Elegant outdoor dining setup at a luxury safari lodge in South Africa

South Africa’s Best Luxury Safari Lodges

written by
Sue van Winsen
Sue van Winsen

When it comes to luxury safari lodges, you will be truly spoilt for choice in South Africa. From tented camps with all the bells and whistles, to architecturally stunning properties in remarkable locations, South Africa has a well-established luxury safari offering with something for everyone perfectly suited to individual tastes and preferences.

These are some of our favourite luxury safari lodges in and around the Kruger National Park and beyond.

Private dining view at Dulini Leadwood, epitome of luxury safari lodges South Africa.

Best safari lodges in Kruger

Widely considered to be one of the most iconic wildlife destinations in the world, and with good reason, South Africa’s Kruger National Park is almost the same size as Belgium and home to an incredible abundance of fauna and flora. It also shares mostly unfenced borders with several private reserves, including the Sabi Sands, Thornybush and the Timbavati, giving animals free rein and providing an unparalleled safari experience all wildlife enthusiasts should experience at least once in their lifetimes.

Singita Lebombo

Best for contemporary design and ultra-luxury

This lodge takes the modern design of a luxury penthouse and immerses it into the wilds of Africa, ideal for those who want a safari experience but with no luxury spared. There are 15 contemporary, glass-walled suites, each with panoramic views of the Sweni River and the climbing hills beyond. Singita Lebombo sits in a private 13,350-hectare concession in the south-east of the Kruger National Park where you can enjoy daily game drives, safaris and star gazing.

Chitwa Chitwa

Best for its spectacular lake-side location

Situated in the Sabi Sand, this stylish lodge is set right on the banks of one the largest lakes in the area, in a part of the reserve with exceptional wildlife. From elephants to rhinos, lions, leopards, giraffe and everything in between can be seen on exciting game drives and safari walks. Chitwa Chitwa comprises a lodge with six chic suites, each with a plunge pool and deck overlooking the nearby water, as well as an elegant two-bedroomed private house.

Simbavati Camp George

Best for couples or groups of friends

This small luxury lodge in the Klaserie Game Reserve is wonderfully intimate, offering a tranquil wilderness experience. There are just eight luxury suites, each with a private deck overlooking a dry riverbed and elegantly furnished with indigenous wood furniture and a striking wall mural behind the bed, giving each room a unique touch. While game drives are always rewarding, what we love most is the lodge itself, where you can’t help but relax under the shade of the baobab and fever tree-filled gardens during the day, and alongside the roaring campfire at night.

Lions Sands Ivory Lodge

Best for an exclusive safari combining Kruger and the Sabi Sands

This is the only private game reserve rooted in both the Sabi Sands and the Kruger National Park, with a 5,000-hectare private concession that is yours to explore. There are eight one-bedroom villas and one two-bedroom family villa, set at the confluence of the Sabie and Sand rivers. This lodge is ideal for those seeking utter exclusivity and plenty of space, with each villa positioned some 20-metres away from the next and boasting and open design where you can enjoy watching wildlife come and go from the comfort of your bed, deck or plunge pool.

Tanda Tula Safari Camp

Best for giving back and warm hospitality

Owned and managed by the husband-and-wife team of Don and Nina Scott, Tanda Tula is a nine-suite lodge located in the Timbavati. With a focus on conserving the landscape and strengthening local communities, Tanda Tula places a strong emphasis on making a positive impact. That’s not to say the lodge isn’t incredibly luxurious, because it certainly is, but what raises it to the next level is the passion of the dedicated hospitality team that will take care of you at every step along your safari journey, always with a huge smile and a sense of fun.

Dulini Leadwood

Best for romantic getaways and privacy

With just four exclusive suites, this is the ideal lodge for honeymooners or get-togethers for small groups of friends who enjoy exclusivity. Situated in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Dulini Leadwood is a lavish little lodge with a peaceful setting. The elegant and contemporary suites each have a large private plunge pool, large bathrooms and private decks. Mealtimes are always a celebration, nearly always served in a different, beautiful location.

Best safari lodges elsewhere in South Africa

There are plenty of exceptional parks and reserves beyond the Kruger National Park, in different parts of South Africa – some of which have the bonus of being malaria-free. Depending on what else you are planning to do during your travels through South Africa, it may make more logistical sense to select a different wildlife area to focus on, or combine with Kruger into one wildlife-filled, luxury-focused itinerary. These are some of our favourite luxury lodges beyond the Kruger.

Tswalu Loapi Tented Camp

Best for setting your own safari schedule

Surrounded by the open savannah grasslands of South Africa’s Kalahari, Tswalu Loapi Tented Camp offers six individual safari homes, each accommodating between two and four guests on a private wilderness experience. The rooms are vast, spanning between 300-400 sqm, perfect for those seeking total privacy on safari, complete with a plunge pool, fire pit, fully stocked pantry and expansive living area. You will have a dedicated butler, private chef, along with your own guide, tracker and vehicle which means you can take things at your own pace.

&Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge

Best for honeymoons and eco-friendly design

Nestled inside one of Africa’s last remaining dry sand forests, &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge has been designed in perfect harmony with the distinctive landscape, elevated on stilts with breathtaking views of the tree canopy through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Each of the 16 suites has a private deck where you can truly immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance of the forest, filled with birdlife, along with a gorgeous bathroom complete with freestanding bathtubs and both indoor and outdoor showers.

Marataba Safari Lodge

Best for a luxurious family safari

In the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Waterberg Mountains, Marataba Safari Lodge is situated in Marakele National Park. Here, the safari experience is tailored for families with the Mack & Madi Kids’ Adventure Safari Club providing a huge array of activities to keep the whole family busy creating cherished memories while sparking a love for the natural environment. There are 15 luxurious canvas-and-stone tented suites with a distinctly modern flair, yet with a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.

Samara Manor House

Best for seeing rewilding projects in action

Samara is a pioneering 27,000-hectare reserve in South Africa’s Great Karoo, home to endemic flora and fauna, an amphitheatre of mountains and several endangered species. The Tompkins family bought 11 farms to create a continuous landscape and have been hard at work reintroducing naturally occurring wildlife that had gone locally extinct, including cheetahs and lions. A visit here means seeing these projects in action, while also enjoying the elegant four-bedroom villa. A truly memorable rewilding holiday experience.

At Niarra Travel, we specialise in creating tailor made luxury African journeys that connect your trip with purpose. If you are ready to start planning your private luxury safari to South Africa, get in touch with our team on +44 (0) 20 3821 5994 (UK), +1 (833) 215 9353 (US), or at explore@niarratravel.com and our Travel Researchers will create a once-in-a-lifetime trip just for you.

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