South Africa offers some of the best luxury safari experiences in Africa. Here are some of the most exclusive lodges that you can find down South.
Luxury Lodges in South Africa
Madikwe Hills – Madikwe
Madikwe Hills private game lodge provides a home for the big five as well as a host of migratory birds. It is at the center of Madikwe, which gives it a game viewing advantage. Up to 24 guests can be accommodated at any one time.
The luxury suites with glass fronts dot the hillside. Each suite is connected to the main lounge by wooden walkways lined by hurricane lamps. The lodge has special wedding and honeymoon products.
Guests can be provided with road and air transfers. Each suite is spacious at 150m2, with a private plunge pool. In the central area, there is a lounge, a bar, a library, and a wine cellar.
Molori Safari Lodge – Madikwe
Molori is one of the most exclusive lodges in Southern Africa and it is found in the Madikwe game reserve, close to the Botswana border. Madikwe is home to the big five as well as the cheetah and the wild dog. The largest population of wild dogs in South Africa can be found here, at Madikwe. There are more rhinos here than anywhere else in Africa.
Dog tracking safaris are available here.
There are five suites here, each designed to let in as much of the open air as possible. The lodges are built at a distance from each other to give more privacy. All suites have retractable glass walls
Presidential suites also have a kitchen, a dining, and a study. All suites have outdoor showers and air conditioning
Children can take part in the junior ranger program. Guests can use charter flights to get to the park.
People who are interested in fishing can take fishing expeditions. A curio shop sells gift items. Game drives and game tracks are available
Tswalu Tarkuni & Mets – Kalahari
This is by far the biggest game reserve in South Africa, measuring 110,000 hectares. Only up to thirty guests are admitted to Tswalu at any one time. This minimizes the effect of human activity on the Tarkuni, which is hidden in between two mountain ranges.
There are five suites here, with a chef, a deck with a pool, outdoor walk-in showers, and lounges. The oasis of serenity is made to accommodate families and groups traveling together.
Every boma has its own staff who cater to guests. Tswalu has a spa with elegant lounges, two sensation showers, a garden, and therapy suites
Game drives and bush walks are provided daily so that guests can enjoy the plant’s animals of the Kalahari. There are African wild dogs, meerkats, black-maned lions, pangolin, cheetahs, desert black rhino, and many more. Horse riding excursions are also available.
Every season is a different experience at Tswalu
Leopard Hills – Sabi Hills Sands
Leopard Hills is in the Western part of the Sabi Sands Private game reserve. Perched on a rocky hillside outcrop, it offers spectacular views of the plains below and the animals coming to drink at the waterhole.
There are more than 10,000 hectares of land here, with different ecosystem; from the plains in the South to the woodland and the river forests. There are eight luxury suites with glass fronts for an outdoor feel
Each has a sundeck and a rock plunge pool. Air conditioning and overhead fans mitigate the heat of the African sun. Indoor and outdoor showers are provided in all suites. Minibars, hammocks, and pool loungers are provided
Excursions include game drives, visits to local villages, photography safaris, and bush walks
Singita Lebombo – Kruger
Singita is part of the greater Kruger and home to the big five, including four large lion prides and all the big five game. There are four ecological zones within the concession, and it is managed to minimize interference with nature.
Singita Lebombo Lodge has 13 suites and one villa. Each suite is designed with a contemporary open plan, providing unobstructed views of the river.
The suites are built on the N’Wanetsi river. The villa has two bedroomed suites with in-suite pools, an open plan kitchen, and staff. Mature trees look down on the villa
The lodge has a wine studio, terrace on the roof, espresso bar, pool, deli, and a library. Each suite has showers indoors and outdoors. There are a private deck and a fireplace in every room
Game drives and walking safaris are available. All drinks, except champagne, are complimentary. All suites have good views
Children over 10 are accommodated
The look of Royal Malewane lodge in Kruger’s National Park evokes memories of old-world safari expeditions. The tour guides here provide an intimate encounter with wildlife, including the Big Five. The Royal Malewane Bush spa is a key attraction.
The exclusive lodge has only six luxury suites and two royal suites. One more, the Africa House, has six bedrooms. Guests can fly conveniently in and land at a private airstrip.
Dinner is served nightly under the African stars. In the spa, there is a gym, a steam room, a heated pool, African baths, and treatments in private casitas.
Some of the suites are open to children of all ages.
Ivory Lodge Lion Sands – Mpumalanga
Ivory Lodge looks like it was built right out of the earth. It’s natural materials and the contemporary theme fits right into the bush. Proving that nature and intelligent design can go hand in hand. Every villa is named after an indigenous bird.
There are seven villas here. Six are single and one is a double suite villa. The villas are raised and all offer a view of the ongoings at the Sabie River.
There is an art gallery, a gym, and a luxury spa. Villas are designed to provide uninhibited views of the landscape in utmost privacy.
