By Christine Mungai, Travel Writer
South Africa is one of the most fascinating destinations in Africa renowned for its stunning biodiversity, rich culture and of course, wildlife. In fact, the terms South Africa and safari are almost synonymous.
African bush may seem an unlikely place to find elegance but this is a country where untamed wilderness abuts lavish comfort. Whether you are a novice hoping to catch your first glimpse of the big five, or a safari aficionado with a special sighting on mind, South Africa rarely disappoints.
A luxury safari in Africa translates to sophisticated yet secluded lodges, intimate safari camps, and vast wilderness stretching as far as your eyes can see.
On an African safari it’s given you may get a bit dusty tracking animals by day, but you won’t be roughing it at night. South Africa provides tourists with some of the most rewarding game viewing and luxurious accommodations in Africa.
Check out the following guide for a luxury safari experience with tons of indelible moments.
Why you should choose a luxury South Africa safari
- Plush pampering
There is no better way to indulge and be in harmony with nature than a luxury safari. Not only do you have unforgettable encounters with the world’s most bewitching wildlife, but you also get extravagant experiences characterised by opulent suites perfect for royals, sumptuous spa treatment and of course, a seemingly endless supply of meals from South Africa’s interesting cuisine.
- Stunning backdrop
It’s possible to get plush accommodations anywhere around the globe. What set South Africa’s luxury lodges apart are their beguiling locations.
Top Luxury Safari destinations in South Africa
Ellerman House and Singita Lebombo & Sweni Lodges
Compare and contrast cosmopolitan Cape Town with the imposing wilderness of Kruger National Park with this seven-day trip that takes in many of South Africa’s highlights, both natural and man-made. Start in multicultural Cape Town, with its striking street art, designer shops and breathtaking views over the Atlantic and awesome Table Mountain. Stay in an urban retreat with 13 individually decorated rooms and a fine collection of original South African art. It’s a great base from which to explore the nearby golden beaches and bountiful vineyards. From here, it’s a short flight to Johannesburg and a transfer to Singita, a private concession within the pristine expanses of the Kruger National Park. Indulge in a further four nights in a loft-style suite at or a stylish suite at intimate Sweni Lodge and enjoy morning and evening game drives – fantastic opportunities to sight the Big Five.
This trip blends two of South Africa’s most well-known attractions – wine and big-game spotting – in one exceptional holiday. Begin your journey in Sir Richard Branson’s exquisite boutique hotel set on the sloping vineyards above Franschhoek, an ancient town in the heart of world-class vineyards. Unwind in your private plunge pool, dine among the vines and sample various vintages in the ancient wine cellar. Next, fly to Sabi Sand Game Reserve. Here, also owned by Sir Richard, offers a luxury safari experience. Carved into and around the rocks are rooms and suites that have private decks, pools and outdoor bathtubs overlooking the surrounding bushveld. You can’t get much closer to nature.
Top luxury safari accommodations in South Africa
- Tswalu, Northen Cape
This is probably the best safari lodge in South Africa and beyond- for its fantastic location, special encounters with wildlife and unrivalled luxury experience.
Tswalu is the largest private game park in South Africa, located in southern part of the renowned Kalahari- a pristine, magnificent and vast wilderness stretching to the of horizon.
The game park is famed for extraordinary and rare wildlife where it’s almost a guarantee to see the lack-maned lions, desert black rhinos and African wild dog.
There are many awesome luxury game parks and accommodations in South Africa but Tswalu cut above the list as it’s one of the few places in Africa where you stand a chance to spot the elusive pangolin or aardvark.
You’re also allocated your game drive vehicle with a guide so you can enjoy a completely flexible itinerary. Between game drives, there are bush dinners, boma feasts wine tasting sundowners, dune picnics, champagne breakfasts and luxury spa treatments are on offer as well.
Located merely two hours’ drive from Cape Town, Grootbos is a luxury eco-lodge situated in a private, pristine reserve tucked between forests, mountains and sea.
It has two stylish and ultra-luxury lodges situated on either fynbos or Milkwood forest and although you won’t see big game here, there are tons of game parks within a close proximity.
- Royal Malewane
Just like the name suggests, this safari lodge situated on a private reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park host a maximum of 20 visitors in utopian style and luxury.
Six suites boasting private infinity pools offer total seclusion and awe-inspiring views while the lodge itself has royal dinning and sitting areas with fabulous outlooks onto the bush.
- Ulusaba Private Game Reserve
Apart from offering luxurious accommodation, this award-winning game reserve is an epitome of exclusive and luxurious safari experience.
Situated in the heart of the beautiful Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Ulusaba offers one of the most tranquil dusk and dawn private game experiences.
Ulusaba’s two lodges provide visitors with the most exclusive Big Five sightings plus astounding views of sunsets and star gazing opportunity at night.
- Timbavati Private Nature Reserve
Timbavati Private Reserve is home to the endangered white rhino, and with its diversity of wildlife, charming tented camps plus posh lodges, this place is yet another to haven for visitors yearning for the best luxurious safari experience but in a private setting.
Up close encounters with different animal species including the majestic Big Five are guarantee in Timbavati Private Reserve, as it shares unfenced border with the famous Kruger National Park.
In addition to morning and afternoon guided game drives, Timbavati also provides guided bush walks where you can sample the unique South Africa’s flora and fauna.
You can also enjoy uninterrupted game viewing at Timbavati’s waterhole or catch the sun go down on the horizon from the colonial styled lodges, traditional thatched lodges or from the luxury tented camps.
- Phinda Private game Reserve
Phinda is a gem designed to offer comfort, privacy and seclusion. It’s a perfect choice if you want to have close encounters with the big cats, the cheetah and the endangered black and white rhinos.
They offer day and night guided drive and safari walks