Top 10 Safari Lodges in South Africa
Discover the best of South Africa with my comprehensive guide to the top 10 Safari Lodges. Whether you're seeking a luxurious safari experience or a tranquil retreat in the wilderness, this comprehensive guide has got you covered. From the renowned Sabi Sand Game Reserve to the breathtaking Kruger National Park and the hidden gem Phinda Game Reserve; these lodges offer unmatched beauty, luxury and world-class service. Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes, encounter Africa's iconic wildlife and create unforgettable memories at these extraordinary lodges.
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Where to stay in South Africa
andBeyond Tengile River Lodge
Where luxury and wilderness harmonize: andBeyond Tengile River Lodge, your safari sanctuary.
Singita Boulders Lodge
A modern safari lodge and celebration of its spectacular natural setting in the unspoiled Sabi Sand reserve.
A bottle of South African wine; guests staying three or more nights get a South African wine tasting experience
Where untamed beauty meets refined luxury along the river's edge.
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Things to do in South Africa
Tengile River Lodge
Best Overall - This is my all-time favorite. I have had the best animal encounters here, and I have been going on safaris every year for more than 30 years!
Tengile River Lodge, situated on the banks of the Sand River, is the number one safari lodge to visit in South Africa. With its perfect location in the prestigious Sabi Sand Game Reserve, guests can enjoy exclusive access to the riverbed and experience incredible wildlife sightings. The lodge offers nine luxurious and secluded suites with panoramic river views, complete with private decks and lap pools. Along with the famous Big Five, visitors can encounter a wide variety of plant and animal species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. With exclusive traversing rights on 10,500 hectares of wilderness land, guests can explore the reserve on foot, go on night drives and even go off-road for an up-close wildlife experience.
Londolozi - Private Granite Suites
Best for Eco Tourism & Conservation. Direct commercial flights from Johannesburg to Skukuza Airport several times a day and then an 18 mile road transfer.
This one is close to my heart, my first ever luxury safari experience. One of the South African pioneers in conservation and eco tourism.
Londolozi Granite Suites is the number two safari lodge to visit in South Africa. Nestled along the banks of the Sand River, this elegant lodge offers an extraordinary experience in a remarkable river setting. The suites, adorned with bold materials and a palette of silver, charcoal and elephant gray, seamlessly blend the boundaries between indoor and outdoor living. Each suite features large doors and windows opening onto the Sand River, as well as luxurious outdoor baths and private heated swimming pools. Ideal for honeymooners or small groups, the Granite Suites can be booked individually or as a private camp for up to six guests. Please note that this private camp does not accommodate children under the age of 16.
Singita - Boulders Lodge
Best Decor. Tip - Great for honeymoons.
Is the number three safari lodge to visit in South Africa. Located along the picturesque Sand River, this lodge seamlessly blends the beauty of its surroundings into its spacious interiors and expansive wooden decks. The lodge offers 12 glass-fronted suites that provide privacy, stunning views, and heated pools. Handmade furnishings and natural fabrics create a serene and comfortable ambiance. The communal spaces, such as the Copper Bar, provide intimate settings for guests to connect and share their wildlife sightings. At Boulders Luxury Lodge, you'll have a front-row seat to exceptional wildlife encounters.
Lion Sands - Ivory Lodge
Best Private Plunge Pool & Spa
The understated jewel in the Lion Sands crown is ranked as the number four safari lodge to visit in South Africa. The hospitality at Ivory Lodge is designed entirely around you, providing a personalized and luxurious experience. The lodge is built with natural materials that complement the surrounding bush environment, and its open design draws your attention to the breathtaking river scenes. The décor is rich yet minimal, with ambient lighting and African design accents that subtly reflect the safari theme. Your suite at Ivory Lodge features a private lounge, patio, deck and pool, creating a tranquil space for relaxation. Everything you need is included, from your preferred champagne stocked in the mini bar to the washing and pressing of your favorite shirt. The dedicated staff are always ready to cater to your every whim and fancy, providing a highly personalized experience of a luxury African safari, tailored to your preferences.
Mala mala - Ratray’s Camp
Best for viewing leopards.
My fave for viewing the elusive leopard, my favorite cat! Experienced following a leopard mother and her cubs for hours.
MalaMala Rattray's Camp is a prestigious safari lodge nestled on the banks of the Sand River in South Africa. It offers a glimpse into a bygone era of elegance and refinement while providing unparalleled game viewing opportunities. The spacious and luxurious suites offer seclusion and magnificent views of the river, inviting guests to unwind and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature. With an intimate safari experience, expert rangers as guides and sumptuous dining options, MalaMala Rattray Camp guarantees an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Africa.
