Thanda Safari Lodge
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8 unique safari lodges in South Africa

If a South African safari is on your bucket list, then now is a great time to tick it off. Safari prices as well as occupancies are low, and the wide open spaces are perfect for social distancing. Here are some of South Africa’s most unique safari lodges. Many of them have private villas that come with their own butler, chef and safari vehicle, so there’s no need to mingle with other guests if you don’t want to. Take the kids along and make it a family affair. Thanda Safari Lodge With a name meaning love in Zulu, there really is much to love at Thanda Safari Lodge – and that’s not just in my opinion. The lodge and its exclusive private villa have won many prestigious international awards. The lavish suites are shaped like traditional Zulu homesteads and lead onto private viewing decks with plunge pools alongside salas with daybeds. Thanda Safari Lodge The private reserve has its own resident wildlife photographer who offers complimentary photography lessons. Other activities here include rhino tracking and volunteering in wildlife conservation programmes. Kapama River Lodge One of the largest privately owned game reserves in the country, Kapama Private Game Reserve borders the iconic Kruger National Park. Kapama River Lodge is the largest and most relaxed of the four lodges in the reserve. Kapama-River-Lodge At first glance, it appears more like a five-star hotel with its swanky multi-level accommodation, spa and gym, but just look outdoors and you will be reminded of the wilderness paradise you are in. The wildlife sightings are incredible. Apart from the Big Five, we also saw wild cats, hyenas and the elusive pangolin. Morukuru Family – De Hoop Occupying a prime position in the stunning De Hoop Nature Reserve, where ocean, dunes and fynbos meet, the award-winning Morukuru Family lodges offer a safari of a different kind. In addition to the land-based safaris where you can view various types of plains game and indigenous birds, you can also do a marine safari where you can see starfish, octopuses and other sea creatures in their natural environment. Morukuru Beach Lodge The reserve is also one of the best land-based whale-watching spots in the world during season. You can opt to stay in the exclusive-use Morukuru Ocean House or the five-suite Morukuru Beach Lodge, where the spacious open-plan suites seem to merge with the surrounding beauty. Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway Deep in the lush bush of the Welgevonden Game Reserve, suspended at the edge of a spectacular gorge, and overlooking a meandering river, you will find the exquisite Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway. The reserve is spectacularly beautiful with varying landscapes and abundant wildlife. Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway The lodge has won awards for its stylish design, with the natural decor creating a sense of serenity, and the sound of the river below providing a soothing backdrop. There are eight secluded suites, each with its own private deck and plunge pool, and amazing views of the gorge. Jock Safari Lodge Named after the true-life canine hero of the book “Jock of the Bushveld”, Jock Safari Lodge is situated in the Kruger National Park’s first private concession. The area is regarded as one of the best in the park for its Big Five wildlife viewing. Jock Safari Lodge With its old-world elegance and charm, the colonial-style lodge is reminiscent of a bygone era when fortune seekers roamed the country. The twelve thatched suites lead out onto private timber decks with plunge pools, outdoor showers, Victorian bathtubs and daybeds. Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge Perched on a rocky ridge in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, Africa’s oldest proclaimed game reserve, Rhino Ridge boasts panoramic views of the reserve. Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge From the expansive lounge to the viewing deck and the infinity pool, the lodge is designed to blend in seamlessly with the surrounding wilderness and capitalise on its lofty position. The exquisite culinary offerings here are some the best safari fare we’ve ever enjoyed, and watching the wildlife while tucking into the decadent afternoon tea is pure bliss. Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge If wild and remote is what you’re looking for, then this is where you should head. Located on an ancient elephant route in a private concession in the Kruger National Park, this unfenced lodge truly feels like it is in the wilderness. It is also rather uniquely designed as far as safari lodges go. Hoyo Hoyo Safari Lodge Based on Tsonga-Shangaan culture, the burnt-orange ancient African settlement theme is complemented by modern comforts. The lodge is intimate with just six rooms and a communal area where you can watch the wildlife at the waterhole as you enjoy your meals. Tintswalo at Lapalala Tintswalo at Lapalala is a tented camp within a 2-billion year old UNESCO-declared malaria-free biosphere. The seven luxury tents are named after great African tribes like the Maasai and the Xhosa and the décor is inspired by the tribe. Each tent has a private plunge pool and deck overlooking the wilderness. Tintswalo at Lapalala Apart from conventional safari activities like game drives and guided bush walks where you can see the Big Five and more, you can go on sundowner cruises, fish in the crystalline mountain waters, see ancient rock art or visit the Lapalala Wilderness School.

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  1. Obviously Africa has huge landscapes and most of these lodges are really only dots in the bigger picture. Even so, it’s noticeable that all of these lodges are well camouflaged and merge into the landscape.

    1. South Africa does have some spectacular landscapes and the locations for all of these lodges have been meticulously chosen so that they merge into these landscapes.

  2. So far I’ve struggled to get any half-decent safari photos. I’m good at giraffes as they are big and don’t move too fast. Otherwise I haven’t got many photos that I’d be proud enough to frame and display them.

    Would be great to have some proper tuition with the photographer at Thanda Safari Lodge.

    1. Wildlife photography is a great skill to master, because it’s not as easy as it looks. The lessons are a unique and very useful additional benefit at Thanda Safari.

  3. Can you get any closer to wildlife than at Kapama Lodge? Why go out on game drives when the elephants drop by for a drink?

    1. It is particularly tempting to sit at the pool and watch the wildlife, but I quickly realised from personal experience that the game drives at Kapama are action-packed and I would suffer from terrible FOMO if I didn’t go on them.

    1. That makes a lot of sense. If over the centuries the local people decided that design worked in their terrain and climate then builders ought to keep alive designs that have been tried and tested.

  4. De Hoop Nature Reserve sounds like a dream location. It’s got both sea and land adventures, so I can enjoy a lot of activities. I can just imagine coming home to Morokuru after a day out.

  5. That’s a great collection. I have stayed at Rhino Ridge before and it is truly amazing. South Africa has a lot of really nice safari lodges. The beauty to me is that you can move from one safari lodge to the other, and you will find a completely unique experience!

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