The word ‘safari’ specifically describes an expedition in Africa, aimed at experiencing wildlife in its natural habitat. The other six continents simply cannot match Africa in terms of big game, and therefore, are unable to host a true safari. From the Big Five to the infamous hippopotamus, the sheer volume and variety of big game on show in Africa are insurmountable.
These fascinating creatures have a breathtakingly beautiful home. Vast tropical grasslands stretch as far as the eye can see, with the sparsely dispersed trees looking lonely. The famous African sunset is the perfect end to each day, seemingly bigger than anywhere else on earth – its gentle, orange glow a sight to behold.
Besides beautiful scenery, pristine natural beauty and boundless wildlife, Africa is also a culturally rich and diverse continent. African people are proud of their heritage and have, throughout history, refused to abandon their roots.
Modern day African societies, such as South Africa, are clearly influenced by local traditions. South African culture, cuisine, norms, aesthetics, and even laws are partly guided by Zulu and Xhosa traditions. Furthermore, as with many African countries, it is a cultural melting pot, with mainly Dutch, English, Malay and Indian cultural influences helping to define it.
Safaris have changed a great deal in the past couple of decades. Years ago, a safari meant a stay in a colonial-looking building, feeling like David Livingston with a variety of taxidermied goods hanging above your head. Today the market is more diverse, with Livingston-esque options as well as serene eco-lodges, and luxury tented camps. Many of today’s options offer extreme luxury, while incorporating traditionally authentic African aesthetics.
Head out for a full day’s worth of exhilarating exploration, then come back to delectable gourmet dishes and ultimate luxury. You will be completely taken care of and treated like royalty, all in between a variety of memorable expeditions into the natural world. You are spoilt for choice with game drives, hot air balloon rides and ancient rock art tours all in arms reach.
Best Luxury Safari Lodge in Zimbabwe – Matetsi River Lodge
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This award-winning safari lodge and luxury villa is our favourite African safari lodge. A perfect all-round safari lodge, located on the banks of the stunningly beautiful Zambezi River, with a range of elegantly luxurious accommodation options, and offering a wide range of exciting activities.
The safari lodge is located on its own 55 thousand hectare private game reserve, which includes a 15 km stretch of the mighty Zambezi River. This ever-flowing body of water attracts many big game species, who regularly walk right past the front of the lodge – most commonly, elephant and buffalo. Furthermore, situated just 40 km from Victoria Falls, the lodge is centrally located near the area’s many attractions.
Using many natural materials, Matestsi elegantly accentuates its serene natural surroundings, while also managing to incorporate traditional local aesthetics. The swimming pool and bar that overlook the river are a memorable highlight, especially as you stand a chance of witnessing a member of the Big Five take a drink.
With a variety of room options, One must decide between a luxury suite, family suite, or the enchanting private villa. Although you have a tough decision on your hands, you are in for a treat either way. Each room offers extreme luxury, privacy, and a stunning view ensuring you wake up feeling fully immersed in the great Zimbabwean bush.
Besides the beautiful swimming pool and bar, Matetsi also has an impressively stocked wine cellar and spa. The wine cellar pairs carefully chosen vintages with delectable tapas dishes, while the spa offers treatments inspired by traditional African healers. Would a traditional foot cleansing ritual or rain stick therapy interest you?
With regards to game viewing, Matetsi’s professional safari guides combine local knowledge with internationally recognised training to maximise your time in the bush. Offering tours by boat, foot, or motor vehicle, the guides are extremely informative and entertaining. Smiles are a guarantee.
Furthermore, besides game viewing, the lodge offers a host of exciting activities and tours. A day trip to Victoria Falls can include visiting Livingston island, swimming in Devil’s Pool, and a helicopter ride to see ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ from above.
On the other hand, on can spend your day on the Zambezi river. This serene stretch of water is a splendid place for tigerfishing, canoeing, river rafting, as well as motorised sunset boat cruises – all of which can be organised by Matetsi
Best Safari Lodges In South Africa
Best 5 Star Lodge in Kruger National Park
A traditional styled safari lodge, with colonially inspired aesthetics emphasising five-star luxury, personally tailored service and privacy. This means large spacious rooms with panoramic forest views, as well as dinner prepared by an award-winning chef. Of course, this is served alongside the finest crystal, china, and silver.
