These five remarkable safari lodges are a collection of new gems and revamped icons that are as captivating as what lies beyond their fences.
&BEYOND MATETSI RIVER LODGE
With a clutch of new airlines making the Victoria Falls more accessible than ever, the ‘smoke that thunders’ is now an ideal long-weekend escape. And thanks to a $10 million revamp and renovation, &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge is far and away the most sought after address on this stretch of the Zambezi.
Situated 30km upstream on the Zimbabwean side of the falls, &Beyond Matetsi River Lodge is split into two intimate camps of nine suites each. Motifs of wood, stone and leather imbue the suites with a modern safari aesthetic and luxury touches abound – from the private plunge pool to the iPad pre-loaded with bird and field guides.
For small groups or families travelling together, the four-bedroom &Beyond Matetsi River House offers exclusive villa-style accommodation, complete with a dedicated guide, private vehicle, chef and butler.
River cruises, kayaking and daily excursions to the falls allow guests to make the most of the riverfront location, but the game viewing near the lodge is equally impressive thanks to exclusive traversing rights over a 50 000-hectare private wilderness concession.
Acclaimed conservation company Singita has long set the bar high for Big Five escapes. A revamp of its award-winning Lebombo lodge has added exclusive family suites to the offering.
Set down on the banks of the N’wanetsi River, the private suites can be hired on their own or combined to form an exclusive four-bedroom villa. Villa guests also enjoy the services of a dedicated chef and safari guide.
Alongside the new villa offering, all 13 lodge suites have been upgraded, with designer Boyd Ferguson brightening and refreshing the interior decor. The communal areas have also been redone, with a new lap pool, rooftop terrace, wine-tasting studio and tapas-style culinary offering designed by Liam Tomlin of Cape Town’s Chef’s Warehouse.
An intimate new camp from Wilderness Safaris provides yet another reason to visit Zimbabwe’s iconic Mana Pools National Park.
Little Ruckomechi Camp is set on a private concession within the park, with just three airy tented suites built on raised decks beneath the swaying branches of albida trees. The suites, which are ideally suited for multi-generational family groups, share stylish communal areas including a dining and lounge area under canvas, as well as a plunge pool overlooking the Zambezi River.
Despite the wild location, it’s a stylish spot, with designer Mandy Langebrink drawing on myriad local influences to create ‘the warmer, layered look of a nostalgic tented camp created indoors’. ‘We also used locally sourced Lozi drums and bowls to add an authentic Zimbabwean feel,’ she adds.
A private guide is on hand at Little Ruckomechi to lead activities and tailor each day’s itinerary, whether it’s a game drive, canoeing or catch-and-release angling.
Set deep in the Okavango Delta, Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp reopened last year after an extensive refurbishment. While the elegant safari-club feel has been retained, it’s matched by a brighter, modern approach that takes full advantage of the lodge’s breathtaking waterfront location.
Each of the nine tented suites boasts a larger shaded terrace, with king-sized beds offering full-frontal delta views. So too the private sala adjoining each suite, where guests can while away the hours between daily game drives, boat trips and mokoro excursions.
Fancy a night under the stars, lulled to sleep by the rumble of elephants? Each of the 12 thatched suites at Jock Safari Lodge, on a private concession in the southern reaches of the Kruger National Park, has been revamped to offer a memorable ‘sleep-out’ on the deck.
Billowing mosquito nets keep the bugs at bay, while fine linen and coffee delivered to your bedside in the morning ensure an unforgettable night in the bush.
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