One of the highlights of any safari getaway is the experience of staying in a tent with nothing more than the canvas walls to separate you from the surrounding untouched wilderness. There’s something magical and thrilling about being transported back in time and getting to ‘rough it’ in the same way as the explorers of yesteryear did.
Yes, an authentic safari experience is fun. But do you know what’s even better? An authentic safari experience with a modern twist. We’ve scoured the African continent for our favourite contemporary camps that promise an authentic stay in one of their luxury safari tents. These 10 accommodations bring the very best aspects of the past and present together to create the ultimate adventure that’s equal parts classic safari and modern vacation for your pleasure.
1. Serengeti Bushtops Luxury Tented Camp
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti Bushtops is the place for the ultimate romantic safari getaway. The secluded locale, soothing sounds of nature and magical backdrop of the breathtaking Serengeti landscape blend to create the perfect intimate setting for two lovebirds looking to spend quality time together. Bond over activities like stargazing from the expansive wooden deck, sipping bubbly while soaking in the private hot tub or sharing a couple’s massage after a game drive. And, naturally, the uber-luxurious tented suites in the heart of the African wilderness promise a comfortable yet stylish stay.
- Close proximity to the Mara River crossings at during the Great Migration (July to September)
- Private jacuzzi in each tent
- Private butler on hand 24/7
- Well known for its wine selection
2. Saseka Tented Camp
Kruger Private Reserves, South Africa
One of Thornybush Private Reserve’s top safari accommodations, Saseka fashions an elegant use of wood, stone, thatch and canvas to put a contemporary twist on the classic safari tents of yesteryear. The opulent rooms are tastefully decorated with a stylish design that allows the tranquil sounds of the nature to waft inside and soothe you. And the uninterrupted view of the wildlife-frequented Monwana River guarantees that you won’t miss a minute of the action. Staying at this gorgeous retreat is an inexplicable experience that engages all senses and leaves you feeling at peace with yourself and your surroundings.
- Uninterrupted views of the wildlife-frequented Monwana River
- Private dining experiences in beautiful locations
- Private & exclusive luxury camp
- Reliable sightings of the Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, elephant & buffalo)
3. Bateleur Camp
Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Overlooking the teeming plains of the Masai Mara, Bateleur is a luxury tented camp positioned just below the spot where the famous last scene of Out of Africa was filmed. The camp is well known for its exceptional service and elegant tented suites, as well as the occasional safari surprise such as 3-course dinners out in the African bush. But what sets this beautiful camp apart from every other luxury safari camp is its bathrooms – yes, you read that right! Each suite features an opulent bathroom encased in a greenhouse-style room with a freestanding copper bathtub. You’ll feel like royalty with every bubble bath.
- Intimate camp in a beautiful private concession
- Private butler service
- Excellent year-round Big 5 sightings
- Witness the Wildebeest Migration (August to November)
- Hot-air ballooning over the Mara
4. Sausage Tree Camp
Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
Sausage Tree Camp might not sound like an ultra-luxury destination, but you’ll be surprised to find that this Zambian retreat is the epitome of bush chic. Guests enjoy a 5-star stay in the pristine, game-rich Lower Zambezi National Park, where their days are spent on exciting game drives in search of wildlife, dining on the finest gourmet meals and relaxing by the 25-metre swimming pool that overlooks the Zambezi River. At Sausage Tree, you’ll have an upscale safari experience that affords the very best of the African wilderness in style and comfort.
- 5-star luxury camp overlooking the Zambezi River
- Water-based safaris
- Guided bush walks & birding
- Reliable sightings of elephant, leopard, lion, zebra & more
5. Time + Tide King Lewanika Camp
Liuwa Plains National Park, Zambia
At first glance, it’s hard to believe that King Lewanika is a tented safari camp and not a 5-star hotel. The opulent design and stylish décor of the under-canvas suites perfectly complement the incomparable raw beauty of Zambia’s Liuwa Plain National Park. Although the lavish nature of the camp is a highlight of your stay, the real spotlight is put on the Liuwa Plain’s picturesque landscape. Experience and explore the untamed African wilderness in a variety of ways, including sleepouts under the stars, canoeing safaris on the floodplains of the Liuwa River and scenic helicopter flights.
