Marrakech

La Mamounia Marrakech

We recently had the opportunity of spending 5 nights at the stunning La Mamounia Hotel – which has won many accolades including the most recent “The Best Hotel in the world 2018” by Conde Nast Traveler Readers Choice Awards. 

As we visited in December, the days were comfortably warm but the evenings went really cold. When we arrived at the hotel the cloaked doorman opened the doors to a stunningly decorated Christmas lobby complete with rich velvet furnishings.

 

The hotel is built in grand Moorish style (a variation of Islamic architecture) with art deco touches and gorgeous zellig (tiles), which decorate archways and pillars.

 

The hotel is set within 8 acres of stunning grounds complete with little lanes filled with lemon and orange trees, olive trees, roses bushes and stunning cacti.

 

La Mamounia consists of 135 rooms, 65 suites, six signature suites and 3 three-bedroom villas with a private pool which are hidden away in the gardens.

 

Our lovely room had a great view over looking the pool and grounds and the rooms dim lighting made it very relaxed and romantic.

 

Left on our pillows was a bottle of the beautiful signature fragrance room spray specially created for La Mamounia by Fragonard.

 

The award winning 2500 metres-squared spa and hammam is an Instagram dream not to mention a relaxing haven to switch off and enjoy a soulful moment of tranquility.

 

Breakfast was served next to the large heated pool and due to the outdoor temperature being so cold in the morning, the pool looked like a hot spring in Iceland.

 

I can only describe La Mamounia as the perfect epitome of decadence, elegance and pure luxury.

 

While in Marrakech I also wanted to understand and learn more about Riad living especially as they have become really popular on social media.

 

Find out more about Riads in Marrakech on http://www.uniquefamilytravels.com/2018/12/27/the-magic-of-marrakech/

 

Emirates fly direct to Casablanca 9.5 hours there and 6.5 hours back.

From Casablanca to Marrakech its a 2.5 hour drive – it’s a long journey but well worth it.

Dani

  Family Friendly Couple

9013

My Honeymoon Masai Mara

In 2010 my husband and I spent our honeymoon in the Masai Mara, Kenya, during September which is the dry season and the perfect time to witness the great migration (July to October) when the animals head back to the Serengeti.

From Nairobi we took a small plane to Mara which took an hour. From the tiny windows of the plane, we could see the runway approaching and waiting on the sides were the hotels 4 x4’s. It felt like a scene from a movie – getting off the small plane stepping onto a dusty runway in the middle of the wilderness, with the game drivers standing by. In next to no time, our suitcases were in the car and off we went into the wild! As it was Africa, I certainly packed for the occasion with neutral  and khaki color palate – infact I think I fitted right in with the staff!

 

A short drive later and we had arrived at The Fairmont Mara Safari Club in the Masai Mara which is surrounded on 3 sides by the Mara river, home to humongous hippos and massive, yawning crocodiles all who made their presence felt each morning before breakfast. This award-winning property is home to 50 luxury tents (glamping on another level) Four poster beds, full bathroom and a veranda for private al fresco breakfast.

 

The main restaurant is in the hotel which is a short walk from your tents (don’t walk around late at night, you may just bump into an unexpected visitor) There is also a swimming pool and private massage areas.

 

I have to say the service we received at this hotel was spectacular, nothing was an inconvenience, only a smiling pleasure. The hotel will organize all the activities you wish to do from early morning, afternoon and evening game drives, to hot air balloon rides, visiting a Masai tribe in their village and more.

 

Our amazing tour guide was Jacob who had a great sense of humor, patience of a saint and his genuine love for nature and wildlife was second to none. He knew this territory like the back of his hand. He would take us on every tour we did and he more or less knew which animals would be where at certain times in order for us to spot the BIG FIVE. Sometimes we were in the car alone with him and other times a few other people would join us. One day Jacob drove for miles in order to get to a point at the river where the animals cross for migration. This was a magical sight and something I will never forget. We sat patiently in the car waiting for the animals such as wildebeest, buffalo, zebras antelopes etc to come charging in their herds in order to cross the river - hundreds would make it across while others would be snapped up by the crocs, especially the stray ones that came alone not knowing what was waiting for them in the river.

