The Most Luxurious Safari Getaways in Africa
Witnessing baby elephants play by a water hole, a pride of lions snooze beneath a marula tree, and a pack of hyenas corner a warthog—all before lunchtime? There's nothing like an African safari. While the most luxurious safari lodges are pricey to be sure, we guarantee it's worth the splurge. From the best views and most stylish rooms to over-the-top service and unparalleled wildlife, these 8 safari getaways top the rest.
Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
On a typical African safari, it's all about seeing the Big Five, but by far the continent’s most exclusive animal sighting hides up in the misty mountains that straddle Rwanda and Uganda. The cost of a single-day permit to enter Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park, one of the last homes of the endangered mountain gorilla, now tops out at $1,500 per person per day—but it's undeniably a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The latest hotel to get you there: Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge, whose 12 Rwandan-style conical thatched villas sit on 67 acres of reforested land and whose conservation program works with local farm owners to protect the surrounding ecosystem.
On the untouched island of Nosy Ankao, reachable only by helicopter, this new 14-villa lodge grants guests unprecedented access to everything the tropical-island side of Madagascar has to offer, from whale-watching to snorkeling, diving, deep-sea fishing, and lemur trekking. Like its sister camp, Norman Carr Safari’s Chinzombo in Zambia, Miavana is a low-impact take on the high-end luxury safari, with solar-powered bungalows built from recycled materials. After a jam-packed day in the jungle or more leisurely one on the beach, spend your evenings browsing the main lodge's “cabinet of curiosities” (which houses dinosaur bones, among other artifacts), strolling the French garden, indulging in a spa treatment, or just relaxing in your 5,000-square-foot beachfront villa with its own plunge pool.
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Angama Mara, Kenya
It doesn’t get more Out of Africa than Angama Mara, whose property—a hilly section of the Ngong Hills on the western outskirts of Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve—appears in the legendary film. Owners Steve and Nicky Fitzgerald picked up some know-how during their time at andBeyond before debuting this new lodge in 2015, setting a new standard for safari lodges everywhere. The two separate camps, with 15 tents each, are as impressive as their views of the Great Rift Valley: think Nairobi-made canvas and Maasai-inspired brickwork, writing desks, floor-to-ceiling windows, and terraces that hang over the Oloololo Escarpment, where giraffe and wildebeest roam.
andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
The rim of Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater isn’t the easiest to reach, but safari company andBeyond accepted the challenge, building this luxury lodge right on the caldera’s lip. The result: a gorgeous baroque-style sleep whose every space, from the 30 suites kitted out with Victorian furniture and Persian rugs to the domed dining room, looks out over vast grasslands that stretch all the way to the horizon. Grab your binoculars for a chance to spot zebras and rhinos from the comfort of your own room—just don’t be late for dinner, where white-gloved staff deliver pan-African dishes (duck with kumquat and chili marmalade, perhaps) on silver platters.
Singita Boulders Lodge, South Africa
The Singita Sabi Sands Game Reserve possesses one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in all of Kruger National Park. If that’s not enough of a draw, its two lodges are also some of the most luxurious in all of South Africa, if not the continent. Singita Boulders Lodge stands out for its slick contemporary design, 12 free-form pool suites, a spa menu of sumptuous treatments like body polishes and deep-tissue massages, a full gym, and international sommeliers who look after one of South Africa’s premier wine cellars.
Singita Serengeti House, Tanzania
Think of the Serengeti House as the crown jewel of Singita Grumeti Reserves—a collection of two lodges, two tented camps, and, in the case of Serengeti House, an exclusive-use retreat in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The satellite lodges earn awards year after year for their levels of luxury and solitude, but Serengeti House takes it a step further for those seeking a true home away from home in the African wild. The four bedrooms sleep eight guests, who have the run of the property’s tennis court, infinity pool, and private horseback safaris led by expert guides. A private vehicle is also on hand for daily excursions. And when you return? A chef, host, and personal staff are there to take care of you through dinner service.
andBeyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lounge, Botswana
Luxury safari outfitter andBeyond threw a hefty sum of money into reimagining Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge, and the results are stunning. Elevated, curvaceous wood exteriors (modeled after the body armor of pangolins) blend in seamlessly with the surrounding grasslands, while each of the 12 suites bring the outside indoors with their hide rugs and vanities made from felled tree trunks. Located in a private concession in the heart of the Kalahari Desert, the Okavango Delta is home to a range of animals including lions, elephants, wild dogs, and baboons. Cap off your twice-daily safaris with an in-room massage or, for some alone time, a dip in your private plunge pool.
If you’re looking for luxury in the heart of Zambia, it’s doesn’t get more iconic (or more beautiful) than staying on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. The six houses (including an open-front treehouse) and five rondavel-like cottages of Tongabezi hug a bend in the river and make great use of the surrounding riverine forest. Private decks extend right over the water, while canopied king beds are built around massive tree trucks. In case this sounds a bit wild, you’re far from roughing it: outdoor claw-foot soaking tubs up the romance, while every room is assigned a local guide who can arrange whatever adventure you so desire, be it a visit to Victoria Falls at night or a candlelit dinner on a san pan boat, where each course is delivered by canoe.
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