7 Hotels Where You Can Spot Hippos, Zebras, Monkeys, and Sea Life All Without Leaving Your Room
Looking for wildlife doesn’t have to mean spending an entire day in a safari vehicle or hiking through a national park for hours on end. There is an alternative option for those who would rather skip a safari’s 6 a.m. wakeup call, or spend the afternoon napping rather than trekking through the forest seeking out monkeys. Because this is a vacation, after all.
At these hotels, featuring rooms that offer prime wildlife viewing, let the animals find you. The only effort required? Drawing open your bedroom curtains and perhaps asking room service to bring you coffee... in bed.
Singita Pamushana Lodge, Malilangwe Reserve, Zimbabwe
From your private plunge pool or outdoor lounge bed (which is assembled on the deck if you wish to sleep under the stars), distant hippos, crocs, and birds can be spotted. Positioned on a ridge overlooking the Malilangwe Dam, the views from Pamushana Lodge’s palatial suites are, frankly, staggering.
Pamushana Lodge, which reopened last year after an extensive and very shiny refurb, is the only property in Zimbabwe’s Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve which means it’s also pleasantly peaceful. Beyond the sound of the kingfisher call reverberating off the rocks, and perhaps a distant roar of a lion, you won’t hear much else.
One&Only Nyungwe House, Nyungwe Forest National Park, Rwanda
Before the monkeys around Nyungwe House’s forest-facing suites are seen, they’ll be heard shuffling through the trees. When a glimpse of one is finally caught, it will probably be of a colobus or mountain monkey — and it probably won’t be for long. But sit outside on your private deck with a cup of tea or glass of wine for long enough, and your monkey spotting efforts may well be rewarded with numerous sightings.
Nyungwe Forest National Park, an ancient rainforest located in western Rwanda, is teeming with primates. Although it’s unlikely that chimpanzees (which people often come to see) will be spotted from Nyungwe House’s cozy, wood-clad bungalows, chimpanzee treks, which take guests deep into the forest, can easily be arranged.
Cuixmala, Jalisco, Mexico
It seems unlikely to spot a zebra from a hotel room in Mexico, but at Cuixmala — a 25,000 acre property set on a nature reserve on Mexico’s Pacific coastline — these African animals can be seen from some of the rooms of the main casa.
There are also crocodiles, 270 species of birds, turtles, and the lesser-spotted jaguars. The hotel, which is deeply committed to conservation, has a number of wildlife projects underway (including a turtle program). But that’s not the only reason people trek to this ultra-luxe beach hideout. Located on a bluff overlooking the glistening ocean, Cuixmala has access to a private beach making it ideal for a seaside getaway.
Quasar Expeditions’ MV Evolution Yacht, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Keep your eyes peeled for birds, dolphins, and other marine life through the windows of Quasar Expeditions’ MV Evolution yacht.
On the boat, which shuffles guests around Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, your chances of seeing wildlife is high. Sure, some of the windows are small and may require a little neck craning, but getting this close to dolphins on dry land is near impossible. Plus, from the upstairs, open-air deck views can be taken in without any neck craning — and with a sunset cocktail in hand.
Jabali Ridge, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Jabali Ridge has such an excellent location (set on a hilltop) with such good vistas, that skipping an early morning game drive in lieu of a lazy morning in will elicit zero guilt.
Built around granite boulders, the rooms, which connect to the main area via wooden walkways, overlook the national park and all its inhabitants. From that high up, guests can expect to see elephants traversing the landscape or enjoying a morning feed.
Morukuru Beach Lodge, De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa
If you thought good whale watching only happened from the bow of a boat, you’re wrong. At Morukuru Beach Lodge in South Africa’s De Hoop Nature Reserve, whales can be spotted from the comfort of the breezy ocean-facing suites.
Considered one of the best land-based spots to watch the southern right whales make their annual migration (between May and October), De Hoop is one of South Africa’s lesser-known marine and wildlife reserves. There is only one full-service hotel (Morukuru Beach Lodge) on the reserve, which it means it doesn’t heave with tourists.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
It wasn’t until recently that sleeping underwater was an option — unless you slept in a submarine. At the Conrad Maldives, guests can sleep in The Muraka, a new glass-encased bungalow. And a luxury one, no less.
On the other side of the bungalow’s secure wall of glass, the deep blue water swarms with marine life. Other than scuba diving, there’s no possible way you could get closer to these tropical fish.