Sightings of the Big Five and other extraordinary wildlife aside, the biggest highlight, hands down, of an African safari is a stay at an extravagant camp in the middle of the bush.
These camps, also called lodges, are some of the finest properties in the world, says Deborah Calmeyer, founder of the luxury travel company Roar Africa, who is from Zimbabwe and spends more than half the year vetting camps all over the continent.
“The best ones meet every refined traveler’s requirements and then some,” she says. “They’re in settings that are hard to match and have exquisite, huge rooms and the best food and wine. A stay is a true experience and immersion in hospitality like no other.”
Africa has some long-established upscale camps, such as Cottar’s Camp in Kenya and Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge in South Africa, but new players are constantly entering the game, according to Calmeyer. At the same time, many acclaimed existing camps undergo renovations that keep them competitive and on top of their game.
Our list below is a roundup of the latest names on Africa’s high-end-lodge scene. Yes, checking in will run you, at most, four figures a night per person, but for die-hard luxury seekers, the money is likely worth it.
Xigera Safari Lodge, Masarwa, Botswana
In one of the most anticipated lodge openings in years, Xigera made a grand debut in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, renowned for its abundance of wildlife. The camp has 12 suites, each individually designed with local furniture and accessories, and is 95 percent solar-powered. You’ll enjoy a standout collection of African art and design throughout the property that comes from 76 of the continent’s most well-regarded artists. Can’t-miss experiences during your stay include an excursion on the delta’s waterways on a glass-bottom mokoro, or boat, and a sleepover in a baobab tree house.