Malawi

Malawi Safari Tours & Holidays

Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. The country is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi.

The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi (also called Lake Nyasa), making up over three-quarters of Malawi’s eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles (587 km) long and 52 miles (84 km) wide. Lake Malawi was “discovered” by the missionary-explorer Dr David Livingstone just over 150 years ago. Although totally landlocked, Malawi is not denied its “inland sea”. This vast body of freshwater fringed by beaches of golden sand is not only a scenic wonderland but it provides water sport opportunities for those looking for something beyond sun, sand and swimming.

The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 250 miles (400 km) farther south in Mozambique. The surface of Lake Malawi is located at 1,500 feet (457 m) above sea level, with a maximum depth of 2,300 feet (701 m), which means the lake bottom is over 700 feet (213 m) below sea level at some points.

Malawi is blessed with a rich diversity of flora and fauna and has no less than nine National Parks or Wildlife Reserves. Whilst it may not have quite the sheer numbers of large mammals (particularly predators) as some of its better-known neighbours, it makes up for this in other ways. Malawi provides intensive and exclusive wildlife viewing in unspoilt areas of genuine wilderness.

Having a sundowner, unwinding in the glare of a sunset and hearing the sounds of singing birds and roaming game, Malawi is both a country to relax in and a country to have adventure in.

 

 

Madagascar

Madagascar Safari Tours & Holidays

Amongst an array of African destinations, the island of Madagascar has an allure all its own. Separated from the mainland, it is home to a true menagerie of different animal and plant species, set against a diverse natural backdrop of mountainous terrain and sweeping savannah.

Whether you’re seeking wildlife encounters, or are looking to bask on the sands of one of Madagascar’s unspoilt beaches, this is one destination you don’t want to miss out on.

At Bench Africa, we have a passion for bringing Australians closer to some of Africa’s top experiences, which is why we endeavour to create inspiring journeys to this unrivalled, under-the-radar destination.

Introducing Madagascar

As the world’s fourth-largest island, Madagascar’s shores are exactly as you might picture them – pale golden sands fringed by palm trees, crystalline waters lapping at the coast. Interestingly enough, until 165 million years ago, Madagascar was still attached to the mainland, with the split creating an isolated sanctuary for a range of unique species to evolve. Today, Madagascar is home to 5 per cent of all the world’s animal and plant species, with 80 per cent native to the island itself, such as the lemur.

Madagascar’s impressive size (just smaller than Spain) covers just under 588,000 square kilometres, with the central highlands, or Hauts-Plateaux, creating distinct western and eastern regions. The capital of Antananarivo, locally known as Tana, is situated in this area, its colourful buildings a patchwork of European and local influence. Particularly noteworthy is the Rova, or palace of Antananarivo, which sits proudly atop the city’s highest point, making it visible throughout.

As you explore Madagascar, you’ll encounter the local language, Malagasy, as well as French and some other dialects. When it comes to currency, you’ll be using the Malagasy Ariary, which replaced the French Franc as the official currency back in 2005.

Madagascar tourism

Some of the highlights of this special destination include the Isalo National Park, where you can marvel at the intriguing shapes of the sandstone mountains as well as a glittering natural waterfall and the forested Canyon des Singes.

Other parks include the renowned Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, as well as Ranomafana and Lake Tsimanampetsotsa National Parks. A truly iconic experience, a trip down Baobab Alley will see you gazing up at the towering cluster of baobab trees which crowd one of the local roads in the Menabe region.

Fancy a relaxing few days to round out your trip? Escape to the tropical Nosy Be archipelago off the northwest of the Madagascar coast. Beloved by visitors, Nosy Be is exactly what you want in an island getaway with a laidback atmosphere and stunning beaches.

Staying in Madagascar

Generally speaking, tourism is still developing throughout Madagascar, which means that accommodation tends to be more on the basic end of the spectrum. However, when you book with Bench Africa, you can be assured of a good experience, wherever you choose to stay. To find out more about accommodation in Madagascar, talk to one of our travel specialists today.

Getting to Madagascar

If you want to include Madagascar in your upcoming trip to Africa, Bench Africa can help make it happen. Australian travellers will need a visa to enter Madagascar, which your travel consultant should advise you about during the booking process. You can fly into Madagascar’s Antananarivo airport with a stopover usually in Mauritius.

To start planning your Madagascar holiday, explore some of our Madagascar experiences, or be sure to get in touch with one of our expert travel consultants.

