Unique places to stay in Africa
Amazing accommodation in Africa
Africa is rich with diverse and amazing places to stay. From classic tented safari camps and exclusive luxury lodges, to boutique hotels, fully inclusive resorts and private homes, the accommodation options are breathtaking. And that’s before you even think about adventure camping, private mobile camping safaris and glamping (“glamorous camping”).
For a truly unforgettable holiday we recommend mixing it up and sleeping under canvas in a remote location before staying at a luxury city hotel or in a glam beachside resort. But for now we’re going to concentrate on places to stay when you’re on safari.
Over the years we’ve inspected thousands of properties in Africa. The ones we recommend to guests are our favourite places, handpicked by us because we know they tick all the right boxes.
They’re often owner-run and cater for just a small number of guests – we know that getting away from the crowds is high on everyone’s safari wish list. And because we inspect our preferred properties regularly to ensure the highest standards are maintained, you’re sure to love our recommendations, whether you’re travelling as part of a family or group, a couple or going solo.
Remember, accommodation when you’re on safari is vastly different to city stays and island getaways. There’s nothing like being in a beautiful property in the remote wilderness, lapping up the extraordinary landscapes and wildlife, and the care and attention that will be lavished upon you by incredible staff – we hope you love it all as much as we do!
Permanent tented safari camps
Permanent tented safari camps
Camping in Africa doesn’t have to mean pitching your own tent and cooking your own meals. Our tented safari camps (often referred to as ‘bush camps’ if they’re very remote) are enormous, fully equipped and incredibly comfortable. Just like hotels, the quality can vary enormously from property to property – some can be more rustic while others will blow you away with their beauty and luxury.
In general, however, tents are fully equipped with a proper bed and furniture, and many feature en suite bathrooms and flush loos. The more remote tented camps may use long-drop loos and safari-style bucket showers, but even if the bathroom facilities are a bit more basic, staff will be on hand to provide hot and cold water on request and ensure your every need is met. Tented camps also feature a central area for socialising, where you’ll usually find a lounge, bar, dining area, fire pit and sometimes even a swimming pool.
Mobile safari camps
Mobile safari camps
This is another option that lets you sleep under canvas, but just as the name implies, these camps are always on the move. They follow wildlife as it moves (for example, the great wildebeest migration), setting up for weeks or months in a great viewing spot before moving on to another, ensuring guests are always at the right place at the right time. Alternatively, camps are privately booked and move with you according to the itinerary of your choice (mobile safari camping is particularly popular in Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana).
You’ll do a game drive each time you move from one spot to the next, during which time your luxury tent will have been dismantled from its previous location and reassembled in another remote wilderness setting where wildlife abounds. Mobile safari camps can feature anything from simple pop-up dome tents to luxurious Out of Africa-style canvas safari tents. Some are rustic, others are super-glam with solar-generated chandeliers, but expect bucket showers and drop loos in most camps. You’ll dine under the stars, enjoy drinks around campfires and sleep to the sounds of Africa’s bush.
If you’re on a safari in Africa and moving from one camp to another, you’ll generally travel by 4×4 vehicle. But that’s not the only option. In many places you can also do a walking safari or travel by horseback, camel, boat or canoe. If that’s the case, you might also have the chance to experience fly camping. But don’t worry, it has nothing to do with insects! Fly camping is when you stop along the way and spend the night under the stars in a very basic setup – i.e camping “on the fly”.
Your home for that night could be a simple canvas tent or a bed roll under a mosquito net, with just your guide and a roaring campfire nearby. Nothing beats being so totally immersed in the bush, with only a sliver of canvas or mosquito net between you and the stars, and only the sounds of wildlife to lull you to sleep. This is the quintessential safari experience that many people dream about. It may involve a basic style of accommodation, but heading out into the wilderness to sleep among nature is our idea of the ultimate luxury.
Luxury lodges are often in sensational locations, and our favourites not only blend into the environment but also value sustainable tourism as much as they value the comfort and satisfaction of their guests. If you’re staying in a lodge, expect a permanent construction built using materials such as stone, wood, bricks and thatch. Most rooms will have en suite bathrooms with running hot and cold water plus all the other creature comforts you’d expect in a luxury hotel, including, in many cases, air conditioning, plunge pools and wifi. This type of accommodation is ideal for older travellers seeking something a little more familiar and permanent than a tented camp.
Some lodges have family cottages or interconnecting rooms, so they’re also a great option for families keen to keep the whole gang together. In communal areas you’ll typically find a bar, lounge, dining area and viewing decks, and perhaps a swimming pool, library and gym.
Some lodges even feature things like a spa, cellar, and curio (gift) shop, childcare services or education centres for kids. There are many ‘chain’-style lodges in safari regions, but just keep in mind a property’s size – the bigger it is, the more people you’ll see on safari.
Private houses and villas
Private houses & villas
Africa also offers spectacular exclusive-use private houses, for the ultimate in privacy and seclusion. They’re located everywhere from cities and mountains to islands and beaches – and, of course, safari settings. Safari houses are beautifully appointed with stunning living areas, en suite bedrooms and, in many cases, manicured gardens and private swimming pools.
A dedicated team of staff will be on hand exclusively for you (chef, butler, nanny – whatever you need), plus you’ll have a safari guide and vehicle all to yourself. Incredible privacy, a luxury home and the freedom to design your own schedule makes a safari in a private house a villa the ultimate stay.
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