Southern Africa: The Best of Botswana, South Africa, & Zimbabwe.
What unforgettable moments. Waking up in the bush luxury of a tented camp to catch elephants soaking in the morning sun. Or deciding on a lark to join your safari guide for a game walk through a private wildlife reserve. Crossing paths with a pod of hippos cooling off as you ride a mokoro through quiet Okavango waterways. Or taking stock of exquisite untamed beauty over cocktails in the setting sun.
Spend plenty of time with the wildlife in Southern Africa—Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe—but let’s not forget about the more civilized parts of your journey. The magnificent reds of the Cape Winelands. History lessons in Rivonia and Soweto. And sophisticated Cape Town, a city we love.
Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe
R. Crusoe & Son creates a Southern African journey specifically for you and yours.
How long should you set aside for your safari? That depends on who’s in your group and what exactly you would like to see and do. Generally speaking, you should plan for a journey of between 12 and 18 days.
Your R. Crusoe travel specialist creates a route just for you that maximizes your exposure to the wildlife of Southern Africa, with time in the cities, the Cape Peninsula, the Cape Winelands, and Victoria Falls, if you'd like.
R. Crusoe’s Southern African journeys can include various types of accommodations: permanent tented camps, bush lodges, and fine hotels.
Permanent camps visited by Crusoe travelers have been carefully chosen for their small size, their excellent service, their unique locations, and their outstanding game-viewing opportunities. Superbly comfortable tents are set on raised wood or stone platforms with wide verandas out front and thatched roofs overhead. Inside are all the creature comforts you desire: beds with thick mattresses, bedside tables, closets, rugs, electricity (in most cases), en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets, hot and cold running water, washbasins, showers, and sometimes tubs. Permanent tented camps serve meals and have a bar and reception area in a spacious, well-appointed central building. This is likely to be thatched and to incorporate the overall design of the camp.
A bush lodge is a hotel with a large central building and nicely decorated guestrooms or tents. A bush lodge has all the amenities of an upscale hotel and all the romance of life on safari.
Fine hotels in South Africa have attracted some of the world’s most interesting people. Crusoe has chosen the best of them for our travelers. Nelson Mandela stayed in the elegant Saxon outside Johannesburg, for instance, while he penned his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
For more information about the Southern Africa camps, lodges, and hotels we recommend, please see the "Camps, Lodges, & Hotels" tab on this web page.
Destinations We Recommend.
Allow R. Crusoe to create your own personal Southern Africa journey. Consider the following possible destinations, then give us a call, and let's talk Africa.
Johannesburg.The nation’s biggest city and provincial capital, took shape during a 19th-century gold rush. Today, this city in South Africa’s northeast quadrant is known as—among other things—the hometown of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu.
There is much to see and do in and around Jo’burg, as the locals call it. Visit Liliesleaf Farm, an interactive museum honoring the trajectory of South Africa’s socio-political past. Liliesleaf holds a position of esteem among anti-Apartheid landmarks. Experience a first-hand account of the events leading up to the infamous raid in Rivonia as well as insights into some of the revolutionary personalities who helped shape the nation’s democracy.
Take a guided tour of Pretoria, founded in 1855 by Marthinus Wessel Pretorius as a Boer farming community. Five years later, it became the capital of the newly formed South African Republic and a stronghold in the campaign against local African peoples. Apartheid was introduced to Pretoria in 1948. The city’s supreme court and central prison were notorious, the source of laws and regulations that made the lives of Black South Africans miserable.
Visit the Paul Kruger House, built in 1884 for the man who would one day become president of South Africa.The “Voortrekker Monument” commemorates the victory of South Africa’s Boers over the Zulu Nation in 1838. Inside, scenes depict images of the Great Trek of 1834, when Afrikaners left the Cape to escape British rule and established Boer settlements in the eastern part of the country.
Parliament, too, is worth a visit.
Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship) is the largest black residential area in South Africa. A city within a city, it consists of 50 suburbs and is home to approximately two million people. Visit a workers’ hostel, the markets, the Hector Pieterson Memorial &?Museum, and take a history lesson at the Apartheid Museum.
Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, & the Cape Winelands. We suggest you spend time in Cape Town, our favorite African city. Then explore the most interesting surrounding areas—especially the Cape Winelands and the Cape Peninsula.
Located on the shore of Table Bay, Cape Town was established in the mid-1600s by the Dutch East India Company as a supply station for Dutch ships sailing to East Africa, India, and the Far East. Until the Witwatersrand Gold Rush spurred the development of Johannesburg, this was South Africa’s largest city. As the seat of the national parliament, Cape Town is the country’s legislative capital, famous for its harbor, for its stunning natural outlying areas, and for such beloved landmarks as Table Mountain. It is also one of the world’s most multicultural cities, long a draw for immigrants and expatriates.
