By Tiffany Ryes – International Banker
To live under the sun in the middle of rolling landscapes, to be in the company of diverse wildlife, to look straight in the eyes of lions in the wild and at the speeding gazelles on the savannahs—these are enough to take your breath away.
Indeed, Africa can change your life forever.
So for every discerning traveler wanting to indulge in the excitement of being intimate with nature, Africa offers many world-class luxury safaris that seamlessly juxtapose the untamed wilderness with lavish comfort to bring the ultimate experience of a lifetime.
From the idyllic bush lands and savannahs of Tanzania to the top-notch honeymoon getaways of South Africa, you can be dazzled by the opulence and luxury of excellent safaris while basking in the exquisite beauty of the world’s most famous wildlife viewing areas.
Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sand, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Translated as “place of little fear” the word ulusaba really brings nothing but utter fascination and beauty. The koppie (or rocky hill) where the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve Rock Lodge sits long provided ancient Shangaan warriors the perfect lookout point to the wilderness below. Today, this same spot provides the same view: unspoiled nature and breathtaking wildlife that will simply take one’s breath away.
Owned by English business tycoon and founder of Virgin Group, Richard Branson, the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve is an exclusive reserve at the heart of Sabi Sand that defines the ultimate in a luxury destination for an exciting Big Five safari holiday.
This acclaimed property has two lodges, the imposing Rock Lodge on a koppie and the Safari Lodge on the sprawling banks of the dry Mabrak Riverbed. Whatever lodge you choose, you can be sure that you will receive first-class treatment from attentive staff and world-class facilities all housed within magnificent architecture that combines traditional and modern African elements. However, for the utmost in privacy and exclusivity, the Cliff Lodge in Rock Lodge offers two spacious suites with private pool, Jacuzzi, private chef, and your very own guide and game-drive vehicle.
Have a walking safari or a game drive with experienced guides, as the property can easily take you to the Kruger National Park. Here you can see diverse wildlife to satisfy your thirst for nature. For astronomy fans, Ulusaba also offers a bush observatory to take your sights to the Milky Way and beyond. After a day of adventure, settle in for luxurious spa treatments that offer lavish pampering as you look out to the best views of South Africa.
Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sand, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Another renowned property that shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park is the splendid Singita Boulders Lodge in Sabi Sand. Not to be outdone by nearby luxury safari lodges, this 33,000-acre property showers its guests with the experiences of a lifetime—from en-suite swimming pools to exclusive wine tastings to first-class spa treatments to scintillating cuisine.
Singita Boulders Lodge boasts of a contemporary safari chic feel that spells opulence down to every detail. The beautiful earthy colors, naturally textured fabrics, African wooden furniture and natural stone perfectly match its state-of-the-art amenities to ensure the finest comforts for every guest. Its 12 spacious suites all have outdoor leisure decks that overlook the river, perfect for sightseeing while relaxing in the private pool.
Perhaps one of the best features of this lodge is its excellent selection of the finest South African wines served to you by internationally trained sommeliers. These wines provide great pairing with equally excellent African-inspired gourmet cuisine.
Game drives are best done in the morning and at night, when the Big Five are most active. Meanwhile, the afternoons are perfect for simply lounging at the bar or in the traditional open boma, or indulging in the health spa.
A true celebration of tranquility in the middle of the wild, Singita really lives up to its name as a “place of miracles”.
Singita Faru Faru Lodge, Tanzania
A two-hour chartered plane ride from Kilimanjaro or Arusha, Singita Faru Faru Lodge is a gem set in the Grumeti Serengeti Mara region of northern Tanzania. This eco-luxury riverine lodge is a mix of organic African style, modern comforts and “quirky wild” as it sits atop a gently sloping hill, right on the path of the renowned migratory route. At the right time of the year, you can witness vast hordes of wildebeests moving to another region in the Serengeti to seek fresh grazing. Often you can also see numerous zebras, gazelles and impalas join the annual migration. All these can be seen right from the comforts of your Faru Faru Lodge suite
This private camp features nine magnificent suites that have wraparound glass windows, giving you a complete view of the riverbed and the watering holes at which you can occasionally see elephants and other animals take a drink. On cooler days, you can slide these windows open for a completely unhindered view of the Serengeti plains.
The adventurous can go with local trackers and guides for morning and afternoon drives that the staff can tailor to your party, while experienced riders can enjoy a horseback safari. For something more out of the ordinary, the attentive staff can organize a hot-air balloon trip over the Serengeti wilderness for you. To wind down, you can try African aromatherapy at the spa, enjoy the in-room minibar or have free cocktails by the pool. Faru Faru also offers nouvelle-African gourmet dishes that go great with the choicest African wines, giving you a fully exquisite gustatory experience.
This modern safari just opened in 2007 and yet has already gathered several awards as a hotel and safari lodge, as well as for its environmentally conscious take on luxury hospitality.
Abu Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
For a big African safari experience, nothing beats being part of a herd of the so-called gentle giants of the wilderness—the magnificent elephants. Okavango Delta’s Abu Camp offers this and more.
Famously heralded as the place to ride African elephants in a breathtakingly pristine Botswana wilderness, Abu Camp has also gained a following among the world’s rich, famous and most astute travelers. This is because Abu Camp is highly exclusive, offering superlative levels of service paired with unparalleled luxury, truly a cut above the rest of the safari camps in Africa.
With just six spacious tented suites built around shady canopies of African ebony and sycamore fig trees, this high-end camp offers a unique and opulent experience that is truly awe-inspiring. Each suite boasts an Afro-Bedouin tent style that gives an already spacious room an even more airy and luxurious feel. The furnishings, down to the antique details, give guests a distinctly rich yet homey appeal that is perfect for the bush setting.
However, what makes Abu Camp stand out is its resident elephant herds, with which guests can interact. The 180,000-hectare camp also offers a diverse wildlife experience, as the Okavango Delta is home to other animals, such as giraffes, zebras, impalas, buffaloes, wildebeests, lions and more.
As the home of diverse landscapes and an even more diverse wildlife in the most idyllic habitats, Africa indeed has lots to offer the discerning traveler. From the deltas to the savannahs, from the grasslands to the deserts, the continent is a mystery that simply waits to be unraveled.
Grand accommodations, impeccable service and awe-inspiring wildlife—these are the elements that make up a life-changing safari experience that cannot be missed when visiting Africa. So for anyone with an adventurous spirit and a flair for opulence, the continent’s luxury safaris are indeed priceless gems that must truly be experienced to be believed.
So take a walk on the wild side of luxury.