Africa’s high-end safari lodges excel at delivering all the material trappings of luxury travel—impeccable service, understated design, and fine dining, to name a few. But for guests questing after one-and-a-lifetime experiences in the bush—beyond the baseline fixation with spotting the continent’s Big Five—far greater indelible imprints come not from hospitality comforts, but privileged access to expert conservationists, uncrowded game reserves, and interactions with local communities. Here are eight leading safari camps that spotlight the most impressive corners across Africa and the diversity of unforgettable experiences offered in each.
5 Stars | Website | Arusha Airport
10 | Outdoor swimming pool; Fitness center; Spa | 1
Serengeti National Park; Grumeti River; Lake Victoria
AndBeyond’s recently refurbished lodge on the western edge of the Serengeti National Park is a showstopper. At the heart of the property is an alfresco circular bar that hosts intimate sundowners; its ten eclectically-designed suites, inspired by traditional Maasai Manyatta homesteads, feature exquisite Kitenge fabrics and plunge pools. Guests have access to a dizzying range of outdoor pursuits, from slow walking safaris to fishing trips on Lake Victoria.
5 Stars | Website | Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
30 | Outdoor swimming pool; Free WiFi; Spa | 1
Maasai Mara National Reserve; Mara Triangle; Oloololo Gate
Created by the founders of andBeyond, Angama Mara comprises two camps that preside over the Great Rift Valley inside the world-famous Maasai Mara National Reserve. In total there are 30 luxurious tented suites, each with floor-to-ceiling windows and sprawling sundecks that overlook the dramatic Oloololo Escarpment. Inside is a mosaic of colonial-era design touches and Maasai brickwork that threads together multiple influences on the region’s aesthetic. The brand will open up its new sister property Angama Amboseli in the private 6,000-acre Kimana Sanctuary this fall.
5 Stars | Website | Johannesburg International Airport
20 | Spa; Bar; WiFi | 1
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve; Kalahari Desert; Korannaberg Mountains
Ensconced in the foothills of the Korannaberg Mountains, this swish yet rustic camp has nine individual legae: traditional thatched-roof dwellings hewn of local stone and red earth. Guests are rewarded with the utmost seclusion and the largest protected wildlife reserve in South Africa at their fingertips: the Kalahari. Activities run the gamut from high-drama game drives and walking safaris to helicopter rides and stargazing.
5 Stars | Website | Maun International Airport
16 | Outdoor swimming pool; Bar; WiFi | 1
Moremi Game Reserve; Okavango Delta; Nxai Pan National Park
Operated by fourth-generation hoteliers, this eco-sensitive lodge in the Moremi Game Reserve runs entirely on solar power and geothermal energy. Not only is Xigera a forerunner in off-grid luxury, but a celebration of African creativity: The entire property functions as a living art gallery, with the Xigera Design Collection, an assemblage of handcrafted furnishings and contemporary artwork inspired by the Botswana bush, filling up every inch of the camp.
4 Stars | Website | Wilson Airport
7 | Outdoor swimming pool; Free WiFi; Spa | 1
Chyulu Hills National Park; Amboseli National Park; Kisula Caves
Ol Donyo Lodge is one of two Relais & Châteaux properties in Kenya, and the only one inside the Maasai-owned Mbirikani Group Ranch in Chyulu Hills National Park. Its ten sumptuous open-air suites boast private plunge pools that overlook a watering hole frequented by wildlife like zebra and giraffe, or more famously, herds of elephants. Night drives and horseback-riding safaris are a rare find at many African lodges, but ol Donyo can organize both.
5 Stars | Website | Kigali International Airport
21 | Outdoor swimming pool; Fitness center; Free WiFi | 1
Volcanoes National Park; Musanze Caves; Cathedral of Ruhengeri
Situated in Volcanoes National Park, One&Only Gorilla’s Nest is one of a handful of hotels that presents guests with once-in-a-lifetime encounters with Rwanda’s great apes. Equally as unforgettable are the post-trek comforts: There’s no better reward after traversing the mountainous jungle than reclining by the outdoor pool, cocktail in hand. Alternatively, the spa’s signature treatments, which feature detoxifying local coffee and fresh-cut roses, are a surefire way to soothe and rejuvenate.
4 Stars | Website | Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport
8 | Outdoor swimming pool; Free WiFi; Spa | 1
Malilangwe Dam; Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve
Thoughtfully designed with artisanal motifs, earthen objects, natural fabrics, and woven leather, this dreamy palapa-style lodge is a champion of Zimbabwe’s ancient tribal heritage. (Exclusive excursions to nearby Kambako village reveal the artistic traditions of local Shangaan communities.) Guests of Singita Pamushana are also blessed by wild and wonderful surroundings in the private Malilangwe Reserve, which have a notable density of rhinos that all but guarantees a sighting during game drives.
5 Stars | Website | Mfuwe International Airport
7 | Outdoor swimming pool; Fitness center; WiFi | 1
South Luangwa National Park; Kulandila Camp; Luangwa River
Opened in 2022, family-run Sungani—“guardian” in the local Chichewa language—is the latest addition to Zambia’s stunning South Luangwa National Park. Sheltered by indigenous trees, the entire wilderness lodge is perched on elevated decking, gifting optimal vantage points for wildlife viewing from the open-air common spaces and eight spacious (and air-conditioned) bedrooms. Pair with a stay at sister camp Kulandila.
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