What is the best safari lodge in South Africa? A simple question with a complex answer! This answer is also dependent on personal taste and what you expect from your safari experience. The top mobile walking safari lodge might be too active a place for that honeymoon couple chasing spa treatments and a sedentary stay. What one couple might label the best safari lodge in South Africa, could be bottom of the list for another couple. Pushing personal taste and safari desires aside, we’re going to list 4 of the top safari lodges in South Africa that are our favourite premier destinations.
What you should know is that Some of the best game viewing areas of the Greater Kruger Park are in the private concessions that share unfenced borders with the park, so wildlife flows freely between them. In these concessions, guests are taken on exciting off-road game drives and guided walks in the bush. The most well-known reserves are the Timbavati and Sabi Sand, popular destinations with foreign visitors. However, most of the private reserves within the Greater Kruger offer fantastic game viewing, on par with the more well-documented lodges. In short, these are the creme-de-la-creme of safari lodges within the Greater Kruger.
Singita Sweni, Singita Castleton, Singita Ebony, Singita Boulders (Kruger National Park) and Singita Lebombo (Kruger National Park) all offer a variety of premier lodge options in the exclusive Sabi Sand and private concessions in the national park.
Lebombo comes complete with a roof terrace, wine studio, espresso bar and help-yourself deli. There’s even a 25 metre pool sitting in front of 13 contemporary suites on the banks of a river. Boulders Lodge has a somewhat different atmosphere and is an extension of the African wild, an inviting piece of paradise furnished with light colours and gentle textures. Boulders overlooks the Sand River and is named after the smooth boulders taking pride of place at the lodge.
Castleton is an exclusive use lodge ideal for families or small groups wanting a private safari experience. There are 6 individual cottages sprawled across manicured lawns, and a main area housing a haven of luxury for those safari downtimes.
Sweni seems to almost form part of the banks of the Sweni River, a soothing and relaxing wild region in a private concession in the Kruger National Park. The lodge is bold in its design and sits under a canopy of riverine trees. A perfectly secluded location.
Ebony Lodge is located on the banks of the Sand River and cleverly combines classic safari style with modern architecture. Ebony is a delightful mix of tented camp and bush lodge, and exudes a definite ancient Africa explorer feel.
Why we love it : We’re obsessed with the Singita brand and its association with premier, exclusive luxury. The Singita ethos is about community and conservation, and building exquisite award-winning architectural structures furnished with the finest decor. Singita is sophisticated, a brand reserved for only a select few.
Madikwe Safari Lodge in Madikwe Game Reserve
One of the major drawcards of the Madikwe Game Reserve is that it’s Malaria-free, making it ideal as a family destination. Madikwe actually has 3 exclusive retreats from which to choose. These include : Lelapa, Kopano and Dithaba. Madikwe is perfect for leisure travellers, families and honeymooners. Madikwe is known for it tailor-made experiences and guests can expect surprise sundowner stops with local craft gins and an array of snacks.
There are never more than 5 people to a vehicle while out exploring the reserve. Madikwe certainly focuses on offering an intimate and personalised safari experience. Lelapa is great for families, Kopano can be hired out on an exclusive use basis and Dithaba only has 4 elevated suites ideal for honeymooners and romantics.
Why we love it : Located in a malaria free area in the North-West Province, Madikwe is ideal for a families. There’s also a low concentration of game viewers, a wonderfully diverse landscape and a unique opportunity to sign-up for their rhino conservation experience.
Simbavati Hilltop is the sister lodge to Simbavati Safari Lodge, and is located in an elevated position on top of a koppie in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Simple wooden structures with exquisite finely crafted finishings, and wall-to-floor glass windows give Hilltop lodge a crisp look and feel. Pavilion-style luxury tents are dotted around the bushveld in a village style, each with views of the glistening river below.
Why we love it : It’s elegant, fresh and uncomplicated in its design. We love the luxury tents on raised platforms and the uninterrupted wilderness views. A favourite with guests is the deep set bath with a view of the Timbavati – what a way to soak and relax!
A rich and opulent lodge, Royal Malewane is most definitely a highly sought after, elite lodge located within the pristine Thornybush Reserve in the heart of the Greater Kruger. Royal Malewane offers and unrivalled game viewing experience in the midst of big five territory. This is the place for honyemoons, memorable safari experiences and even family holidays. Hire out the private villa, indulge in fine cuisine, and observe big game from the comfort of your palatial luxury suite. The luxury suites are refined and come complete with outdoor pool, gazebo and indoor/outdoor showers. Classy enough for you, your highness?
Why we love it : Royal Malewane is part of the Royal Portfolio, a carefully handpicked and curated portfolio of unique hotels and lodges in breathtaking destinations. Each property within the portfolio offers something unique and is – quite frankly – fit for royalty. Oh…and the bush spa is certainly something to write home about!