African safaris are amazing. Whether you are a fan of wildlife documentaries or not, the real thing is much better, more exciting, and more mind-blowing than you could imagine. Africa offers the best animal viewing on the planet. Wildlife right through from breakfast until late into the evening and into the darkness of the night. Forget an apres dinner cocktail. For proper excitement, take a sunset exploration of the bush on the back of an open vehicle. It can’t be beaten.
On a continent renowned for its dry desert and bushland landscapes, Botswana shines like an emerald. Its northern waterways attract hordes of thirsty game, both predators and prey, some of which migrate from miles around during the dry season when water sources elsewhere turn to dust.
The best way to see this wealth of wildlife is to stay in a safari camp set right among the action. Most camps are very remote, allowing you to immerse yourself in the landscape and the animals it supports: from lion and leopard to vast herds of elephants, vivid birdlife, and wallowing hippos. We have reviewed the best safari lodges in Botswana.
If you want to book any luxury safari lodge (or another hotel) use our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts, and free perks at hotels, including Four Seasons, Aman, Belmond, Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, InterContinental, and more. You also get your usual Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt, Hilton, and other loyalty points and status benefits when you book with our concierge.
1. Camp Kuzuma
Camp Kuzuma is a beautiful boutique eco-lodge in Botswana that borders Chobe National Park and Hwange National Park in the Chobe region of Botswana. This boutique lodge is nestled in the pristine Kazuma Forest Reserve. The lodge lies a 2-hour drive from Victoria Falls, 1.5 hour’s drive from Nantwich, Hwange, and only a 1-hour drive from Kasane.
Camp Kuzuma is found in an exceptional safari area made up of vast open plains and a forest reserve that form part of a busy wildlife corridor. It comprises of seven well-appointed tents that are incredibly spacious, boasting deep Victorian baths and king-size beds draped in mosquito nets. With a true commitment to eco-tourism, the camp is completely off the grid yet offers all the comforts guests may desire on their Botswanan Safari Experience. Camp Kuzuma has the unique advantage of being a base for hot-air balloon safaris.
The gentle hum and rhythmic beat of African drums, rousing guests for another day of breathtaking wildlife experiences in the wilds of Botswana announce every new day at Camp Kuzuma. The area is splendidly full of wildlife but impressively empty of people besides camp guests and staff, making it a true getaway!
During the days, the expert guides will astound with their knowledge of fauna, flora, and wildlife to discover. Besides journeying through the bush in an open-air safari vehicle, guests also have the incredible opportunity to experience the area by water and air (for an additional fee). A Chobe Riverboat cruise is an absolute must to watch hippos and crocodiles bask in the sun on the banks of the river while elephants get right in and walk across to the other side. And by air, you can peacefully glide above the plains watching the herds below, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you’ll never forget!
In the main area of the lodge, you will find a rim-flow pool overlooking the busy waterhole where herds of elephant drink and bathe, and during the dry season, other animals line up to wait their turn. A sunken fire pit lies just off the deck, creating a space that invites quiet contemplation in the cool afternoon breeze and a gathering place for bush tales around the campfire in the evening. Guests will enjoy Boma dinners under the stars and a Shebeen Chic experience, a down-to-earth dinner with a delightfully local African flavor.
Private stone and canvas suites have charmingly luxurious old-world touches, such as high-backed Victorian baths, leather couches, and silver trays and teapots interspersed with distinctly Botswanan accents. These luxurious, open-plan tented suites feature private viewing decks, refreshing outdoor showers, and ensuite bathrooms with freestanding baths, double showers, and double basins. The suites are all connected with an elevated walkway that leads to the main area where guests will find the open plan dining area and bar, spa, swimming pool, and fire pit and guests can enjoy credit card facilities and wireless internet at the main lodge building if they need to feel ‘connected’.
2. Belmond Eagle Island Lodge
There are three luxurious Belmond Safaris lodges all set in the unspoiled wilderness of Northern Botswana. This is where the incredible Okavango Delta floods each year, attracting a breathtaking diversity of wildlife.
At Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is stunningly designed to conjure up an explorer’s base, you can drift through the watery landscape on a mokoro canoe, spotting bright frogs and kingfishers.
