Best private safari lodges and villas
Enjoy the world’s best game-viewing from your own private lodge
For some safari aficionados, the camaraderie of the camp is part of the appeal, promising swapped stories of sightings over sundowners and the chance to bond around the communal dining table.
For others, however, the wilderness is best enjoyed in glorious isolation - and those who can afford to pay for exclusivity are increasingly seeking out private safari villas for their sole use.
Lengishu, Borana Conservancy, Kenya
Lengishu, a brand new family home in northern Kenya, can accommodate up to 12 guests amid the glorious 30,000-acre Borana Conservancy in northern Kenya. Opened in May, it incorporates principles of sustainable design and has been built with locally sourced materials, including stones dug up on site and beams made from Kenyan timber. The property consists of six bedrooms in four cottages around the main house, providing a combination of privacy and communal living - as well as a private infinity pool, gym, games room and in-house masseuse. The main attraction, however, is Borana itself: Lengishu can organise game drives, mountain biking, horse riding, helicopter flights, quad biking and the opportunity to joining the anti-poaching units which track rhino on foot. Last year, the fifth consecutive poaching-free year, 16 baby rhinos were born on the conservancy.
From £6,500 per night, based on six people sharing, plus conservation fees of £90 per adult and £45 per child per night. For more information visit lengishu.com
Little Bush Camp, Sabi Sabi, South Africa
Sabi Sabi, a luxury safari lodge in a private game reserve on the edge of Kruger National Park, offers exclusive use of its Little Bush Camp, a boutique lodge with six suites and a capacious lounge, bar and tree-shaded dining area. Each of the double rooms, furnished in a modern African aesthetic, has its own private balcony and hot tub, from which you can watch as wildlife strolls along the banks of the Msuthlu river below. Game drives and other activities can be tailored to the requirements of the group
From £841pp per night, all inclusive, except flights and game reserve fees. For more information see sabisabi.com
Hillside Suite, Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania
From its vantage point high on an escarpment in the far north of Tanzania, Singita’s new Hillside Suite offers endless views over the Serengeti plains. While it shares the private Grumeti Reserve with the Singita Sasakwa lodge, the two-person suite comes with a dedicated field guide, safari vehicle and butler, as well as its own infinity pool and even a private access road. Due to open in June, the suite promises dramatic frameless doors and windows and an extensive wooden deck overlooking the savannah - the perfect spot from which to enjoy your exclusive in-room meal service.
From £8,075pp for two people from three nights, all inclusive, with private guide and flights from the UK, booked through the Luxury Safari Company
Mkombe’s House Lamai, Serengeti, Tanzania
The only private home in Serengeti National Park itself is Mkombe’s House Lamai, run by Nomad Tanzania and named after Mkombe Mniko, a celebrated Nomad guide who was particularly popular with families and children. With two double rooms, each with adjoining rooms for children, the property can accommodate two families - and furnish them with the luxury of a private swimming pool and a baby-sitting service. Light and airy, the house is designed to fit in with its surroundings, inside and out, making use of locally sourced timber and fabrics. It sits a couple of miles from the Mara River and overlooks the point where millions of wildebeest cross the waters between July and October. Lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo can be seen in great numbers all year.
From about £600pp per night, all inclusive except flights, from Nomad Tanzania
Morukuru Ocean House, South Africa
While you won’t find the big five in the De Hoop Nature Reserve, a coastal park 130 miles east of Cape Town, between July and November you may see an even bigger beast - a southern right whale, migrating through the shallow waters of the Indian Ocean. The floor-to-ceiling windows of all four suites at Morukuru Ocean House overlook the water, giving you the chance to indulge in a spot of whale-watching from the comfort of your bed. More energetic activities include mountain-biking, sand-boarding and guided walks along the limestone cliffs, rock pools and wetlands, which are home to more than 260 species of bird. The house includes a swimming pool, private kitchen and chef, and the services of a butler.
From £2,137pp for eight people for three nights, including flights from the UK, private guide and meals, booked through the Luxury Safari Company
andBeyond Phinda Homestead, South Africa
A fire in 2016 provided andBeyond with the unsought opportunity to redesign the Phinda Homestead, a single-use villa in Phinda private game reserve, 150 miles north of Durban. Sleek and low, the new Homestead has a more modern profile than its predecessor, but the interior design draws inspiration from Zulu craftwork, with shades of burnt clay and aloe emerging as accent colours. Open and spacious, the villa includes a library, a gym and a massage room, as well as a fully stocked bar on the poolside deck. A private host, butler and chef take care of hospitality, while a dedicated ranger will guide guests through Phinda’s unique blend of sand forest and savannah, populated by lions, leopards and rhinos.
Phinda Homestead, from about £5,000 per night, all inclusive, for the villa and most activities. Flights extra