You never know what awaits you on an African safari and with more and more luxury safari lodges popping up all over Africa, the choices are endless. From luxury-tented camps, plunge pools, spa treatments, to exotic food and spiritual ceremonies, there are options to fit all your clients’ needs and we have got you covered with this roundup of some of the best choices out there.
In Kenya, the Masai Mara National Reserve would be the natural place to send clients, especially during the Migration period, which changes somewhat year-to-year. One of the more high-end camps, Governors’ Camp (www.governorscamp.com), is a cluster of exclusive tented camps in one of the Mara's best regions for game viewing. All camps within this group are top-notch, from their cuisine, to service, and guides, the camp will not disappoint your more discerning clients.
The Safari Collection (www.thesafaricollection.com) provides a number of options. One of the most exclusive, Leleshwa Camp (www.leleshwacamp.com), accommodates 14 people in 7 luxury tents sitting in the Siana Community Conservation Area on the North-Eastern edge of the Masai Mara. With picturesque hills and plains, the camp offers a truly authentic African experience, and is about as exclusive as you can get, as it is the only camp in the Conservation Area that stretches over 20,000 acres.
The untapped region of Zambia is home to The South Luangwa National Park, one of Zambia’s premier wildlife reserves. A lush, unspoiled park with one of Africa’s major river systems, the Luangwa River, it is home to the largest concentration of hippos in the world—over 5,000 of them. In fact, the park itself is the playground for over 60 different animal species including lion, leopard and elephant, as well as 450 different types of birds. Within this region there are numerous high-end lodges and Robin Pope Safaris (www.robinpopesafaris.net) offers one of the best set ups, with private walking safaris being a major part of their success. Their three intimate safari camps: Nsefu, Nkwali & Tena Tena, offer a true luxury wilderness experience with stylish accommodation, attentive service, fine dining and some of the best private guides in Africa. Their Luangwa Safari House, near the Nkwali Camp is a luxury, 4-bedroom house built on the edge of a lagoon. With a private plunge pool, quartz-tiled terrace, and individually styled bedrooms, it is the perfect spot for a family or group of friends.
In the lower Zambezi Valley of Zambia, Baines’ River Camp, part of the Mantis collection (www.mantiscollection.com) comprises eight very luxurious, colonial-style suites, each named after an African explorer. With commanding views of the Zambezi River, wildlife abounds here, and it’s not unlikely to be lulled to sleep by the sounds of hippos and elephants. The main camp features a boardroom and library with seating for 20, open-plan dining and lounge area, a bar, guest restrooms, reception with wireless internet facilities, warm fireplaces for cool winter nights and a refreshing pool for hot summer days. The boardroom and library are ideal for corporate functions and can be converted into a studio suitable for photographic workshops and incentive groups.
The latest and greatest news coming out of the above-mentioned Robin Pope Safaris, one of the leaders in walking safaris, is Mkulumadzi, a luxury lodge scheduled to open July 15, 2011 set in the Wildlife Reserve of Southern Malawi. Deep in the African bush on a lush riverbank, Mkulumadzi will offer eight chalets with luxury bathrooms, an eco-friendly cooling system and, of course, breathtaking views of the savannah. Robin Pope Safaris was awarded an exclusive private concession within the Majete Wildlife Reserve to build Mkulumadzi and should be on your radar for this year.
In the Serengeti, the Bilila Kempinski Lodge (www.kempinski.com) combines the intimacy of a lodge and the indulgence expected of a luxury hotel. With spectacular views of the endless plains of the Serengeti, there are a variety of rooms and suites from which to choose along with a wellness spa, lounge, wine cellar and exotic cuisine.
Singita (www.singita.com) offers private retreats throughout Africa with the Pamushana Lodge in Zimbabwe, the romantic Sweni Lodge in the Kruger National Park, South Africa and the comfortable Castleton Camp in the Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa. Their flagship, the Singita Sasakwa Lodge in Tanzania overlooks the Singita Grumeti Reserves concession in North-Western Tanzania, situated along the world-famous wildebeest migratory route. Set amidst 340,000 acres of the vast open plains in the Serengeti, it is an exceptional wildlife area with a great diversity of species featuring large herds of game. A private home with 4 bedrooms comes complete with a living room, dining room, a private infinity plunge pool, and a small kitchen and nanny accommodations. Guest activities range from horse riding out on the Serengeti Plains, to daily game drives.
Sanctuary Retreats (www.sanctuaryretreats.com) offers a collection of luxury safari lodges throughout Africa including Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. One exciting program coming from Sanctuary is the “Star Bath and Sky Bed” program at the Sanctuary Baines Camp in Botswana. Outdoor “star baths” offered with hot and cold water taps utilize organic, native Africology products. Additionally, a completely enclosed four-poster “sky bed” perched on a wooden deck offers al-fresco sleeping in comfort. Located on a huge private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta, where cheetah, crocodile and elephant can all be spotted close to camp, the scene is set in a grove of trees surrounded by papyrus beds. This is the smallest camp they offer with just five ultra luxurious suites. There’s even an elephant whisperer on the premises—now, that is something you don’t hear of very often.
Jack’s Camp in Botswana, part of Uncharted Africa Safari Company (www.unchartedafrica.com) sits in the Kalahari Desert, offering stylish canvas tents with en-suite bathrooms, indoor/outdoor showers, Persian rugs and cotton sheets. The camp will be introducing a Bushmen initiation experience beginning spring 2011 where your clients will spend 8 nights with the Bushmen. They’ll watch as the Ju/’hoasi young men make the transition into manhood by demonstrating their survival skills and animal tracking abilities. During the dry season months of April, May and October, Jack’s Camp offers a 3-for-2 special; stay three nights and one night is on them.
Back in South Africa, Camp Jabulani (www.campjabulani.com), a family-owned and managed private luxury safari lodge in Kapama Game Reserve, is a Relais and Chateaux property most noted for its herd of trained African elephants which were rescued by the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. Visitors can interact personally with these animals on daily elephant rides around the waterhole as they swim and play. The camp has only 6 suites with their exclusive Zindoga Villa best suited for the family traveler. During daily elephant-back safari, your clients sail high above the African veld, feeling one with the environment.
For information by country, contact these tourist boards.
Botswana Tourism Board: www.botswanatourism.co.bw
Kenya Tourist Board: www.magicalkenya.com
Malawi TMC: www.malawitourism.com
South African Tourism: www.southafrica.net
Tanzania Tourist Board: www.tanzaniatouristboard.com
Uganda Tourism Board: www.visituganda.com
Zambia Tourism Board: www.zambiatourism.com
Zimbabwe Tourism: www.zimbabwetourism.net