Kenya

Kenya Safari Tours and Holidays

Anyone who has ever enjoyed a safari holiday has one country to thank for the fantastic natural sights and sounds that they doubtlessly experienced – Kenya. That’s because the East African country, nestled neatly under the continent’s Horn, is where safari travel first took shape. Indeed, the word ‘safari’ translates to ‘going on a journey’ in Swahili, the nation’s local tongue.

It’s easy to see why. The broad, wide-open plains of the Masai Mara National Reserve seem to go on forever, filled with native trees, sprawling bush and snaking rivers. There are few other places in the entirety of Africa that allow for such easy viewing of the local wildlife. By taking a Kenya safari with Bench Africa, you stand a better chance than most of seeing the raft of Kenya experiences available. Here’s why:

Why should I book a Kenya holiday?

Back in the 1920s, tourists on Kenya tours wandered on foot with tents on their backs in an effort to seek out animals that just couldn’t be viewed anywhere else on Earth. Today, things are a little more sophisticated, but that doesn’t mean that Kenya safaris are any less exciting.

Kenya safari tours are synonymous with the elusive ‘Big Five’ – the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and either of the black or white rhinoceroses. Seeing all of these in their natural environment is a rare occurrence indeed, and Kenya is one of the few countries on the planet where it’s actually possible.

Let’s take a look at a couple of things that you can do in this wild and diverse nation, but remember, there is far more to experience on your Kenya safari then the two activities below – they are just the tip of the iceberg! We have a wide range of Kenya safari packages to suit the needs of first timers, as well as Kenya safari packages to suit all you Africa enthusiasts, returning for the 4th or 5th time!

Top Kenya activities

Experience the incredible Great Migration

When it comes to Kenya holidays, perhaps the single most incredible Kenya experience is what’s known as ‘The Great Migration’ – no fewer than two million animals moving in a clockwise direction around the huge expanses of the Kenyan savannah, each searching for fresh grass and water as they follow instincts that date back millions of years. Zebra, gazelles and wildebeests all take part in The Great Migration, each plotting their way around the nation in search of sustenance. The high point of the migration takes place between July and October, when the animals make the river crossing in the Masai Mara.

View the highest mountain in Africa

Wildlife is not the only natural wonder to be found during your Kenya safari. In the country’s Amboseli National Park (which, incidentally, is outstanding for game spotting) you’ll be granted unrivalled views of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world – Mount Kilimanjaro, which is technically located in neighbouring Tanzania. However, heading to Amboseli National Park on one of our Kenya tours will still allow you to capture the perfect photograph of the 5,895-metre high peak – especially at dawn and sunset.

Five fascinating Kenyan facts

  • The first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize came from Kenya. In 2004, Wangari Muta Mathaai claimed the gong ‘for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
  • Scientists have discovered a 3.2-3.5 million-year-old fossil known to be one of human’s oldest ancestors near Lake Turkana in Kenya
  • Kenya’s Lake Victoria is Africa’s largest lake by area, and is shared with Tanzania and Uganda.
  • Kenya is named after its towering Mount Kenya, the tallest mountain in the country which rises a staggering 5,199 metres.
  • The most extensive rift on the Earth’s surface, the Great Rift Valley, cuts through Kenya, and can be seen at the lakes of Rudolf, Naivasha and Magadi. This 6,400-kilometre system has been forming for 30,000,000 years as Africa has separated from the Arabian Peninsula.

Why should I go with Bench Africa for my Kenyan safari?

This year we are celebrating our 50th anniversary! That’s half a century of organising safaris in Africa. Bench Africa was founded in 1969, meaning that we’ve built a wealth of experience and expertise when it comes to organising Kenya safari tours from Australia. We ourselves have travelled all over the country, so we know what it takes to put together a great Kenya safari for our customers. Bench Africa also has offices in Kenya, meaning that we truly are the authority on Kenya safaris out of Australia. We are well connected to the local area and can point you in the right direction with a complete range of Kenya holidays based on our on-the-ground knowledge.

In celebration of Bench Africa’s 50th anniversary we have launched our Kenya Signature Safari Special – to save you on your connoisseur Kenya safari with Bench Africa. This personally designed signature Kenya safari circuit ideally suits the discerning traveller – combining two safari areas in Kenya that complement each other perfectly.

Please read through the history of our company to discover just why we’re perfectly positioned to make your Kenya safari the very best it can be.

Contact our expert team for more information on Kenya holidays today.

