The appeal and mystique of a safari in Africa is undeniable and pretty much universal. It conjures up images of vast open spaces, a majestic lion silhouetted against the blaze of a sunset, tents under spreading acacias, and a fire surrounded by folding chairs… And nowadays, of course, luxury tented camps and sumptuous lodges in spectacular settings, game drives in open safari vehicles, with Africa’s diverse wildlife scattered around in breathtaking array!
But the vast choice of destinations, tours, accommodations, lodges and camps can get pretty overwhelming as you’re trying to narrow down the choice to just one. So to make it easier for you, we’ve listed some of our favourite luxurious African safari destinations.
The Masai Mara in Kenya
The Masai Mara National Reserve, one of the best-known game reserves in Africa, lies in the southwest of Kenya. It is a magnet for safari travellers who want to enjoy not only amazing wildlife viewing, but also some of the most luxurious safari lodge stays.
Lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, rhino (both black and white), elephant and hyenas as well as hippos, crocodiles and more than 470 species of birds abound. And don’t forget the annual migration of some 1,5 million wildebeest onto the savannah grasslands in the extraordinary Great Wildebeest Migration! You can take in the rugged landscapes from a hot-air balloon, experience guided nature walks and wildlife treks – there’s so much to choose from.
Etosha National Park in Namibia
Meaning ‘great white place’ in the Ndonga dialect of the Ovambo language, the Park is named after the enormous 4,800km² mirage-creating Etosha salt pan located in it. As Etosha is home to about 115 mammals and close to 350 bird species, it is a spectacular wildlife haven. Its many water holes, both man-made and natural, make excellent game viewing spots, particularly during dry periods.
The Park’s huge diversity of animals includes zebra, springbok, the endangered black rhino, tsessebe, warthog, elephant, the rare black-faced impala, cheetah, lion, leopard, giraffe, wildebeest, hyena, kudu, gemsbok (or oryx), eland, jackal, bat-eared fox, ground squirrel, meerkat and the feisty honey badger.
Accommodation in the Park includes a campsite and superbly appointed rest camps that offer stylish accommodation in double rooms, chalets and permanent luxury tents. Namutoni Camp is an old former German fort and national monument! Game drives, guided nature walks and excursions are available, as are swimming pools, shops, petrol stations, restaurants, bars and floodlit waterholes.
Kruger National Park in South Africa
The Kruger National Park is assuredly South Africa’s ‘jewel in the crown’ of safari destinations with its vast landscapes, spectacular wildlife, and wide range of accommodations and tour options available.
It offers you the Big Five and a stunning array of other mammals, and hundreds of bird, reptile and insect species as well beautiful rivers, waterholes and a diverse range of habitats and flora. Where else would you see a languid leopard effortlessly draped over a maroela branch or have a rumbling herd of elephants foraging serenely around your vehicle? Or meet the inscrutable gaze of a black-maned lion lying right next to the road – all on the same game drive?
The Kruger enjoys a year-round sunny climate, and offers a wide range of activities and facilities like game drives, bush walks, wilderness trails, restaurants, shops, petrol stations and more. It similarly offers a wide range of accommodation options from self-catering rest camps with huts, bungalows, cottages, rondavels, safari tents and some of the best lodges in Kruger National Park.
Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania
As the world’s biggest unbroken caldera, Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater is justifiably known as Africa’s ‘garden of Eden’ – and every wildlife enthusiast and photographer’s dream come true. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to close on 40,000 different bird and animal species. This makes it the ideal wildlife safari destination for several compelling reasons!
Of course, the first is the stunning wildlife and diverse habitats. Elephant, endangered rhino, eland, hippo, hartebeest, zebras and wildebeest, buffalos, kudu, waterbuck, warthog and numerous other species of antelope abound here. And with such abundant prey, numerous carnivores like lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, jackals, servals and even rare and endangered wild dogs thrive here. Many species of water birds, including thousands of lesser flamingos, frequent the lakes.
Several luxury lodges and tented camps are located on the crater rim offering superb accommodation, outstanding cuisine and amenities, and spectacular views. Guided game drives and nature walks allow visitors to experience this paradise up close. Visitors can also engage in cultural interaction with the Masai who graze their cattle in the crater.
Chobe National Park in Botswana
If you love elephants, you have to go Chobe! An estimated 120,000 of these great ghosts live in the Park. During the dry season, from May – October, they frequent the banks of the hippo- and crocodile-rich Chobe River in staggering numbers. The Park also has some of the biggest other animal concentrations on the planet.
Chobe’s Savuti area in particular is known for some of the most dramatic predator/prey interactions. The Park is known for its powerful lion prides, up to 30 members strong, that predate some of the biggest game like giraffes, buffalo (of which Chobe has unrivalled numbers!) and even on occasion elephants. The area also has wild dogs, large hyena clans, jackals and leopards.
A safari in Chobe offers visitors game drives, guided nature walks and wonderful river cruises in luxury riverboats. Deluxe accommodation is offered in beautiful riverside lodges, luxury tented camps and mobile tented camps that relocate every few weeks.
Victoria Falls in Zambia and Zimbabwe
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, Victoria Falls is probably the most impressive and dramatic waterfall on the planet. This alone ensures it’s on almost everybody’s bucket list! And when you add the diverse range of activities/attractions the area offers, it becomes an unmissable must-see! Here are just some of them:
- Bungee Jumping
- White-Water Rafting
- Microlight Flights
- Canoeing Safaris
- Swinging Across The Gorge
- Zip-Lining Through The Forest Canopy
- Cage Diving With Crocodiles
- Cycling Tours
But not all the activities on offer are that taxing! You can enjoy a sundowner cocktail on a leisurely sunset river cruise, partake of an elegant high tea on the lawn, be pampered in a luxury spa, or revel in a delicious dinner on a venerable steam train meandering its way through the landscape. You can sip a chilled glass of wine while being paddled down the Zambezi on an inflatable raft. You can even spend the night sleeping under the stars on a riverside beach!
A huge range of accommodations from affordable campsites to luxury hotels and lodges, child-friendly venues and wonderful romantic getaways, ensures that a visit to Vic Falls and Zim really is one of Africa’s most memorable safaris.
We know that for many people a luxurious African safari is often a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. The superb destinations listed above will ensure that your luxury safari is worth every cent that you spend on it, and that you’ll have precious memories that you can unpack with enjoyment for years to come.