On-site, you will find a beautiful swimming pool, multiple restaurants, a gym, and one of South Africa’s premium spa facilities. The internationally recognised therapist provides world-class treatments, while the building accentuates the surrounding natural beauty, helping you relax.
The luxury game lodge is located in a private game reserve, adjacent to the great Kruger National Park, which spans just under twenty thousand square kilometers. As part of the greater Kruger Park territory, the reserve is densely populated with a variety of big game species, including the Big Five.
With a 20% staff to guest ratio, Royal Malewane is perfectly equipped to provide personalised service to cater for your every need or desire. With private chefs, game rangers, and butlers available, you can completely relax with all of your needs and desires taken care of.
Best Game Reserve Near Cape Town
Bushmans Kloof is nestled deep in the ancient Cederberg Mountain Range. Just over 250 km outside of Cape Town, it is much further South than most South African game reserves, which are generally situated in the Kruger National Park near the country’s Northern border.
This Southern location means a completely different ecosystem. The never-ending grasslands found in the Kruger National Park are replaced by fynbos, a colorful kind of shrubbery. Fynbos is unique to the Western Cape, a South African province boasting the world’s highest biodiversity levels. Fynbos is most famous for its beautifully bright colours and incredible diversity.
Besides breathtakingly beautiful flora, Bushmans Kloof is also home to more than 35 mammal and 150 bird species. Leopards are the biggest species of game around, with the rest of the Big Five found further North. However, this is no issue, as the Cederberg’s dramatic mountainous terrain, and unforgettable scenery more than compensate for the lack of lion.
Furthermore, over 125 examples of ancient bush and rock art have contributed to the reserve being named a South African National Heritage site. With some works dating back more than 10 thousand years, these are some of the oldest artworks known to man.
The lodge itself is a fine example of extreme luxury seamlessly blending in with the surrounding scenery. Using mostly natural materials, it is nestled amongst a botanical garden, overlooking the Cederberg’s serene natural beauty.
All accommodation is positioned carefully to ensure beautifully scenic views and privacy. Whether you wake up in one of the lodge’s 16 suites, or the private villa, you will have your very own piece of the Cederberg to cherish.
A highlight of any trip to Bushmans Kloof trip must be the amazing outdoor dining experience. Enjoy a delicious meal under the milky way. Wine connoisseurs will be particularly impressed with the lodge’s wine selection. The wine list has, for the 18th year running, won the Diners Club’s Diamond Award for the best wine list.
Not to be outdone, the magical in-house spa claimed an award of its own, walking away with the 2018 Global Spa & Wellness Best Spa in Africa & Indian Ocean award. This peaceful oasis of relaxation channels the calming energy of the mountains with amazing views and world-class treatments.
Activity-wise, you are absolutely spoilt for choice. Rock art tours are a highlight, while professionally guided game drives and walks help you learn while enjoying the reserves spectacular fynbos, birdlife and wild game.
Hiking and mountain biking are extremely popular, with an abundance of technical trails. If you fancy a swim, these trails take you past the Olifants River, as well as pristine rock pools. Furthermore, canoeing and fly fishing are offered at the dam.
Best Safari Camp in Botswana
Jack’s camp is unique, unlike the plethora of safari lodges around the incredibly lush and diverse Okavango Delta. It is located in the Kalahari Desert, near the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. This arid, but fantastically beautiful landscape may seem lifeless but is, in fact, home to many game species including: lion, elephant, genets, hyena, badgers, porcupines, and hares.
The safari lodge uses an Arabic-themed tent setup. A group of ultra-luxurious bedouin tents are nestled comfortably under a thicket of Mokolwane Palm Trees, creating a desert oasis fit for a Saudi Prince. Adding to the camp’s charm, a mob of relatively tame meerkats roam the camp, interacting with humans whenever they can.
The tented suites are spacious, private, and hopelessly romantic. Irreplaceable antiques fill the ornately decorated rooms, while without electricity, you are left with paraffin lamps and candles emitting a warm natural, orange, glow. Each room has a fully-equipped, en-suite bathroom.