Jordan

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, which once captivated ancient travellers, continues to enthral a whole new generation as a modern, vibrant nation.  From the haunting, primeval starkness of Wadi Rum, to the teeming centre of urban Amman; from the majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to the timeless splendour of the Dead Sea, Jordan is unveiled as a unique destination offering breathtaking and mysterious sights, high standard accommodation, exquisite cuisine and countless activities that can provide visitors with inspiration, motivation, and rejuvenation.

Marvelling at herds of gazelles and Oryx and migrating birds, camping amidst the grandeur of Wadi Rum or Dana Reserve, trekking the ancient caravan trails from the highlands of Moab and Edom, hiking the wooded hills of biblical Gilead, or experiencing the unique, cleansing mud baths of the Dead Sea are just a few examples of the treasures awaiting visitors to this unique kingdom.

 

Ethiopia

Ethiopia Safari Tours & Holidays

Visitors who hope to find a mirror image of their own countries, either as a result of colonisation or through the trend towards cultural standardisation imposed by globalisation, will be disappointed: Ethiopia remains stubbornly Ethiopian, distinct and different from its neighbours.

Ethiopia has its own script, notational system and calendar. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the oldest in Africa – Christianity was made the state religion in the Axumite Empire in 330 AD, before Rome. Muslim communities were established in Ethiopia before the triumph of Islam in its birth place, the Arabian Peninsula, while Ethiopian Jews, or Bait Israel, date their provenance back to the time of the first temple.

At the time of the scramble for Africa, following the Berlin Congress in 1884, the disparate ethnic groups that make up Ethiopia united to defend the country against foreign invasion: at Adua in 1896 Ethiopian forces under Menelik II delivered a stunning rebuff to the colonial ambitions of Italy.

Ethiopia has the most extensive historic sites in Sub-Saharan Africa, experts estimate that perhaps as little as 10% of the total has so far been discovered and excavated. The oldest hominid remains have been found along the Awash River valley (Lucy, 3.2 million years old, Selam, 3.4 million years old, Ardi, 4.4 million years old) – at any time more than 40 institutions from a dozen countries are excavating in the Afar Region, where most paleo-anthropologists now agree the human race has its origins.

There is every variety of scenery, with tropical rain forests, high moor land with Afro-alpine flora, lakes, savannah and deserts. In elevation it ranges from 120 metres below sea level in the harsh salt flats of the Danakil depression, to the 4624 metre peak of Ras Dashen in the Simien mountains.

There are more than 80 ethnic groups and as many languages.

 

Egypt

Egypt Tours & Holidays

Travellers have marvelled at Egypt’s archaeological wonders for centuries, ever since the Ancient Greeks visited the pyramids.  Today, millions of tourists are attracted each year to the pyramids, temples, mosques and great monuments of the Nile Valley, as well as the stunning diving resorts of the Red Sea.

Egypt has is a rich tapestry of history, culture and unimaginable beauty!

In 430 BC, when Greek historian Herodotos visited the magnificent monuments in Egypt, many of them were already 2,500 years old. Many of the pyramids of Giza to the astonishingly beautiful temples of Karnak or Philae, or the painted tombs in the Valley of the Kings, can still be visited today.  The sheer age of this great civilisation is mind-blowing.

The River Nile

The life-giving Nile runs north through the country to the Mediterranean, feeding an emerald ribbon of irrigated fields adjacent to villages shaded by date palms. Whether on a cruise ship or traditional felucca boat, life on the water is a constant visual feast, while the few cities of; Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan and Luxor are a babble of exotic sounds and smells.

The Red Sea

Hurghada and Sharm el-Sheik, on the Red Sea coast, are doors to a magical underwater world of technicolour fish and coral that draws divers from around the world, while other adventurous travellers head inland.  Here, you can discover monasteries amid the arid mountains of Sinai or the distant desert oasis, home to the hardy nomads whose camel trains still wander the Saharan sands.

Botswana

Botswana Safari Tours & Holidays

When it comes to memorable wildlife experiences and breathtaking natural scenery, few countries pack such a punch as Botswana. Within its borders, visitors can look forward to some of Africa’s best game viewing, as well as a warm welcome and sights like nowhere else.

Whether you come to see the country’s abundance of majestic elephants or powerful cats roaming across the grasslands, a Botswana holiday is bound to be one you’ll remember fondly for years to come.

Here at Bench Africa, it’s our passion and our pleasure to bring intrepid Australians closer to the incredible African continent, which is why we are proud to offer a range of Botswana experiences. Let’s take a closer look at what makes the country so special.

