Africa’s Most Instagramable Tubs: The YZ Top 25 Open-Air Baths

By Shona 25 January 2018

You might think it ludicrous to travel all the way to Africa for a bath, but just take a look at these amazing outdoor tubs! From copper bateaus cantilevered above Big-Five game to river-fringed ceramic thrones with a view to die for, here’s the YZ top 25 open-air and outdoor baths that’ll leave any hedonist wanting a wallow:

1. Londolozi Private Granite Suites, Sabi Sands, South Africa

With just three rooms, Private Granite Suites is the most exclusive of the Londolozi camps, placing emphasis on personal service and contemporary décor. The lodge is flanked by an extrusion of granite rocks – these are the inspiration for the bold silver-and-charcoal palette of the interiors and the stunning freestanding river baths set outside by the flowing Sand River.

2. Morukuru Owner’s House, Madikwe, South Africa

Hidden away under the leafy canopy of an ancient morukuru tree, Morukuru Owner’s House is an ultra-luxurious home away from home. With access to Madikwe’s big game and a list of facilities that include a private elevated sala, an infinity pool, a private butler and chef, a wine cellar, and to top it off a breathtaking outdoor bath, you’ll never want to leave this contemporary private lodge in northern South Africa.

3. Kilima Camp, Maasai Mara, Kenya

Kilima Camp is set on the Oloololo Escarpment. Its name means ‘mountain’ in Swahili, which is ideal for its position overlooking the wildlife-filled Maasai Mara. The generous and en-suite tented rooms make the most of the spectacular views, and the activities on offer range from hot air ballooning to local village visits. However, if you need a little pampering whilst here, make sure to visit the onsite spa for a mind-blowingly beautiful bush bath experience for two – a perfect treat for romantic couples.

4. Elsa’s Kopje, Meru, Kenya

Located in the rugged and remote Meru National Park, Elsa’s Kopje provides an ideal honeymoon safari thanks to its stylishly cosy interiors, far-reaching views, and open-plan cottages that have been sculpted around the granite hillside. Add to this three honeymoon suites with candlelit baths, which take pride of place in the bathroom, and you have the recipe for a super-romantic retreat.

5. Zarafa Camp, Linyanti, Botswana

The embodiment of what happens when everything comes together, Zarafa Camp is an intimate and welcoming camp with just four marquis-style tents in the exclusive Linyanti area. Considered one of the greenest luxury safari camps on the continent, the property features doors reclaimed from Zanzibar, a floor made from reclaimed railway sleepers, and a copper-dominated bathroom, complete with clawfoot tub, generated by solar panel.

6. Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa

The largest lodge in the leopard-studded Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Bush Lodge offers a lovely location overlooking a waterhole and endless bushveld plains. With divine furniture crafted from uprooted trees salvaged from the bush, the interiors are crisp, contemporary, and completely opulent, a style carried through to the bathrooms. If you do visit Bush Lodge, make sure to book a Luxury Villa for his and her baths and an open rain shower (video below) – bliss!

7. Ila Safari Lodge, Kafue, Zambia

When Natasha and Cameron from World Pursuit explored Zambia’s national parks with Yellow Zebra in June 2017, they took some pretty epic pictures and one in particular was of the baths at Ila Safari Lodge (see below). As Natasha puts it, this is “how weekends should be spent”!

8. Duba Plains Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

One of our all-time favourites, Duba Plains Camp is pretty much perfect from its Big-Five game viewing to its traditional-style yet extremely luxurious tented rooms. Along with sister camp Zarafa, Duba Plains should definitely be on any bath-lover’s list of top places to have a wallow!

9. Sanctuary Baines’ Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Sanctuary Baines’ Camp has two advantages over its competition – one is its elephant interaction. Visitors have the opportunity to walk through Stanley’s Reserve with a herd of three of these gentle giants. And the other advantage is this bath!

10. Tongabezi, Victoria Falls, Zambia

With no set pattern during the day at Tongabezi, guests can be as active or as relaxed as they wish – so whether you want to experience bungee jumping, white water rafting, microlighting, a helicopter ride, walking with lions, a sunset cruise along the Zambezi, or simply soaking up the African sun in the scenic swimming pool, the choice is yours. However, don’t leave without grabbing a glass of bubbles and heading to the lantern-lit outdoor tub for a good bathe overlooking the river.

11. Serian Serengeti South, Ngorongoro, Tanzania

Now this is what we call a bush bath! At Alex Walker’s Serian Serengeti South, you can have a hot copper bath by candlelight with a glass of wine in hand whilst looking out across the plains of the Serengeti.

12. Morukuru Ocean House, De Hoop, South Africa

Relish the peace and quiet of having the exclusive Morukuru Ocean House all to yourself, as you stay cocooned in luxury along South Africa’s stunning coast. Set in the white-sand, blue-watered De Hoop Nature Reserve, the property provides plenty of scenery for you to enjoy as you sink into the starkly bright outdoor dutchtub with no one else around.

13. Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi, Zambia

There’s something very special about the wildlife experiences and camps along the Zambezi. With a strong ‘back-to-the-bush’ atmosphere, this region is for the safari addict and the wilderness lover, and one of our favourite places in the world to experience this kind of connection to the wilds of Africa is Old Mondoro. As it’s jam packed with character but offers just four chalets, we cannot recommend Old Mondoro more highly, especially when the rooms have huge splash-tubs overlooking the Zambezi river – you can multi-task by watching the elephants cross the river towards you.

