The Top 10 Luxury Safari Lodges In South Africa
South Africa has some of the most amazing safari lodge experiences in the world. The photographic safari model started in South Africa and has spread through the rest of Africa, India and Sri Lanka. Many of the luxury safari lodges in South Africa and specifically the Kruger National Park win the best hotel in the world awards as voted by guests and travels authors. There are so many amazing lodges each with their own character and feel. Here are just some of them that make up the top 10 luxury safari lodges in South Africa.
Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Singita is world renown for its luxury lodges throughout Africa. Started in South Africa, their Boulders Lodge is one of their favourites. Singita Boulders Lodge is a luxury safari lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the world-renowned Kruger National Park. The lodge is located along the Sand River, which provides an ideal vantage point to view local wildlife and relaxing in the pristine wilderness.
The lodge takes its name from the ancient boulders that mark the terrain and inspired the property’s design and construction. The contemporary African style of Singita Boulders Resort Lodge blends well with the natural setting while providing an extraordinary degree of luxury and comfort.
The lodge has 12 rooms, each with its own private viewing terrace and heated plunge pool, giving visitors exceptional seclusion and a personal connection to the African bush. The suites include floor-to-ceiling glass windows that provide breathtaking views of the river and surrounding wildlife. Natural materials such as wood, stone, and leather are used to adorn the interiors, providing a sophisticated yet relaxing atmosphere.
Singita Boulders Lodge offers a range of activities for guests to enjoy during their stay, including game drives, bush walks, stargazing, wine tastings, and visits to adjacent community development projects. The lodge has a spa, gym, and boutique, providing guests with a variety of services and experiences.
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve
The Sabi Sand Game Reserve is a privately owned wildlife reserve in South Africa, located near the famous Kruger National Park’s southwestern border. The reserve, which covers around 65,000 hectares (160,000 acres), is known for its exceptional animal and plant life which creates amazing game viewing opportunities. It is part of the Greater Kruger National Park, which protects approximately 20 million hectares of African wilderness.
The name Sabi Sand comes from the two rivers that flow through the reserve, the Sabie and the Sand rivers. The area between these two rivers are among the most productive hunting habitats for predators like lions, leopards, cheetah, caracal, African wild cats and wild dogs in the world. Due to this there is a high concentration of hunting cats and other carnivores in the area which creates an unbelievable viewing opportunity for visitors staying in the reserve.
The beautiful landscape along the rivers, the rugged terrain away from them, numerous antelope species, other smaller animals, The Big 5 and an impressive variety of bird species makes this an unbelievable wildlife safari location and the home of many of the best luxury safari lodges in this list.
Royal Malewane, Greater Kruger National Park
Royal Malewane is a small premium safari lodge in South Africa’s Thornybush Private Game Reserve, which forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park. The lodge provides an intimate and exclusive safari experience, combining opulent suites, world-class cuisine, and unparalleled wildlife sightings.
Royal Malewane’s three luxury safari lodges and private bush villas, each reflecting an exquisite vision of design and supreme hospitality, allows you to experience the African wilderness in comfort, style, and seclusion. Royal Malewane boasts about having the most experienced and qualified guiding team in Africa. They take great care in selecting their guiding staff which includes both safari guides and expert animal trackers.
Royal Malewane offers three lodges – Malewane Lodge, The Farmstead and Waterside.
- Malewane Lodge has six exquisite suites, two Royal Suites, and Africa House, an exclusive-use home for up to 12 guests. Each suite is charmingly decorated, with classic colonial-style furnishings, four-poster beds, and huge windows with views of the surrounding bushveld. All suites include a private deck, a heated plunge pool, and an outdoor shower, allowing visitors to experience the African wilderness in comfort and seclusion.