In Cape Town, drive up Adderley Street, past the Cultural History Museum. See the Grand Parade and City Hall, St. George’s Cathedral, the Company Gardens. Ride a cable car up Table Mountain. Take a scenic drive up Signal Hill for a panoramic view. Visit Tamboerskloof, a pretty residential neighborhood, and the Malay Quarter, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and a vestige from slavery days. Trace Table Bay to Milnerton Lighthouse; from here, see Table Mountain from the same perspective as did the early settlers when they sailed into the bay. In Table Bay, visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years as a prisoner before the fall of Apartheid. Today, the island is a UNESCO?World Heritage site. Don’t miss it.
The Cape Peninsula is the thin finger of land in the southwesternmost corner of Africa, with the city of Cape Town at its head. In 1578, Sir Francis Drake described it as “the fairest cape in the whole circumference of the globe,” and it still is. Drive along the Atlantic seaboard passing the Twelve Apostles, a series of small mountain peaks along the Cape coast. Continue through Camps Bay, named after German immigrant Ernst Von Kampz, on past Oudekraal toward Hout Bay (an old woodcutters’ outpost named Wood Bay) to visit this picturesque fishing harbor. Leaving Hout Bay, head towards Constantia Nek and then down the east side of the peninsula. Follow the Ou Kaapse Weg to an old silver mine for sweeping views over the False Bay coast. Tracing the Atlantic side of the peninsula, enter the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Look out for seven species of antelope, including the eland, bontebok, and mountain zebra.
Then explore Cape Point, the southwestern tip of the African continent. Head back to Cape Town via lovely Simonstown, named after the first governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. Examine a penguin rookery at Boulders Beach, one of three penguin colonies on the African mainland. Continue through the suburb of Constantia to world-famous Kirstenbosch Gardens. More than a century old, Kirstenbosch exhibits plants from the flora kingdom known as fynbos.
South Africa’s Cape Winelands shouldn’t be missed. Commander Jan van Riebeeck planted the first vines here in 1655. They grew surprisingly well, suggesting that he had perhaps found ideal conditions for growing grapes. Van der Stel was an enthusiastic wine-maker, too. He encouraged the planting of vines and passed on his expertise to early settlers.
A short drive from Cape Town takes you to an area where splendid mountains form a dramatic backdrop to lush vineyards and gabled Cape Dutch homesteads steeped in history. We suggest a visit that includes one or more of the historic towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek.
Stellenbosch, the second-oldest town in South Africa, began as a settlement of Dutch immigrants. Although fires razed the town more than once, many historical buildings remain and have been nicely restored. At the Dorp Museum, see traditional Dutch houses from different eras (the mechanical shower in the Victorian house is unforgettable). Nowadays, Stellenbosch, with 50,000 inhabitants, is the center of the wealthy Cape Winelands.
Paarl, the third-oldest European settlement in South Africa, is the largest town in the Winelands. In 1687, farmland was given to some Dutch and French Huguenot settlers on the banks of the Berg River. The fertile soil and Mediterranean-like climate proved perfect for their grapevines.
Franschhoek, nestled in the Valley of the Huguenots, was settled by French Protestants in 1688. Drop in at the Huguenot Memorial and Museum and see the “Huguenot Monument,” both dedicated to the stories of these early settlers. Modern-day Franschhoek has more French flair than ever, especially along Main Road, which is lined with chic cafés, French restaurants, bistros, boutiques, and galleries. In and around town are many renowned wine estates—Boschendal, La Motte, L’Ormarins, Dieu Donné, Mouton-Excelsior, and Haute Provence, to name just a few. Most can be visited for wine tastings.
Phinda Private Game Reserve. Phinda covers an impressive 56,800 acres of prime wilderness in KwaZulu-Natal and supports large animal populations. During game drives, you are likely to see the endangered black rhino and some of the 415 endemic avian species. The reserve boasts seven distinct habitats, a magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland, and forest interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes, and pans. The reserve is also home to a rarity: a dry-sand forest.
You’ll find abundant wildlife, from the largest mammals to the smallest antelope. The cheetah was reintroduced to the area after an absence of more than 50 years, and Phinda has established a reputation as one of the best places to view and photograph these rare cats. Lions and leopards are also tracked on the reserve on a daily basis.
Another success story at Phinda is that of both the white and the (even more endangered) black rhino. Both were brought back from the brink of extinction. Today, the grass-eating white rhino and the shrub-grazing black rhino are thriving at Phinda.
