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Tanzania’s Top 8 Luxury Villa Venues with Plunge Pools

Swimming is fun, and swimming in pools with such amazing views will make the dip a lot more inviting! Whether you want the jungles of Serengeti and Selous or the white sandy beaches of Zanzibar, there are swimming pools out there that are destinations in their own right.

And here, JCCE Tours & Safaris Ltd presents to you Tanzania’s Top 8 Luxury Villa Venues with Plunge Pools in no particular order. Enjoy reading!


Amara Selous
Amara Selous, Tanzania

Located in the heart of the Selous Game Reserve, a mere few minutes’ drive away from the Simbazi airstrip, Amara Selous promises a taste of the extraordinary – an experience that is unique and revitalizing.

At Amara Selous, nature is merged with extravagance to provide lavish comfortable and secluded luxury in the middle of the African bush.

Twelve spacious air-conditioned suites are complete with private rock plunge pools, opulent bathrooms and outside showers that offer views over the Great Ruaha River and the perennial wilderness beyond.

Amara Selous remains beautifully remote, amidst the pristine wilderness of Africa’s largest game reserve and one of Tanzania’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s where one awakes to a daily symphony of hippo snorts and birdsong.

Imagine being engulfed in the pure serenity as you sip your custom-ordered cocktail, served by your personal butler, and soak in the lurid display of the African sunset from your private plunge pool outside your suite. Continue reading “Tanzania’s Top 8 Luxury Villa Venues with Plunge Pools”

How about a braai?

About an hour after we left Durban‘s King Shaka Airport, we were at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Though only a short distance away, it felt like a different world.

As we exited, we noticed Stefan looking anxiously towards the arrivals gate then at his cell phone, as if trying to decide whether to make a call. We shouted his name and he turned and smiled widely. It was wonderful to see his familiar face.

Despite the fun we’d had in Victoria Falls, on safari at Hwange National Park, in Cape Town and Durban, Johannesburg felt as if we were returning home.

As soon as exchanged hugs and settled into the jeep, we – Sandra, Judith and I – began chattering all at once, like giddy teenagers tripping over each others’ words eagerly trying to get the stories of our adventures out to Stefan as quickly as we could.

Stefan had some news of his own. While we were gone, Shepherds Court, the guest house he owns and where we had stayed when we arrived in Johannesburg, had seen a flurry of new arrivals and was fully booked so he decided to put us up for our last night in Joburg at his pool house. He dropped us off then left to do some shopping.

We settled in and made our way to the kitchen of the main house and opened a bottle of Tall Horse, a local wine we had fallen in love with. The door bell rang unexpectedly. It was Thope. She had several bottles of wine with her and told us that Stefan planned to have a braai – a kind of a barbecue – for us before we left. A braai? We were excited!

In our two weeks in Southern Africa, we had not been to a braai. We hadn’t thought about it — it wasn’t even on our must-do list.

Finally, Stefan returned and more friends arrived. The men went about setting up and cooking ribs, pork, beef and boerewors (sausage) while we women remained inside drinking and chatting.

Once everything was ready, we moved outside to the covered porch area where the huge braaier was located and the party began.

We had eaten so much beef in Southern Africa, we’d joked among ourselves that we’d  have to take a vacation from meat when we returned to the States. But what’s a braai without meat? The beef was surprisingly tender and flavorful and hours later, almost all of it had been washed down with several bottles of South African wine.

After the braai
And several bottles of wine
Just before dawn

If we didn’t have plans to go to Soweto later that morning, we would probably still be there, chatting and laughing. We had a fabulous time. It was about 3 a.m. when we finally stumbled into bed on our last night in South Africa.

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Durban’s Miles of Smiles

Our last morning in Durban began with us watching the sun as it rose over the Indian Ocean.

Golden Mile Awakening

And watching as the area known as the Golden Mile, Durban‘s popular stretch of beach came to life with vendors, tourists, swimmers, people out for their morning walk and workers cleaning up the beach.

Golden Mile Morning

One of the things we wanted to do was dip our toes in the ocean. The sand was almost golden brown and soft under our feet. It was our only time in the water since we had been in South Africa.

We waded in, stepped back and screamed almost at the same time when the water hit our feet.  It was a nice, bracing cold. But just wetting our toes wasn’t enough. We walked further in as the water lapped our calves. It felt great.

The water was a little brisk!

When we returned to our room, our clothes were wet and flip flops full of sand. Disappointingly, I didn’t get any shells on the beach.

Near the street, a few people had gathered to admire this artist’s rendition of a cheetah

Golden Mile Cheetah

and a lion made from sand.

 Golden Mile Lion

Durban’s artistic flair.


What’s DSW doing on the side of this garbage receptacle? Sorry, Sandra, it’s not the shoe store.


During our last drive through Durban, we came across these sculptures that I just loved.

Golden Mile Sculpture

Before we left the U.S., I had seen photos of Durban’s rickshas and the drivers online. I knew I had to see and ride in one.

And as Don drove us around, we spotted this one. I was so excited, I started to jump out of the car before he even came to a stop.

Golden Mile Ricksha

The driver obligingly put on his elaborate headgear but we didn’t have time for a ride. I could only take these photos.

