THE 25 BEST SAFARI LODGES IN SOUTH AFRICA
To go on safari is to experience one of life’s greatest adventures but finding the best safari lodges in South Africa, can be a journey in itself. Whether a 4×4 safari is on your bucket-list or you’re a budding conservationist at heart, from the Western to the Eastern Cape, up to the plains of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Kruger Park we’ve hand-picked the best safari lodges in South Africa for spotting ‘The Big 5’. Looking for a family stay, a couple’s retreat, a five-star stay, or a spa-fari experience? We’ve got it covered! Our collection of the best safari lodges in South Africa ensures that all you have to worry about is keeping your eyes open for one of Mother Nature’s most incredible performances.
FOR A FAMILY STAY
- Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, located in the Eastern Cape is a refuge for endangered animals, not to mention travellers with children! A luxurious private game reserve, five different lodges are dotted amidst 54,000 hectares. Choose between exclusive-use villas and stylish suites – whatever suits your families needs. Without a doubt one of the best safari lodges in South Africa for families.
- Excellent family safari lodge, Kapama Southern Camp is ideal for exploring the Kruger Park. Plenty of activities and flexible accommodation (including catered villas with pools) ensure it’s perfect for a get-together. A great choice if heading on safari with all the family.
- Family-owned, family-led, Madikwe Safari Lodge is a five-star stay suitable for all ages. It offers lots of activities including walking and driving safaris, as well as bird-watching. Alternatively grown-ups can indulge in a spa treatment. A well-recommended family safari experience.
- Priced for families, Khaya Ndlovu Manor House is filled to the rafters with antiques and local curios. It feels more like a home than a hotel. All of the rooms are cosy with sink-into-sofas, antique books, quirky artwork, and plenty of board games to keep all ages entertained.
- Kids will love waking up at Gorah Elephant Camp, without a doubt one of the best safari lodges in Addo Elephant National Park for families! Relax in the cosy setting of your colonial-style tent as these gentle giants pass by, en route to the watering hole. Bask in your very own watering hole, in the form of a glistening infinity pool.
FOR A FIVE-STAR LUXURY LODGE
- One of South Africa’s best safari lodges, Jabulani Safari is a favourite amongst honeymooners and well-heeled travellers. A “homage to the elephant”, it is located just outside the Kruger National Park and is on the front doorstep for spotting The Big 5. Stunning suites include four-posters, roll-top baths, and sprawling views. For total privacy, the Zindoga Villa is available on an exclusive basis.
- An award-winning lodge, Leopard Hills Private Game Reserve, located in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve provides a five-star stay with private pools, an impressive wellness menu, and opulent suites with four-poster beds and luxurious bathrooms. Sample your choice of ‘bush cuisine’ or Western flavours, paired with an excellent wine list.
- With numerous awards under its belt, Royal Malewane does not disappoint. The safari lodge of dreams, its recently added Farmstead provides unrivalled luxury and total privacy. Colourful rooms are designed by the owner herself, Liz Biden. Though it bears a hefty price tag, once you’re there it’s an all-inclusive stay.
- Set amidst 26,000-acres of private reserve, Gondwana Game Reserve provides the ultimate Out Of Africa experience, all in a convenient location – just a 4-hour drive from Cape Town. Committed to conservation, this is one of the best safari lodges in South Africa for an environmentally friendly stay. Their mission is to use education, training, and community involvement to create employment for the local community while actively protecting the endangered flora and fauna within the region.
- Boasting excellent value as well as commendable conservation efforts, Hitgeheim Country Lodge & Eco-Reserve is a collection of 16-cottages just a short drive from Addo Elephant National Park. In particular, their Cheetah Project and Elephant Conservation offers educational guided tours and contributes to the preservation of these beautiful animals.
- A lifelong project for the Tompkins family, at 1.3 million acres, Samara Private Game Reserve is South Africa’s third-largest protected area. Home to all of The Big 5, they are committed to preserving the local ecosystem. Very luxurious, it’s also one of the best safari lodges in South Africa for families.
