From the dusty tents of explorers to exquisite eco-conscious lodges - the African safari has come a long way in the past hundred years without losing any of its romance and adventure. Today, many tented camps mirror the grandeur and opulence of days gone by, while others have completely reinvigorated the safari lodge, offering a brand new take on African aesthetics, authenticity and luxury.
You can also see, do and even taste much more – think top-of-the-range off-road vehicles, hot-air ballooning, glamping (glamorous camping), fly-in safaris and contemporary gourmet dining. The entire experience is enriched by cultural, historical and environmental orientation as well as knowing that as a guest you are integral to a sustainable and holistic conservation model. So – adventure, wildlife, cultural enrichment and world-class hospitality – what’s not to love about a luxurious African safari? Here are our top 15 safari lodge picks.
Londolozi Private Granite Suites – Kruger, South Africa
Londolozi Private Granite Suites deliver complete luxury and exclusivity in the Sabi Sands, one of Kruger’s finest private concessions. Just three separately suites overlook the granite rocks of Sabi River. These beautiful views are reflected in a contemporary assemblage of stone walls, polished concrete and a bold colour scheme of charcoal, silver and elephant-grey.
Jack’s Camp – Kalahari, Botswana
Quite unlike other lodges in Botswana (most of which are located close to the lush Okavango Delta) Jack’s Camp offers the opportunity to explore the unusual landscape and wildlife of the Kalahari Desert. Beautifully ornate Bedouin-style tents make you feel like Arabian royalty and are a fitting gesture to the camp’s semi-desert environment.
Angama Mara – Masai Mara, Kenya
Perched on what seems like the very edge of the Great Rift Valley, views from Angama Mara are simply spell-binding. The well conceptualised inside-outside living areas are separated by 11 m / 33ft floor-to-ceiling windows, and are adorned with exquisite handcrafted and designer furniture pieces that capture a minimal and contemporary Maasai-inspired space.
Chinzombo –South Luangwa, Zambia
The South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is one of Africa’s hidden secrets, boasting untouched natural beauty, great walking safaris and crowd-free big game viewing. Set in this unexplored reserve on the banks of the Luangwa River lies the sophisticated and elegant Chinzombo, with just six gorgeous villas tucked separately into the forest canopy.
Singita Sabora – Serengeti, Tanzania
A lodge that truly captures the spirit of yesteryear safaris, Singita Sabora is set on the endless golden plains of the Serengeti. Antique furniture and collectables, rich fabrics and Persian rugs, and traditional Meru-style canvas tents – it’s hard to imagine anything else alongside such an iconic landscape.
Matetsi River Lodge – Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
One of the only places where you can combine a trip to Victoria Falls with a truly authentic big game safari. Matetsi River Lodge incorporates a wood, copper and red-gold theme in homage to the country’s mining history, as well as vibrant splashes of blue that draw in views of the Zambezi
Mombo Camp – Okavango Delta, Botswana
Mombo Camp is raised over the floodplains of the Okavango Delta, and from this vantage point wildlife can often be spotted from both the extensive main area or from your own apartment-sized suite. Nine gorgeous guest tents boast an understated luxury and elegance, with fold-away canvas sides along the entire length of each suite.
Singita Lebombo – Kruger, South Africa
Suspended above the N’Wanetsi River on a private concession in the Kruger lies the Afro-chic Singita Lebombo. Its glass-walled and open-air spaces allow you to appreciate your magnificent surroundings in the midst of the African bush. The dining experience is second-to-none and you can look forward to a modern wine studio, an interactive kitchen, espresso bar and a help-yourself deli.
Saruni Mara – Masai Mara, Kenya
Saruni Mara is perched high among the hills of Mara North Conservancy, and invites you to soak up heart-stirring views from five beautifully themed suites: The Observatory, The Love Shack, The Photographer’s Studio, The Artist’s Studio and The Literary Room. It delivers plenty of plush creature comforts and old-world charm.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge – Ngorongoro, Tanzania
Views from the rim of the world’s largest intact caldera are enough to take your breath away but the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge also succeeds in capturing the romance of its setting in its timeless elegance and design. Circular clay buildings with thatch roofs create a warm and inviting space, while brocade sofas, gilt mirrors and beaded chandeliers transform the space into a baroque chateau fit for kings and queens.
Royal Malewane – Thornybush, South Africa
At Royal Malewane the emphasis is on high-quality, personalised service including private game drives, butler service and unforgettable culinary experiences. The lodge offers a classic safari lodge look-and-feel as well as one of the best safari spas in the country.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – Sossusvlei, Namibia
This intimate camp in the far-flung but breath-taking Namib Desert offers a complete escape from the ordinary world to a place of quietness, space and luxury. At Sossusvlei Desert Lodge you will be totally pampered and romanced with activities like hot-air ballooning, picnics and stargazing at their sophisticated observatory.
Vumbura Plains – Okavango Delta, Botswana
Vumbura Plains has the ultimate location for a safari in the Okavango Delta, as you can experience both land- and water-based game viewing throughout the year. This luxurious and contemporary tented lodge is bathed in calming neutral tones with a refreshing pop of blue and green to match the surrounding floodplains.
Sasaab Camp – Samburu, Kenya
Following Morrocan design principles, Sasaab Camp works perfectly at keeping you cool and pampered while visiting Kenya’s far-flung Samburu plains. Each exquisite guest tent has a generous open-air bathroom and a private plunge pool, with views looking over the Laikipia Plateau and the Uaso Nyiro River.
Zarafa Dhow Suites – Selinda, Botswana
A private retreat on the eastern edge of Selinda Private Game Reserve, Zarafa Dhow Suites offers a lavish experience within the untamed and untouched Okavango Delta. At this remote location you are able to ‘unplug’ and reconnect with nature, while still feeling totally at ease and luxuriated.
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