Introducing Botswana

Bordered by South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia, The Republic of Botswana is blessed with a diverse scenic landscape – two of the main features being the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert. Covering some 582,000 square kilometres, Botswana is scarcely populated, with national parks making up 17 per cent of the land mass. The majority of the population of 2 million is concentrated towards the eastern regions, where the capital of Gaborone is situated.

Following the arrival of European gold prospectors, Botswana became a British protectorate in 1885 under the name of Bechuanaland. Since gaining independence in 1966, Botswana has seen progressive social and economic change, as well as an increasing number of visitors thanks to its fantastic national parks and wildlife.

In Botswana, while the official language is English, the national language is Setswana, or Tswana, spoken by the majority of the population. You’ll be spending either in the local currency of Pula, or in US dollars while on safari.

Botswana tourism

Tourism in Botswana is slowly growing, with more people discovering this beautiful country and all it has to offer. While Gaborone may be the capital, Maun is positioned in the heart of the Okavango region, making it a hub for visitors.

The Okavango itself is one of the world’s biggest inland deltas, flooding out in a great fan across the Kalahari and attracting a wide variety of wildlife – you can hope to see anything from elephants to buffalo, giraffe, hippos, zebra and crocodile roaming the lush wetlands, as well as a colourful range of local birdlife.

In addition to the Okavango Delta, Botswana’s Chobe National Park and Moremi Game Reserve both offer more in the way of brilliant game viewing, with the latter having reintroduced rhinos to round out the full complement of the African Big 5.

The Central Kalahari Game Reserve forms another key element to tourism in Botswana. Spread out across 52,800 square kilometres, the Kalahari Game Reserve comprises the Tsodilo Hills, which, along with Okavango Delta counts as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to incredible cave paintings dating back thousands of years, Tsodilo has been called the Louvre of the Desert, and is a true treasure of Botswana.

Staying in Botswana

The regions surrounding the Okavango Delta have been outfitted for a well-rounded tourism experience. There is a good range of accommodation to choose from, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly, no-frills holiday or a luxury safari experience.

Here at Bench Africa, we’ve sought out the best of Botswana accommodation to ensure that you have an incredible trip. By coordinating with our offices on the ground in Africa, we can help you to find the ideal package for your needs, whatever they may be.

Getting to Botswana

If you want to include Botswana in your upcoming trip to Africa, Bench Africa can help make it happen. Australian travellers do not currently need a visa to enter Botswana, but should this change, your travel consultant will be able to advise you about it during the booking process. You can fly into Botswana’s Gaborone or Maun airports with a stopover usually in Johannesburg or Cape Town, South Africa.

To start planning your Botswana holiday, explore some of our Botswana experiences, or be sure to get in touch with one of our expert travel consultants.

Morocco

Morocco Tours and Holidays

Morocco holidays offer up an exotic experience in full technicolour

Morocco is located in northern Africa. It is a diverse and captivating country, offering up a beautiful fusion of African, Arabic and European cultures. This fascinating blend of cultures makes this the perfect destination for culture-loving travellers. Your senses will be truly inundated when you travel to Morocco.

Here is what you can expect on one of our Morocco tours: 

Tangier, that faded libertine on the coast has traditionally been a first port of call, but the winds blow you quickly along the Atlantic coast to the cosmopolitan and movie-star famous Casablanca and whitewashed fishing port gems of Asalih and Essaouira.  Inland, the great imperial cities of Marrakesh and Fez attract visitors in droves as they have done for centuries. The winding streets of their ancient medinas have enough surprises around each corner to fill a dozen repeat trips.

Away from the urban beat, you’ll find Roman ruins and dramatically craggy valleys to distract you.  If you really want to escape from everything, Morocco still has a couple of trump cards. The High Atlas Mountains seem custom-made for hiking with endless trails between Berber villages and North Africa’s highest peak (Jebel Toubkal) to conquer. Or if you prefer someone else to do the walking, simply saddle up your camel and ride it straight into the Sahara, to watch the sun setting over an ocean of sand.

On your travels, stay in historic riads, camp beneath the Saharan stars and delight in some classic Maghreb hospitality.

Morocco Travel

Bench Africa have been organising Morocco holidays since 1969, and it is our goal to make it the most memorable experience it can be. Come with us and travel to Morocco to experience the land of colour and culture.

For more information on Morocco travel please take a look at our Morocco Trip Planner.

South Africa

South Africa Safari Tours and Holidays

South Africa holidays are great for all ages due to the diverse range of activities, landscapes, cultures and wildlife. In South Africa, the sky-piercing peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains blend seamlessly with the verdant plains of the Highveld. In the north-western fringes of the country loom the vast expanses of the Kalahari Desert. The difference between landscapes is extreme, but it’s only the start of the diversity of this great nation.

