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In the first of an occasional series, Catherine Beattie highlights some of Africa's unique spa and wellbeing experiences.

African Routes to Wellbeing

With its spectacular scenery, beaches and wildlife, Africa offers myriad opportunities to refresh mind, body and spirit. Here are a few tasters of what this vast continent has to offer.

Experience a Zulu-inspired spa

Thanda, South Africa

For spa aficionados, being pampered in the heart of a game reserve is the ultimate bush experience! South Africa’s Thanda Private Game Reserve has not one but two spas inspired by the Zulu culture. Both offer exclusive treatments using African essential oils and locally sourced products wih treatments such as reflexology, aromatherapy, hot stone massage, pressure point scalp massage, manicures and pedicures. The Thanda Spa caters for guests staying at the Lodge, where treatments can be enjoyed inside or out, with a relaxation deck and swimming pool. TheThanda Tented Camp Spa is set in a sumptuous safari tent spa with an open-air deck overlooking the Royal Zulu Mountains. The spa has developed special spa techniques to reflect the Thanda environment and its wildlife. Both Thanda’s unique spas are sure to rejuvenate mind and body while the incredible sights and sounds of the vast African bush and the Big Five boost the spirit.

 Harvest grapes and indulge in wine spa treatments

Winelands, South AfricaAt the Santé Winelands Hotel and Wellness Centres in South Africa, you can pick grapes, enjoy wine tastings and indulge in rejuvenating vinotherapy using products prepared from local grapes, high in beneficial anti-oxidants. The Santé spa menu is extensive and signatures treatments include a Shiraz Grape Seed Scrub and a Chardonnay Cocoon Wrap. Massages and other treatments using vinotherapy products are also offered. The Santé is great for a dedicated spa vacation or a few days’ relaxation after a safari. The excellent facilities include a heated indoor hydro pool, a relaxation pavilion with yoga, meditation and Tai chi. Personal fitness training, physiotherapy, lifestyle and nutritional workshops and consultations can also be arranged.

Dive and snorkel with whale sharks in Mozambique

Diving with whale sharks in Mozambique

At the seaside village of Tofo in the southern province of Inhambane you can swim with whale sharks – the world’s largest fish. These gentle 14-ton giants feed entirely on plankton and are totally harmless to humans. They live just beneath the ocean surface, moving with the current, their mouths wide open to allow their enormous gills to filter the water. Whale sharks are predominantly summer visitors, but are also encountered between April and November. Just jump overboard with fins and snorkel for one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life! There are a number of hotels, boarding houses and dive operators but Tofo is still a largely undiscovered by tourists and is a great place to see other marine life like colourful tropical fish, manta rays, the rare dugong and humpback whales (between June and November).

Pamper yourself with a Spa Relax programme

Hydro at Stelllenbosch, South Africa

This is one of a range of spa packages and complementary therapies offered at the Hydro at Stellenbosch, South Africa’s leading holistic health resort. Decide how long you want to stay and choose treatments from an extensive menu or opt for one of the special offers available throughout the year.

 Camp in the crater of an active volcano!

Volcanic crater, Comoros Islands

On Grande Comoro, one of the four Comoros islands that lie between the northern tip of Madagascar and the African mainland, you can climb to the summit of Mt Karthala, a 2361-metre active volcano, and camp overnight in the crater. The climb takes about seven hours and should only be attempted during the dry season (April to November). Camping equipment and a porter can be arranged locally. While in the islands, visit the fragrant ylang-ylang plantations and take the short flight to Moheli, the smallest, wildest and least developed of the Comoros islands. The people are friendly and you may even see giant turtles returning from the ocean to lay their eggs on Itsamia beach.



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