The 2024 Micato Hot List

By Micato Staff May 22, 2024

From walking the rim of what UNESCO certifies is the “largest unbroken caldera in the world” to taking what we certify is one of the most joyful strolls in the world, a walk through the labyrinthine alleys of Old Delhi…

…to living in your own spectacularly private safari villa to taking a privately-led walk through the astonishing Taj Mahal…

… these are a few of our favourite things to see and do that have qualified for this annual round-up: The 2024 Micato Hot List.

The List

We’ll say it again at the end but we wanted to assure you—and your travel advisor, if you work with one—that every last one of these incomparable safari experiences and enchanting India encounters can be be arranged—in some cases, exclusively—by Micato, so we hope as you read you’ll be very tempted to schedule a consultation.

Patio and chairsAll a family could want: Exclusive-use private safari villa

Exclusive-use villa. We don’t mind admitting that the very idea makes our own hearts flutter and Micato Custom guests, no matter how well-travelled they are, likewise find it hard to contain their excitement when they discover their home away from home is staffed with a chef, butler, and housekeeper—with sommeliers, masseuses, hairdressers and the like happy to pay house calls—all thoughtfully tending to their every need and want.

While East African exclusive-use hideaways have made our list in past years, we are happy to give South Africa her due: Famed for its sublime setting in the Cape Winelands, for its winery, superb artwork, exquisite cuisine, and luxury lodges, the Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch is now graced with what it calls its “pinnacle,” the sumptuous Delaire Graff Owner’s Villa. Featuring a 45-foot pool, four bedrooms decorated with artworks curated by Laurence Graff from his private collection, and just about every luxe amenity imaginable, the Owner’s Villa is, quite simply, a Winelands masterpiece.

Multiple bedrooms sprawl across two floors and you can also avail yourself of two living rooms, a dining room where your personal chef serve the grandest of meals that come out of your enormous kitchen, a pool, jacuzzi terrace, family room, gym, etcetera. You get the idea. They call it the owner’s villa for a reason.

We love this experience for families, especially those with adult children who are looking to next-level their together time. And we hasten to add: Safari. Before or after living your best private villa life in the Winelands, we can transport you in true Micato Custom Safari style to Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Game Reserve for glorious family game runs. And Micato guests relishing the Jewels of Southern Africa can likewise have it both ways and get their fill of the winelands and the wilderness.

We invite you to peruse our entire carefully-selected list of Private Villas & Estates.

Giraffes at Ngorongoro Conservation AreaCoolest Walk Ever: Ramboling ‘Round the Rim of the Ngorongoro Crater

For most travellers a walking safari—be it for 20 minutes or two hours—feels like a well-nigh obligatory way to commune with the nature and, hand in hand with the best safari camps and lodges out there, Micato is happy to arrange for you to take guided bush walks as often as you like.

So fundamental to safari is a wilderness stroll that ordinarily, we’d be loathe to play favourites. But a walk around the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps the coolest walk ever. With guide and ranger in tow, you’ll circle the crater, following animal tracks as well as seeing the animals who made them, all the while taking in one of the most beguiling views of the natural world, justifiably nicknamed “Africa’s Eden.”

You can do the rim walk on The Micato Grand Safari, The Hemingway Wing Safari, Tanzania Spectacular, or, of course, as part of a Micato Private Custom Safari, where your walk will be utterly private, will last for however long you wish, and—spoiler alert—no doubt will end with sublime food and beverages so that you may toast the good fortune that brought you to this very special part of the world.

A Busy Street, Old DelhiTake a private guided walk through the labyrinthine alleys of Old Delhi

During an exclusively-arranged excursion, Micato guests will sample local delicacies, explore the largest spice market in Asia, meet a perfume maker in a narrow lane, greet the “under a tree” barber, meet the specialist garland maker, and many more. These encounters with fascinating locals are possible because your personal escort is your Micato Travel Director, who knows every interesting local and every worthy nook and cranny along the way.