More adventurous guests will grab the opportunity to spend a night under the stars. You will be set up comfortably under the stars on the salt pan, truly in the outdoor. Waking with the first rays of light, there is no better way to greet the great African sun.
The safari lodge’s facilities – such as the dining hall, swimming pool, billiard room and lounge – are also located under cool tents. The dining hall is dominated by a long, solid oak dining table, while the pool is surrounded by inviting decking – a perfect place to enjoy an evening cocktail.
Activity-wise, professionally guided game drives are a must, while the lodge also offers quad bike tours, a cultural experience with traditional San locals, and a trip to Chapman’s baobab.
Best Sabi Sands Lodge
Londolozi Private Granite Suites
Londolozi Private Granite Suites are in Sabi Sands, one of the premier private sections of the great Kruger National Park. The idea behind this lodge is to provide a small group of highly exclusive Holidaymakers the ultimate private luxury experience, while immersing guests in the pristine African Wilderness.
Just 3 private suites sit overlooking the Sabi River. This ever-flowing river attracts game from all around the Kruger National Park, meaning that you have the chance of finding any one of the Big Five on your doorstep.
Elegantly designed, they use natural materials to blend in with the river’s granite banks, effectively highlighting the surrounding natural beauty. With premium features all-round, you are ensured ultimate comfort.
Enjoy incredible tailored service, but remember to keep one eye outside, it seems the elusive leopard particularly enjoy the area. Photographers should particularly enjoy Londolozi’s photographic safari, specifically geared up to get you the best shots.
Tanzania Resorts Safari
This beautiful luxury safari lodge is situated in Tanzania’s Grumeti Reserves, a 160 000 hectare patch of golden grasslands. These reserves form part of the Serengeti Plains, famous for hosting an immense annual migration.
Every year, guests at Singita Sabora bear witness to the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world. 250 thousand zebras, 470 thousand gazelles, 1.7 million wildebeest, and a host of other game species make the epic trip across the Serengeti. Witnessing such a natural phenomenon is truly awe-inspiring, a memory that will never leave you.
The lodge is inspired by the early African explorers of the past, a lavish Meru-styled tented camp setup classically finished with 1920s-esque colonial African decor. The minute you step into the resort, you are transported back to the magically adventurous days of early African exploration.
With just 9 luxurious tent suites, you are ensured privacy and beautiful natural scenery. With a bath, outdoor shower and private deck found in each suite, you have everything you could ever dream of at your fingertips. Furthermore, spa treatments can be organised in the comfort of your room.
As far as dining is concerned, you are spoilt for choice. Gourmet meals are generally served in the main dining hall or the open air deck, however, a private bush banquet is offered in front of the camp. Indulge under the stars in the middle of the Serengeti.
The luxury safari camp offers Serengeti walking tours, open-air game drives, night safaris, mountain biking adventures, and tennis. Each activity offering you a unique chance explore the serene wilderness that surrounds the remote camp.
After a long day exploring the Tanzanian savannah, you will be greeted by friendly staff inviting you for a drink at the bar and lounge area. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, you could find a perch on the elevated deck for sunset, curl up with a book in the library, take a dip in the heated pool, or remain horizontal in the spa.
You are absolutely spoilt for choice when it comes to Luxury Safari Lodges. Throughout Africa, the most incredible oasis exist, aimed at immersing you into the great wilderness and providing five-star treatment.
All things considered, Matetsi Victoria Falls is our favourite luxury safari lodge. Its location on the Zambezi river, just 40 km from Victoria Falls, sets the lodge apart. Furthermore, the property exceeds all-around, proving itself the perfect remote African luxury safari.
If you are in Cape Town, look no further than Bushmans Kloof. It is a dramatically beautiful mountain reserve just a few hours drive away. On the other hand, if you are still in South Africa, but find yourself closer to the Kruger National Park, a decision must be made between Royal Malewane and Londolozi Private Granite Suites.
Tanzania’s best safari lodge, Singita Sabora, is known as the country’s premium great migration viewing spot. Further South, Jack’s Camp in Botswana has perfected the luxury tented camp, creating a palm tree laden desert oasis.
Ultimately, there is no wrong decision. Each of these great safari lodges are part of the top tier of safari lodges, providing a unique luxury wildlife experience.