, reception space and bathroom, heated by a central fireplace and a private deck looking out to Mount Bisoke. The spherical stone and thatch architecture, said to be inspired by the Royal Palace of traditional monarchs, continues through to the communal areas such as the dining room, bar and spa, detailed with a variety of woven materials, local crafts and more modern touches. Wilderness Bisate is a short drive to the national park’s headquarters, from where gorilla treks depart daily, and you can also embark upon forest hikes to see rare Golden Monkeys and other wildlife. Visit the site of Dian Fossey’s research camp and grave, meet the community on guided village walks, plant a tree as part of the Wilderness Bisate’s reforestation project or perhaps tag along with the chef to the local market to buy ingredients for dinner.
Oceanview Eco VillasThis fully-hosted eco-luxury property is set on 500 acres beside the stunning Kangaroo Island coastline. There are two elegant, contemporary villas, each with two bedrooms featuring their own ensuites and generous living areas. Drink in the gorgeous coastal views of Nepean Bay. The off-grid, eco-design and build means that guests can be assured they are leaving a small footprint and helping to take care of the local environment. The hosts aim to provide each guest with a place to truly relax and rejuvenate while discovering all the island has to offer.
Considering all the endless reasons to visit Africa, an urban adventure might not be the first thing you think of. But this continent’s vibrant cities shouldn’t be overlooked. Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, surrounded by beautiful beaches and the magnificent Table Mountain. Namibia’s capital of Windhoek offers German architecture and gorgeous botanical gardens, while Kigali is an up-and-coming destination in the heart of Rwanda.
It’s hard to plan an Australian vacation without at least considering a trip to Sydney. This harbour city is an eclectic mix of modern culture, aboriginal history, Victorian architecture and idyllic beaches. But Melbourne is an equally tempting option – especially if you’re into art, coffee and cuisine. It’s brimming with museums and galleries, as well as fantastic cafes and restaurants.
Experience City Life
QT SydneyQT is a luxury hotel with a focus on modern design. Located in the former State Theatre and Gowings department store buildings, the QT Hotel has a rich history and has retained many if its distinctive features, including the Gothic, Art Deco, and Italianate facade. The 200 rooms and suites feature bespoke designer furniture, splashes of vibrant colour and fur throws. Quirky design features add plenty of character and most rooms feature oversized bath tubs. Gowings Bar & Grill has a menu celebrating European brasserie-style cuisine, using the freshest Australian produce, while the Gilt Lounge is an intimate hideaway, perfect for sampling their adventurous cocktail list. There is also the Parlour Lane Roasters right next to the hotel for your morning caffeine fix and evening apéritif. The SpaQ is a heavenly retreat for both body and mind, while the on-site barber shop ensures gentlemen are kept looking sharp throughout their Australian adventures.
Ellerman HouseEllerman House is a class act throughout. It feels very much like your own home but with top class service befitting a five-star hotel. Perched in one of the most spectacular and privileged settings in Cape Town overlooking Bantry Bay, it is the epitome of comfort and class with a relaxed, elegant style. Decoration is colonial, with a nod to the contemporary and recently refurbished to provide thoroughly modern comforts. Where Ellerman House excels above others is the excellent house staff, who in these grand surrounds create such a relaxed, friendly atmosphere. Taking a (complimentary) evening cocktail from the lounge and strolling out onto the peaceful gardens overlooking the sea for sunset is the perfect end to a day in Cape Town as one feels both special and relaxing. There are just 11 rooms, two suites and two private contemporary villas. Communal areas include a spacious lounge, large garden area (with outdoor pool) and a huge spa. There is an open kitchen you are invited to visit, a pantry that you can raid as well as the complimentary evening cocktails. A particular feature of the property is its private art collection. This is simply outstanding, one of the best in South Africa with works from African masters inside the main building and then, underneath is a contemporary gallery. For anyone interested in art this will add an extra element to their stay. Guests are also able to book Sleep Rooms at Ellerman House. A concept created by wellness expert Harry Jameson, each of the 13 rooms at the property can be converted into wellness rooms specially designed to optimise both sleep and recovery.