- 5-star luxury camp in Liuwa Plain National Park
- Night drives & walking safaris
- Seasonal canoeing safaris
- Scenic helicopter rides
- Sleepouts under the stars
6. Mahali Mzuri
Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
As a member of Virgin Limited Edition, you would expect nothing but the very best from Mahali Mzuri – and that’s exactly what you’ll get. Located among the rolling hills of the Motorogi Conservancy in the famed Masai Mara, this exclusive tented safari camp promises an authentic experience in the African wilderness with a modern twist. Yes, you’ll be sleeping under canvas, but we can assure you that this is unlike any tent you’ve ever stayed in. The camp was designed with the assistance of the Maasai people to ensure it leaves a minimal environmental footprint while offering great game viewing and showcasing the area’s breathtaking scenery. And to top it all off, the tasteful décor and modern luxuries keep you comfortable throughout your stay.
- A member of Virgin Limited Edition
- Variety of safari-related activities on offer
- See the Wildebeest Migration in season (August to November)
- Reliable Big 5 sightings
- Hot-air balloon safaris over the Mara
- Ipads & WiFi installed in the game drive vehicles
7. The Highlands
Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
The Highlands is an architectural marvel, screaming contemporary opulence from its perch above the Olmoti Crater. Taking inspiration from traditional Maasai bomas (homesteads), each domed suite sits high between the canopy of surrounding trees; floor-to-ceiling bay windows providing 180-degree views of the dramatic landscape. The Highlands’ prime locale sees activities that are exclusive to the area, such as an Olmoti nature walk, Empakaai Crater hike and Ngorongoro Crater descent.
- Unique suite architecture
- Stunning views of the Ngorongoro region from your room
- See the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera
- Exclusive activities like hiking in Olmoti and Empakaai Crater
- Secluded location
8. Xaranna Okavango Delta Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Inspired by the abundant water lilies of the Delta’s waterways, Xaranna’s resplendent setting is dominated by varying shades of olive green, lily pink and invigorating yellow. A quiet, tranquil haven in Botswana’s famous safari gem, Xaranna is the ideal place for families and couples to escape the crowds and experience the wonders of nature in absolute comfort. This modern safari camp takes the best aspects of the classic tents used by early explorers and combines it with contemporary design to create the perfect mix of past and present.
- Spectacular views of the Delta’s diverse terrain of waterways, marshes, riverine forests & salt islands
- Seasonal mokoro & boat rides
- Scenic helicopter flights & horseback rides
- Exclusive camp away from the crowds
- Child-friendly with kids’ entertainment
9. Qorokwe Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Qorokwe Camp straddles the line between camp and lodge. Each suite is fashioned out of open-fronted canvas walls sandwiched between a wooden ceiling and deck. The interior takes inspiration from the classic safari tents of yesteryear but brings it into the 21st century with its contemporary design and stylish décor. The camp itself is located on the Qorokwe Private Concession, which borders the renowned Moremi Game Reserve and holds year-round water sources that attract an array of wildlife inhabiting the region – keep your eyes peeled for elephant and predator sightings.
- The area is known for predators like lion, leopard, spotted hyena, cheetah & wild dog
- Internationally recognised Important Birding Area (IBA)
- Spectacular views of the Okavango Delta’s diverse landscape
- Excellent game viewing due to year-round water sources
- Lavish camp equipped with luxurious creature comforts
10. Lamai Serengeti Camp
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Peaking out from a ridge atop the Kogakuria Kopje, Lamai Camp stands tall among giant boulders. The camp’s heightened position gives it rolling views of the Serengeti plains and plenty of opportunities to sight the wildlife below. The comfort of the living spaces has an authentic safari atmosphere – think canvas, thatch and whitewashed wood – with a contemporary touch that brings the suites into the modern era. The living quarters make the most of the beautiful location, with glassless floor-to-ceiling windows opening up the space to nature. Here, African design and décor take centre stage, with all furnishings designed and handmade by local artisans.
- Prime position to witness the Wildebeest Migration (July to October)
- Year-round Big 5 viewing
- The secluded location guarantees privacy
- Superb views of the surroundings from the swimming pool
Ready to Plan Your Luxury Tented Safari Holiday in Africa?
Don’t miss out on the chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity to enjoy a classic safari experience in these contemporary tented accommodations in Africa’s premier safari destinations. Get in touch with one of our African Safari Experts to tailor-make your next holiday.