After living in Africa for almost a year now, I’ve had my fair share of safari lodges and experiences. But given safari is such a magical experience, whenever I can I keep going back for more. Over the years I have stayed at too many beautiful lodges to count, but like anything, I have my favourites! So these are the best safari lodges in Africa, tried and tested by yours truly.
1. San Camp, Botswana
I’ll start with my favourite camp in all of Africa – San Camp in Botswana. While it is far from your ordinary safari camp, I personally think that is what makes it so special. While you won’t find the big five here in the Kalahari desert, this camp hones in on the smaller creatures found in the desert. But more than that, it is about truly disconnecting from your regular life and tuning in to your present. There’s no wifi or electricity in the tents, but there are plenty of opportunities to connect with nature.
2. Sandibe, Botswana
My second favourite lodge in Botswana goes by the name of Sandibe. This is the crowning jewel of AndBeyond’s Botswana portfolio, where they have a number of camps in the Okavango Delta and beyond. Sandibe is the most expensive camp from AndBeyond’s portfolio in Botswana, but it is also the most magical. If you’re looking for a unique honeymoon location, this is your best bet.
3. Sossusvlei Lodge, Namibia
Last year I finally had the chance to visit Namibia. Being based in South Africa next door has given me many more excuses to get out there and experience more of Africa. When we ventured North to Namibia, we checked in to Sossusvlei Desert Lodge. This lodge has recently been refurbished from top to bottom and the results are simply breathtaking. Waking up in the desert is a luxury I will certainly not forget in this lifetime.
Read more: The 12 most isolated lodges in Africa
4. Boulders Lodge, South Africa
Boulders Lodge in South Africa was not my first lodge experience in this country, but it certainly was my favourite! I will never forget sitting out on my deck as I noticed a young elephant drinking from my pool and popping over to say hello! I have since learned this is a regular occurrence at the lodge, so if you are looking for close animal encounters, this is a great lodge to stay for your safari.
5. Cottars Safari Camp, Kenya
When I checked in to Cottars Safari Camp in Kenya, I felt as if I had stepped back in time. The 1920’s safari camp is one of the oldest on offer and it is idyllically located on the fringe of the Maasai Mara. Because the park itself is inundated with safari goers, this is a great alternative to experience more serenity but still remain in close proximity to the park.
6. Mnemba Island, Zanzibar
Okay, I’m saying it: Mnemba Island is my favourite lodge in all of Africa. While it isn’t a traditional safari lodge, it still deserves a place on this list. With just twelve rooms located on a private island off the coast of Zanzibar, Mnemba Island is the ultimate in barefoot luxury.
7. Angama Mara, Kenya
Angama Mara is commonly considered the best safari lodge in Kenya’s Maasai Mara. This newly opened lodge came to the safari scene with much praise, particularly in celebration of the unique location this lodge occupies overlooking the Mara. If you’re looking for a honeymoon location with views for days, this is your best bet in East Africa.
8. Bush Villa, Kenya
Although the Bush Villa falls under the umbrella of Cottar’s Safari Camp, I think it is worthy of a mention of its own. This gloriously oversized villa is the perfect choice for large families or big groups to enjoy their own private oasis. The villa is sprawled out above Cottar’s Safari Camp, overlooking the Maasai Mara below. Even Angelina Jolie has been a guest of the Bush Villa!
9. Serengeti House, Tanzania
Serengeti House in Tanzania is the top property in Singita’s safari portfolio. This private villa boasts four bedrooms, an infinity swimming pool and a private gym. The villa also comes with a private chef, so you can really kick back and enjoy some alone time with your group.
10. Royal Malewane, South Africa
When I checked in to Royal Malewane a few years ago I had already visited a handful of nearby camps. But Royal Malewane has its own appeal, with a unique interior design that makes you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Be sure to visit the day spa where you will find this beautiful lap pool reminiscent of a Moroccan riad.
11. And Beyond Bateleur Camp
During my time in East Africa, I think it is safe to say Bateleur Camp was my favourite safari lodge. This newly refurbished lodge is the perfect mix of old meets new, with all the classic touches but all the mod cons to go with it. The service here was unparalleled to any other camp I stayed at in Kenya.
12. Botswana Sky Beds
For an unforgettable night in the bush, check yourself into Botswana Skybeds. The sky beds are located a short drive from nearby Sable Alley, making it the perfect addition to really immerse yourself in the bush. The sky beds are located up a three story tree house, meaning you are as close as possible to the animal activity throughout the night! This is not only one of the best safari lodges in Africa but also one of the most adventurous.
13. Singita Sweni, South Africa
Singita Sweni was one of the first safari lodges I ever stayed at, but that doesn’t mean I have forgotten about it! My experience at this lodge was so memorable, it is forever engrained in my mind. Singita really go above and beyond for their guests, providing gastronomic meals and unbeatable service. They have a few lodges in the area, but Singita Sweni is my personal favourite.
14. Sable Alley, Botswana
Sable Alley is one of the popular choices of safari camps in Botswana. While Botswana is one of the most expensive countries to visit for a safari adventure, this camp is more on the affordable end of the scale. If you are looking for a special escape without the hefty price tag, this camp is moderately priced.
Read more: The Best Animal Encounters in Africa
15. Bisate Lodge, Rwanda
Rwanda has become the most sought after country to visit in Africa. Over recent years it has sky rocketed in popularity, mostly thanks to the population of mountain gorillas which have drawn thousands of tourists to the landlocked country. Bisate Lodge is one of the most iconic lodges in the country, with their creative beehive like design.
16. Thorntree River Lodge, Zambia
Zambia and Zimbabwe are both considered the gateway to Victoria Falls, but if you are looking for something extra special then take a look at Thorntree River Lodge. This peaceful and serene lodge is the epitome of romance, set on the calm banks of the Zambezi river. There is no denying this is one of the best safari lodges in Africa, as it is certainly our top choice for the most romantic.
17. Ngorongoro Lodge, Tanzania
East Africa is where you should visit if you are looking for the iconic “Out of Africa” experience. Ngorongoro would have to be one of the most picturesque lodges to choose from, set overlooking the crater itself.
18. Jao Camp, Botswana
I know I know, another Botswana recommendation!? Believe me when I say no safari is as magical as one that takes place in the Okavango Delta. Jao Camp is another great option for honeymoon couples looking for something extra special. The carefully curated design makes it one of the most distinguishable camps.
19. Singita Kataza, Rwanda
Also in Rwanda, you will find two Singita properties to choose from when looking for the best safari lodges in Africa. Singita Kataza is an extra special lodge set in the mystical mountains of Rwanda, just a short trip from the famous mountain gorillas.
20. Chinzombo, Zambia
Last but not least, Chinzombo camp in Zambia is idyllically located on the banks of the Zambezi river. This camp is a popular choice for honeymoon couples who are seeking a serene location by the water. However, if you’re up for some activities, you can opt to canoe on the Zambezi river or partake in a microflight over Victoria Falls. Believe me when I say it is not for the faint hearted!