Top 5 designer tented safari lodges


Luxury tented Lodges have certainly redefined safari experiences in recent years, offering the traveller optimal comfort and often extravagant luxury, while still feeling that sense of wild African adventure.

There are a number of beautiful tented lodges that one can choose from when going on safari, however these five have really caught our eye for their unusual design, their perfect location and flawless hospitality.

The Highlands, Ngorongoro Conservation Area

Carefully positioned for maximum privacy high on the slopes of the Olmoti volcano, guests enjoy sweeping views all the way to the Serengeti. Inspiration for the 8 canvas-and-glass domed suites was drawn from the traditional Masai bomas that dot the landscape. Warm, intimate and contemporary, this is quite simply the perfect place from which to discover the wild and pristine Crater Highlands.

The Highlands

The Ngorongoro Crater is an iconic natural wonder of the world and this unusual lodge is set on the edge of the mountain forest, hugging the Olmoti volcano to the north of Ngorongoro Crater, The Highlands strikes a perfect balance between a true wilderness experience and a high-style, contemporary escape.

The northern flank of the Olmoti volcano offers good wildlife viewing. Nearby Empakaai Crater is a smaller but similarly impressive crater famous for the thousands of pink flamingo that line the shores of the soda lake on the crater floor.

As well as the spectacular wildlife viewing, the area is also renowned for its extraordinary flora and fauna.

Mahali Mzuri, Masai Mara

Mahali Mzuri is the newest addition to Sir Richard Branson’s portfolio of retreats.  The lodge is located in the private Olare Motorogi Conservancy, just north of the Masai Mara National Reserve, and is right in the path of the annual migration. There is also an abundance of resident game all year round both near the camp and also a short distance away by vehicle.

Mahali Mzuri

Each tented suite sits on a raised platform and includes a spacious bedroom with an en-suite bathroom, sitting area and a terrace with views over the landscape – perfect for spotting the game that will almost certainly wander into view!

Expert guides will be able to tell guests all about the various animals and their behaviour on  daily morning and afternoon/night game drives. As well as game drives, guets can also go on a cultural day trip to learn more about the local Masai tribe, or enjoy a walking safari, or even take a hot air balloon trip.

In-between activities, the lodge team will treat guests to a wide selection of African and international menus, and in the evenings, dinner might be served in the main dining tent, out in the bush or even somewhere private just for 2.

AndBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Okavango Delta

AndBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp is located on the edge of the Okavango Delta in an exclusive private wildlife concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana.

This fantastic location of Nxabega offers a combination of both water and land based game activities with game drives and mokoro excursions. The lodge is intimate and tents have a raised wooden platform making the best of the sensational Delta views.

AndBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp

Meaning ‘Place of the Giraffe’, Nxabega is ideally positioned to explore the magnificence of the Okavango, the largest inland delta in the world. A wetland wilderness of looping channels, islands forested with palms and wide grassy floodplains, the Delta is home to a magnificent array of wild animals and exceptional birdlife.

Marataba Safari Lodge, Waterberg Mountains

Marataba Safari Lodge is situated in a Big 5 malaria-free private concession at the foothills of the Waterberg Mountains which forms part of the Marakele National Park, just 3.5 hours drive from Johannesburg. The Marakele National Park is a haven for an impressive variety of wildlife, and contrasting majestic mountain landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys characterise this spectacular area.

The canvas-and-stone tented suites offer a contemporary twist, each with its own private deck overlooking the sweeping plains and meandering river below. A free-standing stone bath is the main feature of the bathroom, while indoor and outdoor showers take full advantage of the dramatic scenery of the Waterberg Mountains.

Marataba Safari Lodge

Marataba also has the Thabametsi Treehouse which often features on articles about best the best places to sleep under the stars, and is certainly the most luxurious treehouse experience that we have seen to date. Guests arrive just before sunset and the coolness of the approaching evening brings animals into the open. A gourmet picnic can be enjoyed at the table on the deck, from where guests have front row seats to the wildest theatre. The lower level of this two storey treehouse offers a large bathroom with a huge walk in shower and his-and-hers basins.

Chisa Busanga Camp, Kafue National Park

Set to open in June 2020, Chisa Busanga Camp is a new intimate bush camp located in the north of the Kafue National Park that really looks sets itself apart from any other in that it offers amazing tree houses built in the shape of birds-nests!  These stunning rooms will have a canvas lining to the nest structure for comfort and to protect guests from the elements, and they really are unlike any other room we have seen at a safari lodge.

Chisa Busanga Camp

The Busanga Plains are a hidden gem of Kafue, with a high abundance of characteristic antelopes, birds and predators. It is truly one of the most unique wilderness areas Africa has to offer. Watch elephants walking steadily in the early morning mist at sunrise, or a herd of lechwe jumping through the various steams and floodplains.

Chisa Busanga offers both morning and afternoon game drives, along with walking safaris. In addition, the camp features an electric game-drive vehicle, to enable silent safaris. Experience even more game and enjoy the sounds of the bush, without the constant rumble of a diesel-engine.

Each tree house/nest offers complete privacy and a birds-eye view of the plains, both from inside the bedroom and outside on the observation deck.

Paul Campbell is a Co-founder and Managing Director at Travel Butlers. Travel Butlers are specialists in tailor-made safari and beach holidays to Africa and the Indian Ocean.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (7)

  1. John says:

    I’d love to do a tented safari but I get problems with my wife. Once you start using the words “tent” and “camp” she regresses to some bad Girl Guide experiences that she had in soggy Derbyshire some decades ago.

    Hopefully, I’ll get her to read this post and make her realise that these designer camps are a far cry from what she endured as a young Girl Guide.

    • Paul Campbell says:

      Hi John,

      I think it is safe to say that all of these are a decent upgrade on camping with the guides/scouts when we were kids!

      Paul.

  2. Stephen says:

    Obviously the photographers know their job inside out and they probably had to wait for days, possibly weeks for these shots. Even allowing for the great professional skills there are some vast colourful skies in these pictures.

    • Amy Herbert says:

      The photos really are fab, aren’t they? I wish I could take a shot half as good as any of these. Hopefully the scenery and the accommodations all look just as good in the flesh, which I’m sure they do.

    • Paul Campbell says:

      Hi Stephen & Amy,

      Having a decent camera and some software to tweak the colour/contrast etc really helps too. Luckily even some smaller cameras (including many phones) offer some of these features now.

      Happy snapping!

      Paul.

  3. Amy Herbert says:

    I think the thought of camping out can be off-putting for a lot of people so proper lodges with some basic facilities and a little more comfort is such a good idea. Some of these are really impressive. I had no idea Branson owns one, the Mahali Mzuri lodge. Love the architecture of that, it’s so intriguing, almost a slight blend of oriental design. It helps when you can stay somewhere that offers these kinds of additional activities, makes it far more convenient.

    I’ve seen something somewhat similar to those birds nest ones before on here. Can’t remember where they were, it just reminded me of them. Pretty funky and very novel. Where’d you stay when you went on holiday? A bird nest!

    • Paul Campbell says:

      I’d love to know where else you’ve seen the nest design…do let me know if it comes back to you, as I love the look of these!

      Thanks,

      Paul.

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