Sometimes it seems as though there are as many types of travellers as there are safari destinations in Africa! Some intrepid safari-enthusiasts enjoy roughing it in the wilderness with just the bare essentials, staying in rustic bush camps or fly tents, and going on self-drives rather than a guided game drive. Others prefer an escape to the bush that is more akin to a home away from home experience; with natural beauty, outdoor adventures and modern comforts in equal amounts.
An African safari is the holiday of a lifetime, proven at the end of your journey by the treasure chest of memories to last and be cherished for the rest of your life. And while there is always the promise of unforgettable experiences on safari, it’s those special spoils, pampering indulgences, and unexpected treats that make all the difference. Luxury safari camps and lodges are all about looking after your creature comforts, with some wonderful added indulgences. There is always time between activities to enjoy a relaxing massage, take a bubble bath with an incredible view or appreciate a nourishing meal.
This list of premium perks will give you a tantalising taster of the kind of treats that are waiting when you touch down in Africa for your luxury safari.
Service that creates the dream safari experience
A safari to any African destination takes considerable planning and organising so when you arrive at your camp or lodge, you want everything taken care of. Choosing to stay at a well-appointed, perhaps 5-star establishment means that you can have an absolutely carefree retreat and become fully immersed in the experience, rather than having to worry about the details throughout your stay.
The small team of highly trained and charming staff are there to ensure your stay is everything you imagined so service is professional and personable, discreet and attentive. Every staff member will go above and beyond in what they offer their guests, such as day spas where guests can enjoy a pamper session with a bush view or a private, candlelit dinner arranged by the pool or at your suite.
The foodies amongst you will appreciate the exceptional safari cuisine of gourmet dishes paired with the best wines. In fact, dining while on safari is an entire experience in itself and the setting is just as thoughtfully prepared as the food you eat. Whether fine dining or simple yet inviting cooking, locally-influenced flavours or global cuisine, luxe safari lodges serve beautifully presented offerings that are authentic and thoughtful.
Guides that set the safari gold standard
Luxury safari accommodation is not just about high service standards at the lodge but also about the outstanding guides that take you into the bush, whether by game drive, on foot or by boat. The perfect guide makes for the most engaging and memorable adventure in the wilderness. And it is often those top lodges and camps that can invest in empowering local people who already know the area to become award-winning guides and rangers.
There is never a guarantee that you will see certain animals and birds while in the bush. However, top-notch guides know where the best spots are to see certain wildlife. They will know, for instance, where a specific pack of hyenas tends to prowl at night or the watering hole that has been most frequented by rhino and elephant. That is why so often on a budget self-drive safari, game sightings are considerably less than while on a guided outing.
The finest luxury lodges and safari camps are located within a private concession of a larger park or game reserve. This means that game vehicles can drive off-road, which allows for more unique sightings and, due to the exclusivity of the property, with only a few other vehicles to share the area.
Unique offerings that balance adventure and relaxation
Discerning travellers generally choose specific accommodation according to the special amenities it features as well as the highlights of the destination. It wouldn’t be a luxury safari if it weren’t for the distinct creature comforts that are catered to in detail at the lodge.
There is nothing quite like soaking in a traditional, outdoor canvas bush bath as the sun sets over the savannah plains. What about a refreshing dip in the camp swimming pool or even the private pool at your exclusive-use villa. Perhaps a pampering massage treatment at the onsite spa, whilst being serenaded by nature’s soundtrack around you. These additional touches make a big impression on the whole safari experience, and are just some of the special touches that make for romantic getaways, blissful honeymoons and tranquil holidays.
Doing as much or as little is a part of the freedom of being on safari in Africa’s wild open spaces. Balancing the more exhilarating aspects with quiet moments of mindful introspection and creativity away from the stress of life is an equally enjoyable part of the holiday. Luxury lodges make sure that you enjoy a good balance of exciting days in the bush and peaceful evenings that lead to rest and relaxation.
Calvin Cottar is Director and Owner at Cottar’s 1920s Safaris. Cottar’s 1920s Safaris is an award-winning luxury 1920s safari camp and private bush villa located in the famous ‘seventh’ natural wonder of the world, the Maasai Mara in Kenya, and owned and managed by the oldest established and continuing safari family in Africa.