From the dusty tents of explorers to exquisite eco-conscious lodges, 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, highly intuitive and personalised service – what’s not to love about a luxury African safari?
15 Best Luxury African Safari Lodges:
1. Londolozi Private Granite Suites, Kruger
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.
2. Royal Malewane, Thornybush
At Royal Malewane the emphasis is on high-quality, personalised service including private game drives in Thornybush Nature Reserve (adjacent to the Greater Kruger National Park), 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.
3. Singita Boulders Lodge, Kruger
This Afro-chic lodge is set along the boulder-strewn banks of the Sand River in the sensational Sabi Sands Game Reserve, a private slice of wilderness neighbouring the Kruger. 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 elevated by an extensive wine cellar showcasing some of Africa's most sought-after private wine reserves.
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4. Angama Mara, Masai Mara
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 11m / 33ft floor-to-ceiling windows, and are adorned with exquisite handcrafted and designer furniture pieces that capture a minimal and contemporary Maasai-inspired space.
5. Segera Retreat, Laikipia
The emphasis at Segera is on personal service and tailored flexibility to ensure that your experience is as unique as it is personal. The spacious suites feature private decks with sun loungers, swing beds and sunken Jacuzzis. Dining at Segera is an unforgettable experience, thanks to its internationally renowned kitchen. You can also enjoy activities like helicopter excursions over the Great Rift Valley and the rare opportunity to view the private art collection of Segera's conservation-minded owner, Jochen Zeitz.
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6. Chinzombo, South Luangwa
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.
7. Thorntree River Lodge, Vic Falls
Considered one of Zambia's most indulgent and contemporary safari lodges, Thorntree enjoys a tranquil setting on the banks of the Zambezi River, just upstream from the legendary Victoria Falls. Beautifully built from local timber, stone and reclaimed railway sleepers, this eco-conscious lodge strikes the perfect balance between nature and modern-day design. The large riverside suites feature indoor and outdoor lounges, en suite bathrooms with spacious tubs, and private decks with plunge pools.
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8. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro
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.
9. Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Serengeti
A great choice for families or groups who enjoy the bush but still want to have all the luxuries of a five-star establishment, Sasakwa Lodge offers impeccable service and exceptional facilities. This grand manor house is situated in the private Grumeti Reserve and boasts patinated antiques, glittering chandeliers, and plush sofas that invite you to sink into them and gaze out across the Serengeti plains.
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10. Jao Camp, Okavango Delta
Situated on a private island in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Jao Camp is only accessible by air and delivers an unbeatable luxury African safari experience within one of Mother Nature's true masterpieces. Spacious suites are beautifully decorated with local carvings and artwork, and the spa here is considered one of the best in Botswana.
11. Chief's Camp, Okavango Delta
The Moremi Game Reserve is one of Africa's most beautiful conservation areas: a stunning montage of lily-covered wetlands, sparkling floodplains, open grassland and dappled forests. It's home to some of Botswana's best predator sightings and the iconic Chief's Island – the biggest in the Okavango Delta – which harbours the luxurious Chief's Camp within a tranquil setting. Boasting some of the biggest suites in the area, Chief's Camp delivers boatloads of safari chic, personalised service and a very exclusive Delta experience.
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12. Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes
Built in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate was Rwanda's first lodge to combine world-class luxury with a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking experience. With a pioneering vision of reforestation and community partnership, Bisate has a long-term commitment to responsible eco-tourism and the conservation of Rwanda's incredible natural heritage. The lodge's one-of-a-kind design mimics traditional huts while the sumptuous interiors offer comfort, warmth and luxury African safari amenities like cosy fireplaces and a well-stocked wine cellar.
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13. Little Kulala, Sossusvlei
With an impressive array of guest activities like nature walks and drives, hot-air balloon safaris and eco-sensitive quad biking (ATV) excursions around the dunes of our planet's oldest desert, Little Kulala offers a unique experience in one of Africa's secret corners. Situated in a private reserve with exclusive access to Sossusvlei via a private gate, this luxury African safari lodge is perfect for that special occasion holiday in Namibia.
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14. Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe
Situated in Zimbabwe's far-flung southeast, the exclusive Pamushana Lodge is perched on a cliff in the 130 000-acre private Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve that borders the spectacular Gonarezhou National Park. Flamboyant suites are nestled under a canopy of trees and boast breath-taking views over a striking landscape.
15. Nyamatusi Camp, Mana Pools
The extravagant Nyamatusi is situated in one of the wildest parts of southern Africa, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. This camp comprises luxury canvas suites and offers an authentic immersion into an old and untouched Africa. Air conditioning in every suite, private plunge pools and a carefully curated wine cellar offer a rare luxury African safari experience in this part of Zimbabwe.
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