Following the great feedback we received for our 2018 list, we have scoured the continent for our Top Ten Safaris of 2019. As with last year, it is so difficult to reduce a list to just 10 with so many incredible properties out there. However, after much deliberation and head scratching, we have finalised our 2019 hot list. As with everything we do, our list is more about your experience you will get than just the thread-count of the linen! We are sure you will agree, there is something for everyone on this list, so what are you waiting for? Dive in, discover your dream destination and then get in touch for us to make your dream a reality!
10. Onguma the Fort, Etosha , Namibia
A desert fort set against the harsh backdrop of Namibia’s Etosha National Park, Onguma The Fort really is a haven of comfort. The design is simple, yet striking, much like the surrounding landscape.
Each of the 11 bush suites are built facing out to the savannah and offer total privacy. Complete with fireplaces for cool nights and air-conditioning for the hot sunny days, indoor and outdoor showers and decks complete with sun loungers so you can revel in your private retreat.
The imposing main fort, built with towering walls combines a feeling a sanctuary from the outside world, but at the same time, a feeling of being part of your surrounds. Some of the best sunsets in Namibia can be enjoyed from the main deck, or while cooling off in the pool.
The wonderful accommodation is complemented by guided safari drives into the Etosha National Park as well as on the Onguma Game Reserve, or for the more active, interpretive bush walks are offered, revealing all the hidden secrets of the savannah.
9. Sindabezi Island, Victoria Falls, Zambia.
This is the ultimate Robinson Crusoe hideaway. Tucked away on an island in the mighty Zambezi River, are the five gorgeous open-sided chalets that make up Sindabezi.
Each chalet is built on stilted decks to maximize the view out onto the river and surrounding wilderness.
The chalets are a wonderful blend of rustic simplicity, finished with luxury flair, allowing you to really feel part of nature, but all the time cocooned in comfort.
With the island as your base you embark on excursions along the river, into the national park or private sand spit lunches, visit the incredible Victoria Falls or learn more about local culture and traditions.
At the end of each day, return to your island sanctuary to shared tales of your adventures around an open fire before falling asleep to the sounds of nature all around.
Have a look at our Superb Zambia itinerary which includes Sindabezi
8. Mwaleshi Camp, North Luangwa, Zambia.
Zambia is regarded as the home of the walking safari, and nowhere is this more evident than in the remote North Luangwa National Park. The 4,636 square kilometres of park are dedicated almost entirely to walking safaris, with only a handful of operators allowed to bring guests in, making this one of the continent’s last truly wild areas.
Hidden deep inside the park, on a bend along the Mwaleshi River, are the 4 simple thatched chalets. No permanent structures are allowed in the park, and each year the chalets are built from scratch, ensuring minimal environmental impact.
Each chalet offers comfortable beds, en-suite bathrooms and uninterrupted views onto the river. In the best tradition of Zambian bush camps, the simple design and furnishings of the camp help blur the lines between inside and outside, increasing your feeling of being at one with the nature all around you.
Your days are spent on foot exploring the untamed wilderness of this big game rich corner of Africa. Safaris on foot are so very different to those by vehicle, every sense is heightened, and you feel truly alive at every moment.
See our Walking The Luangwa tour which includes a stay at Mwaleshi
7. Serra Cafema, Kaokoland, Namibia
Serra Cafema is all about a sense of location. One of the most remote lodges in the whole of Africa, Serra Cafema offers the lucky few who visit, a glimpse into this strikingly beautiful area.
Completely rebuilt and opened in September 2018, the lodge is strung out along the banks for the Kunene River at the northernmost tip of Namibia, with views across the river to Angola. The 8 units are beautifully furnished, each one celebrating the local Himba culture.
Excursions from the camp take you into the surrounding country either on foot, in 4×4 vehicles, quad bikes or boats (subject to water levels), to explore an area few ever see.
Don’t expect to see Africa’s big game here, this is all about discovering the life that survives in a seemingly desolate landscape, the sheer grandeur of nature, and maybe a chance to meet with the semi-nomadic Himba people who call this area home.
6. Elsa’s Kopje, Meru National Park, Kenya
There are few places that can claim to be as instrumental in modern wildlife conservation as Elsa’s Kopje, in Kenya’s Meru National Park.
Set on a small “kopje” (rocky hill) in the centre of the park, looking down to where Joy and George Adamson came to release their beloved lioness, Elsa, back into the wild. The story of Elsa and her release was one of the earliest tales that sparked the awareness of the masses to conserve our wildlife heritage. Then in 1999 Elsa’s Kopje lodge was opened and is almost single-handedly credited with saving the Meru National Park from being turned over to farming.
Today, this is one of Kenya’s most celebrated lodges, in a park that is the most species rich in the whole of East Africa. As one of only 2 lodges in the entire 1,800 square kilometres of Meru National Park, you will also feel like you have the whole place to yourself. The park is home to one of the greatest rhino sanctuaries in the region, helping conserve these highly endangered animals.
