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If seeing Africa's Big Five has been on your bucket list (as it should be), start the new year off on an adventurous foot with Extraordinary Journeys Africa, a mother-daughter team whose custom-crafted safaris earned them a nod earlier this year in Smart Luxury Travel magazine's Luxe List. Now, the forward-thinking, socially-responsible pair is offering an exciting 7-night journey to South Africa (kicking off on February 27, 2012), with three nights spent amongst the wildebeests at the Madikwe Game Reserve in Sabi Sands followed up by four nights during Cape Town's Gay Pride event, where you can be sure there will be plenty of wild life all its own. Best of all, all accommodations are gay-owned and run, ensuring a Pride vacation to be proud of. Prices start at $4,200 per person (based on double occupancy), which represent roughly a 15 percent savings off their typical itineraries covering the same territory.
The basic itinerary is as follows, but with over 500 trips under their belt and no two of them the same, modifications are possible (Want to tack on additional camps? Travel by 4x4, hot air balloons, elephant, or horse?):
February 27–March 1: Cape Town
Kensington Place, a luxe gay-owned boutique property set just off trendy Kloof Street, offers restrained modern design in its eight rooms and suites, a cozy pool, and prime views of the city and Table Bay. Your home base for four nights, expect easy access to fine dining, heady parties, prime shopping, days at the beach – it will be summer, after all – and maybe even a museum or two. In addition to a front-row seat at Pride Parade and tickets to the wildly elegant black-tie yet funky fun Pink Ball, plus nights out at buzzing bars, Extraordinary Journeys can arrange a variety of activities ranging from a visit to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, now a UNESCO site), sea kayaking with Jackass Penguins, a cable car ride or hike up to the top of Table Mountain, and a private shopping tour with a chauffeur, natch.
March 2–4: Madikwe Game Reserve
For the last three nights, hop a flight north to the Sabi Sands. Surrounded by 300 square miles of fierce wildlife (some of the highest concentrations of predators and rare game on the continent), days will be spent on expert-guided game drives and nights in five-star luxury at the Jamala Madikwe Royal Safari Lodge. Owned by gay partners Shawn Roe and Rodney Steyn, there are just five villas here, decked with sexy design and private splash pools, allowing for total privacy and relaxation after a day of trekking.
Pricing starts at $4,200 per person for the February 27 departure and includes seven nights of accommodation, all meals on safari, game-viewing activities, scheduled charter flight to Madikwe, and private transfers. Flights can be arranged from the U.S. at cost (from about $1,000 round-trip that time of year), as can additional add-ons and activities. Call 800-403-6012 or visit Extraordinary Journeys to book.