Maputaland offers the perfect bush-and-beach escape. © iSibindi Africa Lodges

Luxury safaris in Maputaland

Situated on Africa’s east coast, Maputaland stretches from South Africa’s far north into Mozambique’s deep south, bordered by the Ubombo Mountains in the west and the warm Indian Ocean in the east. Maputaland covers some 10,000 square kilometres of striking, untouched wilderness. I simply love this subtropical utopia, with its lush vegetation, balmy weather and inviting sea.

In this Portugal-sized paradise you truly have the best of both: abundant marine life living in the waters and reefs of the sea, and diverse land dwellers roaming the forests, grasslands and wetlands of the interior … plus some interesting creatures straddling the two.

To get some ocean action, there are various spectacular places to snorkel in Maputaland, some right off the pristine beaches!

Scuba safaris from famed Sodwana Bay will let you swim among the exotic eels, rays, game fish and reef sharks that call these waters home – quite comfortably I might add, with a summer average sea temperature of 26°C! Alternatively you can extend your safari experience beneath the waves pretty much anywhere in Maputaland.

At several special sites along the Maputaland shores, at the right time of year, you’ll be able to see leatherback turtles nesting … or baby turtles hatching and tentatively making their first trip into the water.

Back on dry land, safari highlights involve prehistoric-looking wildlife in Phinda Private Game Reserve, where you can go rhino tracking on foot. The rest of the Big Five can be found too, as well as many other furry and feathered friends.

Of course, if you simply want to relax, claim a pool or beach lounger at your luxury Maputaland lodge and work on your tan. The weather is fine year round, so it’s an anytime destination. What are you waiting for?

When to Go

A visit during these warmer months lets you get the maximum effect of Maputaland’s subtropical climate. It’s generally hot and humid, especially from December to March when average daytime temperatures nudge 30°C. Relief comes in the form of frequent late afternoon thunderstorms, which also provide spectacular son et lumière-style entertainment. Dips in the Indian Ocean are popular now, and while Sodwana gets busy, you can usually find a quiet strip of sand somewhere, especially in Mozambique. This is a good time to head inland to private game reserves like Phinda, as you’ll get to see migratory birds and newborn animals.

Maputaland enjoys deliciously mild winters, revelling in the balmy mid-20s – not too hot and not too cold. Humidity plummets from June to August, making it the most popular times to visit the area. The ‘coldest’ month, July, tops out at around 23°C – no jacket required! Inland, the dry conditions in the wildlife areas reduce the drinking options available to wildlife – in reserves like Phinda, game builds up around the remaining waterholes, while the retreating vegetation means spotting that leopard is on the agenda!

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