The elegant nyala antelope is a frequent sight, and the reserve boasts one of the highest densities of the species. The sand forest in the northern area of Phinda is the perfect environment for some of the rarer smaller species. Red duikers graze on fallen leaves and fruit, and the tiny suni, one of the world’s smallest antelopes, can also be seen here.
Situated close to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, Phinda is also within easy reach of Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park, a lush conservation area that has been named a UNESCO World Heritage site. With unspoiled beaches and spectacular reefs nearby, and an abundance of wildlife, Phinda offers guests a perfect mix of bush and beach.
All three lodges we recommend here offer day and night game drives, walking safaris, and river cruises as well as Zulu village tours, Maputaland beach adventures, night turtle drives, scuba safaris, black rhino tracking on foot, visits to san endangered wild cats project, swimming with whale sharks, whale watching, and specialist safaris—birding, photographic, rhino research, tracking, walking, and family safaris.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve. Sabi Sands is a 251-square-mile private game reserve adjacent to the nation’s flagship Kruger National Park. Game viewing possibilities include Africa’s famed Big Five—lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. There are no fences between Kruger and Sabi Sands, so wildlife roams freely between the two.
In particular, Sabi Sands is known for its leopards. This most elusive animal is often spotted during game drives in the reserve. Also here: more than 300 bird species.
There are advantages to visiting a private reserve such as Sabi Sands. For one, day visitors are not allowed in, so you can only safari here if you are staying in one of the lodges within the park. Another advantage? You safari with a ranger, who is allowed to drive off-road (strictly prohibited in Kruger National Park). So, when following a leopard, your ranger can track it into the bush. An amazing experience.
The Garden Route. The Garden Route is a stretch of South Africa’s southeastern coast between Mossel Bay and Storms River. The name comes from the verdant and ecologically diverse vegetation along the coast. It includes towns such as Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and Nature’s Valley. George is the Garden Route’s largest city. The Route is sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain ranges and the Indian Ocean. Indigenous forests created by the topography are a unique mix of Cape fynbos and temperate forest woven with excellent walking trails. Ten nature reserves embrace the varied ecosystems of the area as well as unique marine reserves, home to soft coral reefs, dolphins, seals, and other marine life. Bays along the Garden Route are nurseries for the endangered southern right whale, which comes here to calve in the winter and spring (July to December).
There are many activities along the Garden Route from which to choose—sunset cruises, treetop canopy tours, flightseeing, quad-biking, and much more. Likewise, the destination options are plentiful. Following are just a few suggestions. Speak to a Crusoe tour specialist for details.
Visit Knysna and Featherbed Nature Reserve. Drive to Knysna, then ferry to Featherbed Nature Reserve to see the Heads, a pair of sandstone cliffs that flank the channel through which the sea pours into Knysna Lagoon.
Belvidere, at the center of the Garden Route, offers a secluded base from which to explore forests, beaches, and the Heads. Stop for tea at Belvidere House, a national monument. Enter historic Holy Trinity Church. Enjoy a stroll through Belvidere’s Bird Sanctuary.
Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Center offers a unique wildcat experience. Take a two-hour stroll through Tsitsikamma Indigenous Forest and Cape Floral Fynbos as you join the Tenikwa cheetahs on their daily walk.
At Crag’s Elephant Sanctuary, encounter elephants as never before. Touch, feed, interact, and walk with the elephants.
In Mossel Bay, visit the museum and the Post Office Tree. A national monument, the tree is more than eight centuries old. It was beneath this milkwood that Pedro d’Ataide left a letter for a passing ship in 1500. Today, all letters sent from here bear a special commemorative postmark.
Okavango Delta. Botswana’s exceptional Okavango Delta is central to any visit to Southern Africa. It mustn’t be missed. Unlike most rivers, which flow towards the ocean, the Okavango fans inland, forming a 4,000-square mile network of islands, lagoons, and waterways (the delta) that, in the end, evaporate into the sands of the Kalahari Desert. Such a water-filled environment supports a great range of wildlife—elephants, zebras, buffalo, wildebeests, giraffes, hippos, kudus, lions, leopards, hyenas, jackals, and plenty of birds.
UNESCO, which has declared the delta a World Heritage site, describes the area an intact wetland system. “One of the unique characteristics of the site is that the annual flooding from the Okavango River occurs during the dry season, with the result that native plants and animals have synchronized their biological cycles with these seasonal rains and floods. It is an exceptional example of the interaction between climatic, hydrological, and biological processes. The Okavango Delta is home to [robust populations of] some of the world’s most endangered species... such as the cheetah, white rhinoceros, black rhinoceros, African wild dog, and lion.
