FOR A BESPOKE FAMILY HOLIDAY: Stubborn Mule, Tanzania
Stubborn Mule puts together bespoke dream holidays for families, blending beach life with a safari adventure in Tanzania. The lodges are suitable for young children who don't fancy spend all day in a 4x4, while decks overlooking water holes are home to plenty of wildlife. Children can take part in archery sessions with the bushmen, a cycling tour through banana plantations, or Masai painting classes. The staff at Stubborn Mule’s lodges are also happy to take younger guests on animal tracking adventures, leaving parents with a free afternoon to relax and take in the stunning surroundings. For families looking to split their time, Stubborn Mule will also organise a few nights in neighbouring Zanzibar, home to pristine beaches and crystal clear waters, where children can learn to snorkel.
FOR EVOLUTIONARY INSIGHT: Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Rwanda
Singita Kwitonda Lodge in Rwanda is set on the edge of the stunning Volcanoes National Park, where life-changing gorilla treks are top of the agenda. The staff will supply you with all the necessary equipment, while guides fully brief guests before they embark on a scenic trek through forest terrain. Once located, expect to spend up to an hour with a gorilla group in their natural habitat. Meanwhile, children under the age of 15 can still take part in a golden monkey trek designed for younger guests. On your return, enjoy a refreshment from the farm-to-table menu that celebrates local Rwandan cuisine and contributes to the lodge’s sustainable eco-tourism credentials.
FOR AN EXCLUSIVE FIVE-STAR EXPERIENCE: Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana
Opening in June 2020, the Xigera Safari Lodge in the Okavango Delta offers 12 different suites, under-the-stars sleepouts in the lodge’s baobab treehouse, a spa and more than 105 staff to look after you, making it the ideal place for the luxury five-star treatment. Suites are all decorated with natural surroundings in mind, with interiors showcasing the finest South African artisans. In terms of animal spotting, there are both land and water excursions on offer, as well as a walking tour where guests can spot a selection of more than 440 species of bird.
FOR A HOME AWAY FROM HOME: Borana Conservancy, Kenya
Stay in one of eight cottages at the Borana Conservancy, owned by The Dyers – a third-generation Kenyan family dedicated to conservation. Look out across panoramic views of Mount Kenya and the surrounding plains from your cottage veranda, and feast on delicious home-grown organic food. The lodge overlooks a dam which serves as a watering hole for local wildlife, so there’s always plenty of activity, and it’s also possible to reserve a spot on a trip to the Reteti elephant sanctuary. if that's not enough, guests can participate in night time game drives, horse riding, walking tours and mountain biking.
FOR A CELEBRATION OF CONSERVATION: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa
This Eastern Cape camp allows safari goers to spot wild animals, all in a vast regenerated wilderness. As well as the Big Five, there’s a high chance you’ll spot endangered animals – think black rhino, mountain reedbuck, and blue crane, South Africa’s national bird – on the IUCN Red List. Offering accommodation split between two lodges, Great Fish River Lodge and Ecca Lodge, Kwandwe also owns three private villas. Great Fish River Lodge is ideal for honeymooners, with a romantic, tranquil vibe and an expansive viewing deck which looks out over the entire reserve, while Ecca is home to three family suites and set in deep vegetation with views over the valley.
FOR GETTING LOST IN THE WILDERNESS: Kwessi Dunes, Namibia
Kwessi Dunes is due to open this month in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, a vast desert wilderness spanning 200,000 hectares. Unlike other safaris, a stay here is not about chasing big wildlife but about soaking up the beauty of the natural landscape. There are ten chalets to choose from, while each bedroom has a separate stargazer room with an open roof to marvel at the night sky. Activities at Kewssi Dunes include quad biking and walking tours, as well as hot air ballooning and horse riding.
FOR LEAVING NO FOOTPRINTS: Noka Camp, Lepogo Lodges, South Africa
Not for profit safari group, Lepogo Lodges, has opened its first site in South Africa’s Limpopo Province. Set within the 50,000 hectare Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, this camp shares its home with the infamous Big Five. Noka is a stunning cliff top property with views overlooking the winding Palala River. Featuring a sky bed for nights spent sleeping on the deck, there’s also a private pool, a sunken bath, spa treatments and yoga sessions, as well as a locally sourced menu. There are also myriad activities for children on offer, including pottery making, game drives and treasure hunts.
FOR ECO-FRIENDLY CAMPING: Chisa Busanga Camp, Zambia
Drawing inspiration from the weaver nests found in the local area, Chisa Busanga Camp’s four human sized ‘nests’ have been raised into the treetops, blending into their surroundings and offering great views over the Busanga Flood plain below. The camp is completely solar powered, and game drives are taken in electric vehicles. This ‘silent safari’ experience promises game sightings, closer birdlife interactions and the sounds of the bush, undisturbed by the constant rumble or carbon emissions of the diesel powered variety.
FOR A SHARED EXPERIENCE: Mashatu Euphorbia Villas, Botswana
Situated in the privately owned Mashatu Game Reserve, there’s no chasing cheetahs in multiple jeeps here. This new eco-camp opens in June 2020 with only eight private villas, located in the middle of a euphorbia forest with majestic views of the Majale River and rolling plains beyond. Villas are designed to look like the mopane tree pod, with solar heated plunge pools and indoor/outdoor showers. The reserve is home to the largest herds of elephants on private land, and you’ll get incredible predator viewing opportunities, plus mountain biking, horse riding and walking safaris. Make sure to pre-book for the elephant hide visit.
FOR TRUE OFF-GRID LUXURY: Cheetah Plains, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Cheetah Plains is an entirely off-grid three-villa property powered by solar panels and designed to showcase contemporary South African art. Each villa has a temperature controlled wine cellar, while a private sommelier is also on hand to guide guests through the vast South African wine list. There’s also a private chef and wellness therapist available to cater to your every need, plus the Big Five are right on your doorstep, ready for when you want to go exploring on one of the twice-daily game drives. For families, the reserve offers a bespoke children's safari programme which includes educational chats with the staff, child-friendly outings and garden walks.
FOR A CYCLING SAFARI: Sanctuary Tambarare, Kenya
Sanctuary Retreats opens this July, with ten luxury canvas tents nestling among fever trees in the shadow of Mount Kenya. For something a bit different, forego the traditional 4x4 and opt for one of the cycling safaris instead. An all-day adventure, the cycling adventure includes animal spotting, lunch and climbing at the Big Rock. Guests can also take part in a horse riding safari to get up close and personal with rhino, zebra and hartebeest. As for the accommodation, each stylish tent has its own private veranda and floor-to-ceiling windows. After a day of adventuring, evenings are spent around the fire pit enjoying a drink from the well-stocked bar tent.
FOR THE ULTIMATE HONEYMOON: Chitwa Chitwa Private Game Lodge, Sabi Sands Private Game Reserve
Chitwa Chitwa, located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve, is part of the greater Kruger National Park, and offers one of the best opportunities to see the Big Five. Suites are elegantly decorated and open out onto a private timber deck with plunge pool overlooking the nearby lake, a popular drinking hole for the wealth of local wildlife. All accommodation at Chitwa Chitwa includes fine dining, but there's the option for private dining, if you wish. The reserve also features an exclusive villa which includes the use of a personal chef and safari vehicle so you can fully enjoy each other’s company.