There is something inexplicably magical about staying in a tent when on safari. Instead of being shut away behind brick and glass, you can enjoy the glow of lantern light on canvas walls and drift off to sleep to the sounds of the surrounding untouched nature. And if your idea of staying in a tent means having to rough it in a brightly coloured, polyester 'dome', you're in for a wonderful surprise. Africa's top tented camps offer a softer kind of adventure with all the comfort and the trimmings you'd expect from a luxury safari lodge.
From Hemingway-style mobile safari camps set up in exclusive sites to massive, tented suites with everything from private pools to polished wooden floors, we've combed the continent for our selection of Africa's best tented safari camps.
1. Loisaba Tented Camp
Set in the heart of Kenya, Loisaba Tented Camp is surrounded by 56 000 acres of private wildlife conservancy that is home to a burgeoning elephant population, big cats and two thriving packs of wild dogs – one of the most exciting of all predators to see on safari. Your days at Loisaba are filled with exciting game drives, camel treks, horse riding and mountain biking. There are also several conservation projects that will see you learning more about radio-wave lion tracking as well as visiting the cute sniffer dogs of the successful anti-poaching units. And after enjoying these wholesome safari experiences, you can head back to your spacious, tastefully decorated tents to unwind with panoramic views of Laikipia’s escarpment.
- Classic African safari tents with spectacular views of the escarpment
- Camel trekking, horse riding & mountain biking
- Conservation-related activities
- Eco-friendly camp with state-of-the-art power supply & Silver Eco status
- Bushwalks with qualified Samburu guides
- Reliable sightings of elephant & the rare Grevy’s zebra
2. Singita Sabora Tented Camp
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Singita Sabora Tented Camp is set in Tanzania's exclusive Grumet Game Reserve. This stylish, upscale tented camp offers the classic style of a bygone era, featuring 1920s safari décor and opulent luxury, from mahogany antiques and Persian rugs to dreamy spa treatments. What's more, staying in a privately owned reserve means you can experience a fantastic range of extra activities such as hot-air balloon safaris, night drives and horseback adventures on the Serengeti plains.
- See the Wildebeest Migration in season (July to September)
- Intimate & personalised stay in 40 000 acres of unrivalled wilderness
- Mountain biking, badminton, lawn croquet & heated plunge pool
- Night drives, guided walks, horse riding & hot-air balloon safaris
- Delectable open-air bush banquets under the African sky
3. Sayari Camp
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
The Serengeti is most well-known for the spectacular vantage points it offers for viewing the Wildebeest Migration. Sayari Camp offers front-row seats to this annual show, where massive herds of animals move in a circular passage, following the rains and fresh grazing from the Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara. For those who wish to get away from the crowds, this seasonal camp, lying in the northern Serengeti and far off the usual tourist track, is the perfect accommodation choice. Besides the serene atmosphere and outstanding game viewing, its spacious, stylish tents make it easy to see why Africa Geographic considers Sayari one of its ‘Special Places in Africa’.
- See the Wildebeest Migration river crossings at the Mara River (June to October)
- Enjoy panoramic views of the vast Serengeti plains
- Excellent year-round game viewing
- Family-friendly tented safari accommodation
- Infinity pool to cool down in after game drives
4. Cottar's 1920s Safari Camp
Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Just outside the Masai Mara, in its own game-rich conservancy, is Cottar’s 1920s Camp. The Olderkesi Private Conservancy on which the camp is positioned forms a corridor between the Masai Mara and Serengeti. This area boasts the largest concentrations of terrestrial wildlife on Earth as well as some of the most dramatic vistas in Africa. Established in 1919, Cottar’s exudes the same grandeur of the era in which it was born and perfectly captures the spirit of the early explorers with its Hemingway-style tents. The suites are lavishly furnished with authentic antiques – picture canopied beds, faded Louis Vuitton trunks and fine candlelit dinners followed by a glass of port as the gramophone crackles into life.
- Vintage-style luxury tented camp with butler service
- Front-row seats to the Wildebeest Migration (August–November)
- Unique Maasai cultural experiences
- Hot-air ballooning & helicopter flights
- Swim in the nearby waterfall
- Wood-paneled 1920s safari vehicle
5. San Camp
Kalahari Desert, Botswana
San Camp turns the middle of nowhere into a tranquil haven for those seeking a heavenly retreat closed off from the rest of the world. Set amongst clusters of desert palms, the billowing white Meru-style tents of Botswana's San Camp overlook the Makgadikgadi's gigantic salt pans, giving it an incredible sense of expansiveness. Besides this splendid seclusion, the rolling grasslands and game-rich savannah lend themselves to being explored in a variety of ways, including by quad bike (ATV), horseback or on nature walks guided by Kalahari Bushmen.