“Permanent crystal clear waters and dissolved nutrients transform the otherwise dry Kalahari Desert habitat into a scenic landscape of exceptional and rare beauty and sustain an ecosystem of remarkable habitat and species diversity, thereby maintaining its ecological resilience and amazing natural phenomena.
“Botswana supports the world’s largest population of elephants, numbering around 130,000; the Okavango Delta is the core area for this species’ survival.”
Take in the full spectacle and stunning range of Okavango wildlife on a walking safari on an island, where there is always the possibility of an encounter with non-human species. This is a rare treat. Or, depending on the camp, climb into a mokoro (traditional dugout canoe) or a motorboat, and travel through the surrounding waterways, or board a 4x4 safari vehicle to explore terra firma.
Moremi Wildlife Reserve. Moremi abuts the eastern edge of the Okavango Delta. It was designated as a game reserve, and not a national park, when it was created in 1963 by local residents concerned with saving their animal populations. The reserve has two types of topography: dry land and wetlands. Habitats range from woodlands and thorn scrub to dry savanna, riparian woodlands, grasslands, floodplains, marshes, permanent waterways, lagoons, and islands.
The combination of permanent water adjacent to drier areas creates some unexpected contrasts and makes for excellent big-game viewing. Birdwatch on the lagoons. Explore thickly wooded areas for glimpses of rare wild dogs and leopards. In fact, the Cape wild dogs here have been the subject of a scientific project since 1989; they are often seen wearing research collars. Moremi is one of their most important habitats.
Although just under 1,900 square miles, Moremi is a surprisingly diverse reserve. It is home to nearly 500 species of water and forest bird as well as Cape buffalo, Angolan giraffe, lion, leopard, cheetah, black and white rhinoceros, hyena, jackal, impala, and red lechwe, to name just a few.
Chobe National Park. A 7,000-square-mile swamp-and-grasslands wilderness on the floodplains of the Chobe River. It is known for having one of the largest concentrations of game in all of Africa—a large number of elephants as well as Cape buffalo, hippos, warthogs, hyenas, lions, jackals, leopards, wild dogs, various antelope, and a wide variety of birds.
The national park is divided into four areas, each a distinct ecosystem:
Serondela (or Chobe Riverfront) features lush floodplains and dense hardwood forests. The Chobe River is a major watering spot, especially in the dry season (May through October) for large breeding herds of elephants, as well as families of giraffe, sable, and Cape buffalo. These floodplains are the only place in Botswana where the puku antelope can be seen.
Savuti Marsh is fed by the erratic Savuti Channel, which dries up for long periods, then curiously flows again. It is currently flowing and in 2010 reached Savuti Marsh for the first time since 1982. In the dry seasons, see warthogs, kudus, impalas, zebras, wildebeests, and above all elephants. During rainy seasons, the birdlife is thick, and packs of lions, hyenas, zebras, and sometimes cheetahs are visible as well. Savuti is known for its annual migration of zebras and predators.
Linyanti Marsh is adjacent to the Linyanti River. Nearby is the Kwando River and Namibia’s Mamili National Park. Around these two rivers are riverine woodlands, open woodlands, lagoons, and floodplains, all supporting large concentrations of lions, leopards, wild dogs, roan antelopes, sable antelopes, hippopotamuses, and enormous herds of elephants. Rare red lechwes and sitatungas and crocodiles also live here, as does a wide variety of birds.
The Hinterland, between Linyanti and Savuti marshes, is hot and dry and covered by grassy woodlands. This section, little known, is a great place for spotting elands.
In addition to game drives in Chobe, excursions can be arranged to see historic San rock paintings in the hills and ancient Gametrackers baobab trees.
Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. In the furthest corner of Chobe National Park lies the forgotten paradise of Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. Secluded and uncrowded, this short strip of swampy river frontage is reminiscent of the Okavango’s permanent waterways, with papyrus-lined lagoons, reed beds, and towering trees. Bordered by the Linyanti River in the north (at the Namibian border) and Chobe National Park in the east, Linyanti covers 483 square miles of river, open floodplains, and dense forests, all of which protect high concentrations of wildlife. The national park only touches the river for a short section on the far eastern edge of the swamp.
This magnificent area boasts unparalleled encounters with large herds of Cape buffalo in the dry season as well as sightings of rare and unique wildlife species, such as aardvarks. Large herds of elephant linger by the rivers and waterholes, and thousands of zebra congregate in the winter before heading south. Other wildlife includes lion, leopard, cheetah, wild dog, giraffe, eland, sable, hippo, hyena, and various nocturnal species.