- The Farmstead is designed in a contemporary African style that complements its natural surroundings. The design combines traditional features and local craftsmanship to create a warm and welcoming setting that represents the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Farmstead offers three Luxury Farm Suites and The Farmhouse, a private home that can sleep up to six people. The Luxury Farm Suites are stylishly equipped and spacious, with a large bedroom, en-suite bathroom, private outdoor shower, and a private veranda with a heated plunge pool. The Farmhouse is a beautiful and exclusive-use property with its own dedicated crew, which includes a private chef, butler, housekeeper, and a safari guide with a private game-viewing vehicle.
- The aesthetic effect of a stay at Waterside, with its very striking design, dramatically redefines the typical safari experience. You’ll feel the energizing energy of the African bush the moment you step through the floating entrance bridge and arrive in the warmth of Waterside. The scene is reminiscent of Eden, with a lively waterhole surrounded by fever trees and wildlife. It is minimalist in design and anticipates every requirement for a wonderful modern safari.
The Thornybush Private Game Reserve is home to a diverse range of animals, including the Big Five (lions, leopards, elephants, buffaloes, and rhinoceroses) as well as cheetahs, wild dogs, giraffes, and zebras. The area’s different habitats sustain a diverse birdlife, making Royal Malewane an ideal site for birdwatchers.
In addition to great game watching, Royal Malewane provides guests with a variety of leisure activities and amenities to enjoy throughout their stay. The Waters of Royal Malewane Wilderness Spa is a serene hideaway where visitors can engage in calming treatments, while the lodge’s dining experiences provide the greatest local and foreign delicacies prepared with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Londolozi Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
Londolozi was established in 1926 and is well-known for its devotion to conservation, eco-tourism, and community empowerment. The name “Londolozi” comes from a Zulu phrase that means “protector of all living things,” reflecting the reserve’s deep commitment to protecting African wildness and assisting local communities.
The reserve encompasses around 16,000 hectares (40,000 acres). Londolozi is especially well-known for its remarkable leopard sightings, and it has been the focus of numerous films and publications as a result of its exceptional wildlife encounters.
Londolozi is made up of five luxury camps, each with its own ambiance and level of luxury:
- Pioneer Camp: With only three suites, Pioneer Camp is ideal for families or small parties looking for a private safari experience. Pioneer Camp is known for its personalized service and specialized activities. The camp’s staff caters to each guest’s personal needs and interests, ensuring a unique and unforgettable experience.
- Varty Camp: The original Londolozi camp has ten chalets that represent the reserve’s rich history while offering modern facilities and elegance. The camp has ten chalets, each decorated in the classic safari style that is synonymous with Londolozi. The chalets have spacious rooms with en-suite bathrooms, private decks, and outdoor showers, allowing guests to connect with nature while remaining comfortable. For added luxury, some chalets offer private plunge pools.
- Founders Camp: This camp offers seven chalets along the Sand River’s banks, offering a classic safari experience with a touch of modern luxury. The camp has seven chalets, each of which has been deliberately crafted to strike the perfect blend between classic safari elegance and modern luxury.
- Tree Camp: Tree Camp is an adults-only camp with six magnificent apartments perched on stilts, affording stunning vistas and a romantic environment. Tree Camp offers a romantic and elegant setting among the trees on the banks of the Sand River, providing a calm and personal experience for people seeking a premium safari escape. Tree Camp has six elevated suites that are built on stilts and are designed to fit in with the surrounding canopy.
- Granite Camp is Londolozi’s most private and luxury camp, with only three suites and a personalised safari experience tailored to clients’ desires.The suites are designed with a refined blend of organic and modern features, resulting in a magnificent ambiance that matches the surrounding natural environment. Each suite has a large bedroom, an en-suite bathroom, an outdoor shower, and a private heated pool. The suites also have floor-to-ceiling windows and a private deck with breathtaking views of the Sand River and the surrounding nature.Granite Camp’s exclusivity allows for a highly personalized experience, with a specialized team of professionals catering to each guest’s individual wants and preferences.
