It's one thing to watch a herd of wildebeest thundering across an obscenely large, 3D flat screen dangling precariously from your living room wall. It is quite another to witness the Great Migrations in the flesh, accompanied by the sweet smell of your morning coffee swirling with the kicked-up dust from the Serengeti plains as the high-pitched trumpets of young elephant calves (or grunts from those numberless gnu) waft into your bedroom.
Opened in northern Tanzania in late June, each of the 12 open-air rooms at Lamai Serengeti features sublime vistas of the surrounding kopje (rock), miles of rolling grassland, and (my favorite part) herds of indigenous animals that roam there. The property is located on the outskirts of the Mara River in the Serengeti, where, every July, the greatest mammal migration in the world begins.
Because this two-lodge safari camp sits amongst the jutting rocks of the Kogakuria kopje, it literally melts into its hillside background, unheard and unseen. The ensuing silence, following the close of construction, has seen an influx of game venturing closer and closer to the grounds. So far, elephants, giraffes, and hartebeest (a fast-running type of antelope) have been spotted; the massive hordes of migrating wildebeest are set to cross the river within the month.
In bordering Kenya, family-owned Hogmead opened this past March on the boundary of Hog Ranch in Nairobi, a 130-acre protected property that’s part of the more extensive and beloved African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Giraffe Centre.
The six rooms in this private boutique home, some which overlook the gardens (often filled with warthogs raising their young) and the distant Ngong Hills, offer a more homey stay. Full English breakfasts are prepared everyday in the kitchen with locally sourced ingredients from the onsite garden, while a drawing room and airy veranda offer space to kick back. The best time to go? In July, when the temperatures are cool and comfortable.
Discover the real African wilderness, right at the foot of your bed. (Sure beats the couch.)
Lindsey Olander is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.