Zimbabwe & Zambia
Victoria Falls. In the westernmost tip of Zimbabwe, the mile-wide Zambezi River takes a sudden plunge over the edge of a 30-story cliff. This is Victoria Falls. It is enormous—so big, in fact, that it cannot be seen in its entirety from any one vantage point on land. The falls mark the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
David Livingstone, Scottish missionary and explorer, is believed to have been the first European to view Victoria Falls. He did so in 1855. Livingstone named his discovery in honor of Queen Victoria, but the indigenous name, Mosi-oa-Tunya—the Smoke that Thunders—continues in common usage as well. The nearby national park in Zambia is named Mosi-oa-Tunya; its counterpart on the Zimbabwean shore is named Victoria Falls. The entire area is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
A paved, winding path allows us to view the falls’ many parts, each separated by islands in the river. Rainbows, ambient mist, and the thunderous roar of water add to the drama. The mist, which can bee seen from miles away, also explains the lush growth of the surrounding rain forest, even during the dry season.
There are many activities from which to choose during your stay at Victoria Falls. Tour the falls themselves. Consider taking the Flight of Angels, a helicopter ride over the falls and the surrounding parks. Consider a bungee jump off Victoria Falls Bridge, if heights are your specialty. Go on a whitewater rafting trip along the Zambezi River. Take an elephant safari. Visit a local village. Relax during a sundowner cruise on the Zambezi. Speak to your R. Crusoe travel specialist for details.
Estimated price per person per night, sharing room, from $980, plus internal airfare. Pricing varies greatly depending on the properties chosen, the number of people traveling, the season in which you travel, and the number of days you want to spend on safari. Please speak to an R. Crusoe & Son travel specialist for details.
For more information, to book, or to speak to an R. Crusoe & Son travel specialist, please call us at 800-585-8555.
Johannesburg, South Africa.
Saxon Boutique Hotel. A luxurious oasis on 10 landscaped acres in Johannesburg’s neighborhood of Sandhurst, known for its quiet tree-lined avenues. Johannesburgers know the Saxon as an exclusive retreat with an award-winning spa and elegant dining in the restaurant or more intimate wine cellar. Its 26 suites and villa accommodations, all decorated with African art, are surrounded by lush gardens. The rooms look out onto the tranquil pool area or the gardens. The hotel also has a gym, steam rooms, and a spa. Mandela stayed here after prison, and it was here that he wrote his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom.
Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff. A stylish urban resort in the suburb of Westcliff. From its hillside perch, catch magnificent views across the Johannesburg Zoo. With 117 guest rooms and suites, the property resembles a village woven with courtyards, fountains, and gardens. Five restaurant-bars create a vibrant social scene on the property. Also here: a luxurious spa, an infinity lap pool, a family pool, a fully equipped fitness center, and access to a nearby golf course.
Fairlawns Boutique Hotel & Spa. Set among landscaped gardens in a stately, villa-style mansion, this elegant hotel stands in the Sandton suburb of Morningside Manor. Fairlawns is an award-winning property with 40 unique suites. Once the private estate of current owners John and Anna Thacker, the property has retained its stately park-like feel, dotted with mature trees and teeming with birds. Amenities include a tea lounge, a terrace cocktail bar, and an elegant restaurant. There’s also a gym, an outdoor pool, and a Balinese wellness spa on the premises.
Cape Town, the Cape Peninsula, & the Cape Winelands, South Africa.
Ellerman House, Cape Town. A discreet boutique getaway perched on the slopes of Lion’s Head in the city’s prestigious Bantry Bay residential area. This elegant Edwardian mansion is known for having one of the most beautiful ocean views in South Africa. The hotel has just 11 rooms, two suites, and two three-bedroom villas. Also on the property: two lounges, library, dining room, three dining terraces, spa, fitness center, pool, brandy lounge, wine gallery, art gallery, and champagne cellar. The property, not open to the public, offers its guests genuine privacy and exclusivity.
One & Only, Cape Town. A sleek, modern seven-story hotel on the V&A Waterfront overlooking the marina and Table Mountain. It has an outdoor pool, a terrace, and a spa. The restaurants on the premises include Africa’s only Nobu outpost, a popular brasserie overseen by one of Cape Town’s most celebrated young chefs, and a Mediterranean-inspired poolside café and bar. 131 rooms and suites, spa, fitness center, and pool.
Cape Grace Hotel, Cape Town. Perfectly situated, the sophisticated Cape Grace stands on a private quay along the V&A Waterfront. Its architecture reflects the French influence found in the area. The 120 rooms and suites have views of Table Mountain, the yacht basin, or the harbor. Amenities include a fitness studio, swimming pool, spa, library, the Bascule Whiskey & Wine Bar, and the Signal Restaurant.
