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Savannah safaris: 5 of the most jealousy-inducing African camps to experience

The only question is where to start.

African lodge

Escape the hustle and bustle of city living by getting down to nature at some of the most extraordinary locations across Africa.

From the breathtaking Serengeti, home to more than a quarter of a million zebra, to the unparalleled beauty of the southern tip of Africa, with three milkwood forests more than 1,000 years old, the opportunities of the Sub-Saharan are endless.

Whether you’re after a relaxing spa retreat with five-star dining or adrenaline-pumping adventure up close to some of Africa’s most mesmerising creatures, here are five of the best luxury camps to experience.

  1. Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

  2. Tucked between the mountains, forest and sea of Africa’s southern tip is a treasure trove of natural wonders.

    Grootbos, a 2,500-hectare private nature reserve in South Africa, is home to 800 plant species including 100 on the endangered list, and three 1,000-year-old milkwood forests.

    “It’s the smallest botanical kingdom in the world,” Grootbos founder Michael Lutzeyer said at a YNOT Concepts breakfast event. “Tourism is a conduit to saving this planet.”

    The luxury oasis allows guests to soak up the beauty of the fynbos, the small belt of vegetation that clothes the Cape, or meander through an ancient milkwood forest before arriving at their stunning lodges.

    Be awe-stricken by the magical Garden Lodge complete with wooden beams, beauty salon, library and swimming pool overlooking the ocean, or enjoy the splendour of the Forest Lodge with some of the world’s most exclusive biodiverse landscapes.

    But it’s not just a luxury oasis. The progressive nature reserve is pioneering a way to saving the ecosystem and live in harmony with nature.

    “We are forced to help because if we don’t, it will be taken away by the people themselves,” Lutzeyer says. “We are trying to educate people at the same time we’re trying to run a business.”

  3. Sabi Sabi

  4. Offering guests the safari experience of a lifetime, Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is home to some spectacular wildlife, including the Big Five – lions, leopards, rhinos, buffaloes and elephants – that can be observed at close quarters.

    While preserving a wonderful piece of Africa, the camp leads day and night safaris, which make for a memorable experience. Nothing quite compares to the stirring sight of a lion running wild in the bush or the haunting sound of a hyena laughing in the dead of the night.

    And it’s not just conservation that’s at the heart of Sabi Sabi, but mouth-watering food and luxury experiences as well.

    From the romantic, lantern-lit lodge complete with fragrant petals strewn across the exquisite bed of the Selati camp to the earthy Bush Lodge overlooking a waterhole and open plain, the reserve has something for everyone.

  5. Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges

  6. Lemala Lodge is nothing less than exceptional.

    The off-the-grid luxury African lodges run by women, are completely plastic free. Built by Tanzanian locals, they strive to support local women – an eco-friendly venture rare in East Africa.

    Beautifully located in the heart of the Serengeti as well as the famed Northern Circuit, Lemala allows guests to connect to the environment through the comfort of tented camps and luxury lodges.

    Leather sofas, chandeliers, bookshelves, plunge pools, freestanding baths and a separate bar are just some of the indulgent touches of camping in the savannah.

    From turning plastic bottles into desks for local schools (which has saved more than 20,000 plastic bottles from landfill) to ensuring the main area floors are made with composite decking, ethical and sustainable measures are at its core.

    “It is our responsibility to ensure that future generations can enjoy what we have today,” Lemala Authentic Camps and Lodges CEO Leanne Haigh told The CEO Magazine . “We need to protect the wildlife, the cultures, the people and environment.”

  7. African Bush Camps

  8. From the earthy charm of Botswana camps and tropical romance of Zimbabwe to the incomparable beauty of Zambia, the choices are endless at African Bush Camps.

    Whether you stay at the Linyanti Ebony, Somalisa Acacia or the famed Thorntree River Lodge, untamed African wilderness is in front of your eyes.

    Dubbed as a haven of serenity on the banks of the Zambezi, Thorntree River Lodge seamlessly blends in with its tranquil riverside setting. The Lodge’s 12 luxurious suites are perched just a short distance away from Victoria Falls.

    Bungee jumping, game drives, helicopter rides, picnics, private river cruises and watching wild elephants bathe in waterholes are just some of the thrilling highlights of this African adventure.

    And for those thirsty for an invigorating safari, experience contrasting landscapes, abundant wildlife and conservation at all three Bush Camp destinations in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Zambia.

  9. Wild Horizons

  10. As the top adventure tour operator of Victoria Falls, Wild Horizons puts the Zambezi River on the world stage.

    Morning and afternoon game drives, Zambezi River safaris, walking safaris, fishing, bird watching, spa treatments, Victoria Falls canopy tours and white water rafting will leave guests wanting more.

    And when you want to take a break from all the heart-stopping action, the Imbabala Zambezi Safari Lodge has a tranquil suite to rest your head.

    Charming stone and thatch lodges with spacious verandas and hammocks boast sweeping views of the Zambezi – an idyllic spot to recharge before your next safari.

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