Africa’s top 10 best safari camps and lodges in Africa are situated all across this magnificent continent, on Tanzania’s Serengeti, Kenya’s Masai Mara, the Okavango Delta in Botswana and Kruger National Park in South Africa. Here you can spot the most breathtaking animals in their wilderness habitat.
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 both about the animals, and about retreating to an ultra-luxurious lodge or resort.
Below we outline what we consider to be some of the most luxurious safari camps for animals, poolside relaxation and fine dine under the stars.
Cottars 1920’S Safari Camp In Kenya
We love Cottars 1920s Safari Camp (pictured above) which was one of the first permanent luxury tented camps to take guests out on safaris in Kenya. It is our personal favourite and offers incredible care and attention to detail. Little has changed since the 1920s and it extends an era of luxury and quality, returning to the original spirit and essence of ‘safari’, reminiscent of a golden era; an era of romance, professional guiding, adventure and elegance.
Accommodation consists of six Luxury safari tents including one honeymoon tent. All have large private verandahs but the Honeymoon tent is the stuff of fairytales with beautiful antique furnishings from the ’20’s, a private en-suite dressing room and a bathroom with an old-fashioned shower and flushing toilet. The look is all creams and white muslins and it’s hard to imagine a more romantic tent to lay your head.
Cottars 1920’S Safari Camp camp overlooks the Mara and Serengeti Plains in its very own private concession bordering the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Loliondo reserves, which guarantees privacy and an abundance of wildlife. Spot the big five and choose your season carefully, as the camp is path to the great migration of millions of wildebeest and zebra. Camp guides are highly qualified and knowledgeable of the area, who share an amazing insight into the Masai culture and the flora and fauna in the reserve.
In the evening, bathe in your outdoor bathtub, have an amazing dinner under the stars (greens from the camp’s own vegetable garden) and give Bambi a hug before bedtime (she is the camp’s resident baby gazelle).
Ivory Lodge Lion Sands, South Africa
The 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.
If you are looking for romance, you must stay in their luxurious treehouse, 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.
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.
With just 12 tents, this resort feels ultra-exclusive and is ideal for your honeymoon as 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.
Linyanti Ebony And Linyanti Bush Camp, Linyanti Wetlands
A remote wilderness area in northeastern Botswana, the Linyanti Wetlands stretch along the Linyanti River and are a key water source for wildlife during the country’s dry season (May to October). At this time, herds of up to 1,000 buffalo and elephant migrate from miles around to quench their thirst, making for some excellent game viewing.
Set just five minutes’ walk apart among Linyanti’s marshes, Linyanti Ebony and Linyanti Bush Camp both offer an authentic safari experience. The former has just four canvas tents making it ideal for an intimate honeymoon retreat. Each tent is air-conditioned and high ceilinged, with wooden floors and large windows, as well as a shower and toilet. You also have your own deck with recliners facing out over the surrounding wetlands.
Linyanti Bush Camp has six similarly styled canvas tents furnished with wooden beds and armchairs. Private balconies give views of passing wildlife, which could include elephant, zebra, sable and a host of birdlife.
Each camp has a communal pool area with a raised deck, where you can enjoy private dinners under the stars. The open-sided tented lounge and bar area is another place to take in the views while sipping a sundowner.
&Beyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Nxabega Concession
Our final choice is also in Botswana, tucked among riverine vegetation and ebony trees. This intimate camp looks out over a glassy lagoon and open grassland, where plains game such as zebra, impala, giraffe and wildebeest graze. Here, nine well-spaced canvas tents offer a stylish base for your honeymoon, with a swimming pool and a well-stocked bar and a lounge area, from which to explore the Okavango’s wildlife.
Raised on a wooden deck, each tent has sides that can open out during the day. The en-suite bathroom features a rain shower and handmade soaps, while the bedroom is furnished with cowhide mats, teak furniture and a bed that faces the open countryside.
There’s a big focus on water-based activities from this camp, with guided mokoro and motorboat rides taking you out among hippo, spoonbills, pied kingfishers and egrets. Bush walks and the usual morning, afternoon and evening game drives are also offered, giving you a chance to see lion, lechwe and tsessebe antelope, elephant and occasional glimpses of leopard skulking in the trees.
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.
Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge
Neptune Ngorongoro Luxury Lodge 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.
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 merge 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.
Thanda Private Game Reserve
Thanda Safari joins this list as it is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World offers an authentic wildlife experience, enhanced by the Zulu culture of the camp. Meaning ‘love’ in isiZulu, Thanda is known for exclusive close-up encounters with Africa’s Big Five. Thanda Safari offers three very different products; Thanda Safari Lodge, Thanda’s flagship product, is known for its 9 bush suites, each the height of luxurious exclusivity and African abundance. Villa iZulu is an exclusive bush residence beyond any traditional understanding of extravagance and service. And Thanda Tented Camp, with its 14 grand tents and 1 grande deluxe tent, offers a truly relaxed and authentic safari experience. All are luxury and offer a very special expeirence
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.
Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, Mpumalanga
The award-winning camp of Leopard Hills is located in the renowned Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, bordering the Kruger National Park. The lodge is positioned on a rocky outcrop, offering amazing views over the bush and a busy waterhole. This five-star luxury lodge features eight newly renovated and decorated, glass-fronted, air-conditioned suites, each with private plunge pool and spectacular views over the African bush.
Disclosure: Most of our property, service & product reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced by any sponsor.