From the big screen to big travel plans: take a trip on the wild side with Booking.com
This July will revisit a familiar landscape as the king of pride rock returns to the big screen. With noble lions embarking on a new adventure, many may be tempted to experience the wild for themselves. New research from Booking.com, the digital travel leader connecting travelers with the widest choice of unique places to stay, a range of must-do travel experiences and seamless transport options, reveal that locations from movies and TV shows inspire over 38% of US travelers when it comes to selecting a vacation destination*. For those inspired by the adventures they see on screen and want to explore the circle of life off-screen, Booking.com has curated a list of safari stays for intrepid adventurers, ensuring travelers can admire the wildlife in their natural habitat.
Laikipia County is the pride of Kenya, and an area that will look familiar to young cubs and wise parents who have seen the original film, which was inspired by this region. Laikipia has a community of various endangered species including black rhinos, Grévy's zebras, wild dog packs and over 2,000 elephants. Not only are there a variety of Safari options to choose from, the area also boasts various conservation and education programs where travelers can learn about wildlife conservation.
Where to Stay: Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club offers guests a Safari experience with a luxurious touch just a few hours from Laikipia County. Located in lush green surroundings on the outskirts of Mount Kenya National Park and a short walk from Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservancy, it’s perfect for those traveling with younger travelers as the club also hosts a children’s play area, tennis courts and cycling for all ages.
Amakhala Game Reserve, South Africa
Endorsed as the top safari destination according to Booking.com travelers**, Amakhala Game Reserve is bound to give guests an experience on the wild side. Found on the Eastern Cape of South Africa, the reserve is a unique conservation initiative that allows animals to be re-introduced to the area where they once roamed freely, making a contribution to the conservation of the area’s natural heritage. Guests can stay in different properties within the reserve, enjoy day safari excursions and visit the craft center where unemployed members of the local community are given an opportunity to generate an income on site by creating souvenirs and gifts.
Where to stay: Bukela Game Lodge - Amakhala Game Reserve is surrounded by panoramic views of the bush and is the perfect place for guests to relax after a walk on the wild side. The lodge offers all-inclusive dining, wildlife viewing opportunities and two game drives per day. It also features authentic local décor throughout and a refreshing outdoor swimming pool.
The African plains of Seronera, which have also inspired what you’ll seen on the big screen this summer, are located in Northern Tanzania in one of the three main areas of The Serengeti National Park. This area is commonly known for its large annual migration of wildebeests, zebras, crocodiles and honey badgers. For travelers wanting to experience this natural wonder, July to September is the best time to go, with many safaris available for travelers. On the outskirts of Serengeti National Park, guests can also experience local life in Losirwa Village (Mto Wa Mbu) with the Boma community. I Like Local, a sustainable start-up which was recently awarded a grant from the 2019 Booking.com Booster Program’s €2 million fund, provides travelers with an opportunity of a lifetime by learning and experiencing first-hand the unique Maasai traditional way of life.
Where to stay: For travelers daring to live amongst the wild animals, they can fully immerse themselves into the experience whilst staying at Mapito Tented Camp Serengeti. These luxury style tents offer an all-inclusive experience for guests surrounded by panoramic scenes for a truly wild experience, making your trip to Serengeti an unforgettable one.
Another destination highly endorsed by Booking.com travelers is Arusha, a city in Tanzania located at the base of volcanic Mount Meru. The city’s national park is home to buffaloes, waterbucks, giraffes, warthogs, zebras and baboons. Within the park, visitors can find Ngorongoro Crater and Lake Manyara, where (if lucky enough) they can catch a glimpse of Africa’s Big Five (lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and Cape buffalos) in their natural habitat. As well as being a gateway to safari destinations, the city itself is known for its vibrant nightlife and is home to its own National Natural History Museum.
Where to stay: Mambo Arusha Hostel is the perfect base for those returning from a day of adventuring on safari. This quaint hostel boasts a beautiful outside garden, a shared lounge and a mixture of shared dorm rooms and private rooms. The hostel is also just a short drive from the city, with bikes available to rent for those keen to explore the area on two wheels not four.
Namutoni in Namibia is highly endorsed by Booking.com travelers looking for an authentic safari stay. Located within Etosha National Park, visitors can experience being on the other side of the fence, with the King Nehale Waterhole offering a unique vantage point and people fenced in and the animals wandering around freely.
Where to stay: Mokuti Etosha Lodge is situated a short drive from the eastern Von Lindequist gate entrance of the Etosha National Park. The lodge, which is adorned with Namibian crafts and rich fabrics throughout the spacious accommodation, offers visitors two outdoor pools, tennis courts and a spa. The open-air Boma Restaurant onsite serves African grill delicacies in a magical setting with its thatched roof and chandeliers.
Pilanesberg, South Africa
Set in the crater of a long extinct volcano, Pilanesberg National Park ranks among the largest of the parks in South Africa, while also being one of the top endorsed safari destinations by Booking.com travelers. Just two hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria, the park is a popular destination for those hoping to catch a glimpse of Africa’s Big Five. Visitors can explore nearly 125 miles on self or guided game drives, with several hides along the way to allow visitors to feel even closer to the action.
Where to stay: African Elegance Tented Lodge is an alternative accommodation option in Boshoek. These luxury tents, which are equipped with a seating areas and private bathrooms, are the perfect base to explore the Lesedi African Cultural Village, a flagship cultural tourism destination for visitors interested in learning more about South Africa's traditional culture.
*Research commissioned by Booking.com and independently conducted among a sample size of 21,807 respondents aged 16 or over (25% of whom were aged 16-24) in 29 markets (including 1,000 each from Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China, Brazil, India, US, UK, Russia, Indonesia, Colombia and South Korea; and 600 each from Japan, New Zealand, Thailand, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Croatia, Taiwan, Mexico, Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore and Israel). Fieldwork was undertaken between 1 and 16 May 2019. The survey was carried out online. All research and recruitment, unless otherwise stated, was carried out by Vitreous World, with analysis by Ketchum Analytics.
**List based on endorsements from Global Booking.com user who travelled to these destinations. Destinations had to received 50 endorsements in the category “safari” to be considered and were selected on the basis of share of total endorsements.