 

If you don’t know what the Big Five animals are, they are rhino, elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard, with the leopard being the hardest to spot.  One day we were out with Jacob and my mission for him was to spot a leopard as this was the only animal we hadn’t yet seen. Driving slowly, Jacob spotted a large cat in the distance by the trees, how he spotted it from afar, I will never know as it was so well camouflaged. Its difficult to spot the difference between a cheetah and a leopard as they look alike, just that their spots are slightly different. He drove close and switched off the engine. The cat noticed us and became a little inquisitive and walked over. He walked around the car ever so slowly, looking from the corner of his eye but not making direct eye contact. It was actually a cheetah who then paced up and down in front of the car and before we knew it, he had jumped onto the car bonnet. The 4 x 4 roof and sides were open, so he could have easily jumped right into the back with us. He sat on the bonnet for a good 10-15 minutes and a 1000 photos later– not fazed at all – kind of in control of the situation. It was amazing to witness this wild animal up close and personal, so elegant and poised, it was beautiful I felt so lucky. You really wonder how people could kill these stunning creatures, shame on them, honestly, shame on them!

 

Once Mr Cheetah was bored of sitting on the car he jumped off and slowly walked into the distance, phew I could now talk loudly and release my excitement. Carrying on with our leopard hunt we came across the remains of a kill, a large carcass sitting on the ground which for sure had been attacked by a pack of lions, the only thing left was a few scraps which the large, nasty looking vultures were pecking away at.

 

Still on our mission we drove past a BBC TV van full of cameras (clearly filming one of their amazing wildlife documentaries) in front was a large pride of lions - a few males and females with their cubs. It was fascinating to watch them, the cubs would play and annoy their mum (funny that), while the adult lions were lounging around, only getting up to find a cool spot to lie back down.

 

During our time at the Masai Mara it was my birthday, so my husband surprised me with a hot air balloon ride. We woke up early before sun rise and headed to the balloon site. A champagne breakfast including a full English was set up waiting for us to return from our ride. I had never been in a hot air balloon before and having the opportunity to do it over such wide open space was amazing. We could see herds of animals walking around and giraffes eating from the trees below us. I really enjoyed the sensation of floating freely through the air.

 

The same afternoon we visited an indigenous Masai tribe camp. This is a camp in its natural habitats but lives off the money received from tourists. The men were dressed in all their glory with necklaces, hats and spheres by their side. Inside the camp their homes are literally mud houses, dark but cool. A few children were playing, and a lady had a young baby in her hands. I couldn’t resist a cuddle at which point and to my delight I received a hello wee wee all over me!

 

During our time in Kenya we actually failed our mission to find a leopard but that’s ok as we made a pact to visit again but next time with our kids and finally finish  our mission to spot the Big 5.

 

My advice when booking a safari with your children:

·      Go when your kids are old enough to enjoy the experience as the drives can be long and tiring and you can’t get out of the car

·      Take lots of snacks

·      Pack binoculars and fun safari books for each child to get involved

·      Book a kid friendly hotel so they can enjoy arranged kids activities and a swimming pool would be a great add on

 

Safaris, with hotels like the Fairmont, are exactly what they say on the tin – exceptional, memorable experiences that you will simply never forget.

Dani

Adventure Family Friendly Relax Couple

9012

Ten Things To Do In Cape Town

Its all here - the views, the wine, the lifestyle, the outdoors adventures, the people, and the palpable energy – I just love everything about Cape Town.

I’m not one to humblebrag but I am fortunate enough to have been to Cape Town 5 times – a couple of visits due to the hospitality of my South African friends, twice for friends wedding, and once earlier this year for a crazy friend’s 40th birthday (now that’s another story for another blog!).

