Luxury nature tourism is at its best in Africa. Fabulous accommodation is offered right in the middle of reserves and national parks across the continent, giving travelers front row seats to some of the best nature shows on earth. Not only can you see wildlife on game drives from the safari camp, but you could simply be dining at the camp when wildlife wander past. Some safari lodges can be incredibly high end but they are also designed for discerning travelers seeking to get away from the crowds of shutterbug style expeditions.
Here are 10 of some of the best in all of Africa.
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is where you come when you want to see wildlife in Tanzania, so why not stay here as well? This place has been inspired by local Masai mud and stick style manyatta huts and the three camps perch right on the rim of the crater. The 30 suites feature antiques, leather armchairs, raw silk and massive windows with incredible views. Here you’ll have the sense of living in a Masai village while being as unobtrusive as possible to the wildlife around you.
Chobe Chilwero Lodge, Botswana
This exclusive lodge is set right on the banks of the Chobe River so you can appreciate spectacular sunsets, wildlife and luxury without even leaving your room. There are plenty of reasons to tempt you out though. The lodge organizes sundowner cruises, game drives into elephant herds and day trips to Victoria Falls. Alternatively you can relax with some of the spa treatments at the lodge. This is the kind of place to have a real holiday.
Londolozi Private Granite Suites, Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve bordering Kruger National Park, South Africa
If you want to see the Big Five Londolozi is a good choice. Sabi Sand borders the Kruger National Park and experienced guides will whisk you into the wilderness on walking or driving safaris or you can go bird watching or star gazing. One of the key features at Londolozi is privacy as they only take six guests. The camp has been designed with silver, charcoal and grey materials to blend into the surrounding granite rock.
Dune Lodge, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
At the Dune Lodge you will really feel like you’re coexisting with nature. The nine chalets perch on top of the desert plateau and have canvas blinds that open up to the landscape around - leave them open at night to star gaze. Enjoy the changing desert colors in one of the nine chalets or relax on decks, in the library, wine cellar, swimming pool or by the fireplace. The Reserve is 180,000 hectares and has leopard, baboon, mountain and plains zebra, springbok, spotted hyena, African wildcat and kudu. A three-night stay is recommended.
Ol Malo, Kenya
Ol Malo belongs to Colin and Rocky Francombe who built this property on a rugged escarpment of their 5000-acre private reserve. They run the place themselves and are happy to share local knowledge of the nomadic Samburu people, local wildlife and other aspects of the land. The lodge sits on the Uaso Nyiro River in Kenya’s Northern Frontier District. You can look out of the windows of the four cottages across a waterhole to Mount Kenya. There are foot, horseback, 4WD or camel safaris on offer.
Mara Serena Safari Lodge, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The Masai Mara National Reserve is Kenya’s most popular wildlife park where you can see the wildebeest and zebra migration. The lodge is located on a hill with twin rows of rooms overlooking 1800 kilometres of savannah and the Mara River. Activities include balloon safaris and 4WD tours.
Kafunta River Lodge, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
This national park is renowned for walking safaris and from Kafunta your walks or drives could include sightings of up to 60 animal species such as hippos in the Luangwa river or prides of lions and up to 400 bird species. Make sure you visit in the dry season (April-October) when animals concentrate at the waterholes. Kafunta also has a fantastic onsite hot tub fed by a natural spring if you want to relax at the end of the day. The lodge has its own pontoon to take you quickly into remoter parts of the park.
Beyond Phinda Homestead, Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
With your very own butler, chef, tracker, private ranger/host and 4WD exploring the Phinda Reserve will be a real treat. The Homestead can be booked for solo use of family or friends and its views incorporate the surrounding bush and an extinct volcano. Phinda is a 23,000 hectare private game reserve with the Big Five and tons of birdlife. It has seven distinct habitats including woodlands, grassland, wetlands, forest, mountains, marshes and pans. And there are beaches and reefs nearby so you could include a little sunbathing in your activities too.
Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda
There’s no better way to enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage listed forest than to live in the midst of it. And the Gorilla Forest Park is an excellent choice because their luxury tents are raised onto platforms so you feel like you’re living in the forest too. You get great views of the forest from the veranda and the bathtub! There are just eight double en-suites so staying here is largely a quiet and private experience. The Forest Camp is also one of the best places to track gorilla, view the forest and bird watch.
Linkwasha Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
This reserve is the largest in Zimbabwe and noted for its elephant herds, but it also contains Africa’s Big Five and hundreds of species of birds. Linkwasha Camp is in the southeast part of the park where there are teak forests, palm islands, Kalahari savannah and Acacia woodlands. Accommodation is in large rooms with tented walls. All the buildings are under thatch and far more luxurious than they sound with full amenities. Other facilities including a dining room, pub, lounge, plunge pool and viewing platform. Nearby waterholes attract much wildlife and game drives and walks are organized from the camp.