Safari Africa has become incredibly popular over the last couple of years, and as the demand has gone up so has the number of new lodges! There have been a lot of changes over 2016, with many new builds and renovations changing our stance on what are the top camps in certain areas. Having watched these developments across Africa, I thought I would highlight my personal favourites of the year and the ones that should be considered for trips in 2017!
1. Duba Expedition Camp
This is a new addition to Botswana’s Okavango Delta. It replaces Duba Plains, which re-opens in a new location in early 2017! Expedition Camp is situated in one of the country’s finest reserves, famous for its lion population. With just six tents, this intimate camp is one of my favourites. Not only is it in a game-rich area that offers game drives as well as water-based activities, but it is also home to some of the best guides in the country. It should certainly be considered by travellers hoping to see the best of the Delta!
2. Little Ruckomechi
This camp is in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe. Mana Pools is regarded by many as the finest of all safari parks and is historically suited to really adventurous explorers, with its collection of classic safari camps! However, the newly open Little Ruckomechi offers high-end accommodation. It is located on a beautiful stretch of the park within the private Ruckomechi Concession, which opens up a range of activities. Guests of Little Ruckomechi can enjoy game drives, walks, boating, canoeing, and fishing – all the adventure, but with added luxury.
3. Ikuka Camp
Ikuka is located in the heart of Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, in big cat territory. It has a fabulous location on top of the Mwagusi escarpment, giving it arguably the best view in the park! It is owned and run by Mark and Chloe Sheridan Johnson, two of the most experienced guides/managers in Ruaha. There is an incredible atmosphere, and Ikuka is a contender for best property in the park! It really is an excellent option for anyone hoping to explore one of the continent’s remotest and most game-rich parks.
4. Chief’s Camp
Chief’s Camp, in Botswana’s Moremi Game Reserve, re-opened in June with a completely new look that competes with any of Botswana’s premier camps. It is without doubt the most luxurious addition of 2016 and so far it has had nothing but positive feedback! Moremi Game Reserve is Big Five territory and perfect for anyone wishing to focus on game drives and big game. The service matches the quality of the wildlife viewing and the rooms are simply stunning, all boasting their own private plunge pool. Chief’s is certainly a contender for Botswana’s most luxurious camp!
5. Entamanu Camp
Properties located on the Ngorongoro Crater rim tend to be fairly large and commercial, but this has now changed with the opening of The Highlands Ngorongoro Camp and Entamanu Ngorongoro. The Highlands has an incredible design, but my personal favourite has to be Entamanu due to the activities it offers and its keenness for guests to experience the Ngorongoro Crater well away from the crowds! With just six wooden bungalows, Entamanu is very exclusive. Activities focus on game drives within the Crater itself, some of the country’s finest guided walks, and the most authentic interactions with the local Maasai. This is simply the best camp on the Ngorongoro Crater for experiencing the area without the crowds.
Julian Carter-Manning is a Co-founder and MD at Yellow Zebra Safaris.