Each lodge enjoys its own ecosystem, so the experience from one to the next is dramatically different. Together they form an incredible safari journey that will enchant the most seasoned traveler.
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge is one of Botswana’s original safari lodges, perched on a private island encircled by some of the deepest stretches of the Okavango Delta, one of the world’s largest inland water systems, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The lodge is decorated to reflect an explorer’s base. Design highlights in the twelve spacious deluxe tented rooms include oversized beds with views of the delta, large outdoor decks with a vista, private plunge pools, luxurious bathrooms with large tubs, indoor & outdoor showers, relaxation and reading nook, and walk-in wardrobes.
3. Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge
Elephants are the main attraction at Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, recently relaunched with an exemplary new eco-friendly design, luxurious spa and viewing hide. The majestic inhabitants are drawn to the mysterious Savute Channel, which flows and dries up seemingly at whim.
Indulging in true wilderness, this eco-friendly and sustainable safari lodge offers the finer luxuries in life, such as eco-friendly air-conditioning in the tented rooms.
All tented rooms are housed on raised wooden platforms, offering spectacular panoramic views shaded by a traditional African thatch roof. The large private decks are furnished with a huge daybed, two comfortable armchairs, and a side table, perfect for viewing wildlife, an afternoon nap, or enjoying a romantic dinner for two.
The interiors are luxuriously appointed with en suite bathrooms and a large outdoor shower. The four-poster bed as well as a lounging sofa, are outward facing offering uninterrupted views onto passing wildlife.
4. Belmond Khwai River Lodge
Nestled on the edge of a leadwood and fig tree forest, overlooking the vast Khwai River floodplains and beyond into the Moremi Wildlife Reserve, sits the luxurious Belmond Khwai River Lodge. At Belmond Khwai River Lodge, the big game of the Moremi Reserve are in your sights. Giraffe, buffalo, lions, leopards, and wild dogs can be viewed from the beautiful raised, thatched rooms overlooking the floodplains.
The rooms are housed on raised wooden platforms, offering great views and are shaded by a traditional African thatch roof. The large private decks are furnished with easy chairs and a hammock ideal for viewing wildlife or for enjoying a dinner in complete privacy. The interiors are luxuriously appointed with comforts like an en suite bathroom and four-poster bed complete with mosquito netting.
Khwai River Lodge private suite offers the ultimate in exclusive safari accommodation complete with a rim-flow plunge pool, as well as his and her outdoor shower.
5. Duba Plains Camp
Duba Plains Camp is a Relais & Chateaux Camp offering guests a setting unlike any other, featuring woodlands, islands and flood plains that shelter thousands of animals, including interesting Kalahari species.
Located in the heart of the Okavango Delta, in a private 77,000-acre reserve, you’ll find 5 luxury tents and one 2-bedroom private suite designed to blend into the landscape while also evoking a style of the 1920s.
Extremely comfortable and slightly elevated, each one offers private swimming pools, outdoor salas, stunning views over the plains, and water channels that can also be explored by 4×4 with a private guide.
6. Zarafa Camp
Zarafa Camp showcases elephants, buffalos, cheetahs, leopards, lions, wild dog, giraffes and antelopes on a 320,000-acre private reserve. The region is renowned for the opportunities it offers to observe predators and the 300 species of birds to which it is home, including the rare African skimmer.
The camp, which overlooks the Zibadianja Lagoon, and its new villa, The Dhow Suite, were created by two safari enthusiasts, National Geographic photographers Dereck & Beverly Joubert, who wanted to protect this wilderness while also wishing to share it with others. It is designed with the environment in mind, with large, magnificently appointed tents in a traditional style reminiscent of the safaris of yesteryear.
7. Vumbura Plains Camp, Vumbura Concession
Comprising two separate camps, Vumbura Plains is situated within a private concession in the northern Okavango Delta. Here, ample water sources attract a huge variety of wildlife, from elephant and giraffe to hippo and sitatunga (an amphibious antelope).