This is a classic African safari camp that has such an important place in the history of African wildlife conservation, it should be on every wildlife lover’s list.
Our Wings Over Kenya package gives you the chance to visit Elsa’s Kopje and other iconic Kenyan destinations.
5. Jamala Madikwe, Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa.
The only lodge that we had to include for a second year on our Top Ten list, Jamala Madikwe is that rare blend of sheer opulence delivered with genuine warmth.
Located in South Africa’s malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve, there are 5 luxurious suites with private decks and plunge pools that look out onto an open stretch of bush leading to a very active waterhole.
Safaris in open vehicles are offered twice daily into the Big Five reserve with highly qualified rangers. Although for many the lodge’s famous “sofa safaris” replace some of the drives, as you just sit on an elevated platform and watch the wildlife come to you. Alternatively, swap sofa for swimming pool, and watch elephants come within metres of you while you cool off in the lodge’s pool. Let’s not forget the lodge’s reputation for some of the best food you will find in the bush!
Let’s whet your appetite further with our Southern Luxury tour which includes a stay at Jamala Madikwe
4. Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp, Bwindi, Uganda.
Shrouded in the mists of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is the intimate Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp. Just 8 stylish tented room with en-suite bathrooms await the lucky traveller who makes it to this magical part of the world.
Bwindi is home to arguably the best gorilla viewing in the world, and guests at Gorilla Forest Camp are escorted by expert guides into the mountains in search of these magnificent apes. Although, it is not uncommon for the gorillas to do a spot of human viewing, and walk through the camp! The camp is even able to offer customised sedan chairs with porters for less physically abled guests to be able to witness the gorillas in their natural habitat.
The camp is also an ideal base from which to visit and learn about the culture, heritage and history of the Batwa pygmies, the oldest inhabitants of the Great Lakes region
3. MalaMala Rattray’s, Sabi Sands, Kruger, South Africa.
Location, location, location, as the saying goes. When it comes to MalaMala, the location box is definitely ticked. Sandwiched between the Sabi Sands Game Reserve to the west and the Kruger National Park to the east, MalaMala enjoys the finest game viewing location in South Africa.
MalaMala has also earned its conservation stripes, being one of the very first properties to lay down guns and take up photographic safaris back in the mid-1960s. Their example has been copied ever since, as the benefits of wildlife tourism has spread and lead to the conservation of ever increasing areas.
Rattray’s is a nod to classical colonial safari style, while providing every creature comfort. His and hers bathrooms, four poster beds, large decks and private plunge pools overlooking the Sand River make for a luxurious haven in the bush.
If you can tear yourself away from your suites the main attraction lies beyond and has always been at the core of MalaMala’s philosophy. Guests come here for unrivalled game viewing. Being the largest and oldest game reserve in the area, with a very low density of vehicles, maximum of 4 people per vehicle and 20km of river frontage it is little wonder MalaMala is renowned the world over for exceptional safaris.
2. Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana
Vumbura Plains combines luxurious accommodation with the chance to explore one of nature’s greatest miracles, the Okavango Delta. Every year as the Okavango River floods it creates one of the largest inland deltas on the planet, spreading out over vast areas of the arid greater Kalahari, bringing life giving water and attracting an abundance of wildlife.
14 sumptuous rooms complete with large decks and private plunge pools look out onto the floodplains beyond. With a year round source of water, wildlife is abundant at Vumbura Plains, and there is no shortage of ways to view them.
All year 4×4 safaris get you into the thick of things, while for more than half the year you can explore the channels and waterways of the Okavango by boat or mokoro (traditional dugout canoe), or even take to the skies in a hot air balloon for the ultimate delta experience (seasonal and weather dependent).
As if that isn’t enough, it all comes with the Wilderness Safaris commitment to conserving Africa’s wildlife and uplifting local communities, so your stay really is a win-win for all.
1. Singita Pamushana, Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe
Nestled atop a sandstone ridge, offering views in every direction, lies Singita Pamushana, in south eastern Zimbabwe. The lodge has exclusive access to the 130,000 acre Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, one of Zimbabwe’s greatest conservation successes.
8 sprawling suites and a 5 bedroom villa provide luxury accommodation, drawing on design influences from the area’s rich cultural and historic heritage. Each with private pools and incredible views, they all exude the signature elegance for which the Singita group is renowned.
Game drives into the reserve, which is home to a wealth of Africa’s big game, guided bush walks, sunset cruises and fishing on the dam, visits to ancient rock art sights and local communities will fill your stay with lasting memories. After dark the action doesn’t stop, with stargazing sessions under expansive African skies.
Pamushana is not the easiest lodge to reach, but like all the best things in life, it is well worth the effort!