Africa’s wild and wonderful natural spaces have compelled generations of adventurers to seek them out. But gone are the days when going on safari meant roughing it in the wild. With a wide array of opulent safari lodges to choose from, today’s safari-goers have little more to worry about than ticking off the Big Five and deciding whether to order red or white with dinner; all without losing the romance and adventure of days gone by. It’s here, in some of the far-flung corners of incredible African reserves, that you’ll find some of the world’s most luxurious safari lodges.
If you’re looking for luxurious lodges with incredible service, comfort, and indulgence, you could do a lot worse than checking yourself into one of the best and most luxurious safari lodges from my list below. Note that because I simply can’t decide which lodges are the best, I’ve gone alphabetically by country!
1. Mombo Camp
The award-winning Mombo Camp sits amongst the trees on Chief’s Island in the game-packed Moremi Reserve. This is ultimate luxury in the best game viewing area of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Mombo really raises the bar for safari lodges with its combination of fantastic game viewing experiences and the incredible luxury and service in camp. Nine plush tents with private plunge pools will have you relaxing in no time at all. In between game drives, relax in your thatched gazebo and watch buffalo and impala graze on the flood plains below. At night dine under the stars.
The camp is committed to conservation, with much of the power provided by a solar farm and a portion of your rates going toward their preservation projects.
Pro Tip: Little Mombo, situated on Chief’s Island, is a smaller and more intimate camp than its sister and has its own dining and lounge area and a sparkling pool.
2. Angama Mara
Masai Mara, Kenya
Two 15-tent camps dot the edge of an escarpment about 300 yards above the game reserve at Angama Mara. The location on a hilltop overlooking the plains is breathtaking and unbeatable, with the views over the Great Rift Valley so sensational that you’ll be tempted to just stand and stare, without ever leaving your room. The floor-to-ceiling glass-fronted suites, with handcrafted and designer furniture, and the Masai Mara plains stretching out below you as far as the eye can see, make this a really special place and an exciting addition to the classic tented camps in Kenya.
Each day’s activities are tailored around you: enjoy a morning of game viewing with a delicious picnic breakfast, or opt for a lie-in and catch up with the wildlife later. Add to this exceptional food and drinks, an organic garden where lunches can be enjoyed, the Maasai beading workshop, the spa pavilion with the most well-equipped gym of any lodge in Kenya, a beautiful pool with plenty of sun loungers, a robust activity list, and doting staff, and you have the perfect place to stay for the ultimate and memorable safari experience — ideal for couples or families seeking an African adventure.
The lodge is perfectly complemented by Angama Safari Camp, an exclusive-use mobile tented camp sited deep in the Mara Triangle, and amidst the mega herds during the Great Migration.
Pro Tip: Another draw here is the spot where Meryl Streep and Robert Redford had that iconic photo taken, used to promote the film Out of Africa. Nowadays guests can enjoy a gourmet picnic in this exact location and create their own romantic memories.
3. Mahali Mzuri
Masai Mara, Kenya
Said by many to be the best safari lodge in Africa, the Richard Branson-owned Mahali Mzuri brings together every element you could ever wish for in your safari experience. Set within the private 33,000-acre Olare Motorogi Conservancy (part of the Masai Mara ecosystem but outside the national park boundaries), the 12 luxury tents, interconnected by walkways, sit on the edge of a gentle rise, looking out over the beautiful landscape. You’ll have a front-row seat, not just to the migration, but also to the abundant game you can see all year round, with monkeys scrabbling in the trees, giraffes wandering through to nibble on acacia trees, and perhaps a leopard stopping to drink from the rocky stream that runs below the camp. Being outside the national park means you get all the richness of wildlife to yourself, with no other cars in sight and no jockeying for position when out on a drive or the annoying chatter of other safari-goers.
Mahali Mzuri means “beautiful place” in Kiswahili, and the camp definitely lives up to its name.
4. Little Kulala
Situated in a private reserve with exclusive access to the iconic Sossusvlei sand dunes and salt pans in the Namib Desert, the world’s oldest desert, Little Kulala has 11 climate-controlled, thatched “kulalas” (meaning sleep) which blend perfectly into the desert landscape, each with their own private plunge pool and rooftop bed for star-gazing. The décor is stunning and takes its inspiration from the incredible surroundings with neutral colors, gorgeous textures, and expert use of the natural light.
You can choose from a range of activities here including nature walks/drives, hot-air balloon safaris, and eco-sensitive quad biking excursions. Desert adapted wildlife, such as ostrich, springbok, and gemsbok eke out a harsh existence in the surrounding landscape, and larger carnivores, like the spotted and brown hyena and occasionally cheetah, are sometimes present.
5. Bisate Lodge
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Built within an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate was the first lodge in Rwanda to combine world-class luxury with a once-in-a-lifetime gorilla trekking experience. The lodge’s one-of-a-kind design pays homage to traditional hut design, while the sumptuous interiors offer comfort, warmth, and luxury with fantastic amenities like cozy fireplaces and a well-stocked wine cellar. Bisate Lodge is one of Africa’s most talked-about camps, not only because of the great mountain gorilla viewing opportunities but because of its incredible design, with the rooms resembling giant bird’s nests.
6. Londolozi Private Granite Suites
Sabi Sands, South Africa
This elegant and luxurious lodge only has three suites, with stone walls, polished concrete, and a color scheme of charcoal, silver, and elephant gray, and it offers complete exclusivity. Each of the suites at Londolozi Private Granite Suites opens out onto a heated infinity pool and magnificent views over the granite rocks of the Sand River. Sabi Sands is known as one of Kruger’s finest private concessions and is renowned for leopard sightings. Londolozi was the first game reserve in the world to be given Relais & Châteaux status, and this place could definitely be your ultimate luxury safari experience.