South Africa also boasts an expansive coastline, continuing unbroken for nearly 3,000 kilometres between Namibia and Mozambique, reaching across two oceans – the Atlantic and the Indian. It’s little surprise then, that with such a variety of landscapes, South Africa is home to a broad array of wildlife, some of which cannot be seen anywhere else on Earth. On a South African safari with Bench Africa, you can experience South Africa from a unique angle – read on to find out more!

Why should I book a South Africa holiday?

Even though South Africa is largely perceived as the most modern of the African nations, that doesn’t mean its lush savannah is in danger of being buried under concrete any time soon, or that your wildlife photos will feature an unwelcome background of stark, grey buildings. Far from it – South Africa is indeed an advanced nation, but drive a few kilometres out of any town or city and you’ll find yourself right in the heart of the Rainbow Nation’s countryside. This is where you can experience a true South Africa safari.

Take Kruger National Park, for example. It’s one of the oldest game reserves on the continent, and is positively enormous, covering over 19,000 beautiful square kilometres. As if that isn’t enough to spark your wanderlust, consider this – there are almost 150 types of mammals, more than 500 kinds of birds, and no less than 114 species of reptiles. That’s without even mentioning the 34 different kinds of amphibian and 49 types of fish that call Kruger their home – and that’s only one of South Africa’s safari parks!

Top South Africa activities

Of course, South Africa is a nation that’s simply overflowing with potential for wildlife adventures. However, there is so much more to this South Africa than just safari – take a look at these for size, but remember, these are just two activities to experience. There are countless more South Africa adventures that the experienced team at Bench can work into a customised South Africa tour for you.

Take a wander up Table Mountain

No South Africa tour is complete without a trip to Cape Town to see Table Mountain! The aptly named Table Mountain features a summit that’s completely flat, and is known as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. No matter whether you are at the top or bottom of Table Mountain, you’ll experience extraordinary scenery from either point. At the bottom, stand in vibrant Cape Town to get a photograph with an unrivalled backdrop, and from the top, take in the panoramic view of the city and harbour.

Take the Grand Tour

One of our most popular tours is our Luxury Signature Safari. Last year, in celebration of Bench Africa’s 50th anniversary (that’s half a century!) we launched our South Africa Signature Safari Special – to save you on your luxury South Africa holiday with Bench Africa. Our experts have carefully hand-crafted this Signature South Africa itinerary. The circuit suits the discerning traveller, visiting some of the most scenic and idyllic places in South Africa. You will stay in luxury boutique properties throughout – ensuring you experience the highest level of comfort and service.

Another very popular South Africa safari is our Makutsi Classic Safari. This 7-day safari is perfect for a range of travellers looking for an affordable safari in South Africa. Makutsi lies between the Drakensberg Mountains and Kruger National Park and includes a range of excursions, including game drives on a private concession, a day trip to Blyde River Canyon and a safari in Kruger National Park.

Five fascinating South African facts

  • The South African coastline is the final resting place of countless shipwrecks, some dating back centuries. Many of them can be explored on a dive, and if you’re really brave, some of the best shark-diving opportunities in the world await at Dyer Island.
  • One of the world’s highest bridge bungee jumps is found in South Africa. At a vertigo-inducing 216 metres, the Bloukrans River Bridge jump is not for the faint of heart!
  • Amazingly, South Africa has 11 official languages – it isn’t called the Rainbow Nation for nothing! However, English is spoken throughout, so there will be few language barriers on your South African adventure.
  • The Cape Floral Kingdom – part of Table Mountain National Park – is one of just six floral kingdoms on Earth. It boasts an incredible 8,200 species of plants – that’s more than entirety of the whole United Kingdom!
  • 41 of South Africa’s beaches have been awarded the “Blue Flag” status, which means they adhere to strict environmental and safety standards.

Why should I choose Bench Africa to help organise my South African safari?

Safari South Africa with Bench because our Africa experts have amassed a wealth of experience and know-how in organising South Africa holidays from Australia. We ourselves have travelled the Rainbow Nation extensively, no one is in a better position than us to design you a world-class South Africa safari. We also have a range of South Africa tours have been well thought out, and perfectly executed! We also have an office in South Africa, so we are well placed to cater for your every need – you could even say we have our eyes looking ahead and our ears to the ground!

Take a look at our history for an in-depth view on why we have been at the top of the game for so long, take a look at all of our South Africa tours and please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today if you’d like to know more.