Going on an African safari is one of the best ways of experiencing nature at its finest. But if you’re not quite ready to go back to basics and leave the luxuries of modern life, you’re very much welcome to enjoy the best of both worlds at any of these luxurious five-star safari camps and lodges scattered all throughout Africa.
The best part is, these top picks are the ones that provide the closest, most authentic African Safari experience despite all the conveniences they offer.
1. Royal Malewane, South Africa
Lay back in luxurious four-poster beds in your own stand-alone gazebo and soak in Victorian baths with a view after your tiring safari experience. No wonder this is the African safari lodge of choice for French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Paul Allen of Microsoft, and even Bono himself.
2. Little Shompole House, Kenya
Close to Tanzania, this private camp offers sweeping views of the volcanic hills that line the Great Rift Valley. Guests at the Shompole camp will be treated to their own staff, butler, and tour guide. They can also choose from the 6-bedroom Shompole Lodge and 2-bedroom private houses. The most luxurious accommodation option, however, is definitely the 360 house, which even has its own helipad. To make the safari experience more authentic, the house is strategically close to Lake Natron, one of the last remaining breeding habitats of flamingos in Africa.
3. Safari Lodge, Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Feel like Tarzan himself by living in the tree house suites offered by Safari Lodge. The suites actually have swing bridges linking them together.
4. Bateleur Camp, Kenya
Choose from nine elegant suites housed in tented, wood-shingled lodges for a luxurious but down-to-earth safari experience. But the best thing about Bateleur is that it lies in the path of the Great Migration. If you’re there in the right time, you might be rewarded to a front row sight of wildebeests and zebras traveling across the Mara.
5. Cottar’s Mara Safari Camp, Kenya
A family owned 10,000-acre property along the border of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the Cottar’s camp offers 10 huge tents decorated in a charming 1920s style. There you will find the comforts of home, from an African library, a relaxing veranda, and soothing canvas baths. The Cottar family will also let you share in its exclusive access to the Big Five, namely the lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos, while the best guides in Kenya assist you.
6. Motse Lodge, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve
This exquisite lodge offers 8 authentic stone-walled suites with quaint thatched roofing. The lodge is surrounded on all sides by the Tswalu Kalahari game reserve, which promises sightings of the most elusive animals in the region including meerkats, cheetahs, and aardwolves. If you’re the extreme adventurer type, you can even join a hunt for the most tasty fungal delicacy in the region: the Kalahari truffles.
7. Kings Pool Camp, Botswana
This luxury camp offers nine fully-packed tents set on raised platforms. Each tent has a private plunge pool and a stand-alone thatched gazebo where private massages can also be provided. All guests are also rewarded with an overlooking view of Kings Pool Lagoon and the Linyanti River. This is the best camp if you’re specifically yearning for sightings of elephants.
8. Royal Zambezi Lodge, Zambia
Located right along the banks of the Lower Zambezi River, the Royal Zambezi Lodge offers 10 classic tents and 4 thatched suites. All have plunge pools, copper baths, outdoor showers, and quick access to several bush and water safaris including the late-afternoon canoe safari along the Nklanage River.
9. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Uganda
Built in the middle of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda, this luxurious camp blends in nicely with the surroundings by offering authentic tents with wooden verandas. But since it lies in the home of the endangered mountain gorilla, you can join gorilla trekking expeditions many times with the help of in-house expert guides.
10. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
Get exclusive views of the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania and dubbed as the eighth wonder of the world. The lodge itself is worth the visit thanks to its spectacularly designed stilted rooms complete with woven banana leaf domes, wooden floors, crystal chandeliers, and stone chimneys. Guests are then treated to fresh roses, a freestanding hot tub, and a shower room reminiscent of a 1920s Roman villa.