It’s not all about luxury though; Londolozi is involved with community upliftment, rural education, and healthcare programs. The creation of protected areas has also meant that rhinos and other iconic species can roam freely here. These are just some of the ways your safari is having a positive impact on local people and wildlife.
7. Royal Malewane
Thornybush Private Reserve, South Africa
Royal Malewane strikes the perfect balance between stylish splendor and relaxed retreat. Situated in a private concession within the Greater Kruger National Park, this famous safari lodge hosts no more than 20 guests at a time, in luxury and style. Six suites, each with a private infinity pool, offer total seclusion with stunning views, while the lodge itself has an atmospheric library, curio shop, and dining and sitting areas with fantastic outlooks over the bush. There are also two completely private suites each sleeping four for an even more exclusive safari experience.
There’s also the self-contained Africa House, just a few minutes’ drive from the main lodge, which is the perfect accommodation option for families or friends with space for up to 12 people. With private chalets and impeccable service, game drives that deliver great wildlife, a butler service, unforgettable culinary experiences, and, of course, their award-winning safari spa, it’s no wonder high-profile visitors celebrities such as Nicolas Sarkozy and Bono have chosen to stay here.
8. Singita Sweni Lodge
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Located in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, Singita Sweni epitomizes the very definition of safari luxury. The lodge is located on 33,000 acres of private concession land on the banks of the Sweni River, with hippos, crocs, elephants, and other wildlife often to be spotted meandering past the lodge. Located far away from the crowds that are often associated with Kruger National Park, Singita Sweni Lodge offers an intimate setting with its seven large and luxurious suites, each designed to bring the feeling of the outdoors in. Large floor-to-ceiling windows, big wooden decks, and a combination of modern décor and natural elements are all incorporated into the design.
The lodge has a strong focus on sustainability, and an ethos of a minimal footprint and touching the earth lightly. Menus are designed around seasonal produce, with many of the ingredients sourced from local suppliers. The lodge is also involved in a number of local conservation and social initiatives, including a solar power plant, which has meant the lodge saves on close to 1,000 tons of carbon emissions each year. This is an eco-lux safari experience and definitely a one-of-a-kind destination.
9. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
With views from the rim of the world’s largest intact caldera enough to take your breath away, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is not just a stunning location; it also somehow captures the romance of its location with its timeless elegance and design. Circular clay buildings with thatch roofs create a warm and inviting space, while opulent furnishings, with brocade sofas, gilt mirrors, and beaded chandeliers, all transform the rooms into truly beautiful spaces. Located right on the rim of the ancient volcanic Ngorongoro Crater, the lodge offers not only some of the best views in Africa but also the opportunity for a fantastic safari, as the crater floor is teaming with wildlife.
10. Singita Grumeti Reserve
Singita in the Grumeti Reserve, Tanzania, offers a variety of accommodation options with something for every style: crystal chandeliers and gilded frames at Sasakwa Lodge, rattan chairs and campaign tables at Sabora Tented Camp, and breezy furnishings and woven basket-style light fixtures at Faru Faru Lodge. Each is special in their own way.
Sasakwa Lodge is a great choice for families or groups who enjoy the bush but still want to have all the luxuries of a five-star establishment. With impeccable service and exceptional facilities, this grand Edwardian-style manor house and stone cottages offer a private slice of the Serengeti and boasts antiques, glittering chandeliers, and plush sofas that invite you to sink into them and gaze out across the Serengeti plains; but even these opulent interiors can’t compete with the incredible views stretching out across the seemingly endless plains.
Faru Faru Lodge is built on a gently sloping hill and positioned on the great migration route that’s traversed annually by more than two million wildebeests. Informal, unconventional, and surprising at every turn, Faru Faru has seven one-bedroom suites, one family suite, and a two-bedroom suite with a private pool. With close proximity to the river and plains, guests have the unique opportunity to enjoy a close connection with the wilderness.
Sabora Tented Camp strikes the perfect balance between classic tented safari and timeless modernity and is located right on the Serengeti Plains, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the setting and enjoy Sabora’s understated yet tailored luxury. With superb game viewing opportunities all year round, Sabora’s nine tented suites are set on the Great Wildebeest Migration route.
11. Time + Tide Chinzombo
South Luangwa, Zambia
Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is one of Africa’s hidden treasures, boasting incredible untouched natural beauty, great walking safaris, and crowd-free big game viewing. Set in this relatively unexplored reserve on a sweeping curve of the Luangwa River, lies the sophisticated and elegant Chinzombo, with just six gorgeous villas, designed by award-winning architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens. Time + Tide Chinzombo is one of Zambia’s most exclusive safari lodges. The beautiful and luxurious villas combine a modern architectural feel with natural materials such as leather, reeds, and canvas
Each villa boasts its own private plunge pool and is situated on an elevated deck with views of the river and the abundant wildlife that visit its banks. A boat ride across the river gives guests direct access to the game-rich national park. Chic and remote, this is definitely one for your bucket list.
12. Nyamatusi Camp
Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
The beautiful Nyamatusi is a wonderful luxurious haven in one of the wildest parts of Southern Africa, Mana Pools, on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River. The camp comprises six spacious, luxury canvas suites with private plunge pools and air-conditioning, essential for those hot dry season months. The focus at Nyamatusi is on experiencing the area through walking safaris led by an experienced professional guide. Fabulous game viewing opportunities abound, especially African wild dogs and elephants, and if you want to try your hand at the iconic tiger fish, then you’ve come to the right place. A carefully curated wine cellar will doubtless enhance your safari along with the excellent meals.
And there you have it, my favorites amongst the many outstanding and luxurious safari lodges in Africa. I hope I’ve inspired you to take a luxurious African adventure of your own.