Africa’s top 10 best and most luxurious safari camps and lodges are located on Tanzania’s Serengeti, Kenya’s Masai Mara, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa.
Here you can experience the baking African bush, traditional tribal dances and you can see the most breathtaking animals in the wild. Whether you want to see the “Big Five” (The lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard, and rhinoceros) or other animals such as impalas, tigers, zebras and hyenas, a safari is all about the animals.
That said, I am not a fan of tents or even glamping. If you want to enjoy these wildlife experiences in luxury, returning to a lodge where you can fine dine under the stars and cool off in your own private plunge pool, it is important to select your safari camp with care.
Below we outline what we consider to be some of the most luxurious safari lodges in the world. Our list does not cover every luxury camp, but you can be sure of an ultra-luxurious experience at all the camps and resorts that we have hand-picked below.
1. Ivory Lodge Lion Sands, South Africa
The multi-award winning Ivory Lodge Lion Sands offers the ultimate in bush luxury. Surrounded by a richly diverse habitat, teeming with game, beneath endless African skies, this lodge is easily one of the most luxurious lodges on the African plains. If Aman Hotels had a safari resort, it would be just like Ivory Lodge.
Villas are private and are surrounded by untamed bushland. All include a private pool, a gorgeous bedroom with integrated lounge areas opening up onto massive dark wood terraces offering astonishing views over the river.
You can even stay in a luxurious treehouse (pictured above) where the only thing separating you from the stars is the swathes of muslin draped over your four-poster bed. Spend the hours of dusk fully appreciating the vastness of the bushveld as it transforms from day to night. Slumber directly beneath the Milky Way where you may well lose count of the shooting stars.
The five-star AM Lodge is located in the beautiful Klaserie region of the Greater Kruger National Park of South Africa. It is close to the Klaserie River, which is an essential part of the surrounding fauna and flora. Features of this lodge include majestic lantern lit wooden walkways that connect various parts of the complex. Modern wooden decked pools and rooms open up completely to the wilderness and their own private deck and pool to bring the outside in. This exclusive game lodge can be reached from Johannesburg in around 5 and a half hours.
3. Mahali Mzuri
Mahali Mzuri is Sir Richard Branson’s East African property located in Kenya’s Maasai Mara ecosystem and perfectly positioned to take advantage of the seasonal great wildebeest migration. This camp is probably the most luxurious camp in the Maasai Mara and is just a 1-hour 40-minute game drive to one of the wildebeest river-crossings.
With just 12 tents, this resort feels ultra-exclusive and you have the bush almost to yourself. Cool down in the beautiful 12-metre long infinity-edged swimming pool between game drives and then star gaze until late into the night at this gorgeous property.
4. Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge
At Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge, there is no canvas in sight. It has a stunning location on the rim of the ancient volcanic Ngorongoro caldera. This cliffside position means that this lodge enjoys some of the best views in Africa, out into the crater where the Big 5 roam.
Room interiors are elegant, with dark wood floors, four-poster beds, chandeliers and large verandas equipped with superbly comfortable cushioned sofas and stylish dining areas. Floor-to-ceiling windows showcase the breath-taking views from any position in your room.
5. Kapama Southern Camp
Kapama Southern Camp in the Kapama Private Game Reserve offers just eight luxury tents. Each tented bedroom is set on stilts in the treetops that line the steep riverbank. Throughout the day, birds sing loudly and vervet monkeys stare at you as you sip a beer on your veranda.
Dreamy wooden walkways connect the tented safari rooms and lead back to the riverbank and the main lodge. Lanterns, rather than electric lights, glow at night, creating an intimate ambience at this camp. Enjoy game drives, a refreshing swim in the lodge pool and alfresco dinners around the open fire.
6. Sanctuary Chiefs Camp
Sanctuary Chiefs Camp is located in the world-renowned Moremi Game Reserve and vast numbers of animals congregate around this camp all year round. Chief’s Island is one of the many islands created by the seasonal flood waters of the Okavango Delta and is well-known for the finest game viewing in Southern Africa, including both black and white rhino completing the Big Five. With just twelve luxury bush pavilions, which have private decks and both indoor and outdoor showers, you will feel immersed in your natural surroundings. The split-level main deck offers views over the floodplain, while the dining area surrounds a fire pit on the very edge of the Piajio plains.
7. Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania
Singita Faru Faru Lodge in Tanzania sits on a hill in Grumeti in northern Tanzania on the Serengeti Mara. This riverine lodge enjoys an exclusive position on the migratory route traversed annually by more than 2 million wildebeests. With 7 one-bedroom suites, one family suite as well as one two-bedroom suite with private pool, this lodge has a traditional and boutique feel.
8. Camp Jabulani
The rich textures and organic elements of Camp Jabulani creates a pleasing balance between design and nature. Grass-pressed mud walls, stone floors and thatched roofs mingle with rich woods, crystal glasses and silver service.
This standout safari lodge in South Africa is built along the bank of a seasonal stream. An open-plan dining room and lounge merges with the wooden deck which lies in the shade of gigantic Leadwood trees. An impressive suspension bridge connects the living areas with the suites, which lie scattered beyond the river bed. Be pampered and entertained in this Relais & Chateaux Luxury Lodge. If you have a love of elephants, you must visit this camp.
9. Kapama River Lodge
Within the Kapama Private Game Reserve and set to the majestic backdrop of the northern Drakensberg mountains, the 64-suite Kapama River Lodge is located along a bend of the seasonal Kapama River. It’s the largest luxury game lodge in the Greater Kruger National Park area, and is stylishly furnished to ensure an unforgettable African safari experience.
Each suite features a full en-suite bathroom and a terrace from which you can spot animals drinking at the permanent waterhole nearby. There is a beautiful swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers which is the perfect place to spot game which roams just outside the perimeter of the camp.
10. Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve
Nestled in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains, in the Western Cape of South Africa Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve is a magical wilderness experience among open plains, sandstone formations and ancient bush art sites dating back 10,000 years.
This beautiful five-star retreat is only 272 km away from Cape Town itself but offers the ideal wilderness getaway to restore, escape and relax.
This reserve offers a broad range of outdoor activities or you can just relax and get pampered at the health and beauty spa or swim in rock pools and near waterfalls. As a member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux hotel group, the lodge accommodates a maximum of 32 guests either in cottages set among landscaped gardens and pools or in the original Manor House (circa 1843), where the suites were named after early Scottish pioneers and explorers.
You may also be interested in our 5 best safari camps with honeymoon tents.
For more safari ideas, it is also worth reading Expedia’s pick of the best African safari hotel camps and lodges.
Disclosure: Our property, service and product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own and are in no way influenced by the sponsor.