A safari experience may be the ultimate bucket-list trip — and it’s not just because of the animals.
The chance to see lions, elephants, hyenas, and other creatures in the wild is undeniably appealing. But the safari dream is also about experiencing a sort of times-past luxury in a natural environment — dining on fine china under the stars, sipping afternoon cocktails beneath a towering baobab tree, sleeping between crisp sheets in a roomy tent furnished with antiques.
The lodges that Travel + Leisure readers named the best in Africa this year deliver on all counts.
Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise lines, spas, airlines, and more. In the hotels category — which includes safari lodges—readers rated properties on their rooms and facilities, location, service, food and drink, and overall value.
South African properties made up about two-thirds of the list, with a full four lodges— andBeyond Kirkman's Kamp, Lion Sands Game Reserve, Singita Sabi Sand, and Londolozi—located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve area, bordering renowned Kruger National Park.
Though the lodges vary in size and décor, they all offer incredible access to wildlife, expert guides, and personalized experiences. “The reserve is magical, the accommodations and the exquisite staff could not be friendlier,” one reader wrote of Londolozi. “The fact that the camp is earth-friendly is a huge plus.”
Private-use camps — which can only be booked by individual groups — are one of the biggest trends in African wildlife tourism, reflecting a growing appetite for intimate experiences. Accordingly, the No. 1 property on our list, Singita Grumeti in Tanzania, is a group of five low-key but elegant lodges in Grumeti game reserve, on the plains near Serengeti National Park. Readers loved the sense of solitude that comes with being in the middle of a 350,000-acre reserve, but also the exceptional service and food that Singita is known for.