February 29, 2024 | Kaddy Gibson

The Most Luxurious Safaris


The Best Safari Lodges On The Planet

Gone are the days where going on safari meant roughing it in tents and rugged terrain. These days, the best way to see incredible African wildlife is with a stay at a safari lodge. 

With a focus on luxury and sustainability, these are the best safari destinations on the continent.

safari

Matetsi Victoria Falls—Matetsi Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe

This family-owned property gets its name for the majestic Victoria Falls, a World Heritage Site that’s only 25 miles upstream. Guests can choose to stay in one of the 18 suites or the four-bedroom River House villa. 

Either way, you’ll get your own private pool, and can rest easy knowing that proceeds from the lodge help fund efforts in the Matetsi conservation area.

People watching ElephantsTcziebell, Shutterstock

Matetsi Victoria Falls—Matetsi Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe (cont’d)

When it comes to safaris, Matetsi pulls out all the stops. Led by local guides, visitors can take boat cruises, drives, and hikes through the wilderness, offering a chance to safely view incredible wildlife like elephants, buffalo, hippos, and crocodiles. 

When you get back from your safari, Matetsi’s chefs and spa experts are ready to show you the lodge’s luxurious side.

Victoria falls game reserveSean Heatley, Shutterstock

Singita Pamushana—Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe

This luxurious safari lodge provides incredible views of ancient forests and natural sandstone structures

But the real draw of this property is the private access that visitors get to the Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, which is home to big cats, wild dogs, and herds of elephants. Drives and cruises are an excellent way to explore the reserve and visitors can take part in a number of cool activities, including tag-and-release fishing.

Mopane Woodland with zebrasBrian Gratwicke, Flickr

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Singita Pamushana—Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe (cont’d)

Singita Pamushana is the perfect combination of sustainability and luxury. Guests have their choice of one of the eight suites or private villa, each with their own outdoor shower and views of the Malilangwe Dam. 

Visitors can rest easy with the lodge’s elite spa treatments and knowing that the property funds conservation efforts. The staff at the lodge are also 100% local.

safari resortSergii Figurnyi, Shutterstock

Wilderness DumaTau—Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Botswana

A visit at Wilderness DumaTau means staying right in the middle of lion territory

In Botswana’s dry season, animals migrate to the reserve, which provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to see wildlife like hippos, elephants, antelope, and wild dogs.

African safari BotswanaOndrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

Wilderness DumaTau—Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Botswana (cont’d)

At Wilderness DumaTau, visitors have their choice of eight private suites, which all have private pools and outdoor showers that overlook the beautiful Osprey Lagoon. 

Proceeds from the lodge fund conservation efforts in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which supports research on endangered species.

Linyanti region of the Chobe Nature Reserve in BotswanaAnthony Robbins, Shutterstock

Jack’s Camp—Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana

At Jack’s Camp, visitors get the unique experience of staying in tents near the shimmering Makgadikgadi salt pans. 

Activities here cater to the more adventurous side, with game drives, rides on quad-bikes, and unforgettable encounters with meerkats.

makgadikgadi pans, botswanaJandrie Lombard, Shutterstock

Jack’s Camp—Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana (cont’d)

After roughing it, guests can head back to one of nine spacious suites, which feature large four-poster beds and rich burgundy trim. 

Candlelit dinners are held at the property’s communal tent, which is decorated with art that has been collected by the Bousfield family for generations.

Makgadikgadi BotswanaPhotos BrianScantlebury, Shutterstock

Jabali Ridge—Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

The eight suites at Jabali Ridge are nestled among huge boulders, and provide incredible views of the baobab forest below. 

June to November is the best time to visit as that’s when you can see packs of wild dogs, cheetahs, and the elusive kudu.

Woman rests after safari in luxury tent during sunset camping in the African savannahsoft_light, Shutterstock

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Jabali Ridge—Ruaha National Park, Tanzania (cont’d)

This safari lodge is also one of the best places to see lions—10% of all the lions in Africa call this area home. 

Guests can also see leopards and pangolin before heading back to the comforts of their private viewing deck and the lodges infinity pool.

Ruaha National Park, TanzaniaKertu, Shutterstock

Singita Sabora Tented Camp—Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania

Singita prioritizes nature-based tourism, which has restored the Grumeti Reserve to a thriving home for wildlife. 

All year-round, visitors are guaranteed to see wildebeest, elephants, and buffalo. The camp has also contributed to reintroducing the eastern black rhino to the area.

Sabora Tented CampEd Yourdon, Flickr

Singita Sabora Tented Camp—Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania (cont’d)

There are five different retreats at the reserve but Singita Sabora is one of the most luxurious. 

The property features a chic, minimalist aesthetic and guests can relax and recharge at the camp’s library, spa, fitness center, and winetasting rooms.

Sabora Tented CampEd Yourdon, Flickr

Mwiba Lodge—Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Tanzania

At Mwiba Lodge, guests are given private vehicles and exclusive access to the 125,000 acres that make up the Mwiba concession. The area serves as migration corridor for animals. 

