The most luxurious lodges in Africa

Following the announcement of the Royal engagement between Kate Middleton and Prince William, the spotlight has very much been on Kenya’s Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The private reserve, in the Laikipia region of the East African nation, served as the perfect romantic retreat for the future King of England to propose to his long term girlfriend. For me, there can be few experiences more intimate and idealistic than whiling away the hours with a loved one in an exclusive African lodge. There is something so special about this mysterious place, something enrapturing, hypnotizing even, and as anyone who has visited the continent will testify, utterly unforgettable. The rhythm of the African drum will beat in your heart long after your departure.

Although I am a huge fan of Lewa Wildlife Conservancy I think perhaps it has had enough attention for one week and so in this post I have decided to take a closer look at some of Africa’s, other, luxurious lodges; alternatives if you will, to the William and Kate experience. Perhaps someday soon you might be sharing your own special moment, with bended knee or not, in a luxury African Lodge.

Shambala Game Reserve, South Africa – Tucked away in the stunning Waterberg Mountains, Shambala consists of 10,000 hectares of pristine South African countryside; a place that, though relatively small compared to other reserves, still boasts the chance to see Africa’s elusive ‘Big Five’, (Lions, Elephants, Leopards, Rhinos and Buffalos). As well as its animal interests the reserve also has a human heart at its core, a family run cultural village which acts as a living, breathing information centre where visitors can learn all about South Africa’s incredible history. The accommodation is preoccupied with authenticity and tradition, the Zulu camp, consisting of six fantastically appointed Zulu Huts, offers five-star accommodation but with a real sense of cultural legitimacy. All of the huts come with spacious double bedrooms and full shower facilities, providing all the comfort you might need to create some magical memories.

Chobe Game Lodge, Botswana – The only permanently fixed lodge within the Chobe National Park, the site is perfectly located along the Chobe River to observe the largest concentration of elephants in Africa. The sleek lines and elegant qualities of the lodge’s Moorish architecture create a sense of light and space; the typical features which include high arches, barrel-vaulted ceilings and tiled floors all contribute towards a clean and classic aesthetic. The 47 rooms are adorned with original African paintings and carvings, retaining a real sense of place as well as boasting all of the comforts of modern living; the accommodation’s considered design also makes it ideal for families and children.

Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia – Sossusvlei is quite literally a desert oasis, nestled between the spectacular dunes of the Namib Desert and the jagged outcrops of the rocky escarpment. You’ll feel like you’re really part of the African experience when you stay at Sossusvlei, where the ten individual villas constructed out of stone and glass offer the perfect symmetry between modern minimalist design and traditional African design. All are air conditioned to keep you fresh during the day and cosy fireplaces have been installed for those cooler winter nights. Despite being located on the periphery of a desert there is still an incredible array of wildlife to be seen, including the iconic oryx, Hartmann’s mountain zebras, antelopes, springbok and smaller mammals such as the bat-eared fox, aardwolf and porcupine.

Thanda Game Reserve, South Africa – Thanda, a word derived from the Zulu for love, was awarded the prize of ‘World’s Leading Luxury Lodge’ at the recent World Travel Awards. Thanda offers a range of accommodation to suit all budgets and tastes, from the opulence of the royal private villas or the warmth of the main lodge to the rugged refinement of the tented camp. Located 23 kilometres north of Hluhluwe in Zululand, the reserve is a tribute to South African cultural heritage, and as a romantic sanctuary of peace and tranquility, many would consider it peerless in all of Africa. Catering for adults and children alike, it boasts fine dining and a wellness centre, were natural holistic approaches to treatment will leave you feeling revived and refreshed. Let’s not also forget the wildlife, the big five are at your doorstep and because the reserve is so close to the Indian Ocean, horse riding on the nearby beaches or a trip to the Isimangaliso wetlands are also a must.

Greg Fox is a Director at luxury travel specialists Mahlatini.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Karen Scammell says:

    Wow, this just makes me want to go to Africa. i have always wanted to go there for the wildlife, but you make it seem so romantic too and these places prove you don’t have to give up luxury to have the experience. Now I undertsand why people do go on honeymoon to places like this.

  2. Emily M says:

    Would love to go to Botswana, some of my family did safari in Kenya too and they saw so much so it would be a hard choice.

  3. Kylie Martin says:

    My partner is from South Africa and I wish he would take me over there soon. Krueger apparently is very touristy, so will have a look at these game reserves. I love photography, so really want to get some good wildlife shots under my belt.

  4. Sallie says:

    Oh Thanda – what a glorious spot – I loved the on foot safaris – and afternoon tea on my terrace was one of those spinetingle moments – go if you can

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