We love exploring new safari camps (and there is certainly no shortage of exciting new openings throughout the year!), however, classic, well-established properties can be just as alluring, and that’s exactly why we’ve decided to share some of our trusted, all-time favourites. Lodges and camps such as Sand Rivers, Pom Pom and Dulini may not be as swanky and design-driven as some of the newer offerings – but these are the places that we want to go back to time and time again.
1. The banks of the Rufiji at Sand Rivers Selous Camp
With only eight rooms, including three suites with a private plunge pool, Sand Rivers is the place to come for a super intimate safari experience. Set on the banks of the Rufiji River, accommodation is plush – but there is way too much on offer here to spend much time indoors. Game drives bring plenty of opportunities to track prides of lion and packs of elusive wild dog, and the walking safaris are simply magical and made even more thrilling with the addition of a night of fly-camping. Guides are hugely knowledgeable and will also take you on boating excursions up the Stiegler’s Gorge or down river in the company of floating hippos and crocs.
2. The open-air bathrooms at Pom Pom Camp
Okavango Delta, Botswana
Back to the core of authentic safaris is the motto of this classic camp. Located on an island in the heart of the Delta and overlooking a permanent lagoon, Pom Pom’s set up is simple yet comfortable, featuring nine canvas tents with fabulous, open-air bathrooms. The camp forgoes excess design elements and instead focuses on the must-haves; old-fashioned cocktails around the campfire and exciting game viewing with superb guides to name a couple. There’s also plenty of activities to get stuck into, especially during flood season when you can navigate the waterways in a traditional mokoro guided by a professional poler. Pom Pom is also heaven for bird spotters, particularly in the summer months.
3. The floating private dinners at Tongabezi
Victoria Falls, Zambia
Routinely featured in “Top of…” lists in the likes of Condé Nast Traveller, this hideaway on the banks of the Zambezi River, upstream of the famous Victoria Falls, is as romantic as it gets. We recommend staying in one of the individually-designed River Cottages; each comes with its own butler and picture-perfect views of the river. Honeymooners (or anyone for that matter!) will enjoy private dinners on a floating pontoon where food is paddled over by canoe – certainly not something you experience every day. Other activities not to be missed include game drives, river cruises and of course the obligatory but always sensational trip to Victoria Falls. For a truly special experience, take a microlight flight over the waterfall and soar alongside the birds…
4. The pristine wilderness that surrounds Dulini Lodge
Kruger, South Africa
Dulini presents a classic safari offering with a dose of laidback luxury – think thatched roofs, dark wood, a traditional boma and six, stylish suites with enormous bathtubs for relaxing evening soaks. Outside the camp, there’s 10,000 feet of pristine wilderness in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve just waiting to be explored on game drives with the guides and Shamaan trackers. Another option is to track the famous Big Five on foot, and budding photographers will also be pleased to hear that you can rent state-of-the-art photographic equipment from the lodge too.
5. The 1920s-style of Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp
Masai Mara, Kenya
A stay at Cottar’s will make you feel as if you’ve travelled back in time to the heady 1920s. Located in the famous Masai Mara and owned and managed by the oldest established safari family in Africa, the lodge aims to recreate the original spirit and essence of what a safari experience was like all those years ago. The 10 cream-coloured, 1920’s-style canvas tents are hopelessly romantic, as is the rest of the lodge, and guests are invited to dine and relax in two communal areas, indulge in spa treatments, and take a dip in the pretty swimming pool. Come after the annual rains and experience the natural wonder that is the Great Migration, straight from your private veranda…
6. The feeling of remoteness at Wolwedans Boulders Camp
NamibRand / Sossusvlei, Namibia
Want to get away from it all? This is the place to come. Set seemingly in the middle of nowhere in the eye-stretching Namib Desert (in the private Namibrand Reserve to be precise), Wolwedans is hugged by massive granite rocks that dwarf the five, exclusive suites below. During the day, activities include scenic drives and walking safaris through the ancient hunting grounds of the bushmen, or you can even hop on an eBike for a modern way to explore the area. Come sunset, enjoy sundowners from the top of a mountainous rock plateau, a set up that delivers jaw-dropping views of the vast and totally serene surroundings.