December to March is one of the better times to go as the area will be home to newborn wildebeests and influx of predators like lions and hyenas.

Mwiba Wildlife Reserve in TanzaniaDominyk Lever, Shutterstock

Mwiba Lodge—Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, Tanzania (cont’d)

Visitors at Mwiba can check into one of the lodges 10 glass and canvas suites, and relax at the spa and infinity pool. 

Helicopter tours, camping in the wilderness, and bush walks with Hadza hunters are some of the unique activities that await travelers.

Zebra in Mwiba Wildlife Reserve, TanzaniaDominyk Lever, Shutterstock

Angama Mara—Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya

Perched 1,000 feet above the Mara triangle in Kenya’s Rift Valley is where you’ll find Angama Mara. 

In addition to its stylish design, the lodge is beloved by travelers for its support of conservation, healthcare, and education throughout the region.

maasai mara national reserveSergey Novikov, Shutterstock

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Angama Mara—Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya (cont’d)

The property is separated into two sections, each with 15 suites that feature glass fronts and vibrant colors inspired by the Maasai Mara people. 

Big cats and large herds of elephants come to the Mara River, which make for incredible views for guests. The camp also has four tents for guests who want a closer view of the wildlife.

Kenya. Africa. Maasai Mara. Hotel in The Maasai Mara reserve.FOTOGRIN, Shutterstock

Segera Retreat—Laikipia, Kenya

Guests are bound to relax the moment they step onto the luxurious, grassy grounds of Segera Retreat, located on the beautiful Laikipia plateau. 

The area is home to a large elephant population and is one of the last places to see the endangered black rhino.

Laikipia, Kenyabcostelloe, Shutterstock

Segera Retreat—Laikipia, Kenya (cont’d)

Guests at the retreat have their choice of one of six one-bedroom suites or two villas for those traveling with family. 

Many people are content to stay on the retreat grounds and indulge in the specialty spa treatments, but some daring travelers take a helicopter ride to explore the northern frontier of Kenya.

Kenya. Luxury swimming poolPaolo Gallo, Shutterstock

ol Donyo Lodge—Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya

ol Donyo features nine suites, which each feature their own private plunge pool and outdoor star beds. It’s perfect for listening to lions and hyenas prowling in the night while relaxing beneath the stars.

Common Zebras In Chyulu Hills Conservatory In Kenyatonyzhao120, Shutterstock

ol Donyo Lodge—Chyulu Hills National Park, Kenya (cont’d)

Incredible views aside, travelers are drawn to ol Donyo for the cool activities here. From horseback riding to mountain biking and unparalleled views of Mount Kilimanjaro, a visit at this lodge makes for unforgettable memories.

Sopa Lodge Hotel, Kenya, East AfricaSerge Vero, Shutterstock

andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge—NamibRand Reserve, Namibia

This super sustainable lodge is on the edge of the world’s oldest living desert, in the NamibRand Nature Reserve. 

The ten suites here feature glass walls and are fully solar-powered. They create enough electricity to power everything in the lodge, from the swimming pools to the air conditioning and recycling systems.

Sossus Dune Lodge in NamibiaHoberman Collection, Getty Images

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andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge—NamibRand Reserve, Namibia (cont’d)

Guests at the lodge can indulge in foods that are inspired by the local culture, like fresh seafood from the ocean and Kalahari truffles. 

There’s also no shortage of activities at the lodge, including e-biking to see ancient rock art, climbing the world’s highest sand dunes, and take advantage of the opportunity to see stars in one of the world’s best dark sky locations.

Sossus Dune Lodges the only lodge situated in the park, NamibiaMarek Poplawski, Shutterstock

Shipwreck Lodge—Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia

Located in one of the most remote wilderness destinations in Africa, this lodge is inspired by the broken, marooned ships that are scattered along the coastline. 

The ten suites here are made of wood and glass, and look like they, too, were washed ashore.

Shipwreck Lodge—Skeleton Coast National Park, NamibiaRudy Mareel, Shutterstock

Shipwreck Lodge—Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia (cont’d)

When visiting this luxurious retreat, guests can take advantage of 300 miles of pristine beach, which is the perfect place for walks along the dunes, quad-bike rides, and game drives. 

The sea life here is incredible, though all the seal colonies get quite loud.

shipwreck lodge—skeleton coast national park, namibiaRudy Mareel, Shutterstock

Waterside at Royal Malewane—Thornybush Private Reserve, South Africa

This safari lodge is one of the best place to view diverse African wildlife, and is home to huge lion prides and herds of buffalo with up to 400 animals

Visitors can also check out the nearby conservation center or spend the morning with an antipoaching team.

Thornybush Private Game ReserveThomas Barrat, Shutterstock

Waterside at Royal Malewane—Thornybush Private Reserve, South Africa (cont’d)

Waterside at Royal Malewane features seven grand suites, some with room for the whole family. The property has lot of amenities for guests to enjoy, including a lap pool, yoga studio, spa, and games room.