Each villa has a bedroom and bathroom, an outdoor shower set in a private garden populated with local plants, a lounge with a fireplace, a private pool, a large viewing deck as well as a patio, free wifi, and accommodation for children.
Chefs provide meals to suit different dietary needs.
& Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Phinda Vlei is located where visitors can look over the bushveld over the sand forest. Here, visitors can see wildlife coming and going from the comfort of their own private plunge pool or even in bed. Animals come in the mornings and evenings to drink. Here are some features:
The rooms are designed to maximize views of the landscape and wildlife. It is a great location for bird watching.
Game drives are available day and night. Visitors can also enjoy walking safaris. People who want to explore both grasslands and forests will like it.
The main lounge has a library and a fireplace. Night turtle viewing excursions are available during the season for turtles.
Ulusaba Rock Lodge and Safari Lodge
Set upon a cliffside, Ulusaba offers some of the best views of the bushveld in South Africa. There are only ten rooms here, with air conditioning, spacious bathrooms, and a minibar. Three of them have private plunge pools.
Early morning game drives daily, along with game drives in the afternoon and bushwalks. A swimming pool and a spa are provided.
A bush conservatory enables guests to watch the night sky in comfort. Guests can exercise in the gym and the tennis court.
British investor Sir Richard Branson owns the establishment
Londolozi is inside Sabi Sand Game Reserve and adjacent to Kruger National Park. All the big five are found here. There are cheetahs too. For the last 90 years, this lodge has been managed by the same family.
Over the summer season, visitors can witness animals birthing their young. Game drives are available both day and night.
The crowds are bigger between October and March. Visit in September for a more private experience. People get there by scheduled flights, chartered flights, or by road. It is 500km away from Johannesburg.
The Londolozi Pioneer Camp has only three suites and provides the most ideal situation for families and couples on their honeymoon. Each suite is large and fitted with its own private plunge pool, a wellness center, indoor and outdoor dining, and guides on hand to provide game drive excursions.
There are only three private suites at the exclusive Londolozi Private Granite Suites, where only six people can stay at a time. In each suite are a lounge and bedroom, indoor and outdoor baths and showers, air conditioning, private pool, and mosquito nets.
Londolozi Varty Camp is more than 90 years old and designed to accommodate children and families. The lodge has luxury suites with their own pools, game drives daily, a massage room, yoga, a fitness center, children’s activities, and a wine cellar.
At the Londolozi Founders Camp beside the Sand River was built right under the branches of old ebony trees. Families of three or four will fit perfectly in their suites. Each suite has a private plunge pool, lounge with a fireplace, and a deck overlooking the river. There are many other comforts, including mini bar, internet, air conditioning, fridge, safe, and dressing gowns.
The Tree Camp has six stands alone suited, each furnished in a distinctly African way. Tree camp offers nature walks, all three meals, a pool, a bar, a spa, a gym, and plenty of opportunities to view the big five. Activities are game drives, fishing, bush walks, birding, and historical tours.
Sabi Sabi Luxury Lodges
Sabi Sabi is a private game reserve that has been running for more than 35 years. Here, guests can enjoy high-class accommodation, intimate experiences with nature, great food, and customized service. Game rangers provide game drives and trekking safaris to guests.
Visitors can see the big five here – lions, elephants, leopards, buffalos, and rhinos. Other species are the African Wild Dog.
There are four luxury lodges in the Sabi Sabi: Selati Camp, Bush Lodge, Little Bush Camp, and Earth Lodge.
Selati is built around an old railway line and the design and decor of the rooms. At night, only fireplaces, oil lamps, and lanterns light the rooms, allowing guests to enjoy the African night sky. There are only seven suites and one presidential suite, making it very private. Ancient indigenous trees overlook the private open-sky bathrooms in each suite. Honeymooners will enjoy their honeymoon package.
The Bush Lodge is strategically placed atop a waterhole and a flat savanna, making it ideal for game viewing. The decor is inspired by the cultures of different African tribes. It has 25 suites, among them two luxury villas and one deluxe suite. All are fitted with luxurious bathrooms and glass fronted showers. There are two swimming pools and large decks for viewing wildlife. The decks overlook the Msuthlu riverbed. Guests can also enjoy the spa.
Little Bush camp is ideal for families and group vacationers. It offers a combination of intimacy, luxury, and seclusion. There are six luxury suites, with viewing decks, heated spa baths, air conditioning, indoor and outdoor showers, and luxury fittings. Dinner is eaten outside, under soft light and large trees.
The aptly named Earth Lodge fits so well into its environment that it is hard to spot from a distance. It is one of the most environmentally friendly lodges on the continent. There are thirteen luxury suites here, among them one presidential suite. Earth Lodge is carved into the earth. Each suite has its own unique furniture, a private pool, luxury ensuite bathroom, and indoor and outdoor shower. Guests can choose to explore the wild in an open vehicle or to take a walking safari.