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“At 23:56 on 23rd October 1963, Zambians rose in reverence of the Union Jack, the de facto national flag of the United Kingdom, for the last time as it lowered, signifying the end of British rule in Zambia.”

― Precious Mwansa-Chisa

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Special African ways to spa abound in quiet corners of the continent. The many cultures, traditions, terrain, vegetation and views combine with pleasurable, respectful and discreet facilities and offerings. Resulting in rest, rejuvenation or romantic time out with your beloved. From an Arabic hammam Spa and a tropical island resort’s offering to a hilltop wine estate’s collective spa experience is what you’ll find here.


La Mamounia Hotel, Marrakech, Morocco. Photo by Alan Keohane for La Mamounia

Walk up the Majorelle blue stairs into dimly lit alcoves, mosaic floors, curved walls, arches and wood panelling. All making for a mystical  entrance to a hamman spa experience at Marrakesh’s palatial La Mamounia hotel.

If you’re new to this old Moroccan ritual, locals have regular hammams, a steam bath, as a cleansing and bathing custom – and use it to connect socially too.

A traditional hammam usually has a central marble slab you can sit on and wash or be washed on. Various times separate the sexes in Morocco’s public hammams as part of Islamic culture.

Make like a local at La Mamounia and request the traditional oil-based black soap to lather you up and open the pores. Nourishing Argan oil, another authentic Moroccan product, is also available. The spa has several hammams, including a private one. Sit in as hot a temperature as you can handle. When you’ve reached cooking point or the spa staff alert you, you’re ready for the next step.

Long exported to many a Western spa, the famous Moroccan healing ghassoul/mud treatment for exfoliating is a must. Ask your therapist to use the traditional kessa glove on you. If you’re brave enough, now’s the time to douse yourself in icy cold water. Though you don’t have to.

At La Mamounia’s spa you can also enjoy the dry heat of a sauna, a Jacuzzi and body treatments, such as the sugar rose wrap. 

Then there’s the visual feasting on the grandeur of the architectural environment. Such as the masterpiece that is the indoor heated swimming pool. When you’re not enjoying the water, at one end is a day bed you can loll around on – the perfect spot to survey the splendour.  Traditional zellige tilling, arched columns, stained glass windows and an intricately-carved roof are some of what you’ll see. 

Fit for royalty, the magnificent 18th century gardens were bequeathed by Sultan Mohammed III to his son, Prince Moulay Mamoun.


At Bakwena, Cape Town’s wine estate spa location on a hill, emphasis is on variety, change and challenging traditional spa norms.

 Start with breakfast in the chunkily-furnished lounge/dining area. The full day package – consisting of 6.5 hours where almost every body part is given attention in different treatment rooms, along with the excellent therapists. Enjoy a group massage, such as hand, foot, back, neck and head; in your spa gown whilst sitting in a chair with other guests, enjoying the mountain and vineyard views.

Facial and full body treatments are in fragranced, low-lit cubicles on another floor, while your exfoliating treatment is also privately done in a tiled room with a shower. These are unclothed.

During downtime, enjoy wines from the Zevenwacht estate below, take a dip in the courtyard’s plunge pool or a unique 15 minute session with ‘Mr Nibbles’. Place your feet in a fishtank full of  Garra rufa fish who swarm in, nibble off the dead skin and leave  you with soft feet and giggles over the ticklish sensation.

Variety is the spice of life at Bakwena. From therapists to food (lunch and an afternoon cheese board are included), and treatments.


The image of a fish peeling

Make time to visit this DIY spa at Mahe Island’s Banyan Tree resort, the perfect cosy creation for two right on the ocean’s doorstep.

Villas come with their own private pool, an outside Jacuzzi and a steam room with a bench in the shower. A trained therapist could come to the villa if you don’t have the know-how with each other.

While the Foot Bath is a signature treatment here, you can stay with the water theme in the Tropical Rainmist treatment. Trickling rain drenches you and you receive an invigorating body scrub and a choice of massages. Then there’s the popular Royal Banyan body treatment which combines Eastern and Western techniques, using sesame oil.

If you’re the type that likes excess, the Spa Sanctuary Villa option offers unlimited massages per day.

Whichever of the Asian healing therapies, using herbs and spices, you choose, you’ll experience the ladies with ‘golden hands’. Combine that with the heavenly environment created on this corner of the earth, and it explains why Banyan Tree globalwide are the recipients of 580 accolades and awards.

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