South Africa offers visitors an enchanting combination of untamed landscapes and modern cities. It has some of the most diverse wildlife in Africa: hundreds of species of bird patrol the skies, while the Big Five can be spotted on land. Here are five of the remarkable country’s best luxury game lodges.
1. Ulusaba Rock Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve, Kruger
Once you see the views and facilities and Ulusaba, it should come as little surprise to know the lodge is owned by Sir Richard Branson. Situated in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, adjacent to Kruger National Park, the wildlife viewing opportunities are some of the best in the whole continent.
Perched high upon a hilltop with uninterrupted panoramic views, Ulusaba Lodge offers a unique chance of spotting the Big Five without even leaving the building! And with just ten rooms in total, exclusivity is guaranteed. It contains three stylish suites including the Makwela suites, a two-story African oasis with air-con, private dining and study space and its own infinity plunge pool.
2. Tarkuni, Tswalu Kalahari, Northern Cape
The ultimate desert sanctuary, Tarkuni is a private home owned by the award-winning conservationists, Nicky and Strilli Oppenheimer. Set into rolling mountains in the legendary Green Kalahari, it provides the perfect place to house families or groups of friends, accommodating just ten people at any time.
It boasts outdoor walk-in showers, two lounges with open fireplaces, an outdoor pool and a vast viewing deck, as well as its own private chef, service staff and car. Tarkuni’s five spacious suites are all en suite.
3. Phinda Forest Lodge, Phinda Private Game Reserve, Zululand Maputaland
Set into the enchanting sand forests of Zululand, Phinda Forest Lodge is not somewhere you’ll forget easily. Sky-high torchwood trees and lush vegetation surround the glass-walled lodge, which sits in one of the planet’s most unique ecosystems.
While floor-to-ceiling windows allow for epic wildlife viewing, privacy is provided by the dense forest canopy. Each of its large suites are raised up by stilts, allowing for optimum viewing. When you’re not busy spotting the area’s eclectic mix of wildlife, there’s the option to relax by Phinda’s sparkling infinity pool or canoe down the nearby Mzinine River.
4. Royal Malewane, Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Limpopo
For privacy, luxury and intimacy combined with ample opportunity to spot the Big Five, head to the five-star Royal Malewane. Tucked into the wild heart of South Africa’s bushveld, the lodge is easily accessible by air and road despite it’s quiet location.
Each of the eight suites are decked out with opulent neo-classical furnishings with canopied king-size beds, indoor and outdoor showers and personal fireplaces. But it’s Malewane’s aptly named Royal Suites that you’ll want to snag. These are gorgeous private villas which accommodate four. As well as private pools and sundecks to lounge on, visitors to the Royal Suites are provided with a chef, butler, a team of knowledgeable guides and their own game drive vehicle. Oh, and did we mention the four free massages on offer every day of your stay?
5. Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sand Reserve, Kruger
Step into a realm of ethereal tranquility as you enter the wildly romantic Boulders Lodge. Named after the giant rock that used to sit where the wine cellars now are, this luxury property is truly one-of-a-kind. The unique theme continues to the décor, with the inside furnishings effortlessly blending classic African textures with cutting edge design. Rustic timber and thatched roofing perfectly compliment the plush leather and stone surfaces seen throughout.
Each suite has a private plunge pool, viewing deck and large glass fronted windows offering breathtaking vistas out to the Sand River. Singita are also renowned for their quality cuisine so guests should expect inspired African flavours complimented by wine-pairings from the lodge’s vast underground cellars.