Both the splendid Soul of India and Royal Palaces of India make time for Delhi as do many an India Private Custom Journey.

 

ChimpanzeeBest primates to debut on the Micato Hot List: Chimpanzees

If the headline above reads like we’re overcorrecting a bit, good eye: We speak so often, and deservedly so, about our beloved gorilla cousins and the opportunities Micato guests have to track the majestic primates, that we seldom single out the chimpanzee, and that ends now.

If you’re willing to venture beyond the most popular game parks, specifically to the western edge of Lake Tanganyika and the thickly forested slopes of Mahale Mountains National Park, you’ll be privy to one of the only wild chimpanzee populations in East Africa. You’ll need to trek on foot in order to see them—and depending on where the chimps are, the trek might be arduous. But we’re sure you’ll agree that being able to watch while a group of these spectacular, endangered apes forages for food, grooms, and playfully romps is a worthy payoff.

Circling back to the gorillas: If you are joining Micato in Rwanda to see them,  One&Only can arrange for you to get up close and personal with some chimpanzees, too.

A man playing golf.Tee off on a golf safari. Yes, a golf safari.

South Africa has long been home to great golfers — and likewise great courses. On a 10-day adventure, golf aficionados can play in Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, and throughout South Africa’s breathtaking wine country. One final achievement to unlock: Teeing off at Legend Signature Golf Course’s Extreme 19th, the highest and longest par-3 in the world. Not for the faint of heart, the mountaintop tee box is accessible only by helicopter at more than 1,400 feet in the air. Note that as of this writing both the Extreme 19th and Signature course are closed for renovations that our sources confirm ought to be complete in early 2025—which is, as it happens, a splendid time to think about joining us on safari.

Micato also arranges luxury golf safaris in East Africa with private conservancies and bush homes equipped with their own private golf courses. Of course, we play by “safari golf rules” at these courses…for instance, whomever hits the ball closest to the lion putts first!

In Micato’s India, the many places to play are literally on a par with the best courses in the world. From the storied Delhi Golf Club to the forested Naldhera Course in Shimla, where you can refine your game while gazing at the stunning Himalayas, Micato designs custom journeys to the country’s best courses and, if you wish, can include amazing excursions to India’s top cultural and spiritual sites along the way.

Visit India’s lesser-known parks to witness the resurgence in the tiger population

There’s nothing that beats the thrill of spotting a Royal Bengal Tiger in the wild and the especially good news coming out of India is that there has been a resurgence in the tiger population countrywide. Recent tiger census data released by India’s government underscores this increase as well as the fact that 75% of the global tiger population is in India. Certainly, Ranthambore National Park springs to mind as the place to go, and it is, but if you’re visiting India in 2024, perhaps make arrangements to visit Madhya Pradesh, a state that has seen an extraordinary 50% increase in its tiger population. Within the state is the beautiful Bandhavgarh National Park, whose scenic jungles and hilly open terrain foster one of the highest densities of tigers in the subcontinent.

Zarafa Dhow: The Suite Life in Botswana

Our friends at Great Plains Conservation are behind the lovely Zarafa Camp, which has four superb tented villas that Micato guests have been very pleased to call home.

But for that extra oomph of privacy and service, we have a place to show you next door: Zarafa Dhow Suite, a stunning two-bedroom villa.

The bedrooms on their own would be impressive enough. Each has a cozy copper-topped fire pit, complemented on the other side of the room by a copper claw-foot bathtub and shower… and it’s all arranged in a novel open floor plan, which may not sound like it would work, but it sure does. Beyond the bedrooms are a handsome, ample lounge and dining area as well as deck with its own fire pit, plunge pool, and an exercise bike, if you like that sort of thing. The views of Botswana’s wild waterways are especially exquisite from the lounge and deck and indeed, the camp itself is an ideal base for the start of a safari exploring the Selinda spillway.

