7 of the Best Safaris in Africa, According to a Travel Expert

After traveling to Africa dozens of times on safari, I have been asked, as founder of luxury travel group Indagare, to pick a favorite lodge more times than I can count. It is truly impossible for me to choose just one, which is why in Safari Style: Exceptional African Camps and Lodges, I cover many lodges in many regions, from the desert in Namibia, the Serengeti in Tanzania, the mountains in Rwanda, to the great concessions and parks in Botswana and South Africa.

Every property in the book—there are 21 of them, across 7 countries—can be guaranteed to deliver an unforgettable safari and aesthetic experience. I have included the continent’s most luxurious lodges as well as incredible tented camps that showcase cutting-edge sustainable infrastructure, but these are illustrative, not definitive, because there are many amazing properties that didn’t make it in the book. Safari Style is meant to inspire discovery and broaden—not limit—one’s view of Africa and its safari lodges.

Here are seven properties that showcase some of the most impressive locations and innovations of Africa’s next generation of safari camps, and highlight the diversity of experiences that you can have in the bush.

A beautiful view from Singita Mara River Camp.

Singita Mara River Camp, Tanzania

For the Great Migration and epic wildlife viewing
Its prime location in northern Tanzania, on the banks of the Mara River, means that each morning at Singita’s Mara River Camp you’ll wake under canvas in the middle of the Serengeti to the sound of bird calls and be perfectly positioned to observe the Great Migration (should you visit during the right time of year). Though watching a river crossing is a high-drama event that can typically attract dozens of vehicles, staying at Mara River Camp gives you the absolute privacy of the Singita Lamai concession and, rather than spending hours waiting for a crossing, you can leisurely watch the fabled river from the comfort of the lodge. From the game viewing to the location of the lodge along the iconic Mara River, it is hard to beat this under-canvas experience.

A cozy corner at Mwiba Lodge.

Mwiba Lodge, Tanzania

For community visits and cultural exchange
Mwiba Lodge sits in an idyllic location overlooking a watering hole on the Arugusinyai River and is set on a 129,000-acre reserve bordering the Ngorongoro Conservation Area on one side and the Serengeti National Park on the other. The lodge balances the indulgences of a permanent safari lodge with the immersive wilderness experience of a tented camp: Though the 10 tented suites have hardwood floors and glass sliding doors, they also have canvas walls allowing you to fall asleep to the sounds of the bush at night. One of the standout experiences at Mwiba is the opportunity to go on a bush walk with the nomadic Hadza, a local hunter-gatherer tribe of only 1,300 members, who live as they have for centuries. Lodge guests can learn how they forage for food in the harsh landscape and, from the lodge, there is also the chance to visit a Maasai village to learn about their incredible culture and tradition. I believe that a combination of time in the bush and also with people—giving opportunities for cultural immersion and exchange—is what makes for a perfect safari experience, and Mwiba’s location allows guests to find that ideal mix.

One of the beautiful bedrooms at Segera Retreat.

Segera Retreat, Kenya

For blend of traditional safari vestiges and cutting-edge African art
Segera is a nine-guesthouse resort-like property in Kenya’s Laikipia region that puts a large focus on sustainability and conservation programs and showcases an amazing collection of safari-related antiques and 21st-century African art. Safari traditionalists will appreciate the wonderful memorabilia such as signed Hemingway letters and the vintage plane used in the film Out of Africa (guests who stay at the property can experience a safari from the sky), as well as the pieces from owner Jochen Zeitz’s modern art collection, and the property’s “4C” vision (a balance of community, commerce, culture, and conservation), which Jochen pioneered by uniquely applying to sustainability.

An elephant peacefully roaming the grounds at Mombo Lodge.

Mombo Lodge, Botswana

For the Okavango Delta

There is no landscape in the world quite like Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a 6,000-square-mile wetland paradise covered by a labyrinth of waterways filled with animals. Mombo is an eight-suite intimate camp on Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve in the Delta. The camp can claim numerous distinctions, including being the priciest safari lodge in Africa, but most
importantly, it changed the course of Botswana’s history and of ecotourism when it opened in 1991 by setting a new bar in the design of sustainable safari camps (the camp is 100% solar powered). The game viewing from the reserve is truly unparalleled—cheetahs, prides of lions, packs of wild dogs, elephants, leopards, and black-and-white rhino are all prevalent on the concession—and the wild floodplains that you can explore from camp ensure that every drive is filled with excitement.

A poolside view from Sossusvlei Desert Lodge.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia

For the sheer drama of the landscapes
As a safari destination, Namibia is known for its intimate lodges set in remote, starkly beautiful places filled with fascinating desert-adapted wildlife. Sossusvlei, in the southern Namib Desert, is an area famous for having the world’s largest sand dunes, and it is also celebrated for its spectacular night skies (the area has been designated as a rare International Dark Sky Reserve). Sossusvlei Desert Lodge sits on a 30,000-acre private desert reserve. The bare minimalism of the
interiors parallels the barren vistas in the 11 suites, each with its own plunge pool, as well as retractable skylights positioned to allow stargazing from the bed. The desert safari opportunities from the lodge are incredible: Guests can explore the Sossusvlei dunes and salt pans, take desert walks, go hot-air ballooning, and discover ancient San rock paintings.

A zebra in the wild at The Farmstead at Royal Malewane.

The Farmstead at Royal Malewane, South Africa

For walking safari and trackers
The Farmstead at Royal Malewane is a groundbreaking public/private partnership in the Greater Kruger area (the lodge was built with the sole purpose of benefiting the community) and was created by the Biden family, one of South Africa’s leading hospitality families. The Farmstead beautifully merges modern farmhouse design with a vibrant palette of colors and contemporary African Art. With only three suites and a three-and-a-half-bedroom villa, The Farmstead is often
considered one of the hardest lodges to get into in South Africa and also one of the best. The lodge has a number of master trackers and renowned guides (the highest of all the lodges in South Africa) and, right from the base of the lodge, you can head on multiple walking safari trails with an expert ranger. It’s an incredible way to experience the bush and a unique opportunity in South Africa.

The accommodations at Bisate Lodge are a dreamy escape.

Bisate Lodge, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

For the endangered mountain gorillas, one of the most special animal-viewing experiences in the world
Set on a hillside overlooking the volcanic peaks of Bisoke and Karisimbi in Volcanoes National Park, Bisate features six villas that resemble massive weaver nests. The interiors mix comforts like soaking tubs and fireplaces with elements of traditional Rwandan crafts, such as the colorful kitenge fabrics. Bisate is a perfect base for trekking to see endangered mountain gorillas as well as golden monkeys—though not your traditional safari experiences, both are extraordinary
animal encounters—and Rwanda is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those who want to witness the positive power of safari tourism to preserve wildlife and empower local communities.

via Architectural Digest

Joyce Rey
With Me
Whether it's buying your dream home or selling your current one, Joyce Rey is here to help.