The Langham MelbourneNestled on the bustling Southbank Promenade, The Langham Melbourne enjoys a central location and magnificent views. The 388 Rooms are classic and comfortable with rich fabrics, large windows looking out over either the Yarra River or the sparkling city skyline. Some of the larger rooms and suites feature private balconies from which to soak up the sun and the views. Guests can enjoy the open and interactive kitchen at the Asian-inspired Melba. The Aria Bar & Lounge is the perfect setting for afternoon tea or a glass of wine from the Yarra Valley, and here you can savour light bites to eat with ingredients sourced from the Tasman Sea and Victoria’s bountiful farmlands. Relax and unwind at the hotel’s award-winning wellness centre which features the Chuan Spa, indoor pool and fitness equipment.
World-Class Food and Wine
Speaking of restaurants, Africa also delivers when it comes to cuisine. The continent has an overwhelmingly diverse array of culinary traditions, featuring everything from unique local crops and game meats to more familiar delicacies. Wine lovers can’t miss South Africa’s Winelands, a region renowned for its rolling hills, excellent wineries and outstanding eateries.
In addition to Melbourne’s buzzing cafe culture, other parts of Australia have their own culinary claims to fame. In South Australia, the verdant Barossa Valley provides ideal conditions for making wine – which pairs perfectly with local produce and artisanal cheeses. Of course, you’ll also find an abundance of fresh seafood all along the country’s coastline.
Where to Stay for Great Dining
Mount Lofty HouseTucked away within the Adelaide Hills wine region and set on the grounds of a beautiful botanic garden, this boutique, historic bolthole dates back to 1852. Overlooking the enchanting Piccadilly Valley, the 33 suites are spread across the main house, and there are also four charmingly restored cottages to stay in. Sophisticatedly decorated interiors, flooded with natural light, feature luxurious touches and an eye-pleasing mix of period and contemporary furnishings. The self-contained cottages, which date back to the 1850s, encompass fully-equipped kitchens, lounges and dining rooms, as well as private gardens. Enjoy a fine dining experience at Hardy’s Verandah Restaurant, named after one of the house’s former residents, Arthur Hardy. This refined, garden-facing space serves exquisite dishes, paired with the finest local wines. The polished lounge is a more casual space, inspired by the second owner of the house, Arthur Waterhouse, and offering a sharing-style menu, and snug fireplace seating. Today, the original stables of the house have been transformed into a tranquil spa, where guests can retreat for an indulgent face or body treatment. The encircling estate grounds are just as uplifting, and you can spend your time playing croquet on the lawn, partaking in a tennis match, paddling in the outdoor pool, or simply feasting on a prepared picnic or pizza from the wood-fired oven.
BabylonstorenSet on one of the oldest Cape Dutch Farms in the wine region, Babylonstoren is a 200-hectare working fruit farm with an exclusive hotel and restaurant set amongst the vineyards orchards and beautiful kitchen gardens. This is a beautiful and relaxing sanctuary, effortlessly blending its colonial, pastoral past with modern contemporary design. There are 14 cottages spread out through the grounds, a spacious blend of restored Cape-Dutch architecture and sophisticated modern touches. This is modern design at its very best with a deft lightness of touch giving a feeling of space and modernity whilst remaining very true to the historic style of the buildings. It’s no surprise therefore that Karen Roos (former editor of Elle Decoration) is one of the owners. Guests can enjoy the outdoor pool area, restaurant, eight-acre kitchen garden, spa and gym. The farm is also to be explored, walking through the 200 hectares of land or perhaps taking a canoe out on the farm dam.
The PlayfordThe Playford Hotel is found in the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct of and is member of the MGallery by Sofitel Collection. Accommodation is geared towards a relaxing and peaceful stay. Each of the 182 rooms and suites come with the contemporary comforts of home and a design of understated luxury. The Playford Restaurant is an award-winning establishment with a focus on organic, local produce and a philosophy of fresh ingredients used in innovative South Australian cuisine. The stylish Playford Lounge Bar is the ideal spot for a drink with friends or family, operating as a haven of sophistication with its opulent décor. There is a fitness centre so you can keep up with your routine, ensuring you stay in peak condition. Simply sit back and let yourself go in the sauna while the heated indoor swimming pool is ideal for completing a few laps. There are also spa treatments available to relax both mind and body.