SLEEP UNDER THE STARS
- Total romance at Motswari Private Game Reserve. This stunning family house turned safari lodge – with interiors by famed designer David Strauss and artwork by Marion Geiger-Orengo is an aesthete’s haven. And the very best bit? You can sleep out in the wild.
- Spa, dining, and sumptuous interiors, Klaserie Sands is a grown-ups only lodge amidst the Kruger Park. Made for romance, it’s loved by honeymooners, many of whom opt to try their ‘Star Bed’ experience. One of best safari lodges in South Africa for couples.
- A five-star stay with commendable conservation efforts, immersive spa treatments, and a long list of activities, but what sets Tswalu Kalahari is the opportunity to sleep al fresco, under the Milky Way, in The Motse camp. An unforgettable stay.
- Voted one of Condé Nast Traveller’s ‘Top 20 safari lodges in Africa’, there’s a lengthy list of reasons that make Lion Sands Game Reserve. Its prime location amidst The Kruger Park, restaurant quality dining and five-star spa treatments are all up there, but the piece de resistance has got to be their treehouse stay – the ultimate romantic sleepover.
FOR A COUPLES STAY
- A much more modern setting than most safari lodges in South Africa, Kapama Karula Camp offers 12 suites, including private pools and indoor-outdoor living, as well as an impressive wellness menu and fine dining; it truly is one of South Africa’s most romantic safari lodges.
- Roll-top baths, al-fresco showers and candle-lit bush dining, Tanda Tula wows with design-led interiors and tents with private sit-outs. Set in the heart of the Timbavati Game Reserve there’s no better place to experience wildlife with romance, and service to match.
- Nestled amidst the Kruger Park, Hamiltons Tented Camp is an adults-only safari lodge and unforgettable couples’ stay. Choose from candlelit dining served alongside a colonial setting and fine wines or indulgent spa treatments or why not opt for both!
- Set amidst the stunning Sabi Sands Reserve, Nkorho Bush Lodge is great for couples, but also one of the best safari lodges in South Africa for families (and adults looking for some alone time)! Babysitting services are available, whilst you dine by candlelight or indulge with a spa treatment.
- All-out luxury, Kariega Settler’s Drift is a contemporary, architecturally beautiful lodge, providing chic accommodation in a rugged setting. Sprawling rooms boast sink-into bathtubs and epic views. Utterly romantic.
- Camp Ndlovu is a very intimate stay with just three suites – the best boasting private pools. Adults-only, their offering includes pampering spa treatments, sophisticated interiors and capacious four posters. A very romantic experience.
FOR A SPA-FARI EXPERIENCE
- With its award-winning spa, Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat is a sanctuary in itself. Utterly romantic, enjoy an open-air massage in the Riverside Gazebo, perched alongside the tranquil waters of the Boontjes River. Using signature B|Africa products, facilities include crystal steam room, heated outdoor pool, health bar, fitness centre and tranquillity lounge – all the hallmarks of a five-star spa set amidst the African wilderness.
- With a more contemporary feel than most lodges in Limpopo, Mhondoro Safari Lodge & Villa has an excellent wellness offering, including juice cleanses and yoga breaks. It’s also reasonably priced, compared to other safari lodges, and provides excellent children’s facilities, including a kid’s club and babysitting services. Highly recommended.
- Light and airy interiors abound at Esiweni Luxury Lodge, off-the-beaten-track in Nambiti Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal – home to all The Big 5, without the safari footfall of The Kruger Park. A member of the Relais & Chateaux collection, gourmet dining is guaranteed, but what sets it apart from the rest is the comprehensive spa menu, including immersive outdoor treatments, overlooking the reserve.
- Boasting an extensive Africology wellness programme (as well as a fully-fitted gym) Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge has all the facilities of a five-star hotel, in the privacy of its very own reserve. Superb conservation efforts ensure guests look after themselves, as well as the local environment.