Londolozi focuses a great deal of attention on their guide and tracker training programs. They have a rigorous guide selection program that includes specialist trainers that upskill the guides in more than just wildlife knowledge but also tracking, hosting and storytelling skills. This is because Londolozi wants to create a unique highly sophisticated guiding experience that connects with nature around it rather than simply observes it.
Londolozi is also home to the Tracker Academy. The Tracker Academy was formed in 2010 by Alex van den Heever and Renias Mhlongo in collaboration with the SA College of Tourism and the Peace Parks Foundation. The academy is located in South Africa’s Londolozi Private Game Reserve and is dedicated to conserving traditional wildlife tracking techniques while also providing employment opportunities for people from rural communities. Read more about the Tracker Academy here.
Londolozi has received international recognition for its conservation efforts, eco-tourism projects, and commitment to elevating local communities through education, healthcare, and business development programs. Guests that visit Londolozi contribute to these initiatives, helping to conserve the African bush for future generations.
The Leopards of Londolozi
Londolozi’s leopards have become iconic emblems of the reserve, attracting wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and researchers from all over the world.
The Londolozi area’s unique combination of the Sand River, diversified vegetation, and plentiful prey populations makes it a great home for leopards. Leopards have thrived in their natural surroundings thanks to Londolozi’s conservation efforts and long-standing policy of minimum human involvement.
Londolozi has earned a reputation for providing exceptional leopard watching opportunities, with numerous generations of these elusive cats becoming accustomed to the sight of safari vehicles. Guests may view leopards up close and witness their normal habits, such as hunting, mating, and raising their young, thanks to this habit.
The skilled rangers and trackers at Londolozi work closely together to locate and track the leopards, ensuring that guests have the best possibility of seeing these majestic animals during their stay. The heavy emphasis on ethical wildlife viewing techniques guarantees that the leopards’ well-being remains a key priority, and that human presence does not interrupt their normal activities.
Lion Sands Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
The MORE family, who have a long history of offering great safari experiences, owns and manages Lion Sands.
The reserve is located along the Sabie River, which attracts a wide variety of animals, including the Big Five and many other species. Like the rest of the Sabi Sands, the area is noted for its amazing leopard and lion sightings.
Lion Sands Game Reserve has a variety of excellent lodgings, including four lodges and several treehouses. Each lodge offers great service, comfort, and amenities to visitors, as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding environment. The treehouses provide a unique and exciting way for guests to experience the African wilderness, allowing them to sleep under the stars while being surrounded by nature.
Spa treatments, bush dining experiences, trips to nearby communities, and stargazing are all available at the lodge.
The MORE group operates several luxury lodges and hotels across South Africa, these include:
- Marataba Safari Lodge and Marataba Mountain Lodge can be found in the Limpopo Province’s Marakele National Park.
- Madikwe Safari Lodge is located in North West Province’s malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve.
- The Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel and the More Quarters Hotel are both nestled in the dynamic metropolis of Cape Town.
- Stanley & Livingstone Boutique Hotel: Situated near Zimbabwe’s famed Victoria Falls.
- Pel’s Post is set in the Kruger National Park’s northern section.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Phinda Private Game Reserve is a distinguished game reserve in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Phinda, which encompasses over 70,000 acres, is noted for its various ecosystems, spectacular wildlife observations, and dedication to conservation and community development. andBeyond, a prominent premium experience travel business known for its high standards of service & sustainability, manages the reserve.
Phinda is distinguished by its broad range of habitats, which includes woodland, grassland, marsh, forest, and hilly regions. Because of its diversity, the reserve is home to a wide range of wildlife and plant species, making it an attractive location for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
There are several beautiful lodges to select from in Phinda, each with great service, comfort, and amenities, as well as breathtaking views of the surrounding wilderness. The lodges are meant to fit in with the natural environment, minimizing environmental effect while offering visitors with an immersive and realistic safari experience.
Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Safari Lodge is a luxurious and stylish lodge in South Africa’s North West Province’s malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve. The reserve, which covers roughly 150,000 acres, is South Africa’s fifth-largest game reserve.
The MORE group operates Madikwe Safari Lodge, which has three distinct lodges on the property, each catering to different preferences and travel styles:
- Lelapa Lodge: Our family-friendly and hospitable lodge features 12 spacious rooms, each with a private plunge pool, outdoor shower, and spectacular views of the surrounding bushveld. The lodge offers a variety of family-friendly activities and services to ensure a memorable and engaging experience for guests of all ages.
- Kopano Lodge: Built for couples and small groups looking for a more private safari experience, Kopano Lodge has only four suites, creating an exclusive and tranquil environment. The architecture of the lodge emphasizes privacy and romance, making it ideal for honeymoons or special occasions.
- Dithaba Lodge: Located on a hill with panoramic views of the reserve, Dithaba Lodge is ideal for family or group bookings. The lodge provides four spacious suites as well as a variety of tailored services to guests to customise their safari experience to their preferences.
Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve
Madikwe Safari Lodge, particularly Lelapa Lodge, is dedicated to offering a family-friendly safari experience. Madikwe Safari Lodge offers a variety of family-friendly activities and facilities, including:
Family game drives: These game drives are specifically created for families with children, catering to the interests and attention spans of younger guests, offering a fun and educational wildlife experience for the entire family.
- Eco House: The Eco House is a dedicated children’s entertainment area that offers a variety of fun and educational activities such as arts and crafts, games, puzzles, and wildlife-themed toys.
- Bush orientation and tracking: These activities teach children about the African bush and its inhabitants while also teaching them practical skills like animal tracking, plant identification, and navigation.
- Children can take part in interactive cooking workshops where they will learn to prepare simple dishes and taste the flavors of local cuisine. This enjoyable activity fosters an interest in culinary arts as well as an appreciation for diverse cultures.
- Family dining alternatives: The lodge provides a variety of family-friendly dining options, such as early lunches for younger children, customized menus, and flexible mealtimes.
- Madikwe Safari Lodge provides professional babysitting services, allowing parents to relax or partake in activities that are not suitable for younger children.
Madikwe Safari Lodge’s emphasis on family activities ensures that each member of the family has a memorable and engaging experience during their stay, encouraging a love of nature and a respect for the necessity of conservation.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, Northern Cape
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is a large, privately owned game reserve in South Africa’s Northern Cape area. It is South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering over 110,000 hectares, and is dedicated to wildlife protection, sustainability, and providing unique and unforgettable experiences for its guests. Tswalu is in the southern Kalahari region, which is known for its dramatic vistas, rich flora and fauna, and renowned red sand dunes.
The reserve is home to a diverse range of animals, including the iconic Kalahari black-maned lions, cheetahs, leopards, African wild dogs, and over 240 bird species. Tswalu is also a haven for rare and endangered animals in South Africa, including the pangolin, aardvark, and desert-adapted black rhino.
Tswalu has two luxurious lodge choices, both of which provide great service, comfort, and amenities:
- The Motse: This lodge is made up of nine spacious and stylishly furnished legae (Tswana meaning “small house”), each with its own bathroom, outdoor shower, and private sundeck. There is an infinity pool, jacuzzi, gym, library, and wine cellar in the main lodge area. The Motse combines authentic African style with contemporary luxury to create an immersive and comfortable experience.
- Tarkuni: This villa is ideal for families or small parties seeking a more private and personalized experience. Tarkuni features five deluxe suites, a private chef, a specialized game drive vehicle, and a variety of customized services and activities.
During their stay at Tswalu, guests can participate in a number of activities, including:
- Game drives: Led by experienced rangers and trackers, game drives in Tswalu provide guests with one-of-a-kind wildlife encounters that are tailored to their interests and preferences.
- Bush walks: Learn about the Kalahari ecosystem’s vegetation, animals, and smaller species that are typically ignored during game drives.
