The Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote that ‘there is always something new out of Africa’. Well over 2,000 years later, his words are truer than ever. With a rash of new luxury safari accommodation opens having just opened – or just about to – there has never been a better time to visit Africa and stay in camps and lodges that have really raised the bar when it comes to location, design, experiences and architecture. Here’s our pick of the best new properties in Africa – one for each month of the year:
1. Shipwreck Lodge
This very appropriately named lodge is situated on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, a raw yet beautiful region that was once known for being inhospitable to sailors, but now has a very welcoming new address. Encounter the unique desert plants and creatures, walk along Atlantic beaches dotted with whale bones and the rusting hulks of unfortunate ships, and truly get away from it all in a place between the dunes and the waves that takes the romance of isolation to a whole new level.
‘The Place Where Buffalo Broke Through the Bush into the Water’ is the Okavango Delta’s newest safari camp and is situated in an exclusive private concession bordering the renowned Moremi Game Reserve. Qorokwe overlooks a tranquil lagoon in the heart of an area whose diverse habitats support a rich array of African wildlife. Explore permanent waterways, wooded islands and dry forests in search of game, then relax with a sundowner as the day draws to a close.
3. Olonana Tented Camp
Following a complete rebuild, Olonana Tented Camp in Kenya’s iconic Masai Mara Game Reserve is due to reopen in 2018. Already a much sought-after safari destination, Olonana will surely be even more in demand now that it is one of Kenya’s most luxurious safari camps. It has a superb setting on a private stretch of the Mara River – the same river that the herds must cross twice each year during the Great Wildebeest Migration. In season, you’ll have front-row seats for this amazing event.
Mombo is Botswana’s ‘place of plenty’ and a game-viewing destination of almost mythic reputation. There is no finer place in southern Africa to go on safari – Mombo lies within a private concession in the Moremi Game Reserve and is known for its remarkable concentrations of plains game and the predators that prey on them. We’re confidently predicting that the latest edition of Mombo (following a complete rebuild) will be one of those places that’s rather hard to tear yourself away from.
5. Hoanib Valley Camp
Inland from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, this new safari camp in the north-west of the country offers the chance to explore a desert landscape that could impersonate a planet in the next ‘Star Wars’ movie. Think rugged mountains, shifting sand dunes – and some remarkable creatures, including desert-adapted elephants. This is the territory of the ‘Vanishing Kings’, lions which have made their home in this unforgiving yet eerily beautiful terrain. With a focus on giraffe conservation, Hoanib Valley Camp offers an experience that’s head and shoulders above the rest.
When you absolutely, positively have to get away from it all, this new luxury ‘blue safari’ lodge in northern Madagascar could be just the ticket. Designed by award-winning eco-architects, Miavana blends in perfectly with the surrounding palm-fringed beaches and azure seas. If you’re wondering what a blue safari is, then it’s time to take the plunge and explore Madagascar’s spectacular marine wildlife. Dive, search for whales, try your hand at deep-sea fishing, or simply stroll hand-in-hand along a perfect beach at sunset.
7. Kings Pool Camp
The Linyanti region lies between Botswana’s Okavango Delta and the Chobe National Park, and the jewel in the crown here is the luxury safari camp known as Kings Pool. The pool in question is a peaceful lagoon and the camp offers views across into the Caprivi Strip (part of neighboring Namibia). The Linyanti is known as a land of giants because of the large herds of elephants that frequent it. It’s a wild, untamed place in all the right ways, with the comforts of the rebuilt Kings Pool acting as the perfect counterpoint.
8. One&Only Gorilla’s Nest
Gorillas build their nests anew each evening, but we’re certain that this new lodge in Rwanda’s misty Virunga Mountains will become a long-lasting fixture on the safari circuit. Rwanda is no longer Africa’s best-kept secret, but it is easily the best place to go to encounter critically endangered mountain gorilla. Built according to Rwandan traditions – including grass thatched roofs – this new mountain lodge offers incredible primate moments, organic food, African-inspired spa treatments, and improbably but rather wonderfully, a 9-hole golf course.
9. NAY PALAD Bird’s Nest at Segera
Segera Retreat, in Laikipia in Kenya, is no ordinary safari lodge. Its unique design and incredible collection of contemporary African art reflect the eclectic tastes of its owner. With the new NAY PALAD Bird’s Nest, however, Segera has taken safari style to the next level – literally. The ultimate sleep-out spot, by a river popular with game, the Bird’s Nest offers – you guessed it – a bird’s eye view of the surrounding bush and a luxurious and very romantic place to spend the evening, night and dawn.
10. Jabali Ridge
We head to Tanzania next, to check in at Jabali Ridge. This will be the first luxury lodge in the vast wilderness of Ruaha National Park. Situated in southern Tanzania, Ruaha receives a fraction of the visitors who head to the Serengeti and you’ll feel that you have this vast tract of African bush all to yourself. Ruaha just feels wild, in the best possible way, and its diversity of landscapes and wildlife are just as rewarding as knowing that you are one of the very few people ever to see them.
11. Roho ya Selous
Staying in Tanzania, we turn our attention to Roho ya Selous. It’s a brand-new luxury tented safari camp that perfectly balances comfort and adventure, and it’s in the heart of the immense Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest reserves in the world. Selous is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a pristine wilderness area that in many ways has yet to be discovered, so why not be one of the first, and enjoy the wonderful contrast between the intimacy of the camp and the scale of the landscapes?
12. Sanctuary Kichikani
This remarkable new safari camp in Tanzania’s fabled Serengeti doesn’t have a fixed location – it has three. Remarkably, this super-chic luxury tented camp follows the Great Wildebeest Migration so that you’ll always be in the best seats in the house when it comes to watching this incredibly impressive wildlife event. The achingly cool tents combine contemporary and classic touches and evoke the spirit of the safari pioneers of old. Think Gatsby meets Hemingway, in a manner that Audrey Hepburn would approve of.
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