The best luxury safari lodges in South Africa are at the forefront of the new wave of safari architecture and amenities. They balance between indulgence and authenticity, but they do it with finesse, and never for a moment forget their true purpose.
SINGITA EBONY LODGE
Ebony Lodge is one of the jewels in the crown of the private Sabi Sand reserve – one of South Africa’s most prolific game-viewing areas. This lodge represents a wonderful coming together of safari traditions and contemporary luxury, and blends in perfectly to its setting beneath giant trees. Stone, wood and glass are used to create the 12 suites which are at once intensely private, yet provide a window onto the wonders of the African bush immediately beyond their walls. Suspended outdoor decks allow guests to look down into the adjacent river, and give the sense of having stepped out of the human space of the lodge and into the unspoiled wilderness which surrounds it.
- The two Lewis suites can be combined to create a family villa.
- The lodge décor channels the old-world charm of early safaris.
- Two dedicated family suites each with their own team of staff.
CHEETAH PLAINS PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
Another fitting inclusion in any list of the best luxury safari lodges in South Africa, Cheetah Plains was purpose-built for either families or groups of friends to enjoy their own bush destination. The very exclusive Plains Houses each sleep four and eight guests in simple yet sophisticated comfort. The aim is to provide a restful, calming space that invites the breeze and birdsong in, and doesn’t distract from the wonders of the bushveld. The bedrooms are thoughtfully grouped around a shared area where friends and family members can spend time enjoying the lounge, living room, sun deck and pool. A dedicated hospitality team ensures that the lodge experience is every bit as memorable as the game drives.
- Cheetah Plains also features four separate Private Suites, two of which are interleading.
- The dedicated guide and tracker are always available for impromptu bush adventures.
- Both the wine cellar and pool are maintained at the perfect temperature.
This iconic Kruger National Park destination is in fact two lodges in one: the grand, classically styled Main Lodge and the more intimate and contemporary Farmstead. Unique furnishings are featured throughout Royal Malewane, combining the classic safari aesthetic with a fresh contemporary style. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the thrill of discovering the Kruger in the company of some of the most qualified guides in South Africa. Their passion is matched only by the desire of the lodge staff to deliver exceptional experiences at every turn, from the meals to one of the best night’s sleep you’ll ever have in Africa. Add in the award-winning spa, and you’ll find that your every wish has come true in this magical place.
- Choose one of the six Luxury Suites or the two, two-bedroom Royal Suites.
- Invite your whole family to the exclusive-use Africa House villa.
- Learn how expert trackers find elusive big cats.
MALA MALA RATTRAYS CAMP
As a rule, only the most special safari lodges carry the names of their owners, and MalaMala Rattray’s Camp is a case in point. This lodge is the epitome of good taste, and although it frequently harks back to a bygone era, it never lets the past intrude on the magic of the present moment. While the emphasis is very much on the wildlife experience, guests could be forgiven for wanting to spend more time in the lodge, either dipping into one of the rare African books in the library, or slipping into their private plunge pool. Rattrays follows all the most important safari traditions, but reinterprets them in a fresh and vital way to remain relevant to today’s safari aficionados.
- Step back in time in the historic bar, lined with antique photos.
- Enjoy a boma night meal around the campfire.
- Massage treatments on your private deck offer ultimate relaxation.
SINGITA SWENI LODGE
The name ‘Singita’ is synonymous with the best luxury safari lodges in South Africa, and Singita Sweni is no exception. This lodge exudes a sophisticated glamor that few others achieve and seems to do so effortlessly. That could be due to contemporary architecture and décor (which, in keeping with the philosophy of sustainable luxury, fuses repurposed timbers with metallic elements). The seven suites are open plan in design, in a nod to the expansive private game reserve in which the lodge is sited. Ancient trees provide welcome shade, while the Pool Suite can be combined with the adjacent suite to create a private family villa for multigenerational travel.
- Just seven guest suites, for a more exclusive ambience.
- Outdoor showers with river views for al fresco indulgence.
- Superb game-viewing without even leaving the lodge.
&BEYOND PHINDA HOMESTEAD
A stay at the Phinda Homestead is the stuff that safari dreams are made of. The Homestead is intended to provide a home-away-from-home for the family that enjoys going on safari together, with four air-conditioned rooms clustered around a large open-air deck and pool. With your own personal safari vehicle, guide, tracker, butler, and chef – the experience is catered entirely to you. The private fitness room lets guests keep up with their exercise regimes, while all activities and meals take place when and where desired – the schedule can be changed on a whim thanks to the attentions of the dedicate villa team. This flexibility even extends to the layout of the accommodation, with an additional children’s room – equipped with bunk beds – permitting another four younger guests to join in the fun.
- The perfect blend of elegance and real family home feel.
- Experience the wonderful flow of energy throughout the lodge.
- Discover local Zulu culture though authentic references.
Tswalu is the ideal gateway to South Africa’s little-known but intriguing green Kalahari. It’s a place of almost boundless possibilities, where active conservation combines with contemporary luxury to create memorable experiences in an unforgettable landscape. Tswalu is a place that’s set apart in every sense: by its remote, secluded location, by the success of its pioneering research programme, and by the emphasis placed on introducing guests to the wonders (great and small) of this unique ecosystem. Guests can come home to one of the nine Kalahari-themed houses at the Motse, or stay in Tarkuni, the former bush holiday villa of the Oppenheimer family with its commanding valley views. Both offer a direct route to the heart and soul of the Kalahari.
- Trace the rhythms of ancient cultures through their rock engravings.
- Encounter unusual arid area wildlife.
- Feel the sense of freedom that comes with almost limitless space.
SABI SABI EARTH LODGE
This lodge takes the modern concept of “appropriate luxury” to a new level. Despite its stunning design – or perhaps because of it – it can be hard to spot from certain angles. The 13 sumptuous guest suites are sculpted to nestle into – or emerge from – a natural slope in the ground. Fitting in aesthetically is just one of the ways in which Earth Lodge has achieved recognition as one of the most eco-sensitive lodges in Africa – this is truly guilt-free indulgence. While the architecture is something of a departure from classic safari lodge design, the orientation of the suites to maximize the views out over the bushveld is entirely in keeping with other luxury South African safari lodges.
- The Amber Presidential Suite is the last word in innovative luxury.
- The Amani Spa is the ultimate antidote to the stresses of modern life.
- Local Shangaan trackers add an extra layer of interpretation to the game drives.
Want to learn more about luxury South African safaris? Reach out to the Alluring Africa team.