- Horseback safaris: Get a different viewpoint on the Kalahari environment and wildlife by riding well-trained and well-cared-for horses.
- Junior Ranger program: An instructional program for children that incorporates bushcraft skills and the opportunity to participate in wildlife conservation efforts.
- Stargazing: The Kalahari’s pristine skies and little light pollution provide excellent stargazing possibilities, which may be experienced at Tswalu’s professional observatory.
&Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge and &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
The Timbavati Private Natural Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park, is home to two luxury lodges: &Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge and &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp. The Timbavati reserve, known for its spectacular wildlife sightings, including the Big Five, provides travelers with a remarkable and authentic safari experience.
&Beyond Ngala Safari Lodge: This magnificent lodge has 20 elegant thatched cottages, three family cottages, and one family suite that blend harmoniously with the surrounding bushveld. Each cottage is thoughtfully constructed to provide comfort, solitude, and stunning views of the reserve. The primary rooms of the lodge include a large dining area, a cozy lounge, an outside boma for dining under the stars, and a swimming pool. The lodge also has a dedicated WILDChild program for children, ensuring that younger guests have a stimulating and instructive experience.
&Beyond Ngala Tented Camp: &Beyond Ngala Tented Camp provides nine deluxe tented suites located on high platforms overlooking the seasonal Timbavati River for those searching for a more intimate and immersive safari experience. Each suite at the camp is meant to provide an authentic yet comfortable experience, with an en-suite bathroom, outdoor shower, and a private terrace. The main camp area features a chic lounge, dining area, and a swimming pool with a view of the riverbed.
Tanda Tula, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Tanda Tula is a luxury safari camp in the midst of the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park. Tanda Tula, known for its spectacular animal sightings and warm, welcoming ambiance, provides an intimate and unique safari experience.
The camp provides two types of lodging:
- Tanda Tula Safari Camp: This traditional tented camp has 12 beautiful and spacious tents, each with its own bathroom, outdoor shower, and private balcony overlooking the Nhlaralumi riverbed. The main part of the camp features a lounge, dining room, bar, and swimming pool, all with breathtaking views of the surrounding forest. Tanda Tula Safari Camp, which accommodates a maximum of 24 guests at a time, focuses on giving a genuine, intimate, and personalized safari experience.
- Tanda Tula Field Camp: Tanda Tula Field Camp offers a unique walking safari excursion for those looking for an even more exclusive and immersive experience. This private-use camp has four custom-designed tents that can sleep up to eight people. The Field Camp is dedicated to providing an authentic, back-to-nature experience, including guided walking safaris conducted by skilled rangers and trackers.
MalaMala Game Reserve, Sabi Sand Game Reserve
MalaMala Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s oldest and most established private reserves. It is part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The reserve has more than 13,300 hectares (33,000 acres) of pristine wilderness and provides a really authentic safari experience.
MalaMala Game Reserve has three luxury camps that cater to all categories of visitors:
MalaMala Main Camp: The reserve’s first camp, MalaMala Main Camp, has 18 luxury rooms and suites, all with en-suite bathrooms and private balconies overlooking the Sand River. The main part of the camp features a dining room, lounge, bar, library, and a swimming pool. The accommodations and facilities combine modern design elements with traditional African elements.
Sable Camp: Sable Camp is a more intimate and exclusive choice, with 5 luxury suites and 1 two-bedroom suite. The camp has a maximum capacity of 14 people, making it suitable for small groups and families. The main area includes a dining room, lounge, bar, library, and a swimming pool with views of the Sand River.
Rattray’s on MalaMala: Rattray’s is the MalaMala Game Reserve’s most private and opulent camp. It has 8 spacious and private khayas (Zulu meaning “homes”), each with a heated plunge pool, outdoor shower, and private terrace. The main part of the camp features a dining room, lounge, bar, library, spa, gym, and swimming pool.