You can ask your Micato Safari Specialist to make the Zarafa Dhow Suite part of your Private Custom Safari. Beyond this suite life, Micato is also pleased to arrange visits to Micato’s Botswana by way of our perenially popular Micato Classic Safaris, Botswana’s Timeless Wilderness and Passage Through Botswana and Zimbabwe. And, once again, for more on what you can expect from a villa on safari, head over here.

 

Photo: Cape Sidecar Adventures

A Salute to the South African Sidecar Sojourn

We’re willing to bet that most people, the first time they saw a motorcycle with a sidecar whiz by, spent a fair amount of time trying to imagine what it must feel like to have that unique and somewhat eclectic perspective of the open road. And if you’re among those most people, you no longer have to imagine.

But even if you have done it, being chauffeured in a motor biker’s sidecar as you’re whisked through Cape Town and its environs is a singular experience. Ensure your camera phone (or actual camera) is fully charged and your sunblock is liberally applied, and Cape Sidecar Adventures will do the rest. For upwards of two hours you’ll motor to quintessential spots throughout the city as well as farther afield, to such regions as the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Winelands, and other points of interest available on a variety of itineraries. And no worries about looking the part: On top of being issued a helmet and goggles you’ll also get to borrow a snazzy retro leather jacket for the ride.

 

For real: Sit under one of the most pollution-free skies on Earth

Deep in the haunting midst of the Namibian desert—an otherworldly wilderness delineated by craggy mountains and vast blood-red dunes—one thing is in ample supply. Space, an expanse of it—mental, physical, and humbling-ly spiritual space. From the iconic and magical sand drifts to the flying carpet of stars that paints the night skies, this hyper-arid landscape is an experience unlike another.

As spacious as lands of NamibRand Nature Reserve are its skies. The region was designated Africa’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, whose unparalleled nights feature a mesmerizing array of stars. Its nocturnal ambiance remains largely untouched by light pollution, making it one of the planet’s most pristine environments for stargazing.

And when we base ourselves at comfortably chic Kwessi Dunes—whose cathedral-height thatched roofs and fine cuisine provide both deep relaxation and an enviable air of cool—the oasis moment is complete.

Read more about why Micato’s Namibia is a top safari destination, consider sliding under the aforementioned Dark Sky during a Private Custom Safari or add a memorable side-jaunt to the Namib dunes to one of Micato’s Southern Africa luxury safaris.

Photo: Kimbaku Lodge Overnight Hide

Favourite Place to Hide Away: The Kambaku Overnight Hide

Game reserves in Africa are known for a construction called a hide, which is pretty much what it sounds like—a place, sometimes above ground, sometimes not—from where you the safarier can spy wildlife at eye level without drawing attention to yourself or spooking the animals.

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve by Micato guest Karl-Heinz Hoefert

The hide most worthy of the 2024 Micato Hot List is hidden away—pun intended—in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve: The Kambaku Overnight Hide. While hides can be pretty basic, this one is signicantly far from it, with three levels including a lovely sleeping deck up top with canopied bed as well as an astonishingly well-equipped en-suite with a shower and flush toilet as well as a robe and slippers. This is not your grandma’s hide. Naturally there are ample views of the reserve from every which way and, smartly, Kambaku placed their hide on the banks of the docile Nduna Dam, a magnet for game seeking a refreshing sip of water. And the animals don’t have all the drinking fun: A chilled cocktail or whatever beverage packs appeal is always at hand.

Given that your nestled between the dam and the bush, your utmost privacy is well assured, and as with many of the camps and lodges Micato uses, you can take your dinner privately and not have to interact with another human until you’re ready for your game run the next morning.

Search for Shy Snow Leopards in Ladakh

Exquisite and pristine, Ladakh is some 12000 ft above the Greater Himalayas. Should you join Micato India here, you’ll be dazzled by starkness of the landscapes.

And, you may well be dazzled by a snow leopard or two.

