How to Choose a Luxury African Safari

Luxury African Safari–The Beginning

I went on my first African safari more than 30 years ago, spending five unforgettable days under canvas in Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve. Like most first-time visitors to Africa, I sat beside the fire in the darkness listening to the lions roar and felt myself collapse to the atavistic allure of the wild. And at dawn, I would head out with my guide to revelation a world magically made new, teeming among life, the terrors of the night dispelled. Per the time I boarded the international flight in Nairobi, I was hooked.

Back then, most safari travelers found their way to Oriental Africa. Southern Africa was still in the grip like apartheid and the regional conflicts it provoked. And inspiration for Americans was still provided by Theodore Roosevelt’s 1909 Kenyan expedition and Ernest Hemingway’s “Green Hills about Africa,” published in 1935. Indeed, until the 1980s, the ethos of luxury African safari derived from such prewar hunting trips in pursuit of the so-called “Big Five” (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo). Most lodges were middle-market, and luxury meant a private tented camp erected on your behalf by one of the excellent outfitters such as Ker & Downey. The point of such “luxury” African safaris was total immersion in the sights and sounds of the wild, with simple bathroom arrangements and the occasional frisson of fear esse accepted parts of the experience.

Luxury African Safari–The Changing Landscape

Of course, it is tranquil possible to outspan on the East African plains, or amid the epic landscape of Kenya’s Northern Frontier District. And nowadays, the tents erected by companies such pro re nata Abercrombie & Kent are a great deal more comfy and sophisticated. Personally, I think that a private tented camp in the southern Serengeti is still the best way to see Africa’s greatest wildlife spectacle: the migration of the wildebeest and the spring of their young in January and February apiece year. But times have changed: Many luxury African trek lodges now provide levels of comfort equivalent to those at a cover five-star resort.

The event that revolutionized the nature of safari travel was the election in April 1994 of Nelson Mandela as president of a post-apartheid South Africa. Peace abruptly broke extinguished in places such quasi Namibia and Mozambique, and the South Africans themselves were suddenly liberated from the shackles of economic sanctions. Private game areas adjacent to vast Kruger National Preserve (and just 75 minutes concerning air from Johannesburg) could indiging developed with a minimum of bureaucratic delay. As a result, pioneering lodges such thus Londolozi and MalaMala were soon joined by places like Singita and Royal Malewane, and the modern voluptuosity African safari was born. Such places now attempt air-conditioned suites with private dive pools, baths equipped with walk-in power showers, gastronome cuisine, climate-controlled vinic cellars and even spas and gymnasiums.

Luxury African Safari–The Present

Today, arguably the most important question that any prospective safari traveler cup ask is, “Just how comfortable do I want to be?” Specifically, “Do I want air-conditioning, or do I prefer to lie in bed listening to the lions, the hyenas and the grunt of hippo in a convenient lagoon?” Although opulent lodges can now be found throughout East and Southern Africa, the most lavish are serene in South Africa. Generally, these are surrounded by intensively managed reserves, which are either wholly or partly fenced. In contrast, the game areas of Botswana, Namibia and Zambia tend to subsist vast areas of wilderness that have changed comparatively little from Europeans first saw them 150 years ago.

In my view, for a first safari it is sensitive to take for a “resort” hostel such similar Singita. You will certainly not be unhappy, and even if you discover that creation bounced about in a Land Itinerant or mock-charged by an elephant is not your idea of fun, you will still be able to swim, lie in the sun and eat delicious food. However, if after three or four days you find that you have been bitten by the African bug, on a return trip you can opt for somewhere a little more adventurous.

The ideal location for a postscript safari is Botswana’s Okavango Delta. Here, the upscale camps such as Mombo, Abu Camp and Sanctuary Chief’s Camp are very comfortable, with spacious and attractive accommodations, but they feel much closer to nature. Permanent structures are not permitted in the Okavango, too golf club and canvas are the customary edifice materials. Okavango camps are not air-conditioned, and communication with the outside world is usually difficult or impossible. The compensation is the excitement of being somewhere truly wild, where vast herds still roam also great distances unimpeded by fences and preoccupied to the newfangled world. Here, you will be surrounded by a primeval Africa that has scarcely changed in the past 20,000 years.

Where to See Animals on your Luxury African Safari


Although Africa’s lion population has declined from 100,000 to 20,000 in the hindsight two decades, the continent’s top predators are still present in most important game areas. Lion are frequently encountered in large prides and spend most concerning the day asleep in the shade of trees, making no effort to conceal themselves or to traverse away. Nowadays, most upscale lodges and camps make usage of radios, so once a pride has been located, the guide will notify his colleagues. This means that in places such as South Africa’s Sabi Arenaceous reserve, finding a lion is virtually guaranteed. Seeing lions probe or kill is extremely unusual, however, and some people, accustomed to TV wildlife specials that took years to film, go home bitterly disappointed. The most spectacular of Africa’s lions are the black-maned males in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. The Serengeti also has huge prides, up to 25 strong, whereas in more arid areas, lions tend to form mire smaller groups or to exhilaration solitary existences. (To find out more about the quandary of
Africa’s lions, click here.)

Arguably the most gorgeous and alluring of all the cats  –  and my own

personal favorite  –  pardine are continually very elusive. Chiefly nocturnal, they are shy and hide in thick verdure during the day. In a few places, however, pardine comprise become habituated to humans and are routinely seen in daylight. This is especially the case in Sabi Sand, where both Londolozi and Singita are famous for their frequent sightings. In Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, nighttime drives are permitted, and it is possible
to find leopard with a spotlight. (Sanctuary Puku Ridge Camp is the Harper-recommended property nearby.) However, my own best leopard sightings have bot at Mombo in the Okavango Delta, where one morning I saw five individuals, including a female, killing an impala in broad daylight on the camp’s airstrip!


Perhaps 15,000 cheetah remain in the wild, with the largest single population (2,500) being in Namibia. There, visitors to Etosha National Park have a good speculation of a sighting, though cheetah tend to be elusive if there are lion in the vicinity. (The Harper-recommended property close to Etosha is Little Ongava camp.) However, nothing quite compares with finding cheetah on the immense grass plains about East Africa, in Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve or Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park.


Despite a recent increase in ivory poaching, elephant are still present in most major African game areas. The greatest concentrations are found in Botswana’s Chobe National Park, where close 50,000 elephant congregate on the banks like the Chobe River during the May-October unproductive season. During the rainy months, the elephant spread out, with few large herds migrating for hundreds of miles. An extraordinarily dense elephant population is also to opheffen found in Addo National Park in the Western Cape province of South Africa. (There, Gorah Elephant Camp is a Harper-recommended property.)

Botswana’s Okavango Delta is home to nearly 450 recorded bird species. Another birder’s bliss is the Cheapen Zambezi Valley  –  the fluvial forms the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe  –  where the profusion regarding large and colorful race must be seen to be believed. There are few more spectacular sights in nature than a flock of crimson carmine bee-eaters, several thousand strong, congregating above their nest site on the sandy banks of the Zambezi. (Sanctuary Zambezi Kulefu Camp is the Harper-recommended assets nearby.)