- Explore the salt pans by quad bike or horseback
- Fresh, innovative cuisine
- Interact with meerkats
- Walk with Bushmen
- Tented yoga & meditation pavilion
6. Chem Chem Lodge
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
Chem Chem might be a lodge, but it has all the makings for a classic tented safari experience that would make any 1920s explorer go green with envy. The elegant and intimate lodge combines European style with African influences and modern elements, offering every creature comfort one could need while spending time in the African wilderness. And being so close to both Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, guests are guaranteed a getaway filled with exciting wildlife encounters and breathtaking views of Lake Manyara and its surroundings.
- Set in a private concession with large herds of buffalo & elephant
- Close to Tarangire & Lake Manyara National Parks
- A slow-paced, unhurried itinerary for ultimate relaxation in nature
- Cultural village visits, night drives & guided safari walks
- Private dinners in stunning bush locations
- Hot-air balloon safaris over the Great Rift Valley
7. Singita Mara River Tented Camp
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
From July to September, Singita Mara River Camp offers front-row seats to the hottest ticket in town: the Great Wildebeest Migration. The intimate safari camp can be found on the banks of the Mara River in the northern Serengeti – an area that plays host to over a million wildebeest and zebra on the move to new pastures in the north. The majestic Mara River is one of the barriers the herds' encounter, and despite the enormous crocodiles and big cats that lie in wait, they forge on. Make sure you’re there to witness the drama and action live. And after the show is over, you can return to the comfort of your luxurious bohemian-chic tent.
- Witness the Mara River crossings in action (July to September)
- Fantastic year-round game viewing
- Night drives & guided walking safaris
- Ultra-luxurious tented accommodation with great views of the surrounding plains
8. Sanctuary Baines' Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
At Baines' Camp, you pretty much have the whole place to yourself. Set on the edge of the Okavango Delta, this elegant and stylish camp offers a classic African safari experience with a more romantic twist. Couples have the chance to enjoy each other’s company through a variety of intimate activities that include peaceful days meandering along the languid waterways in a traditional canoe and candle-lit dates under the Milky Way. After days out in the delta, guests return to one of only five romantic suites and have the luxurious 4-poster bed rolled out onto the private deck to sleep under a canopy of stars.
- Seasonal mokoro (traditional canoe) & motorboat excursions
- Eco-friendly camp built from recycled cans
- Sky beds & star baths for experiences under the night sky
- Scenic helicopter flights
9. Somalisa Acacia
Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
Be transported back in time to a bygone era of simplicity and romance at Somalisa Acacia. The sophisticated camp seamlessly blends an authentic African safari with a 5-star luxury getaway. Traditional canvas tents and game drives through the wildlife-rich Hwange National Park will delight your inner explorer, while modern luxuries and a stylish design ensure a comfortable stay in the untamed wilderness. Roughing it has never looked this good.
- Elephants congregate at Somalisa Acacia’s drinking pool
- Great game sightings from camp
- Intimate & family-friendly
- Ngwana Club keeps kids entertained
- Walking safaris & night drives
10. Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Nxabega Camp’s wood-and-canvas suites seamlessly blend a simplistic rustic design with contemporary elements to create a style that can only be described as safari-chic. The camp’s luxury safari tents overlook the Okavango Delta’s verdant landscape of mopane woodlands and flooded grassland. Out in the wilderness, game drives through Moremi Game Reserve offer exciting glimpses into the rich wildlife that inhabits the region, including everybody’s favourites – lion, elephant and giraffe.
- Seasonal mokoro & boating excursions
- Scenic helicopter flights over the Delta
- Reliable Big 5 & giraffe sightings
- Catch-and-release fishing
- WILDchild programme for kids
Ready to Plan Your Classic Tented Safari Holiday in Africa?
Don’t miss out on the chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a classic safari experience in authentic tented accommodations that still manages to provide a luxury getaway in one of Africa’s premier safari destinations. Get in touch with one of our African Safari Experts to tailor-make your next holiday.