The Silo, Cape Town. An elegant, contemporary 28-room boutique hotel built in an historic grain silo six floors above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art on the V&A Waterfront. The recently opened Silo is a celebration of style, architecture, and design. Aside from the museum, the hotel also has its own private gallery, the Vault, which features up-and-coming African artists. Also on the premises: a full-service spa, fitness center, rooftop pool, and three restaurants with bars.
La Residence, Cape Winelands. A lovely and exquisitely decorated property on a private 30-acre estate in Franschhoek, and one of the Biden family’s Royal Portfolio (along with the Silo in Cape Town). The emphasis here is on great wine and exceptional cuisine. The 11 suites are ideal for couples, and five Vineyard Suites offer ample space and privacy for families and groups of friends. Facilities include swimming pools, a full-service spa, fitness room, and working vineyards.
Le Quartier Français, Cape Winelands. In the heart of the historic village of Franschhoek. During your stay at this 21-room boutique property, indulge in innovative cooking classes, watch movies in a plush in-house cinema, attend a wine tasting, have a facial, and discover contemporary South African art. Le Quartier Français is home to the award-winning La Petite Colombe restaurant, under the vigilant and creative eye of Head Chef John Norris Rogers.
Leeu House, Cape Winelands. A family-friendly, 12-room boutique hotel in the heart of Franschhoek that combines a country feel with vibrant village life. Guests have full access to the world-class facilities and spectacular grounds of sister property Leeu Estates, a country retreat and boutique winery just a five-minute drive away.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve, South Africa.
Londalozi Lodges. Choose from five exquisite Londolozi lodges in the heart of the reserve. Private Granite Suites are the crème de la crème of the portfolio, closely followed by Pioneer Camp and Tree Camp. These three are Relais & Châteaux members. Tree Camp and the Private Granite Suites do not allow children under 16 unless they are taken for exclusive use. Pioneer Camp can be used by families and couples. Varty and Founders Camps, slightly larger, are perfect for families and small groups, and both accept children as young as age six.
Singita Ebony Lodge. On the Sand River in the heart of big-cat country. The property has 12 suites, each with a private plunge pool. External walls have been almost completely removed and replaced by canvas and glass to create suites that maximize views and space and immerse guests in nature. Outdoor decks are suspended over the river as if hanging in the trees. The property also has a spa. Game drives and game walks offered, as well as village visits.
Singita Boulders Lodge. Set on the banks of the Sand River in Singita’s privately-owned reserve. Inspired by the rocks on which it rests, the lodge's interiors integrate seamlessly with the raw African beauty outside. The surrounding landscape and animals can be seen and enjoyed from every angle, making for a truly immersive safari experience. The property has eight river suites, two bush suites, and two family suites. All have en-suite bedrooms, private sitting rooms, and game-viewing decks with private plunge pools overlooking the untouched wilderness. Rustic, furnishings made from fossilized tree stumps, slabs of solid stone, wrought iron, and leather are balanced with sheep-skin rugs, natural flax bed linens, and thick cotton towels.
Other amenities include a pool at the main lodge, spa and gym facilities, a boutique-gallery, and a wine boutique.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa.
Rock Lodge. Dramatically set into a cliff-face overlooking spectacular Leopard Rock. Rock Lodge combines Malian influences with pueblo panache. Its six suites perch over the deep valley below, providing breathtaking views. Each suite has a private plunge pool and a viewing deck.
Vlei Lodge. On the reserve’s vlei (wetland) at the edge of the sand forest, Vlei Lodge is nicely integrated into the surrounding bush. Gracious and elegant, its six thatched suites are decorated in North and West African styles, with hints of Balinese influences. Each suite, complete with private plunge pool and deck, overlooks the grassy vlei, where herds of antelope and zebra can be seen along with a dazzling array of birds.
Forest Lodge. Set deep in the heart of the dry-sand forest, Forest Lodge fuses architectural design and conservation. Each of 16 glass-encased rooms features luxurious en-suite bathrooms and viewing decks where guests can awake to the sight of wildlife just beyond. Unwind in the lodge’s pool or in sitting areas with panoramic views of Phinda’s game-filled plains. Tiny duiker and suni antelope graze between and under the elevated glass suites.
Mountain Lodge. Dramatically set between two habitats—forest and grasslands—this lovely property has 25 suites positioned for privacy and optimized views of the surrounding veldt. Each suite has a private outdoor shower and plunge pool. The lodge offers day and night game drives, village tours, beach adventures, night turtle drives (seasonal), scuba and ocean safaris, and black rhino tracking on foot, as well as specialty safaris for borders, photographers, and others.
Garden Route, South Africa.