For this post I’m going to mix all my trips together and share with you my favorite top ten highlights.

1. Wine Country – you cannot visit CT and not take a trip to Stellenbosch or Franschoek (Africa’s Napa Valley). An hour’s drive from CT and you will be transported into another world, a world offering stunning views of mountains and wine valleys that go on for miles with tranquility and luxury all coming together in one magical place. And lets not forget the food and wine. Even a small bed and breakfast will blow you away with their quality of fresh food and homegrown wine. Franschoek Valley is arguably the most historic, beautiful and captivating town in the Cape Winelands. Below are a few of our favorite locations - all offering award-winning cuisine, wines and luxury accommodation:

http://www.beauconstantia.com/gallery

http://www.constantiaglen.com

http://www.buitenverwachting.com

https://www.babylonstoren.com

https://www.lapetiteferme.co.za

If you want to stay a night or two in Franschoek, check out Leeu Collection Properties - they are stunning:

https://leeucollection.com/lqf/

 

2. Whale-Watching - Unless you view it live, the experience of humpback whales giving birth on the shores of Hermanus cannot truly be explained by words. This was the most surreal moment I have ever witnessed, seeing so many whales close to the shore – a sight I will never forget.  As we sat with the crowds of people on the bay walls, we literally witnessed the whales giving birth. The noise echoed while the sea changed to red. Hermanus, particularly Walker Bay, are the mating and breeding grounds during the winter and spring months. Every September you get to witness the birth of this wonderful mammal.

Hermanus has been recognized by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) as one of the 12 best whale-watching destinations in the world.  Adding to the vibe are a lot of funky places to eat and lots of space for kids to run around.

3. Climbing Table Mountain – 9 out of 10 South Africans love their sport and are obsessed with outdoor activities, so while I was staying with my friend she took me to enjoy the views from the top of Table Mountain. However she made my husband and I walk up – yep that’s right, from the bottom to the top – 2 hours plus. For the fit and crazy people, there are a few great trails that you can follow to the top of the mountain but be careful, as some take a lot longer than others. But don’t worry as once you’re at the top, your head will be in the clouds, literally! If you’re going with kids, take the cable car and enjoy a bite to eat at the top while taking in the breathtaking 360-degree views.

4. Paragliding off the top of Signal Hill - something I have always wanted to do. However, if you’re an adrenaline junkie then this maybe too tame for you. My tandem buddy was very sweet, gliding over the wonderful views pointing my Go-Pro in the best directions. The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes and instead of being edgy, it’s actually very peaceful and relaxing and a wonderful way to capture the essence of Cape Town.

Watch my video here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YESQgzDYA6I&t=3s 

5. Up close and personal with the penguins at Boulders Beach – there are so many picturesque beaches in Cape Town yet there’s nothing like beautiful Boulders Beach where you can sit on the beach surrounded by a colony of African Penguins. These little penguins are pretty cool and not shy. Watch the little guys waddle around in their own habitat and kids especially will thoroughly enjoy the experience.  There is a cute snack place if you need to get a sandwich, I hear the cheese and tomato is a local favorite!

There’s a conservation fee of around R65 per person

6.  Foodie Scene - the food in CT is not only yummy and healthy but it’s extremely affordable.  My top restaurants would be:

  •  The Test Kitchen – top restaurant in CT – book way in advance as its near impossible to get a booking but luckily we know the owners so drop us a line and we could help you out!
  • The Pot Luck Club – sharing Tapas
  • Black Sheep Restaurant
  • The Bungalow
  • Tashas – V&A Waterfront – same menu as Dubai but a fraction of the price!
  • Kloof Street House
  • Asoka
  • The Silo – located in V&A it’s a modern and exclusive hotel. You must go visit the Silo Rooftop bar for panoramic views of the city and a swanky dinner and drinks, but you need to book a table in advance and the dress code is a must.
  • Tintswalo Atlantic – a dining room which leads out onto an expansive wooden deck, where you can enjoy stunning ocean views

7. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve - where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. It’s a scenic ride through the southernmost edge of the Cape Peninsula. Again words would not do this place justice – awe-inspiring! I don’t think this is a trip for little kids.

