Today: Top 10 best Wilderness Safaris lodges in Africa
Wilderness Safaris is widely acclaimed as Africa’s foremost luxury and sustainable safaris operator. The company was founded in 1983 in Botswana by two young guides, who wanted to ensure the financial benefits of their safaris flow to Botswana and its people. Today, Wilderness Safaris is operating over 40 camps in six countries: Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. As a conservation organisation and a responsible ecotourism operator Wilderness Safaris believes fully in its vision of the 4Cs – Commerce, Conservation, Community and Culture – as contributing meaningfully to the wildlife and the people of Africa. They create life-changing journeys for guests in some of the most remote and pristine areas in Africa, hereby helping to conserve Africa’s spectacular biodiversity and share ecotourism’s benefits with the communities that live alongside these areas. Several of Wilderness Safaris’ lodges rank among the most iconic properties on earth and here’s my list of the 10 best Wilderness Safaris lodges (the majority of them being located in Botswana).
There is more information (with reviews & YouTube vidoes) below the slideshow. Have you ever traveled with Wilderness Safaris? If so, what was your experience? Leave comment below.
Little Kulala’s home is the 27 000-hectare Kulala Wilderness Reserve, a pristine wilderness sited in Namibia’s Namib, nicknamed ‘The Living Desert’. A welcome oasis, the camp lies along the dry Auab riverbed. You can’t get much closer to the renowned dunes of Sossusvlei and the haunting panoramas of Dead Vlei, accessible through an exclusive-use gate. Recently refurbished, Little Kulala entices with its adventures, its landscapes, its peace. Totally solar-powered, the new camp has cleaner, more modern lines than its predecessor, opening out more to the desert. Its 11 climate-controlled suites – each with its own plunge pool – honor the local geology, reflecting the surrounding grey and pink limestone in color and texture. Each suite’s rooftop invites private sundowners and suppers, and a roll-out bed on a shaded sala is perfect for an afternoon siesta or starry sleep-out.
Segera lies in the high grasslands of the Laikipia Plateau in central Kenya, which boasts the country’s second highest wildlife density. By game vehicle, guests explore the historic savannah, rich with various plains game as well as lions, leopards, cheetahs, spotted hyaenas, elephants, buffalos, reticulated giraffes, African wild dogs, Segera’s elegant six timber and thatch villas, raised above a wild, botanical profusion, offer views towards snow-capped Mount Kenya. Each large, en-suite bedroom, with high-pitched roofs and crisp-white linens, has a private deck with sun loungers, swing bed, and sunken jacuzzi. The main area is comprised of the Paddock House, Wine Tower, and renovated stables, complete with bar and dining room filled with contemporary African art from the Zeitz Collection, the setting for enjoying internationally renowned cuisine.
- Hotel website: Segera
Captivating Vumbura Plains lies in the far north of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest inland delta on Earth. Perched on raised decks in the midst of the melapo – the annually inundated grasslands – the camp almost floats over water, radiant blue and pure enough to drink. Nestled under tree canopies and airily open to nature, Vumbura Plains is an artful, contemporary balance of wood, glass, and canvas, reflecting the colors of the spectacular floodplains, studded with ilala palms and small islands. Its 14 spacious suites include indoor and outdoor showers, an en-suite bathroom, private plunge pool, and outdoor ‘sala’ from where you can view the never-ending wildlife parade. Leopard cubs coming to drink at the camp swimming pool, for instance; hippos ‘mowing’ the grasses nearby; a baby elephant being taught how to use his trunk.
- Hotel website: Vumbura Plains
King’s Pool’s lies next to Chobe National Park and is at the crux of the important wildlife corridor straddling Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Botswana. Such corridors are essential to promote viable, self-sustaining wildlife populations and reduce human-wildlife conflict. Refurbished in 2019, King’s Pool nestles under ebony and jackalberry trees and overlooks the Linyanti River and an oxbow lagoon, the ‘King’s Pool’ – honouring Swedish King Carl Gustav XVI, who reportedly honeymooned nearby in the seventies. Totally solar-powered, richly hued in copper and teal, the camp offers eight elegant thatch and canvas suites, each boasting a spacious bedroom and lounge leading to a veranda embracing views of the picturesque lagoon and surrounds. The sumptuous common areas are stylishly set on expansive raised decks close to the water’s edge, perfect for watching all the wildlife dramas unfold.
