National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World is a handpicked selection of lodges across the globe offering extraordinary accommodation in treasured corners of the world. This carefully curated selection of awe-inspiring places offers guests an opportunity to stay in places that conserve and protect nature, cultural heritage and use sustainable practices for the day-to-day running of their lodge. Coupled with this, National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World also offer an elite sense of luxury with a personalised and intimate atmosphere. There are currently 17 lodges in Africa that have earned their position on this list of sought-after lodges, but today we’re just going to highlight 5 safari lodges within Nat Geo’s list.
These are the lodges to stay at if you’d like to travel with purpose in Africa, and seek a more enriching experience than just the standard safari. They set the standard for luxury and responsible travel experiences, in our favourite safari regions.
Click here to read the comprehensive list of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World in Africa.
Duba Plains in Duba Plains Reserve, Botswana
Dashing Duba Plains is located in a game-rich stretch of bushveld north of the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta region. The lodge is community owned. As a matter of fact, it is the only place within this concession, which means private wildlife viewing.Wooded islands and vast floodplains cocoon Duba Plains, providing the perfect habitat for a diverse array of predators. The waterways are permanent, which means ample sightings of wading birds and amphibian hunting raptors.
The entire camp sits under a canopy of fig trees, and the main area has a splash pool, central lounge and bar area and ample indoor/outdoor relaxation spots. In terms of accommodation, there are only 5 luxury tents, which ensures an intimate and personalised service. Each tent has its own private verandah on a viewing deck.
Considered the Okavango Delta’s most remote camp, we’re not surprised that Duba made it onto the Nat Geo’s premier list of destinations. This is the place that the owners, and National Geographic filmmakers, conservationists and explorers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, chose for their home base.
andBeyond Ngorongoro Crate Lodge, Tanzania
andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is perfectly perched on the rim of a caldera, a geographical phenomenon which is caused by the collapse of a volcano into itself. This naturally depressed area is filled with dense greenery and is home high concentrations of wildlife, almost forming a protected pocket of paradise for animals.
The lodge overlooks endless landscapes, and is an architectural delight that offers unique decor reflecting that of its surrounds. There are 30 elegant stilted suites built with natural materials, each overlooking the crater with their own sitting and dining areas. The Masai craft shop on the property is the perfect place to buy local handmade items, the proceeds of which support the livelihood of the community.
Activities abound, one of the favourites is a professionally guided walk along the crater’s rim. A resident naturalist will lead these guided walks, teaching guests about the fauna and flora of Tanzania.
The lodge is actively involved in preserving the landscape and plays a part conserving the mystery of its surrounds, earning its reputation as one of Nat Geo’s top lodges.
Jaci’s Lodges, Madikwe Game Reserve
Situated on 75 000 of prime game viewing land in the big five Malaria free Madikwe Game Reserve, Jaci’s Lodges offers a sense of eclectic and bohemian style in the heart of the rugged bushveld. Jaci’s comprises two lodges offering a total of 18 superbly decorated suites that range from deluxe tented bedrooms to custom-made tree houses. Protected by a canopy of tamboti trees and overlooking a thriving waterhole, Jaci’s is certainly located in an idyllic spot.
The lounge and bar area exude warmth, and bright pops of colour weave their way through main areas, playing the perfect contrast to the emerald colours of the natural surrounds. Al fresco dining under the stars, wintery evenings at the fireplace and luxury suites with views of the waterhole, make Jaci’s Lodges the perfect place for a safari.
Jaci’s offers the opportunity to get involved in conservation efforts which include anything from microchipping rhinos to collaring elephants. The perfect place to travel with purpose.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Located in the fynbos smothered coastline of the whale-rich waters of the Overberg, lies the exclusive Grootbos Nature Reserve. Surrounded by Milkwood forests and fynbos, Grootbos offers discerning guests a private wilderness retreat along the Cape’s revered marine 5 coastline.
Looming mountains serve as the backdrop to this five star lodge, and in the foreground there are expansive views of the Walker Bay coast, an area famed for marine 5 sightings (great white sharks, southern right whales, seals, penguins, and dolphins).
Activities on offer at Grootbos include flora 4×4 drives, horse riding, and enchanting dinner set-ups at Forest Lodge.
In total, there are 27 rooms each with private decks; spa treatment areas and two award-winning restaurants showcasing freshly caught seafood from the area.
The BushCamp Company in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Zambia is a diamond in the rough. A country rich with heritage, exceptional landscapes and wildlife. South Luangwa National Park in east Zambia’s Luangwa River valley, and is a region known for its walking safaris, abundant game and crowded hippo-filled waters.
The Luangwa River snakes its ways through diverse landscapes comprising mopane forest, grassland and riparian vegetation. There are oxbow lakes, waterholes and ample secret spots for game viewing. This game-rich destination is well-worth exploring, and 6 of the secluded bushcamps located inside the park offer a variety of accommodation options, each with contrasting views.
Mfuwe Lodge, located just inside the gates of the park, serves as the main base for exploring South Luangwa. Guests often stay here before on to one of the Bushcamps within the park. This lodge is a bucket list destination because of the elephant herds that casually stroll through the reception area.