Tsala Treetops Lodge. Between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape, Tsala Treetop Lodge stands above an old forest. The stone lodge has 10 suites and six villas decorated in Afro-baroque, drawing inspiration from diverse African cultures. The views are breathtaking, encompassing lush forests, rolling valleys, and distant hills. Private infinity pools accompany each suite or villa. The property also has a lounge with fireplaces, honesty bar, library, wine cellar, boutique, various deck areas, and spa treatments. Elevated wooden walkways provide easy access between the main lodge and guest accommodations. Dine al fresco on a deck overlooking the forest. If you wish, choose your own wines from an underground cellar.
Hunters Country House. In the heart of the Garden Route between the coastal towns of Knysna and Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape. This gracious homestead is surrounded by beautiful gardens and framed by the majestic mountains of Tsitsikamma, the Place of Sparkling Water. Twenty-three suites and thatched cottages surround the manor house. Each suite is individually decorated. Also here:?a pool, lounge and library with fireplace, wine cellar, boutique, spa treatments, and a play area for children up to six years of age.
Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Eagle Island Lodge. This camp sits on a private island and overlooks a lagoon popular with the local animals, which makes for exceptional wildlife viewing. Each of 12 spacious tents has its own plunge pool and a private deck, full en-suite bathrooms with additional walled outdoor showers. Eagle Island boasts one of the most romantic spots in the world, the Fish Eagle Bar. Eat meals al fresco as you overlook the lagoon. The camp offers game viewing by mokoro, motorized boats, a 14-seater cruiser, and a helicopter. Guided bush walks are possible.
Xigera Camp. Xigera (pronounced Keejera) stands in a true wetland paradise surrounded by deep channels and lush vegetation—palm-filled islands, riverine forests, clear-water channels, and expansive floodplains. The camp has 10 tents, each with en-suite facilities and an outdoor shower, and each with superb views of the surrounding scenery and lagoon. Meals and evening drinks are taken in the lounge, bar, and dining areas overlooking a permanently flowing channel or under the stars in a traditional African boma. On hot days, cool off in the camp’s small plunge pool. Xigera is known as one of the best place in the delta to spot the elusive sitatunga antelope.
Jao Camp. This luxurious camp in the heart of the delta stands in an area where islands fringed with riverine forests meet vast floodplains. Nine spacious, beautifully designed tents offer en-suite facilities with indoor and outdoor showers. Expansive views can be enjoyed from each tent’s private sala. In addition to the main lounge and dining area, there are two plunge pools and a boma for dining under the stars. Jao Camp also has a spa and a gym. Float down crystal-clear channels on a mokoro to view wading wildlife. Or hop on a motorboat and travel further to take in the sights and sounds of the wetlands.
Moremi Wildlife Reserve, Botswana.
Sanctuary Baines' Camp. Sanctuary Baines’ Camp is built on raised platforms high above the Boro River in a private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve. There are only five luxurious suites here, each with en-suite facilities and four-poster beds. Should you wish, your bed can be wheeled out onto the private wooden deck for a night under the stars, overlooking the Boro River, where hippo often congregate. Or take an indulgent soak under the stars on your private viewing deck. Also here: a swimming pool, dining room, lounge area. Form here, take game drives and guided safari walks, and explore by mokoros or motorboats. You even have the opportunity to take a walk with resident elephants.
Sanctuary Chief's Camp. Located on Chief’s Island in the Mombo Concession, an area known as the predator capital of Africa. This camp, famous for its luxury, was completely rehabbed in June 2016, and the results are spectacular. The 12 suites each have an outside seating area and a private plunge pool. Bathrooms include a spacious outdoor shower and a large tub. Also on the property: bar, dining area, library, safari orientation room, gym, a children’s playroom. Activities here include game drives and safaris aboard mokoros.
Mombo Camp. On the northern tip of Chief’s Island in an area known for enormous concentrations of big game and predators. Mombo’s nine spacious en-suite tents are raised six feet off the ground, providing excellent views, with a long sala and indoor and outdoor showers. The camp’s communal areas—a lounge, bar, and dining room—are under thatch, while a boma affords opportunities for dinners beneath the stars. Also at camp: two plunge pools and a gym to work off the excellent food.
Little Mombo Camp. On Mombo Island adjoining Chief’s Island. The camp is a smaller and more intimate camp than its sister, Mombo Camp, to which it connects via raised walkway. Little Mombo has just three luxurious rooms under canvas with en-suite bathrooms and outdoor showers. Your own sala provides ample place to relax and enjoy the view. Little Mombo has its own dining area, lounge, and pool and is perfect for small groups looking for an intimate camp to call their own.
