Five Best: Modern safari lodges
African accommodation that's out of this world
Saturday 12 March 2005
In a dramatic setting on the edge of the Great Rift Valley in southern Kenya, Shompole is run as a partnership between a private safari company and the local Maasai tribe. Most people visit hoping not just to spot game but also to gain an insight into the area's culture. Shompole's eight standard tented rooms and two luxury suites were built with natural local materials such as white quartz stone, bulrush thatch and figwood to create a pleasantly organic effect.
Shompole, near Lake Magadi, Kenya (00 254 20 884135; www.shompole.com). Prices start at $415 (£218) per person per night, full-board including activities
Singita Lebombo, South Africa
There are four separate lodges at Singita, a private game reserve in the Kruger National Park. All are dazzlingly luxurious but, if you're craving a contemporary setting, Lebombo is the one to go for. Perched discreetly amid trees on the remote eastern boundary of the park, and looking out over the meeting point of the Nwanetsi and Sweni rivers, Lebombo boasts 15 chic glass-fronted suites (so you can spot game from your bed), a gym and health spa, a wine cellar and a small boutique stocked with contemporary African art and sculpture.
Singita Lebombo, Kruger National Park, South Africa (UK reservations 0131-661 6000; www.singita.co.za). Rates start at R6,800 (£600) per person per night, full-board, with drinks and both 4WD and walking safaris
Mushara Lodge, Namibia
Eight kilometres outside Namibia's Etosha National Park, Mushara Lodge is a luxury bush retreat consisting of 10 rooms in a main lodge and two villas. The standard rooms are pretty decadent, while the villas are more contemporary in style, with chocolate and stone-coloured walls and modern furnishings. Each has a private plunge pool, a terrace, contemporary African artworks and a small private library within its 140 square metre open-plan living space.
Mushara Lodge, Tsumeb, Namibia (UK bookings through the Ultimate Travel Company on 020-7386 4646; www.mushara-lodge.com). Doubles in the lodge start at NAD1,360 (£120) per person, on a bed and breakfast basis. Two-person villas start at NAD5,000 (£445) full-board, with a game drive
Etali Safari Lodge, South Africa
Etali's eight suites blend cool colours and earthy textures to provide an oasis of luxury in the bush in the Madikwe game reserve. In the north of the country, close to the border with Botswana, the lodge has outdoor showers, sleek contemporary beds and a holistic "wellness centre". Guests can enjoy the "reflexology walkway" (over rock, sand and water) aromatherapy massages, hot-stone therapy and facials, and the unusual African-Asian fusion cuisine.
Etali Safari Lodge, Madikwe, South Africa (00 27 12 346 0124; www.etalisafari.co.za). Prices start at R2,750 (£243) per person per night, full-board, with two game drives or walks
King's Pool Camp, Botswana
King's Pool Camphas recently been refurbished and now boasts nine luxury tented suites, each with its own titchy but inviting sunken pool and sala (covered deck). Linked to the communal living area by elevated walkways, the suites boast funky African furniture. Set in the Linyanti wildlife reserve near Chobe National Park, the camp overlooks a hippo-filled lagoon.
King's Pool Camp, Linyanti Reserve, Botswana (UK bookings through Aardvark Safaris 01980 849160; www.wilderness-safaris.com). Prices from $545 (£300) per person, full-board including activities
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