A safari is always a special experience, allowing you to watch wild animals in their natural habitat and feel the hum of nature. Even better is a luxury safari where you may fly in on a small plane to an airstrip near your camp to get a unique perspective of your environment, and also save long, dusty hours on the road.
Return from a game drive or bush walk to cool off in your private plunge pool or warm up in a freestanding bathtub. Indulge in a relaxing massage, enjoy restaurant-quality food by candlelight and learn from expert guides who breathe life into your wildlife experiences.
Here are some destinations where you can feel Africa’s heartbeat as you bask in opulent safari style, first-class wildlife viewing and superb food, wine and personal service.
1. Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger is South Africa’s most famous national park. You’ll find 147 mammal species, including the Big Five, hippo, cheetah, wild dog and sable antelope. Stay in luxury inside the national park at Singita Lebombo Lodge, where the suites seem suspended over the river and you can enjoy stargazing or luxuriate in a spa treatment.
Private concessions that share unfenced borders with Kruger allow for exclusive game drives that go off-road to get really close to sightings. At Ngalaga Safari Lodge you can also enjoy night drives and bush walks, and it has its own waterhole for 24-hour viewing.
2. Okavango Delta, Botswana
In Botswana a luxury safari is exclusive and authentic. Without the crush of other visitors, it’s just you and the wilderness. The ultimate luxury in the Okavango is exploring a pristine ecosystem chock-full of wildlife from elephant, leopard and lion to wild dog. Don’t miss gliding quietly through the waterways in a mokoro (dug-out canoe).
Visit Duba Plains for classic safari style with leather couches and wooden writing desks or Sanctuary Chief’s Camp for its private dining area and terrace pool. Stay at Vumbura Plains to enjoy abundant wildlife and the magic of a hot-air balloon ride over the Delta, available between April and September.
3. South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
One of Africa’s largest concentrations of wildlife can be found at South Luangwa. There are 60 mammal species, including elephant, buffalo, leopard, lion, wild dog and ‘specials’ like Thornicroft’s giraffe, Crawshay’s zebra and Cookson’s wildebeest.
Chinzombo is on a bend of the Luangwa River and has panoramic views. Join walking safaris and day or night drives, indulge in a spa treatment or sleep out under the stars. At Tena Tena you can watch from your bed as wildlife comes to the river to drink. En suite bathrooms are open to the elements for a close-to-nature feel. Again, day/night drives and bush walks are the cornerstone of your experience, but you can also arrange a visit to a village to meet the locals.
4. Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Serengeti is home to the Great Wildebeest Migration, the Big Five and 500 bird species. Although river crossings usually happen between July and October, wildlife viewing is good all year – especially big cat sightings.
The chic Singita Mara River Tented Camp overlooks the river in Northern Serengeti and has an extensive cellar of premium wines. At One Nature Nyaruswiga Serengeti, in Central Serengeti you can enjoy the plunge pool, Jacuzzi, stargazing deck, wellness treatments and gourmet food. Take a hot-air balloon ride to get a bird’s-eye view of wildlife on the plains.
5. Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
The Masai Mara is the most classic East African safari, a place rich in wildlife and scenic plains dotted with trees. It’s home to the northern part of the Great Wildebeest Migration between July and October – with river crossings in August and September – but packed with resident animals all year round.
There’s no sparing luxury touches or superb food at Angama Mara, which overlooks the plains – a perfect view for relaxing with a gin and tonic. This is where the movie Out of Africa was filmed. At the intimate Mara Plains your unit looks out over a river. Soak in a free-standing copper bath with a view, listen to the grunting of hippo and wildebeest, or enjoy a picnic on the plains. The ultimate Mara experience is hot-air ballooning over the winding Mara River and looking down on elephant, wildebeest and lion.
How much does a luxury safari cost?
There are several aspects that influence the cost of an African safari. A luxury African safari can cost less than US$400 or more than US$1,400 per person per night, depending on where, when you go and location of the accommod