Both camps have their own lounge, dining, and bar area raised above the ground for views across the delta. With stylish interiors made of wood, they feel almost Scandinavian. There’s also a cushion-strewn deck and an open fire pit, where guests can gather in the evening to share drinks.
With just eight rooms in the north camp (including two family rooms) and six rooms in the south camp, Vumbura Plains is never crowded. Each room is individually housed in a wooden structure with a high thatched roof.
Exceptionally spacious, they feature large outdoor decking areas with a private pool, a sunken lounge, and indoor and outdoor showers with views over the floodplain.
Floating along the water channels in a mokoro (traditional flat-bottomed canoe) with one of Vumbura Plains’ experienced guides gives you close-up views of malachite kingfishers, crakes and little bee-eaters as they flit or wade through the reeds.
The camp also offers day- and night-time game drives around the concession when you can spot big cats, wild dogs, and wildebeest. For something different, head out on foot with a guide for a more detailed insight into the local ecosystem, focusing on plant life and wildlife you might not spot from a vehicle.
Mealtimes are flexible, so you can spend as long as you wish out on a game drive. From buffet breakfasts and afternoon tea to three-course dinners, the food here is among the best you’ll find in the delta.
Part of the Okavango Community Trust, the camp strives to benefit the local community and reduce its environmental impact. Almost all of its staff are from the local area, and water is treated above ground before re-entering the delta.
8. Linyanti Ebony and Linyanti Bush Camp
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 elephants 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 (one designed for families), and you can book it exclusively for large families or groups.
Each tent is air-conditioned and high-ceilinged, with wooden floors, large windows, and 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.
The camps run activities, including guided game drives, night drives, and walking safaris. Best of all, if you’re staying for three nights or more, you have the opportunity to take a 30-minute helicopter flight over the wetlands, spotting wildlife from above. The helicopter lands on an island where you can enjoy a picnic while looking out for hippo wallowing in the water.
9. Mombo Camp
Located in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp is the flagship property of the Wilderness Safaris. Mombo Camp is widely recognized as one of the finest safari camps in Africa with its incredible game concentrations and interactions as well as having unique approach to luxury hospitality.
The Mombo Concession, home to Mombo, Mombo Trails, and Little Mombo, sits on the North-Eastern tip of Chiefs Island inside the Moremi Game Reserve, the center of the Okavango Delta. Often referred to as the predator capital of Africa, the Mombo Concession hosts phenomenal concentrations of Africa’s famous ‘Big Five’ in one of the most beautiful parts of Africa. Lilly scattered flood plains and palm-fringed islands surround both camps as the crystal clear waters of the Okavango attract a remarkable diversity of African wildlife.
Game surrounds camp at all times of the year, with the Mombo concession being one of the few places in Africa to provide world-class game viewing throughout all seasons. The leopard and lion viewing especially, is nothing short of exceptional. Despite Mombo Camp being inside the Moremi Game Reserve, where night drives are not allowed, the game viewing is exceptionally good, so good that you dont even need to leave the camp to see something spectacular.
With nine tents at Mombo and three at the neighboring Little Mombo, both camps are at the top of one of Okavango’s most beautiful islands. Shaded by huge indigenous trees, each guest room has views over flood plains that can teem with game. Mombo provides some of the most luxurious accommodations on the continent yet manages not to spoil the sense of wilderness, which makes safari in areas like this so special.
10. Meno a Kwena
Meno a Kwena sits in an amazing location on the Boteti River overlooking the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park. The wildlife you’ll see lives within the green, and juicy Okavango Delta regions and zebras are residents here for most of the year.
Watch the wildlife at the river below from the comfort of your private veranda; they call it an ‘armchair safari.’ In the dry season, there is no other water around, so the Boteti River becomes a magnet for wildlife.
This safari camp is great value for money and is an excellent choice for families because there’s a natural swimming pool and plenty of nooks and crannies for kids to explore while watching the action at the river below.
COPYRIGHT 2014 - 2023 LUXURY TRAVEL DIARY. DUPLICATION OUTSIDE OF LUXURYTRAVELDIARY.COM IS EXPRESSLY FORBIDDEN.
Note: Benefits offered correct at the time of writing but may be amended at discretion of the vendor. Posts may be sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.