Like its shy cousin, the African leopard, the elusive snow leopard quietly roams Ladakh, through its high valleys and across its cliffs. On your privately-guided expedition you’ll seek out these leopards, along the way ogling gemstone-blue lakes, virgin sand dunes, and snow-capped mountains. As we trek, other characters will put in appearances, including the Tibetan antelope and Tibetan hare, shapo (wild sheep) as well as all manner of birds, so bringing a camera with an above-average zoom lens would not be out of the question.

 

Photo: Jimmy Nelson

Best nest: Nay Palad Bird Nest, Laikipia, Kenya

Imagine just before sunset being led up a lantern-lit tower and reaching a very large open-air nest with luxe linen-covered beds replete with hot-water bottles. Lanterns provide ambient light so as not to detract from the blanket of stars, which you’ll gaze as you’re cossetted a bird in your deliciously private, quiet nest.

This is about as experiential as experiential gets, a rarity even the most jaded customers will hustle to post to their Instagram feeds. Though we recommend putting your phone away once you reach your roost. And if you tire, say mid-way through the night, of living your nest life, you have the option of retiring to another bedroom in the interior of your hideaway.

Micato Milele Experiences

Milele is a Swahili word meaning eternal, everlasting, and forever. Three words that mean that same thing but which sound subtly different notes, depending on what you’re feeling. And what we’re feeling is that certain safari experiences are so incomparable that they belong in a hall of fame of sorts. So here now, we give you our Micato Milele Experiences or, put another way, things to see and do that will be part of Micato forever.

Flying Safaris: The Sky is Truly The Limit

We have an abiding love for flying over Africa and you will not leave Micato’s Africa without experiencing several scenic bush flights. But for next-level safaris by air, nothing quite beats our perennial favourites, helicoptering and ballooning.

Micato Hot-Air Balloon Safaris

If you’ve ever taken a ride on a hot-air balloon, you know.

Wafting over the Mara in a piercingly fresh and golden morning, floating over elephants and hippos, feeling a mild and worthy intoxication-by-grandeur, is one of those things that, having done, we wonder how on earth we ever contemplated not doing.

With Micato you can balloon over the Maasai Mara or Serengeti and spot strolling giraffes, prides of lion, zebras galloping, or wildebeest ramming their heads in a battle of wills. Upon landing, Micato arranges for a team of chefs to prepare breakfast on the savannahs, where you can sip champagne with your made-to-order omelet and watch the world wake up around you.

Helicoptering over the Okavango Delta. Photo: Duke’s Camp

Micato Helicopter Safaris

When you safari by private helicopter, you can explore the slopes of Mount Kenya. Or the thousands of flamingoes that make Lake Bogoria’s blue waters turn pink. Or over the streams of Mt. Kenya.

Or over the heads of elephants cooling off in the waters of the Okavango Delta.

Or the thundering waters of Victoria Falls.

helicopter flight over Victoria Falls

Micato is one of the first safari outfitters to offer unfettered access to the best game viewing in Tanzania by using helicopters to access areas where the wildlife is most plentiful. Micato guests often take off near the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater, and touch down for game drives wherever animals are most concentrated.

You can see the vastness of Africa, in all of its unforgettable majesty, as part of a Micato Private Custom safari and read even more about helicopter flights over Micato’s Africa.

Man on a boat with peace at Taj MahalTaj Mahal: For a reason, one of the seven wonders of the modern world

Sweetly hypnotic. Heartliftingly, almost hallucinatorily beautiful. Grand and imposing. A beauty that is always guileless and unhidden. One of the first artifacts we would present to aliens as proof of humanity’s worth.

These descriptions only scratch the surface of emotion that wells up when travellers see the Taj Mahal in real life. But strip away the hyperbole, as UNESCO helpfully does, and we’re reminded that the Taj Mahal is an “immense mausoleum of white marble, built in Agra between 1631 and 1648 by order of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his favourite wife, the Taj Mahal is the jewel of Muslim art in India and one of the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage.”

Micato travellers like Tom Cole who have made the pilgrimage to this “stately but sensuous building,” say “it almost seems disrespectful to call the Taj Mahal a mere building” and goes on to say the following.