14. Ruckomechi Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

There isn’t really much more that we can say that this picture doesn’t. Lush ‘bubbleage’, romantic lighting and a view to live for – this Wilderness camp in Mana Pools knows how to woo us. Combine this with dramatic views, blood-pumping elephant encounters, and some serious luxury on top… and Ruckomechi becomes a must.

15. Lake Manyara Tree Lodge, Lake Manyara, Tanzania

Romantic treehouse suites? Check. Spectacular Rift Valley and escarpment views? Double check. Beautiful standalone bathtubs that you never want to leave? Oh yes! One of Tanzania’s two ‘tree’ camps, Lake Manyara Tree Lodge is a super-luxury lodge located in the deep south of Lake Manyara National Park. It’s close to the famous tree-climbing lion pride, so you’ll have countless photo opportunities here to fill your Instagram with enviable pics.

16. The Hide Safari Camp, Hwange, Zimbabwe

There’s nothing better than having a bath while you watch Africa’s wildlife doing the same, which is possible when staying at the renowned Hide Safari Camp. Located in one of Zimbabwe’s best national parks, The Hide overlooks an extremely popular waterhole where hundreds of elephant, buffalo, and other big game visit daily – no exaggeration here! After a game drive with the knowledgeable and charismatic guides, unwind and relax in your tent’s magnificent bath.

17. Cottar’s 1920s, Maasai Mara, Kenya

If you are looking for a classic safari experience, then Cottar’s 1920s is most certainly one to consider. From its Golden Age style interiors, with campaign furniture, antiques, and sepia photos, to its excellent guiding, this is where seekers of an Out of Africa immersion should head. Cottar’s cannot promise you a Robert Redford lookalike hair washer (you have to bring that yourself), but they can offer you a bush bath with a stupendous view.

18. Belmond Khwai River Lodge, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

When we  last visited the Belmond Khwai River Lodge, a pack of wild dog used the laundry area to hunt down a young impala – that is how well this lodge is positioned for wildlife viewing. Even the pool has been built right on the edge of the Khwai river, so quite regularly elephants will swim across the river and walk within a few metres of the pool! Aside from its high density of game, you should visit for a stay in the secluded suites – equipped with private plunge pools, al fresco showers, and excellent outdoor baths.

19. Onguma The Fort, Etosha, Namibia

Like a Moroccan kasbah rising above a desert, Onguma Fort is a real oasis of luxury set on the border of Etosha’s salt pan. With courtyard pools, a decked swimming pool, and semi-submerged dining tables and chairs, the fort-like lodge is a stunning balance of desert-adapted accommodation and cooling corners. The rooms here are brilliantly secluded and spread away from the main lodge. They have their own expansive views, which can be enjoyed from the outdoor bath on the waterhole-facing veranda.

20. Garonga Safari Camp, Kruger, South Africa

Just six en-suite tented rooms make up the owner-run and intimate camp, Garonga. Follow the rough-plastered walls, past the overarching canvas tents, and towards the exquisite outdoor bush bath for a memorable hour where wilderness, romance, and some fine bubbles collide.

21. Mahali Mzuri, Maasai Mara, Kenya

With incredible front-row seats from every angle including the bathtub, Sir Richard Branson’s luxury safari camp, Mahali Mzuri, is a superb base for exploring Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Situated on the side of the lush valley within the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, this 12-tented camp is best visited between July and October for those keen on spotting the Great Migration of wildebeest, zebra, and gazelles.

22. Abu Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Located on the edge of a lagoon in the south-west of the Okavango Delta, Abu Camp offers an experience like no other, thanks to its incredible rehabilitated herd of African elephants. During their stay, guests are invited to walk with the elephants of Abu and experience the elephants as individuals – there’s the playful youngsters, the doting adults, and the wise matriarch Cathy. Pair this life-affirming experience with the exquisite outdoor baths, and you’ll most certainly embrace your inner elephant with a good wallow and splash.

23. Jacana Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Small, personal, and beautiful, Jacana is the quintessential Delta camp, located on its own private island and becoming completely surrounded by floodwaters from May to September. With the focus being around the floodplains and the area’s wildlife, this camp invites you to spend a few days going on mokoro and boating adventures spotting the myriad of bird life and animal species before sinking into the outdoor bath to fully enjoy this watery wonderland.

24. Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Okahirongo Elephant Lodge is set in the north-west of Namibia, hidden away in the glorious and remote Purros Valley. This area is famous for its incredible landscape, and the lodge makes every effort to capitalise on the vast open spaces and desert scenery – even from the bathtubs!

25. Soroi Lodge, Serengeti, Tanzania

This is one to avoid if you suffer from vertigo, as the views of Musabi Plains, in the Western Corridor of the infamous Serengeti National Park, are endless at Soroi Lodge. With thatched chalets cantilevered by stilts and superb balconies, the property’s design guarantees a good view in any room. Someone paid attention during the build, as the lodge faces west – we recommend that you run the bath, grab a drink, and nestle into the warming bubbles as you watch the sun set on the valley… cheers!