My Top 10 Lodges in Southern Africa
Saying this was a difficult list to put together is a huge understatement! It is not that there aren’t enough lodges that I think are good enough – it’s the fact that there are so many incredible lodges that my original list was about 34 lodges long.
I have whittled the list down and I now have what I feel is a good overview of what I believe are the best lodges in Africa. Admittedly, the majority of these properties are also the most expensive, but I have tried to base this list on a mix of elements – the lodge itself, the experiences, service, views…AND value! So here goes: my very official but completely unofficial list of the ‘Top 10 Safari Lodges in Southern Africa’, in no specific order.
1. Zarafa Camp, Selinda Reserve, Botswana
Zarafa is part of the Great Plains Conservation Group and is their most luxurious camp. It is located on the eastern edge of the Selinda Reserve overlooking the Zibadianja Lagoon, which is the source of the Savute Channel. As the lodge is so small, you get amazing personal service and the guiding is beyond phenomenal. Each of the tents has a professional Canon camera and lens set and a pair of Swarovski binoculars for guests to use for the duration of their stay. It is this finer attention to detail that makes Zarafa one of the best camps in Africa.
2. Old Mondoro, Lower Zambezi, Zambia
Old Mondoro is located in the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia. This is one of the most special camps you will ever visit. The camp itself has all your creature comforts but still manages to keep its bush camp feel. The guiding and service are both set to exceptionally high standards and as there are only four chalets you are guaranteed an intimate safari experience. This to me is the great balance that safari lodges all over Africa struggle to find.
3. Mwaleshi Camp, North Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Mwaleshi is a seasonal camp that is operational from June to October and is located in the remote North Luangwa National Park. This is a very simple and rustic camp; the four reed-and-thatch chalets built fresh at the start of each season. What makes this camp so special is its remoteness and the fact that it is a pure walking camp. I’d recommend a minimum of four nights at the camp.
4. Serra Cafema Camp, Kunene River, Namibia
One of the remotest lodges in Namibia, Serra Cafema is located in the extreme north-west of the country and overlooks Angola. In complete contrast to the rest of Namibia, the lodge is built near the Kunene River, which has a lush belt of riverine forest. Serra Cafema offers one of the most authentic cultural experiences with the Himba tribes in the area. The lodge is well known for its exceptional food and service and incredible guides.
5. Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Singita Lebombo is located in the private Lebombo concession in the Kruger National Park. The lodge is set high on the edge of a cliff and boasts breath-taking views over the N’wanetsi River. The luxurious suites have a contemporary design with huge glass sliding doors that open up onto your private deck. A really special addition is the daybed on the deck – on a beautiful night, you can sleep under the stars. This lodge is all about luxury – and the service and guiding matches this to give you an incredible all-round safari experience.
6. Londolozi Varty Camp, Sabi Sands, South Africa
Londolozi is a private concession within the famous Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The Sabi Sands is very well known for its Big Five game sightings, especially the elusive leopard. Varty Camp is the original Londolozi Camp and offers excellent value for money. All of the lodges on the reserve have the same service, guiding and game viewing, so if you are looking for an incredible experience but you don’t want to pay the price of the Private Granite Suites or Singita then this is the best option for you. Londolozi is exceptionally good if you are interested in photography, as the guides will help you to get that perfect photograph with their expert knowledge – and they’ll even help you with post processing in the camp’s own photographic studio!
7. The Hide, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
The Hide is located in the south-eastern section of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is really getting back on the tourist map – and if you are anything like me and want to avoid the crowds, travelling during the next couple of years will give you a good chance to experience the incredible beauty of Zimbabwe without the human traffic! You cannot beat The Hide when it comes to location, service, guiding, food and wildlife. A huge drawing card is the hide that is built into the ground right in front of the lodge – it just gives you a completely different view of the wildlife that comes down to the watering hole to drink as you are on ground level.
8. Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Camp, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
Mombo and Little Mombo are located on the tip of Chief’s Island in the Moremi Game Reserve. Together the camps are considered the flagship accommodation of Botswana and Moremi is one of the best game areas in Africa. This is quite a claim to fame, but it is not misplaced – both camps will blow you away! I could carry on for days talking about the lodges, the service and the game, but you won’t believe me until you have been. Mombo and Little Mombo are among the most expensive camps in Africa, but I feel they are worth every penny.
9. Wolwedans Collection, Sossusvlei, Namibia
The Wolwedans Collection is located in Sossusvlei in the NamibRand Nature Reserve and consists of three lodges – Dunes Lodge, Boulders Camp and Dune Camp. The camps are all on the Wolwedans private concession, so you can see the amazing sand dunes without the crowds that you get in the main Sossusvlei area. The camps offer you all your creature comforts but they do not overdo the level of luxury, so you still have an authentic experience. The service is some of the best in Africa – and that is saying a lot! The guides at Wolwedans are incredibly passionate about the area and this really comes through in the activities.
10. Azura Quilalea Private Island, Northern Mozambique
Azura Quilalea is located on its own private island in the Northern Quirimbas Archipelago and is reached from Pemba Airport by helicopter. This luxurious private hideaway consists of nine villas, which are all on the seafront. What I love about this area is that the beach is so pure and so untouched that you really feel like you are away from the world – after a busy schedule on safari, it is nice to just chill. You can also snorkel and drive right from the main beach.