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The 5 best independent safari lodges to support in 2021 

Firstly, I hope everyone is staying safe and sane in the current climate. With Covid-19 sweeping the world, most peoples travel plans will have been put firmly on hold. Looking hopefully into the future though, lets look forward to 2021 when the world is hopefully in a happier state. The survival of independent safari lodges (and ones owned by bigger companies too!) are crucial to conservation efforts in safari Africa; here are some of the very best independent lodges which will need lots of safari-mad visitors once this pandemic is over. Ikuka, Tanzania Set on an escarpment in Ruaha National Park, Ikuka has one of the very best views in Tanzania. It is not the view which makes it so special though, although it does definitely add to the experience! Rooms are authentic and huge, food is fantastic and guiding is second to none in East Africa. What makes Ikuka so special though, is the sense of belonging guests experience from the moment they step into camp. Truly owner ran by a tight nit team of some of the most passionate individuals in the industry; Ikuka is both luxurious and offers a wholly enriching experience for its guests. It would be my number 1 independent safari lodge across the whole of Africa. Beho Beho, Tanzania In Ruaha’s neighbouring park, the Selous Game Reserve, sits the beautiful Beho Beho lodge. The charming brick structure has seen a lot over the years, and the luxury and authenticity which exudes from these walls harks back to the good old days of safari romance. If you can tare yourself away from your private plunge pool, spend a night in their treehouse and soak in the beautiful starry sky, and the sounds of the night. Beho Beho is a real gem which I stand by as one of the best independent safari lodges out there for those who love amazing guiding and unparalleled luxury. Chiawa, Zambia As anyone who has been on safari will know, luxury comes in unexpected places! One of these places which sets the standard for authentic, safari luxury in Zambia is Chiawa Camp in the Lower Zambezi National Park. I love Zambia safaris, and Chiawa really captures the essence of what a safari in this wild country is all about; the wildlife, conservation and the talented people who will guide you to the most incredible sightings, sharing their unparalleled knowledge. Chiawa is one of the best Zambian safari lodges if you like a splash of luxury whilst enjoying first class adventure in the wild. Tongabezi, Zambia Tongabezi is the most dreamy of all Victoria Falls locations. Set with unbelievable views of the Zambezi river, it is a haven for families and honeymooners alike. Inside the lodge, you are greeted by wooden walkways and a safari magic which can only be achieved by lodges such as Tongabezi which have been in place for years, and have a chapter in the history of the safari world. The food is exquisite, the staff a delight, and the rooms wholly luxurious without modern day glamour which has been popping up around Africa of late. For a step back in time to one of the first luxury lodges in the region, Tongabezi is an ideal choice. Serian, Kenya Alex Walker has a few camps in Tanzania, but his flagship tented camp has always been in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Alex does the authentic East Africa “mobile” camp so well, and staying at any of his sites offers a peak into life in a mobile safari camp which has been running for years. Stay here for a night, and you will for sure feel part of the family as Alex loves nothing more than exchanging safari stories around the campfire with a Gin and Tonic! The rooms themselves offer no superfluous luxury but just enough to have a more than comfortable tented stay; time it right, and you could wake up to the Great Wildebeest Migration just on the other side of your canvas! Marc Harris is Managing Director of Africa Odyssey. Africa Oydssey is run by a team of award-winning experts offering tailor-made African safari holidays. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

Marc Harris

Marc Harris is the Founder and Managing Director of Tanzania Odyssey and Africa Odyssey. Marc founded the companies in 1999 after a 2 year stint exploring and guiding all over Africa and still enjoys regular visits to this amazing continent. We are safari experts, long-established specialists in all aspects of African safari itinerary planning and ground management across sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, whether you are dreaming of the ultimate walking safari through the heart of Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park or a champagne breakfast in the Masai Mara, whether you wish to encounter wild gorillas or enjoy the ultimate Indian Ocean island beach break, we will design the perfect itinerary for you.

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  1. I’m always happy to give my support to independent businesses, particularly when they are in as spectacular locations as these lodges. I am always rather suspicious of the power of big chains and their tendency to reduce everything to the lowest common denominator.

  2. There’s nothing better than hearing safari stories over a sundowner and I’d love to hear Alex’s at Serian.

    Often these stories come with war wounds. You don’t do decades as a safari guide without picking up the odd scar.

    I remember one guide showing me a scar across the back of his hand from when a cheetah tried to climb into the safari vehicle.

  3. I think these independently owned safari lodges are the ones that need the most support from travelers as they tend to have smaller budgets for advertising as well as will have fewer rooms available. As the article says, these owners are very crucial especially in the conservation of the safaris. It is hard to imagine their state right now with their businesses on hold, their employees also suffer because there’s no one to cater to. Also, because they are independently owned, they can hardly get any advertisements to compare to those big chain lodges who can attract a lot of visitors because of their connections and such. Hopefully, these businesses can get back up and have tons and tons of visitors when the pandemic is over. I’m also hoping that this crisis would end as soon as possible so businesses can get back up quicker and to prevent further losses down the road.

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