Imagine staying somewhere truly wild and remote; where the jarring beep of your alarm clock is replaced by soft grunt of hippos in a nearby river, 'rush hour' is a herd of buffalo crossing the dirt track in front of your vehicle, and evenings are spent dining under the branches of a lantern-lit tree.
Sound good? Then you’ll love this collection of lodges and tented camps. Africa is known for its vast open spaces and these properties are about as remote as you can get, yet still offer luxurious suites, five-star service and fine dinners complemented by that perfect bottle of chilled wine.
Deserts, deltas, game-packed plains; you’ll find them all in these far-flung reserves. our pick of Southern Africa’s remote luxury lodges.
Twsalu Kalahari, Unique Safari Experience
Why we love it: Tswalu sits on the red sands of the Kalahari in South Africa’s largest private reserve. Just six vehicles have access to the entire area (which spans over 1,000 km2) so no jostling around a sighting on these savannah plains.
As for the wildlife, there’s plenty to see from shaggy-maned lions and desert black rhino to more unusual creatures such as meerkats, aardvarks and pangolins. Along with game drives you have the option of guided walks and horse riding safaris, and the stunning accommodation belongs to the elite group of National Geographic’s “Unique Lodges of The World”.
Where it is: Tswalu Kalahari is in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, close to the Botswana border.
Find out more: Tswalu Kalahari
The Outpost, the Wild Side of Kruger
Why we love it: Most first-time safari-goers flock to the southern Kruger or Sabi Sands Private Reserves. This leaves the remote northern reaches of the reserve to safari aficionados; people who enjoy the birdlife as much as the big game, and who take delight in the thousand-year-old baobabs and magical fever tree forests.
And this is where you’ll find The Outpost. A stylish lodge with 12 open-plan suites, each made perfectly private with clever retractable screens. It’s a fantastic feeling lazing in bed or soaking in the bath as you take in your wide view out over the thick bush and river down below.
Where it is: A private concession in the northern sector of South Africa's Kruger National Park.
Find out more: The Outpost
Serra Cafema, Remote Desert Oasis
Why we love it: Serra Cafema sits on the riverbank of the Kunene River, a winding band of green surrounded by the lunar-like landscape of the Namib Desert. This is one of the most remote lodges in Africa; there’s no cell or WiFi signal here so stash the gadgets and enjoy a few days of digital detox.
Game viewing is limited to small herds of gemsbok, springbok and mountain zebra. However, you'll never be bored with quad biking across the dunes, boat trips past chattering birds and the occasional crocodile, and the rare opportunity to meet the Himba people – one of Africa's last nomadic tribes.
Where it is: Serra Cafema lies in the extreme north-west of Namibia in the Hartmann Valley.
Find out more: Serra Cafema
Duba Plains, Deep in the Okavango Delta
Why we love it: Duba Plains has just six tents overlooking the floodplains of the Okavango Delta. The area is best known for its remarkable lions, whose story was documented by Dereck and Beverly Joubert in award-winning films such as “Relentless Enemies” and “The Last Lions”.
Most visitors are drawn here by the ever-present lions and the hope of seeing them hunting buffalo - real tooth-and-claw action! But there are many other reasons to visit Duba Plains including the exceptional guides, peaceful island setting, herds of red lechwe and abundant birdlife.
Where it is: Deep in the extreme northern reaches of Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Find out more: Duba Plains
Shumba Camp, Zambia’s Game-Dotted Plains
Why we love it: Shumba Camp has six spacious tents overlooking the Busanga Plains in Kafue. These plains are prime game viewing territory with huge herds of red lechwe, puku and the rare roan antelope attracting plenty of predators including prides of lion, packs of wild dog and lone cheetah.
The game viewing continues even between drives as lion often seen in and around camp. While other activities include night drives, boating (when water levels allow) and the highly-recommended hot air balloon safari – watching the sunrise as you drift over the herds scattered below.
Where it is: The Busanga Plains area in the north of Zambia's little-visited Kafue Naitonal Park.
Find out more: Shumba Camp
Singita Pamushana, Place of Miracles
Why we love it: Perched high on a hill overlooking a peaceful lake, Pamushana meets the exceptionally high standards we’ve come to expect from Singita. Lodge highlights include the gorgeous villas with private pools, Swarovski telescopes for armchair game viewing and a cellar stocked with fine South African wine.
Singita manages the lodge on behalf of the Malilangwe Trust, and all proceeds go towards conservation and community development projects. So while experiencing your luxurious off-the-beaten-track safari, you also make a tangible positive impact on this extraordinarily beautiful area.
Where it is: Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve lies on the edge of the Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe.
Read more about Singita Pamushana