Khwai River Lodge. Khwai River Lodge offers myriad opportunities to view wildlife from the comfort of your private deck. Luxury rooms on raised wooden platforms have traditional thatched roofs and private decks with easy chairs and hammocks. Inside is a four-poster bed, an elegant bathroom, a stocked mini bar, and discreet air conditioning. A private suite offers a more secluded, romantic experience. A large deck includes a heated splash pool with great views of the reserve. An open-air bathroom, complete with double showers and copper-framed Victorian bath, brings you closer to nature. Amenities: pool, wildlife-viewing hide, spa, telescope, and library. Meals are taken al fresco or in the traditional boma. The camp regularly plays host to elephant, buffalo, lion, leopard, cheetah, and African wild dog.
Chobe National Park, Botswana.
Sanctuary Chilwero Camp. A luxurious riverside retreat in the heart of the bush on the edge of Chobe and its vast population of elephants. Sitting above the Chobe River, Chilwero offers unparalleled panoramic views across the islands and floodplains. Just 14 thatched guest cottages and one honeymoon suite. Each cottage has two showers, one inside and one outside; the en-suite bathroom also has a large freestanding bath. Relax in your private garden. Take a sundowner cruise on the Chobe River in the camp’s private motorboat. Soak in the swimming pool, or indulge at the full-service spa. Families with children of all ages are welcome.
Savute Elephant Lodge. This camp offers a spectacular view of elephants in their natural habitat, with an adjacent water hole just feet from the main building. The area hosts a high concentration of predators including African wild dog, lion, leopard, cheetah, and hyena. A cluster of 12 thatched-roof rooms are raised on wooden platforms. Each has an outdoor lounge. Large, private decks are ideal for viewing wildlife or for enjoying a private dinner. Luxurious rooms include a four-poster bed complete with mosquito netting, lavishly appointed bathroom and dressing room, a fully-stocked minibar, and discreet air conditioning.
Also on the property: a pool, spotting scope, and traditional boma for dinners and local performances.
Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, Botswana.
DumaTau Camp. A 10-room (eight twin and two family) luxury tented camp located in the private Linyanti Wildlife Reserve. It stands close to the source of the Savute Channel on one of many lagoons within the Linyanti Swamp system, and between two elephant corridors—all of which results in a plethora of wildlife on game drives along the Savute. DumaTau rooms stand off the ground to take advantage of fantastic river views. Each en-suite tent is spacious, spreading out under a canvas roof, with clear sliding doors and windows that allow for wide views of the riverbanks. There is an airy, expansive dining and lounge area and a pool, all overlooking the lagoon. DumaTau has a very light carbon footprint, running as it does on solar energy.
Savuti Camp Linyanti. Situated in the private Linyanti Concession along the Savute Channel, famous as a sporadic and unusual watercourse. This intimate camp has seven en-suite tents raised off the ground and facing Savute Channel. From the camp’s thatched dining area, a plunge pool and large viewing area with fire pit provide wonderful views of the waterway and its wildlife. Game concentrations are high here.
King's Pool. Overlooking the oxbow Kings Pool Lagoon. The camp’s nine luxurious tents (including one family unit) each boast a large bedroom area and sitting area leading out onto a veranda with a private plunge pool and thatched sala from which to soak up the gorgeous views and possibly even spot elephants crossing the channel. Spacious en-suite bathrooms have double showers and hand-basins as well as outdoor showers for those who wish to bathe au naturel. Spacious public areas includes a lounge, dining room, and bar beautifully set on expansive raised decks. There is also a pool and an open-air kgotla for dining under the stars. Day and night game drives are offered. A sundowner cruise down the Linyanti River aboard the Queen Sylvia is an unforgettable experience.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe & Zambia.
Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe. Built in 1904 on the Zimbabwe side of the falls, this was the very first hotel in the area. Today, its 161 rooms and suites combine original colonial Edwardian charm with modern conveniences. The hotel stands among vast manicured garden with unobscured view of Falls Bridge and the spray created by the cascades. A private path leads guests from the hotel gardens to the entrance of the falls rain forest, an easy 10-minute stroll. Other amenities here? Three restaurants, daily traditional High Tea served on the Stanley Terrace, a swimming pool, and a beauty salon and spa.
The Royal Livingstone by Anantara, Zambia. The luxurious Royal Livingstone hotel stands on the Zambian side of the Zambezi River in Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park, overlooking and with direct access to Victoria Falls. Sweeping river and savanna views stretch from every veranda. Zebra and other wildlife wander the hotel grounds. There are 173 rooms and suites. Other amenities here? A full-service spa, fitness center, pool with views of Vic Falls, sun decks, butler service, and three restaurants with bars.
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