We’re big fans of the private safari lodge at Timbuktu. They come in all shapes and sizes from swanky, city pads with a bedroom for everyone, to authentic farm houses on exclusive reserves, miles from anyone else. A private safari lodge also suits all manner of occasions. Perhaps there’s a special celebration coming up, a milestone birthday or more years married than you can remember; maybe you want to share Africa’s marvels with friends and family; or maybe you just fancy something a little more, er, private. If that sounds like you, take a gander at we’ve got lined up below…
We’re going to start our list of top private safari lodges with a celebratory bang in Botswana. The Zarafa Dhow Suites are swish with a capital S, and you’ll want for nothing in your tented retreat. Two lavish bedrooms have their own fireplaces and enormous copper bathtubs, and the multi-level main area provides plenty of space for butler-delivered coffee in the morning and alfresco feasts in the evening. The game drives won’t disappoint either, and the plains of the exclusive Selinda Reserve are home to elephant, giraffe, zebra, wild dog and a bucket-load of big cats. Did someone say celebration?
Singita’s Serengeti House is the stuff private safari lodge dreams are made of. In the middle of 350,000 acres of golden-hued Serengeti wilderness (the Grumeti Reserve to be precise), the house is a homely hybrid of countryside elegance and African style. There are two bedrooms in the main villa and a further two in the garden, and with your own private guide on hand, it’s up to you whether you pad around in your pyjamas or head out into the wilds… Or the spa for that matter!
Cape Town, South Africa
Not so much a private safari lodge, more all-singing, all-dancing private mansion, 21 Nettleton is a place for a party if ever we saw one. Perched high above Cape Town’s swishy beach-burb, Clifton, the five-bedroom retreat is exquisite in every sense of the word, from the views to the décor, and the gardens to the artwork. Needless to say, it doesn’t come cheap, but throw caution to the wind, grab your friends, and celebrate that special occasion in the utmost luxury, Cape Town-style.
Matemwe Beach House is a rare beast in the world of private safari lodges. Firstly, the front door is a mere shell’s throw from the white-sand Matemwe beach, and secondly, it’s really quite affordable. Inside, the house is wonderfully charming and there are two double rooms and a fun, mezzanine-platform with twin beds making it a good choice for families – or nimble friends! The whole lot is encased in a bougainvillea-filled garden, complete with private pool for the days that you don’t want to hop to the ocean.
Cape Winelands, South Africa
Let us take you away from private safari lodges for a moment, all the way to South Africa’s heavenly Cape Winelands and La Cle des Montagnes, four unique villas in their own world of tranquil plum orchards and rugged mountains. Ranging from two to four bedrooms, each house has been impeccably kitted out, and every room is more beautiful than the one before. Butlers will help you organise wine-tasting trips and cycling excursions, and private chefs can be booked to whip up a feast in your Masterchef-worthy kitchen.
Lower Zambezi, Zambia
A firm favourite when it comes to private safari lodges, the four-bedroomed Chongwe River House is an architectural masterpiece of smooth lines, curved walls and Fred Flintstone-esque boulders; but it’s the activities that we really love. You’ve got your own guide, so days can be spent doing exactly what you want, whether that’s canoeing along the river, game driving in search of leopard, boating at sundown, or trying your hand at a spot of tiger fishing. No arguments here, thank you very much.
A hidden gem in the world of private safari lodges, Kiba Point is secluded away in Tanzania’s Selous Reserve, a big old chunk of wild Africa. It’s more a camp than a house, and the four thatched chalets are spread out along the river, each with their own mini plunge pool, but the main area is there for daytime swims and sunset gins with your group. The awesome team of staff are on hand whenever you need them, and will help plan boating, fly-fishing, game drives and walking – all totally exclusive to you.
If you’re looking to spend your special occasion amid wiggling palm trees and sugar-sand beaches, Mauritius is the place to be. And if you’ve got family and friends in tow, try Heritage The Villas for size. There’s a choice of two-, three- or four-bedroom pads, each with their own pool, kitchen and dining room. But the best bit? You’ve got access to all the facilities of the resort, including no less than 12 restaurants, eight bars, a spa, and a trendy beach club to dance the night away in.
Eastern Cape, South Africa
Gather your friends, round up the family and book yourself into Kwandwe Fort House for a safari to remember. The private safari lodge is more swanky, modern farmhouse, and most definitely designed with friends and multi-generational families in mind. Think fully-equipped kitchen and indoor dining area, pantry, al-fresco eating spaces, and an enormous rim-flow pool, as well as a private ranger, tracker and 4×4 vehicle for all your safari needs.