As mundane as it may sound, the weather is an incredibly important aspect of any trip. This is especially true in Africa, where your experience can change completely depending on the season and weather conditions. For example, we suggest visiting southern Africa during the green season from November to April, when smaller crowds create ideal safari conditions.
Similarly, Australia’s sheer size means that weather conditions vary greatly from region to region. The best time to visit Australia depends on your destination; Sydney is a sure bet for warm temperatures year-round, but areas like the Outback require a bit more planning. If you can’t decide where to go, check out our list of the dreamiest lodges in Australia for inspiration.
Make the Most of the Weather
Ngorongoro Crater LodgePerched up high on the edge of this remarkable natural wonder, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge holds a prime position. With views spanning the spectacular caldera, you can enjoy a relaxing visit to this otherwise bustling attraction and dip into a world that’s the permanent home to roughly 25,000 animals. The huge amounts of game that find sanctuary here roam over 20 kilometres on the crater floor and this allows for some excellent game viewing opportunities. Prides of bachelor lions are sometimes seen spanning the landscape, on the hunt for their own families and, dotted among the plains game, you might be lucky enough to spot a rhino in the distance. Morning and afternoon game drives are taken by highly experienced guides with visits to the nearby Olduvai Gorge available when vehicle occupancy allows. The crater itself can get quite busy but there’s a peaceful quiet that flows through the rooms, social areas and outside spaces of the lodge. North and South Camp both have twelve beautiful suites and the Tree Camp, slightly set apart from the others, has just six. Raised up on stilts, these rooms are all tastefully decorated with Tanzanian hardwoods and silk curtains which make the rooms cosy and warm; the ridge can get quite nippy, after all. The dining areas have viewing decks and comfortable indoor lounges which are ideal for catching up on some midday afternoon reading, or ticking off the birds that you might have seen so far. You could also decide to have a relaxing massage in your room, and completely pamper yourself.
Lizard IslandEscape from it all on the largely uninhabited and breathtakingly pristine Lizard Island on the northernmost tip of Great Barrier Reef. The eco-lodge maintains a responsible, sustainable presence within the national park, working closely with the traditional owners of the land to preserve it and the reef. The island can only be reached by private charter from Cairns Airport – taking you to 1,013 hectares of Australia National Park with 24 white-powder sand beaches, a picturesque lagoon and native bush. Choose from 40 luxurious suites, villas or the pavilion, each offering complete privacy, spectacular views and some with private plunge pools. Guests bask undisturbed in the tropical sun or take to the water to discover colourful coral reefs right on their doorstep in one of the world’s most spectacular protected reefs. A stay on the island also includes gourmet dining, picnic hampers on the beach, watersports equipment, a welcoming pool surrounded by palms and indulgent treatments at the spa. The island attracts ocean enthusiasts who come for some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling opportunities, including the famous Cod Hole. Ribbon Reefs draw keen fishers as one of the best big game fishing spots in the world and its multitude of undisturbed private beaches also makes it a hotspot for a romantic getaway or a secluded hideaway for the rich and famous.
Silky OaksSilky Oaks is one of Australia’s most stunning riverside lodges, nestled in tropical North Queensland rainforest with a collection of treehouse suites immersing guests in the lush surroundings. The eco-retreat invites you to escape from everyday life and get back in touch with nature amongst the Daintree rainforest setting. The treehouses and suites blend organic wooden furnishings with contemporary design. Each room has a wide verandah with hammocks, breakfast with a view and deep baths to sink into at the end of the day. Dining at Silky Oaks is a memorable experience, with gourmet Australian cuisine served in the award-winning open-sided Treehouse Restaurant which is perched high above the rainforest and Mossman River. Guests can soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa. Guests can explore this diverse and dense rainforest by its many hiking trails, cruise down the river in a canoe, take out a bicycle to venture further afield, go goanna spotting, get zen with morning yoga or cool off in the scenic river. Alternatively, you can simply soak up the tranquil environment from the comfort of the spacious open lounge areas, bar, reading rooms or enter a state of dreamy bliss at the Healing Waters Spa.