Written by Julie Graham
South Africa is a country blessed with an abundance of vast open spaces, fresh air, and striking natural beauty. It is also home to some of the best safari lodges, each with unique offerings highlighting the finest aspects of the different regions. Exclusive, remote and intimate, these properties offer guests a luxury safari experience bar none with stellar service, top cuisine, and world-class wilderness adventures. Here are our picks of the best safari lodges in South Africa, all offering unique once-in-a-lifetime adventures, with all the sophisticated bells and whistles for the discerning safari-goer.
Situated in the stunning southern region of the Kruger National Park, Jock Safari Lodge lies within 6,000 hectares of absolute pristine bushveld wilderness – miles away from the maddening crowds. An exclusive concession, the wildlife (including the iconic Big Five) survive and thrive undisturbed by mankind.
Exuding elegance and 5-star grandeur, the lodge is all about the finer things in life, offering guests a chance to recharge and unwind in style, with all the modern comforts considered and taken to the next level of luxury. Fine wine, dining and world-class game viewing in this intimate, unbroken landscape is everything it promises to be: untamed, untouched, unforgettable.
The name Sanbona represents the vision of the San people to restore harmony between man and nature and restore the interconnectedness of all living beings. Seated at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, in the heart of the Klein Karoo, Dwyka Tented Lodge is located in the Sanbona reserve – the largest privately-owned wildlife reserve in the Western Cape.
Ideally positioned on a horseshoe bend of a dried-up Karoo ravine, surrounded by the most incredible rock formations, the feeling of complete isolation and seclusion in a completely hidden landscape makes one feel like a pioneering adventurer. The reserve has not only reintroduced the Big Five and other indigenous game back to this landscape, but also the rare White Lion – offering these sacred animals a safe space to wander freely. Think nights spent star-gazing from your private hot tub, and days spent exploring the incredible landscape between bouts of utter relaxation and world-class dining in absolute luxury and you’re almost there.
Experience Sanbona Dwyka Tented Lodge on our 10 day Cape Town Safari & Whale Coast Adventure.
Located in Kapama Game Reserve between the northern Drakensberg mountains and the Greater Kruger Park, is a lodge with a beautiful story. Considered one of the best safari lodges in South Africa, it is the home of Jabulani the elephant – a rescue elephant who now leads a herd of 15 Zimbabwean elephants who were also rescued by the lodge’s owner, Adine Roode.
The story itself is one of hope and consolation, and the very essence of the lodge reflects this incredible journey that began 20 years ago with the brave little elephant who fought against the odds to survive. Recognized as one of the countries most respected 5-star safari lodges, it is an idyllic escape where guests have an opportunity to interact with these majestic creatures and understand them on a deeper level – both physically and emotionally. The Jabulani elephant experience, described as being both “soulful and insightful” is a truly unique safari experience, and one that will undoubtedly remain embedded in your heart forever.
Experience Jabulani Safari for yourself on our 13 day Elephant Conservation Safari in South Africa, Victoria Falls & Botswana.
Located in the pristine Manyeleti Game Reserve – which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park – Tintswalo Safari Lodge provides a private safari experience in style. The reserve is renowned for its minimal vehicle density, and massive abundance of Big Five and other game, offering a truly exclusive experience.
So, if isolation is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Relax amongst the ancient sycamores after a day of game viewing in your own private plunge pool in one of the six luxuriously appointed suites, watching the wildlife drink from the seasonal riverbed along which the lodge is situated. This is untouched African wilderness at its very best, and 5-star service that is simply unparalleled.
If a dose of adventure is what you’re after, look no further. Situated on 8,000 hectares of the Waterberg region in Limpopo, Leobo Private Reserve is a luxury safari lodge with a difference. Here, traditional game drive vehicles are rarely used. Instead, guests experience the bush on horseback, quad bikes, or on board the helicopter. There are no scheduled itineraries, no time constraints, and no rules (apart from the essential safety regulations of course).
Apart from its most legendary activity – helicopter paintball – Leobo offers an array of heart-stopping, adrenaline-filled activities in an environment that constantly stimulates the senses. The extraordinary Observatory Bush Villa is available for exclusive use only, complete with a private butler and personal chef. There really is nothing quite like it in the world – an idyllic escape where guests can disconnect from the outside world, be one with nature, and have the ultimate adrenaline-filled adventure.
Stay at the Leobo exclusive-use villa on our 11 day Diamond Safari in South Africa.