The 10 Best Safari Lodges in Africa in 2017
Early morning game drives in pursuit of the elusive leopard. Plush tents overlooking watering holes where elephants come to bathe and play. Is there anything quite like an African safari? Still, not all experiences are created equal, and T+L’s travel community can be trusted to know which are the top safari lodges in Africa.
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.
This year’s winner, Gibb’s Farm, doesn’t fit the mold of a typical safari lodge. The original 1929 farmhouse, which is located in the Ngorongoro Crater area of Tanzania, is surrounded by beautiful farmland. Guests can experience nature walks and cultural immersion in the nearby village, in addition to heading out on traditional drives to see elephants, hippos, and wildebeest. “This place is a lush paradise,” notes one T+L voter. “The coffee on my private deck overlooking gardens each morning was the only reason I got out of the plush, comfortable bed.”
Three of the top-rated properties are in Botswana. Zarafa Camp, from Great Plains Conservation (a lodge group run by former National Geographic filmmakers) has a tiny footprint in the private 320,000-acre Selinda Reserve. The four-tent property is located on the Zibadianja Lagoon, which teems with hippos, big cats, wild dogs, and more. In the Okavango Delta, also known for its big game, conservation leader Wilderness Safaris scored the No. 10 slot for their Mombo Trails Camp and the more intimate Little Mombo Camp. “We saw our first kill when a hyena attacked an impala,” wrote Bradford Warner. “This camp had excellent wildlife viewing.”
Safari lodge company andBeyond also had a strong showing this year, landing four out of the top ten spots: Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, in Botswana; andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, which falls on Kenya’s Great Migration route; Tanzania’s andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, which is perched on the lip of the crater itself; and andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge, in South Africa, where the bungalows have glass walls and overlook dense clusters of torchwood trees.
For the full list of top safari lodges, scroll down.
10. Wilderness Safaris Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
9. andBeyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania
8. andBeyond Phinda Forest Lodge, Phinda Private Reserve, South Africa
7. andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Okavango Delta, Botswana
6. Londolozi, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
5. andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp, Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
4. Singita Sabi Sand, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
3. Zarafa Camp, Selinda Reserve, Botswana
2. Tswalu Kalahari, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa
1. Gibb's Farm, Karatu, Tanzania
This restored colonial farmhouse, which has 17 surrounding cottages with eucalyptus floors and indoor and outdoor showers, is like no other lodge in the region. It’s got history — built in the 1920s, it was originally a German coffee plantation — and it sits on 75 acres of gardens and farmland, much of which is still dedicated to organic Arabica beans. “There are beautiful accommodations, a great list of activities, and meals prepared with ingredients right from the farm,” says one T+L reader. “It’s one of those rare perfect places that you know you will never forget.” Guests are invited to tour the grounds, home to free-range chickens, cows, pigs, and other farm animals, and join walking safaris along the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater or to waterfalls where elephants are known to gather. Game drives are also available in neighboring Manyara National Park.