Relax on a luxurious African safari

Forget camping in a primitive tent while on safari - nowadays, instead of roughing it, safari-goers can stay at stylish lodges and tented camps without lacking any modern creature comfort. Take your pick of our top 5 luxury safari accommodations.

Thanda Private Game Reserve, South Africa

For: An authentic bush experience

Thunda Private Game Reserve has just introduced a new, colonial-style tented camp to supplement its luxury safari lodge for visitors looking for a more authentic bush experience. Each tent has its own private viewing deck and is equipped with en-suite canvas bathrooms. Electricity is only available a few hours each day; when not in use, the camps are bathed with the glow of lanterns and boma fires. But for guests not wanting to completely rough it, don’t worry; spa treatments can be enjoyed in the privacy of your own tent.

safari ThandaThe view from a deck at Thanda's tented camp
Thanda Private Game Reserve

Thanda’s top-of-the-line accommodation is matched by a stellar list of activities; guests can dine, morning or night, on a decadent meal in the African bush, go deep sea fishing, whale watching, or diving amid local reefs. Don’t miss the abundant local wildlife in the game reserve – wild dog, hyenas, warthogs, over 400 species of birds, and of course the Big 5 populates the game reserve.

Serengeti Pioneer Camp, Tanzania

For: A taste of nostalgia

Opened in September as part of the Elewana Collection of luxury lodges is Serengeti Pioneer Camp, which pays homage to the bygone days of mobile camps in Africa with its 1930s décor. Though done up in a retro style, its 10 tented lodges are anything but outdated. The rooms, equipped with en-suite facilities (including a shower and flushing toilet), offer private dining and butler service. The best part of this lodge, though, isn’t the room; it’s the location.

safari pioneerRetro tents at Serengeti Pioneer Camp
Serengeti Pioneer Camp / Elewana Colection

Serengeti Pioneer Camp is situated on the southern edge of Serengeti National Park where the annual wildebeest migration occurs, one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. Working closely with another luxury camp located on the northern edge of the park means the migration can be tracked quickly, guaranteeing guests better game-viewing opportunities.

DumaTau Camp, Botswana

For: Close encounters with wildlife

DumaTau Camp, in northern Botswana and bordering Chobe National Park, has just had a complete overhaul; raised off the ground for spectacular river views, the newly renovated tents each have a wraparound window with stunning views of the nearby waterfront. Another perk: the entire camp operates exclusively on solar power, lessening its carbon footprint.

safari dumaDumaTau Camp's renovated tents
Mike Myers / Wilderness Safari

Because of the camp’s location between two elephant corridors, visitors won’t be lacking their fill of up-close-and-personal encounters with the local wildlife.  For those feeling even more adventurous, journey to the Okavango Delta and enjoy a safari on a mokoro – a traditional canoe – steered by a local guide through the wildlife-rich waterways.

Tsala Treetop Lodge, South Africa

For: Outdoor lovers

Tsala Treetop Lodge, tucked into the forest canopy between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna, is located in the middle of Addo Elephant National Park, making elephant encounters a main attraction for guests.  The lodge offers several different packages, including a 10 minute elephant ride and up-close elephant interactions.

safari TsalaBalconies overlook the forest canopy
Tsala Treetop Lodge / Hunter Hotels

Located on the “Garden Route” of the western Cape, the lodge has easy access to the local water wildlife as well; whale watching in Knysna or a trip to Keurbooms River Nature Reserve to fish or water-ski are only a short trip away for guests at Tsala. A surfing lesson or white water rafting are also options for more daring guests.

Mkulumadzi Lodge, Malawi

For: Getting off the traditional safari route

Mkulumadzi Lodge, newly opened in 2012, is the one of the few places to stay within the idyllic Majete Wildlife Reserve in southern Malawi, giving visitors an exclusive peek at native wildlife such as the endangered black rhino, nyal, sable, eland, and hartebeest. The introduction of leopards and lions to the reserve means this has become a spot where safari-goers can tick off the Big 5, but for a lower price compared to better known safari destinations.

Mkulumadzi Lodge safari rhinoGet a glimpse of the endangered rhino
iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Accessible by a footbridge, the lodge offers eight new luxury chalets, fully equipped with the most up-to-date creature comforts; a large sunken bathtub overlooking a river favoured by grunting hippos, a private viewing deck, and an outdoor rain shower with views of the African bush. Mkulumadzi Lodge, owned and operated by Robin Pope Safaris, sits on 7,000 hectares (17,297acres) of private land. Nearby lie granite hills overlooking woodlands and river valleys.

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