8. Helicopter Ride– this was my first time in a helicopter and it didn’t disappoint. I had always been fascinated with them so I jumped at the chance. My friend and I chatted in each others head-set as we went from Cape Town to Cape Point, flying over Table Mountain right down the coast with the Atlantic on one side and the Indian ocean on the other.  If you have the time and the budget, then definitely put this on your CT bucket list.

9. Stay in Camps Bay – with so many lovely hotels in the city and on the coast you are literally spoilt for choice. However I have to admit, I prefer to rent a private villa in the beautiful area of Camps Bay, which is situated up the hill on one side of Table Mountain while over-looking the sea and the Twelve Apostles mountains. Earlier this year we rented a stunning house for our friends 40th – with 9 bedrooms, a large balcony and a swimming pool we witnessed the most amazing sunsets and sunrises you could ever imagine:

https://capeportfolios.com/Casa-Silva.html

There is one hidden gem in CT, which I will share with you called Tintswalo Atlantic – an award-winning lodge perched on a pebbled beach at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. I would however recommend this for couples rather than families.

Tip – If you can't stay here, do go for sunset drinks or dinner – it has the best sunset views you could wish for

http://tintswalo.com/atlantic/

10. Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront – a buzzing area with lots of cute restaurants and bars. As a little-added extra you can spot the seals come into the waterfront near the boats. Check out The Silo Hotel and museum. You can be sure to catch some local performers raising the roof.

Well, that’s the list so far, but trust me, it's not set in stone as I certainly plan on going back – a couple of great excursions next on my bucket list:

1. A visit to the famous Robben Island. The island was once a prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.

2. Swimming with great whites  – even though I will be more scared of the water being so cold than being in a cage with a great white in front of me!

3. Using CT as a base to either go on game reserves and a safari or go up and down the much vaunted Garden Route – a gorgeous drive to Port Elizabeth that the locals swear by.

So, this place has everything: from drinking too much wine to jumping off mountains and everything in between. I can’t recommend enough, especially for the foodies and the outdoor/adventure traveller.

Dani

NEW LEAD

Uganda Gorilla Trekking Jan 2022

LAUNCHING IN JAN 2022

Our luxury Gorilla Trek experiences in Uganda and Rwanda

The ultimate primate experience, trek through local villages and lush rainforests with the breathtaking reward of finding yourself in the company of a family of gorillas. One of Africa's major highlights, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is home to approximately half of the world’s population of mountain gorillas, the world's most endangered ape. A close encounter with these amazing animals is not soon forgotten.

Staying with the USP of Unique Family Travels our gorilla trekking experience will be targeted at the luxury traveller - staying at the most exclsuisve properties across both Uganda and Rwanda.

We are kicking off the new year 22 with a trip to see the mountain gorillas in Uganda.

 

 

 

Watch one of our clients in Uganda with the gorillas:  https://youtu.be/hy6lp3Mm-Kk

 

Dani

 Family Friendly Relax

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About Us

As an avid traveler, pre and post my three children, and a lover of boutique hotels, I have been fortunate enough to travel extensively, stay at unique properties and take adventures off the beaten track.

I've been lucky to see and enjoy so much that I think now is the perfect time to share my travel experiences, so I have created Unique Family Travel - a company where my team and I can develop bespoke, wonderful and unique travel experiences for you and your family. I can guarantee our experiences aren't available on the likes of large booking websites as we take you on a tailored journey which caters to your specific needs.

Each destination and journey should be a timeless memory, created for you and your family and captured in fantastic memories to keep forever. We can help with this simply because that's how I would do it for myself, my family and friends!

Do get in touch with us, drop us a line and lets get you going on your next amazing, unique travel experience.

Happy Travels

Love Dani

PS. All photos on this site are taken by me, mostly on my iphone :)

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