Forbes February 7, 2024
Experience some of Africa’s great wilderness areas while staying in one of the recently opened or soon-to-launch safari lodges and camps capturing luxury travellers’ attention.
Last year saw the launch of the highly anticipated lodge, Sitatunga Private Island, by conservation- and community-led safari operator, Great Plains. The eco-tourism company has created this safari camp, almost entirely out of repurposed materials, as an extraordinary setting for water-based safaris in the upper reaches of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Guests can set out on boating safaris and mokoro rides through the wildlife-rich surroundings, among other activities like hot air ballooning, while staying in one of just three suites—accommodating up to eight guests in total—built on raised, wrap-around railway sleeper decking. A sense of place is brought into the interiors, with design details that tell the story of the Okavango, and amenities like private pools and a wine cellar elevate the overall experience.
The end of 2023 then marked the arrival of Angama Amboseli—sister lodge to Angama Mara—in the 5,700-acre Kimana Sanctuary, which lies in a wildlife corridor linking Amboseli National Park with the Chyulu Hills and Tsavo protected areas. Set against a backdrop of Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, this luxury lodge accommodates guests in 10 panoramic suites inspired in design by traditional Maasai manyatta structures and made using local materials like rattan and coconut palm wood. An indoor-outdoor dining area, fire pit, photography studio and games room, as well as a gallery and makers’ studio for Kenyan artisans, make up the shared guest area. This wilderness area is known for its density of wildlife where elephants, including some of Africa’s Super Tuskers, are in particular abundance.
On track to opening in May 2024, Atzaró Okavango will pair a high level of luxury hospitality with a remote setting in the Okavango Delta and an introduction to this area of wilderness in partnership with African Bush Camps. Each of the eight standalone suites and two villas (both containing two suites) come with private plunge pools and star beds. Parquet flooring, mid-century furnishings and antique items decorate each space. A fine dining area, the Palm Bar, a fire-lit boma, curated art gallery, boutique and wine cellar all feature in the shared guest areas, with wellness amenities then including a gym, yoga shala and spa, as well as a 20m pool overlooking a lagoon that’s frequented by hippos and elephants. Activities from here include day and night game drives, community visits, helicopter safaris, stargazing and bush dining.
Encountering the wildlife in the Serengeti with Singita.
The latest property from Singita, this private villa is set to open in the Serengeti this May. A part of the Singita Private Villa Collection, Singita Milele will pair complete privacy and seclusion with a front seat to the Great Migration. The South Africa-based design firm HK Studio has designed the property to minimise barriers between the guests and nature, with a contemporary take on safari motifs woven throughout each space. The five suites each draw on an animal collective—a journey of giraffe, pride of lions, cheetah coalition, dazzle of zebra, and crash of rhino—for their individual design, while floor-to-ceiling windows, expansive decks, an infinity pool and private Jacuzzis all make the most of the views over the plains. Here, guests can set out on game drives, explore on foot and, back at the villa, enjoy wellness treatments and private dining experiences.
Expected to make its debut in spring 2024, Wilderness Mokete will open as a new low-impact tented camp in the remote Mababe wilderness area on the eastern fringe of the Okavango Delta. Only open for a limited time, the camp will be available to book for just two years following its launch. The camp will consist of nine en-suite canvas tents, along with a tented lounge area and swimming pool, all connected by wooden walkways. Each tented suite will come with a retractable roof for viewing the star-filled sky at night. Wilderness has worked with the Mababe community to create this tented camp experience and will place the focus first and foremost on immersing guests in this extraordinary environment. In 2026, when this exclusive camp experience comes to a close, Wilderness will build its new signature Meraka camp in its place.
This May, Volcanoes Safaris is launching its fifth property, Kibale Lodge in Uganda. The lodge will place guests within close proximity of Kibale National Park, considered one of the best places to view chimpanzees in Africa, making it the ideal base for chimpanzee trekking. This property adds to the existing circuit of Volcanoes Safaris’ great ape lodges across Uganda and Rwanda. Kibale Lodge will house just eight guest rooms and a villa, along with facilities including a spa, sauna and pool. On its 150-acre site dominated by a rocky outcrop, the lodge will overlook the Rwenzori Mountains to the west and the Queen Elizabeth plains and Kazinga channel to the south. During a stay here, guests will be able to participate in community and conservation projects and set out on walking safaris through the dramatic landscape.
The not-for-profit safari company, Lepogo Lodges, opened its second property, Melote House, in the Lapalala Wilderness of Limpopo last month. This exclusive-use lodge, sleeping up to 16, joins the already established Noka Camp, which it lies close to on a dramatic vantage point of this mountainous, forested landscape. This new lodge draws inspiration from the rock formations of the Waterberg region for its design and is built with sustainability in mind, with all power generated on site and green living roofs helping ensure the structure blends in with the landscape. Guests of this lodge can come together in the Seringa Bar & Lounge, featuring a living area, dining room, bar, wine cellar, study and library, with space spilling outdoors featuring a 100-sq-m swimming pool. A fully equipped gym and spa are among the other amenities found here. Activities range from game drives and bush walks to water safaris and seeking out bushman rock art.
Wilderness is enhancing the experience found at its Bisate location, near Volcanoes National Park, with the September-2024-opening Wilderness Bisate Reserve. Joining the existing Bisate Lodge, the Reserve will encompass just four spacious villas, all overlooking the volcanoes, and just like its sister lodge it will be defined by its hospitality concept fusing exclusivity and luxury with the purpose of driving conservation tourism in the region. By staying here, guests contribute directly to the preservation of the mountain gorilla species along with the protection of this biodiverse environment and upliftment of the local community. Ultimately the Reserve aims to provide the most exclusive, intimate and impactful experience in this extraordinary location. Activities will include expert-guided gorilla encounters, nature walks and an introduction to the birdlife.
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