Five Best: Safari lodges

The most luxurious places on earth to watch big game


Ol Malo Kenya

Ol Malo Kenya

Built into a rugged escarpment, Ol Malo's four intimate cottages have been created from the surrounding rock and ancient olive wood. Huge windows look out over a waterhole towards the snow-capped peaks of Mount Kenya in the distance. The pool, warmed by the searing sun, spills over the precipice. As well as safaris on foot, horseback and 4x4 you can opt for the lolloping gait of a camel safari.

Abercrombie and Kent (0845 0700 611; www.abercrombiekent.co.uk) rates start at £250 per person per night full-board

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge Tanzania

Teetering on the rim of the famous Ngorongoro Crater, the lodge was inspired by the traditional Masai mud and stick manyatta. Suites are decked out with antiques, leather armchairs, and curtains of billowing raw silk; all have floor-to-ceiling windows with spectacular views and a butler to pack your picnic for trips down to the crater floor. Below the buttressed walls lie forests of fig trees and rolling grasslands roamed by black-maned lions, and vivid flamingos wading in a soda lake.

Ngorongoro Crater Lodge (00 27 11 809 4300; www.ccafrica.com), from £250 all inclusive per night per person (two sharing, with house wine, local spirits and beers, and trips into the crater)

Wolwedans Dune Lodge Namibia

Amid the shifting sands and ever-changing colours of the desert, Dune Lodge is located on a plateau in the heart of the 180,000 hectare NamibRand Nature Reserve, a privately owned conservation area just south of Sossusvlei. The name Wolwedans means "where the wolves dance". Other game found here includes leopard, baboon, mountain and plains zebra, springbok, spotted hyena, African wildcat and kudu. Each of the nine wooden chalets has huge canvas blinds that open on to the grandeur of the desert landscape.

Wolwedans Dune Lodge (00 264 61 230 616; www.wolwedans.com) costs R2,350 (£214) per person per night for full-board accommodation, including all beverages and activities (except hot-air ballooning) and the NamibRand Nature Reserve levy

Ulusaba South Africa

Salma Hayek and Will Smith have sipped sundowners at Sir Richard Branson's safari lodge in the Sabi Sands reserve. On the edge of the Kruger National Park, Ulusaba is made up of two lodges: Rock Lodge, up on a granite koppie, has panoramic views over the lowveld, while Safari Lodge sits down below on the banks of the dry Mabrak riverbed. At the former, each room is designed around a different African tribe, while Safari Lodge has rooms built on stilts linked by rope bridges. Here, right in the heart of the bush, baboons scamper across your roof as elephants amble past.

Ulusaba (00 27 13 735 5460; www.virgin.com/ulusaba) Rooms in Rock Lodge start at R9,500 (£845), for two people all inclusive including game drives

Kwandwe South Africa

"Malaria-free safari" is the USP of South Africa's Eastern Cape. And one of the most exclusive lodges here is Conservation Corporation Africa's property, Kwandwe. Originally an ostrich farm, this private game reserve has been restocked with the Big Five. The main lodge overlooking the Great Fish River has a thatched roof, chandeliers and roaring fires. The nine suites are African chic in design -think cement floors scattered with Persian rugs and spears on the walls. Each suite also has a private plunge pool.

Kwandwe (00 27 11 809 4300; www.ccafrica.com). R4,795 (£425) per person per night including full-board accommodation, drinks and game drives

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