Inside the great dome we marvel at its exquisite marble inlay, and walking around the monument, lightly stroking its luminous white marble, taking it all in, we’re gently bombarded by sensations. One visitor wrote of feeling a surprising pride at being human, another of being in the almost overwhelming presence of a beautiful and kindly woman, and Lord Curzon found the Taj “without flaw or blemish…irresistible, impossible to criticize, incapable of improvement.” But whatever form our emotions and thoughts take, we know that the great Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore was right when he asked that even if “the splendour of diamond, pearl and ruby” may vanish, “only let this one teardrop, this Taj Mahal, glisten spotlessly bright on the cheek of time, forever and ever.”

Micato India can happily arrange a private walk through the Taj Mahal with a renowned local historian, who, trust us, as many times said historian has been there, will be just as awestruck as you.

Visit the AmericaShare Harambee Community Centre and Huru International

Witnessing first-hand the groundbreaking, life-changing work of AmericaShare, the non-profit foundation of Micato Safaris, and our affiliate, Huru International—of which Micato is a major donor and proud supporter—is often cited by Micato guests as the highlight of their journeys.

And we’re not just saying that. They are.

Learning about Americashare and Huru broadened my horizons. Micato Safaris ensures their positive contributions to the lives of the youth are also experienced by their guests.

—Micato guest Lucia Bellairs, March 2024

I’ve visited Harambee Centre and Huru three times over the last decade and am blown away every time by how much the facilities have grown, how very different things look each time I visit. But what stays the same is the feeling. The feeling you get when you see a dozen inquisitive faces gaze up at you at once when you set foot in the library, or hear the laughter of children in the couryard or experience the exhuberantly relentless din of the sewing machines at Huru. You just feel in your soul that a lot of good is being done here. —Micato repeat guest Ethan Miller

While visiting the Micato-AmericaShare Harambee Community Centre, Micato guests visit the libraries and computer labs—funded largely by our travellers—and meet the student beneficiaries of our education programmes, which include a School Scholarship Programme and The Micato One for One Commitment.

Huru International keeps girls in school during their periods by supplying them with reusable sanitary pads, produced in Huru’s Global Heaquarters in Nairobi, using proprietary technology developed by Huru. To date more than 320,000 girls have been the recipients of over 2,200,000 reusable sanitary pads.

As for the experience itself, Micato guests visit Huru Global, which employs more than 100 Kenyans. There you’ll meet the young women from Mukuru who are trained to sew sanitary pads and school uniforms. Also, the Huru Skills Development Program has trained 300 impoverished young women to use industrial sewing machines, making them highly valuable skilled employees for Kenya’s burgeoning textile industry. This visit is especially meaningful to families with teens and young adults who get to interact with young Kenyans.

Another exclusively-Micato experience for our Southern Africa-bound guests is a visit to Red Hill. Micato-AmericaShare’s educational outreach in East Africa inspired them to find a community in South Africa where they could have a lasting impact, and they chose Red Hill, a community south of Cape Town with 1,500 makeshift households. Red Hill doesn’t have much in the way of community services, so AmericaShare established the Red Hill Library and Community Centre.

Red Hill has come a long way from its beginnings as a modest little library. A lab outfitted with computers offers classes to the community, where trained librarians and other dedicated staff offer résumé writing classes and enable community members to apply for jobs. Micato staff also lead literary and numeracy classes to students as well as creative writing workshops, knitting circles, and more.

Micato travellers enjoy seeing all of this activity when they visit Red Hill, and among their favourite activities is reading with the community’s younger children in the welcoming indoor and outdoor meeting places here, especially a new serene outdoor deck.

Photo: Micato guest Paul Bruce

The bottom line

If any or all of these experiences pack appeal, a Micato safari specialist will arrange them for you. Contact us or have your travel advisor get in touch so we can plan your Micato Hot List adventure together.

Want to explore all these places and more?

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