Ricksha ride?
Color infected even the fence of this building
And this tree
This cube caught our eye
Then we saw this tree in Sandra’s favorite color
Moses Mabhida Stadium

Named for a former general secretary of the South Africa Communist Party, Moses Mabhida Stadium, played host to the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Another view of the stadium
Coastline and highrises
Sibaya Casino from the highway

On our way to the airport, we noticed this building from the highway. It was the Sibaya Casino & Entertainment Kingdom. It looked impressive, if a little out of place.

Sibaya Casino Entrance

This would be one of my last photos of Durban. It had been a whirlwind three days. We had done a lot, racked up several thousand miles and made friends.

Compassline Africa, our travel agent in Durban, had taken fabulous care of us. If you ever plan a visit, send Tanya or Alison an email. They left us in the capable hands of Don “How’s ya Granny” Botterill who proudly showed off his beautiful province and shared personal and family stories, including the one that a distant relative was one of the first people to open the Sani Pass route through the Drakensberg Mountains to Lesotho.

Our goodbye to Durban was bittersweet – it meant we had just one more night in South Africa.

Goodbye Durban, till next time.

Back to Joburg.

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What stories do you think your clothes tell?

It wasn’t until I was sitting in the dining room of the Beach Hotel on the morning of our last day in Durban that I finally realized what I’d been missing during the two weeks we traveled around South Africa.

SA Jazz singer, Lorraine Klaasen in traditional beaded collar

At a table close to ours, a group of nattily attired women in dresses made from African fabric, sat engaged in lively conversation. In this room of business people, young professionals and tourists, they were beautiful and regal and easy to spot.

Nowhere in our travels had we seen a display such as this. Most of the women we had seen had coats on, the others – hotel employees, etc., wore uniforms.

Years ago on my first trip to Africa, as I waited to change planes at the Leopold Senghor Airport in Dakar, I watched, mesmerized, the Senegalese women dressed in riots of colors and patterns – no two women looking alike.

That’s what I missed, I thought to myself.

To me, more than anything else, seeing women in traditional African dress is an unmistakable statement of cultural reference, connection and identity that always makes me feel proud of my African heritage. I didn’t realize how much until then.

What stories do you think your clothes tell?

Durban: Golden Mile Smiles

I’m still not sure what it is about Durban – I can’t quite put my finger on it exactly. But whatever it is, it creeps under your skin, sneaks up to your chest, grabs hold of your heart and just doesn’t let go.

Could it be the sunrise?

Alison at Compassline Africa had booked us into the Beach Hotel and the room we had gave us front row seats to the most spectacular sunrise we’d seen in a while. And as we watched the sun rise slowly above the horizon, I thought of this version of Bob Marley’s Lively Up Your Self. (Bob would have loved Durban too.)

Sun peeking over the horizon
Pinkish yellow rays of the morning sun
Slow rise
Coming up
Sky with a golden sun
Brilliant sunrise

The thing we looked forward to doing in Durban was to dip our feet into the Indian Ocean. So following the sunrise, we got dressed, had breakfast and went down to the beach.

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Bushman (San) Rock Paintings: Michelangelo’s Inspiration?

When we began planning the Durban leg of our trip, we knew nothing about the rock paintings at Giant’s Castle but once we did, they quickly became a must-see.

Created approximately 5,000 years ago by the first known inhabitants of South Africa, the Bushman or San people, and most of it located in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, they are the largest group of rock paintings to be found south of the Sahara.

We arrived at Giant’s Castle just before the mid-afternoon tour would begin and nearly had to sprint to the Main Cave, about a 30 minute hike from the Visitor Center. We were met by our guide, who told us his name was “Charles, Prince Charles.”

We couldn’t help laughing.

Prince Charles told us the story of the San people and the history of the paintings, as much as had been gathered from research. Signs like this provided additional background.

Main Cave
Replica of a San village

I had expected that we’d be going to an underground cave to see the drawings. Instead, these were right there on the overhanging rocks and exposed to the elements. However, a barrier now surrounds the rocks to prevent people from getting too close to deface them.

Drawings at Giant’s Castle
San (Bushman) Drawings
More San (or Bushman) paintings

The drawings represent a rich historical record of daily life — some show animals (eland, buffalo, etc.), children, men with spears, groups of women, etc. They were made from a mixture of grounded colored stone which was held together with fat and rubbed onto the rock. But they weren’t done just willy nilly. Specific areas of the rocks were chosen to lend depth and contrast. I was surprised that after so many years, the colors remained so vibrant.

There are 500 known areas of San drawings in the uKhahlamba Drakensburg Park, which UNESCO has declared a World Heritage Site.

At the end of the tour, which lasted about 30 minutes, we spent some time photographing the drawings and learning Zulu words from Prince Charles. An amiable man, he told us he had been a guide at the cave for nearly 30 years and was looking forward to retirement.

I wondered what it was like for Charles being there every day. Between tours, it is a peaceful place, with only the sound of an occasional bird, but I got the sense that there were people all around.

with Prince Charles

When it was time to return, Prince showed us a different way back. While the route to the cave was a punishing climb over rocks, up inclines, over streams, and a path in some places, just wide enough for one person, the return was a breeze. And the view was breathtaking.

Taking the scenic (and leisurely) route with our guide, Don
Giant’s Castle Sign

A reminder that this is a Heritage Site.

By the time we returned to the Visitor Center, it was time for a relaxing lunch. We left Giant’s Castle for the 4 hour ride back to Durban. It was our last full day in KwaZulu Natal.

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