AndBeyond - Phinda Rock Lodge
Best for viewing cheetah.
Phinda Rock Lodge is undoubtedly one of the top lodges to visit in South Africa, earning its spot as the sixth best. Perched on a cliff face, it offers breathtaking views of Phinda Private Game Reserve, showcasing the country's diverse wildlife. The lodge's intimate and private suites, with plunge pools and viewing decks, provide a luxurious and secluded experience. With its proximity to unspoiled beaches and coral reefs, Phinda Rock Lodge offers a unique combination of bush and beach adventures. Furthermore, the lodge offers a range of exciting activities and experiences, guaranteeing an unforgettable stay and solidifying its reputation as one of the finest lodges in the country.
An hour away is Sodwana Bay, a 9-mile reef - top 10 in the world. Discover the magic of witnessing ragged tooth sharks gestation. These creatures are inspiring. I dove with them in June. Unforgettable.
Ulasaba - Cliff Lodge 1
A Richard Branson Virgin Property. Best for community empowerment.
It is a premier destination and is the 7th best lodge on my curated list to visit in South Africa. Perched on a rocky outcrop, it offers unparalleled panoramic views of the game-rich Sabi Sand Reserve. The lodge boasts luxurious and spacious accommodations with private decks and plunge pools, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the pristine wilderness. With its exceptional game drives and unique amenities like a treehouse observatory, Ulusaba Cliff Lodge provides an extraordinary safari experience. The lodge also prides itself on its commitment to sustainability and community empowerment, further enhancing its appeal among discerning travelers.
Dullini - River Lodge
Best Viewing Deck
I love the deck overlooking the river while sipping on a cocktail and watching the sun go down. Your personal butler for each group provides the feeling of being spoilled and cherished! Exceptional lion and leopard sitting. Only time I have seen a wild dog in the wild in 30-plus years of safaris.
Dulini River Lodge undoubtedly deserves its top 10 safari lodges rating, renowned for its exceptional luxury and unforgettable wildlife encounters. Nestled on the banks of the Sand River, it offers a serene and picturesque setting amid the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. The lodge features exquisite suites with private plunge pools and panoramic views, providing the perfect sanctuary to unwind and immerse oneself in nature. With skilled rangers and trackers, guests are treated to exhilarating game drives and guided bush walks, ensuring thrilling close encounters with the Big Five. Additionally, the lodge's commitment to conservation and sustainability further distinguishes it as a premier safari destination.
AndBeyond - Ngala Tented Camp
Best Money Value
Tips - Ask for a river view.
Closest Commercial Airport Hoedspruit (1 hour road transfer) Direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Ngala Tented Camp deserves its place in the top 10 South Africa safaris due to its exceptional combination of luxury and affordability. Set within a private game reserve, the camp offers an authentic safari experience with comfortable and spacious tented accommodation. The camp's professional guides and trackers ensure exciting game drives, providing the opportunity to spot a diverse range of wildlife, including the Big Five. Furthermore, Nagala Tented Camp offers excellent value for money, making it accessible to a wider range of travelers without compromising on quality or service. With its stunning natural surroundings and outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities, it is truly a hidden gem among South Africa's safari lodges.
Phinda Mountain Lodge ANDBeyond Property
Best For Families
Tip: Bonus - Phinda Game Preserve is a low malaria area all year round.
Closest Commercial Airport Richards Bay (Direct from Johannesburg only) and then a 2 hour road transfer.
I love this lodge for family trips. I took my 2-year-grandson in June and they took such good care of him, spoiled him with attention. They have a play room and one-on-one babysitters.
It stands out as the ultimate safari lodge for families to visit, providing an unforgettable experience for all ages. The lodge offers spacious family suites with multiple rooms and private plunge pools, ensuring comfort and privacy for the whole family. With exclusive access to the Big Five game reserve, children can witness incredible wildlife sightings and learn about conservation in a safe and educational environment. The lodge's Kids' Program offers engaging activities, including wildlife tracking and bushcraft, catering specifically to the interests and curiosity of young explorers. Furthermore, the lodge's warm and welcoming staff are experienced in catering to the needs of families, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable stay
AndBeyond Kirkmans Kamp
All of these lodges have add on excursions. My favorites are the Beach Trip to Sodwana at Phinda Rock Lodge where you can snorkel or dive at a top ten reef in the world. All of them have guided walks and village tours you can add on.
Best time of year to go on safari late winter and early spring (July - October). Low rain, mild weather, low malaria and short grass for better animal viewing.
Need to Know
For more travel tips, check out my guide, &BEYOND Ngala Tented Camp South Africa.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to South Africa.