Safari camps are the stuff for dreams and bucket lists. They can also be leaders in environmental protection, sustainability, design, environmental sensitivity and hospitality.
Take the Kisawa Sanctuary, which is due to open next summer on an island off the Mozambique coast. In addition to traditional weaving, thatched and textile work, the construction of the marine safari camp also included 3D sand printing. Care was also taken not to disturb the orcas, humpback whales and manta rays in the surrounding waters.
There is a "stargazing" room in each bedroom so that guests can enjoy the night sky.
There is also Meridian Adventure SAIL, an ocean safari with six chic catamarans – in the flawless coral triangle of Raja Ampat. Indonesia – that leaves almost no footprint.
Safari camps may be the ultimate hotel if you want to take a look at small and large creatures or if you want to make your way to the afterlife. Here are five prospects, all of which are excellent in their field.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge
This new lodge is located on an area of 178 acres on the edge of the Volcanoes National Park in northwestern Rwanda near the habitat of three of the world's remaining mountain gorillas. It opened last August as the 15th in Singita's collection of conservative and sustainable lodges, often used by blue-chip travel companies like Red Savannah.
The eight suites (plus a private villa) are completed in secular African elegance, with indoor and outdoor fireplaces, heated plunge pools, woven blankets and hand-fired brick work (by local artisans) and views of the Sabyinyo, Gahinga volcanoes and Muhabura from window seats and deep bathtubs. An unusual amenity: a nursery where 250,000 trees and shrubs have been made available as part of the company's reforestation efforts to protect and preserve the silverback and their families.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge; from $ 1,495 per person per night (including meals and laundry, but not with a gorilla trekking permit of $ 1,500); Ruhengeri, Rwanda.
This Big Five site in a 34,000-acre private game reserve was originally the site of the Swedish owner's family villa. It now includes a series of suites that surround a central lodge and a camp with 15 tents – rustic but luxurious – in a thicket of wilderness in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.
With canvas The west-facing tents are equipped with walls and wooden floors that extend to the outer decks. From the sunsets to the sounds of the bush, you can enjoy nature to the fullest. (There are around 400 species of birds here.) Gravel paths lead from the tents to a shared open-air lounge with high ceilings and a view of an elegant pool and a fireplace where guests can exchange stories about the birds. The black rhinoceros and cheetah can be elusive, but there are sparse giraffes and young zebras in the landscape, and herds of elephants frolic at the waterhole at cocktail hour.
Thanda Safari; from $ 265 per person per night (including meals and two game drives per day); D242 Rd, 3960, South Africa.
Wilderness Safaris' flagship, built in 1990 – at the northern end of Chiefs Island in the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta in Botswana – recently unveiled a $ 10 million renovation. The task was to bring the traditional camp to design and environmental levels without affecting the natural habitat. (For example, an arborist was assigned to monitor the protection of trees and roots.)
Behind the scenes, Mombo is now 100 percent solar powered and has sophisticated sewage and water filter systems. Even more obvious is the English oak from managed forests in Croatia, which is used for floors in guest rooms. Iroko hardwood from West Africa for doors and windows; and many original materials were recycled here and there (and in the company's other warehouses on the continent).
The nine tent suites are large and have a living room and bar, separate bathrooms and changing rooms as well as indoor and outdoor showers and sliding blinds that open onto a large deck from which you can watch the exotic wildlife that is currently out of range. An eclectic mix of indigenous grass and fabrics, brass, copper, wooden furniture – pygmy beds from the Congo as coffee tables – and cracked leather headboards give the rooms a touch of chic.
Wilderness Safari Mombo; $ 2,200 per person per night (including all meals, game drives and parking fees); Okavango Delta, Botswana.
Banjaar Tola, a Taj Safari Lodge
The latest of four lodges that Taj has built in cooperation with the travel company & Beyond and bird watching. Located on the Banjaar River at the foot of Kanha National Park (a reserve that is part of a tiger conservation program), it has 18 tent huts in east and west camps, with each group having its own bar, dining room, and pool ,
Inside there are woven bamboo on the walls and raised bed frames, wrought iron furniture, art from the nearby Indian state of Chhattisgarh, a bathtub in the bright bathrooms and sliding glass doors that open to the decks on the water. In the morning, discreet butlers deliver coffee or tea through small hatches.
Banjaar Tola, A Taj Safari Lodge; from approximately USD 410 per night (including breakfast and nature guide); Kanha National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India.
This air-conditioned camp was opened in December and changes the luxury game in Costa Rica. It was designed by Luxury Frontiers – the architects known in Africa for camps such as Puku Ridge in Zambia and Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge in Botswana – as the first foray into America. Each villa has a fabric roof and is 70 square meters in size. It has canvas walls, suspended floors, a tropical modern interior design (see the mosquito net on the four-poster bed and the botanical mural behind it) and an outdoor patio with a plunge pool of local hot springs.
The camp is located in the Arenal Volcano National Park and shares 62 acres with its sister owners Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs, all of which are connected by a hanging walkway or golf cart. The company has reserved a piece of the resort's land as a haven for indolence (the strange, smiling star of the rainforest) and has started planting guarumo trees to attract and protect them.
Nayara Tented Camp; from around $ 1,200 per night (including breakfast and morning yoga); Arenal Volcano National Park, Alajuela Province, San Carlos, Costa Rica.