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African Chic - Luxury Safari Update

Written by  Lisa Loverro

safariThe options are endless when it comes to luxury safaris. It seems expansions and renovation plans are consistently happening around Southern Africa. Which lodge is best for your client? We’ll break it down here for the latest and greatest news on high-end safaris so your clients won’t have to skimp on comfort while they’re out in the wild.

In South Africa, Singita officially just reopened their revitalized and renovated Castelon House (www.singita.com) in the Sabi Sand Reserve. Once the private home of the owners of Singita, the Bailes family, Castleton is an exclusive retreat accommodating up to twelve guests at a time. The main building is a stone-walled farm house overlooking the African wilderness with three safari cottages for a total of six rooms, all designed in a traditional African colonial style connected on pathways to the main house. This very private retreat is nestled within one of the most beautiful reserves in southern Africa, Sabi Sands.

Tanzania
In Tanzania, Singita’s portfolio continues to expand with two newsworthy openings; the Mara River Tented Camp (www.singita.com) and The Singita Serengeti House. Mara River Tented Camp is a 16-bed, eco-sensitive and solar powered tented camp located in the pristine Lamai area, one of the most undiscovered parts of Tanzania. And with their “fewer beds in larger areas” philosophy, Singita Mara River Tented Camp is perfectly situated on the northern banks of the world-renowned Mara River, famed for its annual wildebeest migration crossings. The Serengeti House is located on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill in the Grumeti Reserves, a 350,000-acre reserve. This “exclusive-use” retreat accommodates up to eight guests within their two suites in the main house and two garden suites situated on either side. This is a perfect retreat for families or a group of friends.
Adding to Tanzania’s upscale safari experience, The Four Seasons Safari Lodge (www.fourseasons.com/serengeti) is the hotel chain’s first property in sub-Saharan Africa (taking over the lodge from the Kempinski Hotel group). It’s the perfect place for your clients who are die-hard Four Season fans, knowing they will be well looked after on their trip of a lifetime. Located in the Serengeti, it’s a complex comprised of 72 rooms and five villas. This safari experience is ideal for clients who may be having trepidations about their “virgin” trip to the bush. They’ll feel safe and secure with the property’s elevated walkways.

Kenya
In Kenya, Richard Branson has ventured beyond his Ulusaba Lodge in South Africa and has made his way into this country with Mahali Mzuri Lodge (www.mahalimzuri.virgin.com) located in the Motorogi Conservancy within the Maasai Mara ecosystem. The lodge itself sits in the migration path, ensuring plenty of wildlife viewing while there. There are 12 luxury, tented suites for a maximum of 24 guests at one time. Each tented suite sits on a raised platform and includes a spacious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, sitting area and a large deck with views of the open landscape. In typical Sir Richard Branson style, Mahali Mzuri has been set up in collaboration with the local Maasai communities and a limited number of other tourism partners. Although the camp itself looks almost “space age,” there’s no doubt you’re deep in the heart of Africa. The top priority here is to have as minimal a footprint as possible on the land and to promote low-density tourism, which creates less pressure on the environment. The lodge is all-inclusive and features amenities such as an infinity pool with a sunbathing deck and the Nasaro spa treatment room offering Africology treatments.

Zambia
In Zambia, Robin Pope continues to raise the bar with their Luangwa Safari House (www.robinpopesafaris.net) located in the South Luangwa National Park. Sitting on the edge of a lagoon frequented by elephants and giraffes, the house was designed by Neil Rocher to awaken the senses. Each of their four double rooms subtly pays homage to the earth’s elements, water, earth, wind and fire. The height of luxury, this is a perfect safari destination for families.

A Perfect Ending
Ending a safari adventure can be just as exciting as its beginning. The perfect relaxation after all that dust and dirt (not to mention bugs) is to send your clients to the beach! While the Seychelles and Mauritius are the more familiar destinations, the Quirimbas Archipelago in the Indian Ocean offers a unique and high-end option as well. Within these islands, Medjumbe Private Island Resort (www.medjumbe.com) is located, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. From the air, Medjumbe looks like a masterful painting laid out on a turquoise blue canvas with wisps of white sand stretching out into the ocean. On the ground, the 13 palm-thatched chalets lie scattered along the beach, each with a private plunge pool and indoor/outdoor shower. While boating, diving and sunbathing provide the perfect daytime activities the night sky provides a star safari like no other.

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