- Hotel website: King’s Pool
Abu’s home is the 180 000-hectare Abu Private Reserve, one of the largest exclusive protected areas in Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Named after a very special bull elephant, Abu Camp is set in a pristine pocket of riverine forest and blends in seamlessly with the magnificent surrounding hardwood trees. Looking out over a large lagoon, an imaginative use of canvas has created a unique and luxurious style of tent. Each of the six en-suite units has its own distinctive furnishings and fittings, imparting an air of opulence in the bush. These airy tents feature an indoor and outdoor shower, an outdoor copper bath and a generous elevated teak deck. Well-lit pathways link the guest tents with the main lounge and dining area and a well-stocked library and study, gym and swimming pool will keep you entertained while at camp. Exploring the bush is done by game drive, mekoro, walks – or by elephant!
- Hotel website: Abu Camp
Nestled deep within the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve, on the northernmost fringe of Botswana, lies DumaTau. The reserve’s diverse, pristine 95 000 acres offers truly exclusive excursions and close-up wildlife encounters. Newly rebuilt DumaTau takes full advantage of its 45 km (28 mi) of river frontage to create an unparalleled safari experience. Eight tented suites with private plunge pools sit on wooden walkways mere steps from the wildlife corridors, so animals often wander peacefully through camp. Interiors of hand-crafted mosaic tile, acacia wood, and local textiles reflect the heart of the Linyanti. The camp’s new spa, the Osprey Retreat, soothes your soul. As do all the elephants, whose moving herds compose one of Africa’s most elemental rhythms. Similar in style to DumaTau, Little DumaTau is an intimate haven of sophisticated elegance, with just four supremely spacious guest suites.
- Hotel website: DumaTau & Little DumaTau
Jao lies in the 60 000-hectare Jao Reserve in the heart of the Okavango, under a tree canopy on its own remote island, with renowned Moremi Game Reserve bordering on the east. Revamped in 2019, multiple-award winner Jao is a sculptural marvel of natural and recycled materials, of steel, wood, and glass, of towering, spacious interiors embracing the light, the bush. Offering spectacular land- and water-based game viewing, and extras like its spa, library, museum, and gallery. Jao comprises a main area elevated into the tree canopy, two exclusive villas, and five suites, all with private plunge pools, lounge and dining areas, and en-suite bathrooms, including indoor and outdoor showers. With views of the magnificent floodplains from almost everywhere, Jao’s a place of wonder and supreme serenity.
- Hotel website: Jao Camp
Comprising just 6 spacious forest villas, Bisate offers a luxurious base from where to enjoy an extraordinary gorilla conservation experience and life-changing journey to this beautiful region. Situated within the amphitheater of an eroded volcanic cone, Bisate is surrounded by natural splendor, with sweeping views towards the Karisimbi, Bisoke and Mikeno volcanoes. Bisate’s sophisticated architectural and interior design is rooted in Rwandan building tradition as exemplified in the design of the Royal Palace of the traditional monarch. The spherical, thatched structures echo the thousands of hills that dot the Rwandan landscape, while the richly-detailed interiors exhibit surfaces and screens made from a variety of woven materials with strong resonance in Rwandan culture. Since opening in 2017, Bisate has racked up 34 awards and continues to inspire superlatives.
- Hotel website: Bisate Lodge
- Other accolades: Bisate Lodge features in my list of the best hotels & lodges in Rwanda
- Review: read my review of Bisate Lodge here.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is located in Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert’s famed Kaokoveld, an otherworldly and remote landscape hewn over the ages into immense dunes and rocky mountains. The lodge’s eight luxury tented suites peak like whitecaps on an ocean of sand. Totally solar-powered, Hoanib has a fresh, contemporary design, with a color palette reflecting the surrounding desert. The camp (suites, common areas, pool) looks out on a wide, rugged valley that slopes down to the usually dry Hoanib River. Highlights include a spectacular dry-and-fly excursion to the Skeleton Coast and dining under impossibly starry skies, perhaps at the firepit as a jackal cries or a lion roars, punctuating the stillness of the inky night. The property also doubles as a center for research and conservation of the desert-adapted predators of this harsh region: the desert-adapted lion and brown hyaena.
- Hotel website: Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
- Review: read my review of Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp here.
Mombo Camp, situated in the northern point of wildlife-filled Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta, is set under large, shady trees overlooking a floodplain generally filled with life. Rebuilt in 2018, repurposing much of the material, Mombo maintains the traditions and history of the legendary original camp. The camp’s eight spacious and ultra-luxurious ensuite tents are raised from the ground, with a long veranda, a sala and indoor and outdoor showers. Mombo Camp’s main living, bar and dining areas are under thatch, while the boma adds traditional flavor to a delicious dinner under the stars. There are two plunge pools in which to soak and a gym to work off the excellent food. Little Mombo, situated on Chief’s Island, is a smaller and more intimate camp to its sister and has its own dining and lounge area and a sparkling pool.
- Hotel website: Mombo & Little Mombo
- Other accolades: Mombo and Little Mombo Camp also feature in my top 10 lists of the Africa’s most luxurious safari lodges.