Instructor performing yoga with seniors during sports class.vectorfusionart, Shutterstock

Loapi Tented Camp—Kalahari, South Africa

Located in South Africa’s largest privately protected wildlife reserve, each of the six villas at Loapi is its own private campsite. 

To get around, visitors get their own private safari jeep and guide.

Kalahari desert / NamibiaGunter Nuyts, Shutterstock

Loapi Tented Camp—Kalahari, South Africa (cont’d)

Loapi specializes in giving people a customized vacation experience, so you can safari the way you want. 

Each villa has its own private butler and chef so in between thrilling activities, you can indulge in your favorite snacks and the pampered life.

Kalahari, BotswanaMyImages - Micha, Shutterstock

andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge—KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Phinda has some of the greatest biodiversity in South Africa, and any guests staying here are guaranteed to see buffalo herds, cheetahs, endangered rhinos, and two rare species of antelope, the suni and red duiker.

and beyond phinda forest lodgeBarry Lewis, Getty Images

andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge—KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (cont’d)

The lodge was recently renovated, making the suites bigger and introducing a new family suite. 

Guests can also enjoy the property’s state-of-the-art fitness center and participate in on-site ranger training.

Phinda Private Game ReserveLeisa Tyler, Getty Images

Garden and Forest Lodges—Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa

This carbon negative property is located in the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, home to about 6,000 acres of Indigenous flora. 

There are over 900 plant species in the reserve including a 2,000-year-old milkwood forest where guests can have lantern-lit dinners.

reserve, south africasirtravelalot, Shutterstock

Garden and Forest Lodges—Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, South Africa (cont’d)

Guests can also enjoy a number of fun activities, like horseback riding, driving tours, and a chance to visit ancient sea caves at nearby Walker Bay. 

And they can take in all the beauty of the area knowing that the lodge sponsors botany projects in over 50 different community-led programs.

game park in South AfricaGrobler du Preez, Shutterstock

Singita Kwitonda Lodge—Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

This luxurious safari lodge is located on the eastern boundary of the Volcanoes National Park, which is important habitat for mountain gorillas

In addition to providing one-in-a-lifetime views of these mighty creatures, the lodge also prioritizes relaxation with spa days, local ginger tea, and your choice of vintages from the wine cellar.

Volcanoes National Park Gorillassiyasanga mbambani, Shutterstock

Singita Kwitonda Lodge—Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda (cont’d)

Sustainability is built into the building with sustainably sourced materials such as bamboo, river stones, volcanic rock, and handcrafted clay bricks. 

Guests have their choice of eight cozy suites or a private villa, and it’s easy to let worries slip away near the properties indoor and outdoor fireplaces and private, heated pools.

Singita Kwitonda Lodge and Kataza HousePaul Kagame, Flickr

One&Only Nyungwe House—Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda

This beautiful retreat overlooks an incredible landscape filled with ebony and mahogany trees, waterfalls, and swamps. 

It’s also where you can find more than 300 different species of birds, including giant hornbills and blue turacos, as well as 13 different species of primates.

nyungwe national park, rwandaZaruba Ondrej, Shutterstock

One&Only Nyungwe House—Nyungwe National Park, Rwanda (cont’d)

The retreat has 22 suites with cool Geometric Imigongo designs and a striking black-white-and-red color scheme. 

The king-size four-poster beds in the suites face huge floor-to-ceiling windows that offer breathtaking views of the jungle below.

Hotel Nyungwe Forest LodgeTetyana Dotsenko, Shutterstock

Lolebezi—Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

Located on a private concession right next to the Zambezi River, Lolebezi has set the standard for luxury in Zambia’s wilderness. 

The private suites here feature green, earthy themes and there are two family villas for those traveling with a larger group.

Lower Zambezi National Park, ZambiaRobert Muckley, Getty Images

Lolebezi—Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia (cont’d)

This area is full of game, which has earned it the nickname of “Discovery Channel”. Twice a day, guests can go on a driving tour to see the animals. 

Canoeing and walking are great ways to see more elusive creatures, like leopards, and there’s also a river cruise that offers stunning views of the channel.

Lower Zambezi National Parksitayi, Shutterstock

Lale’s Camp—Omo Valley, Ethiopia

The Omo Valley is home to many of Ethiopia’s Indigenous communities, and there are lots of tour companies that will take you to meet some of these incredible people. 

Many travelers don’t mind roughing it with fly camping, but Lale’s Camp is the perfect place for those who want a few more creature comforts, like hot, running water.

Omo valley, EthiopiaEinat Klein Photography, Shutterstock

Lale’s Camp—Omo Valley, Ethiopia (cont’d)

Lale’s Camp is made up of seven tents and the only way to get there is by taking a boat ride with the camp’s owner, Lale Biwa. Lale is a remarkable storyteller and will tell you about some of the local legends. 

In addition to hikes with the local Indigenous tribes, visitors can also take in the stunning wildlife in the Omo River Delta. All in all, a visit to Lale’s Camp makes for a great combination of rustic luxury.

two boys from the Karo tribe in face paintchris piason, Shutterstock


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