There is something utterly enchanting and very ‘real’ about an African safari experienced ‘under canvas’ in a luxury safari tent.
In addition to the sheer romance of the style and glamour of tented colonial Africa, there is the palpable component; the sounds of the wild animals seem closer, the scents of the bush seem sharper, the earth that little bit nearer.
And whilst the visitors to Africa of yesteryear, possibly did their fair share of roughing it, a safari holiday in a tent is no longer without any essential comfort or required convenience … including in all instances, an en-suite flushing loo.
Tents definitely are not what they used to be, ‘under canvas’ has taken on a whole new appeal and charm.
For those delighted by the idea of a lavish vintage camping experience, where very little separates you from the wilderness of Africa but a filmy fabric panel, we have a selection of sumptuous camps where you can fulfill your ‘Out of Africa’ dreams.
AndBeyond Ngala Tented Camp
Ngala Tented Camp is a chic contemporary camp, situated in dense Riverine forest on the banks of the Timbavati River, in the Timbavati Game Reserve; the Timbavati Game Reserve lies directly adjacent to the Kruger National Park, and enjoys similarly spectacular game-viewing.
Generous wooden viewing decks at Ngala’s main guest area give way to extensive vistas and a charming rim-flow pool, which invites guests to take a cooling dip in it’s torpid turquoise waters.
Numerous soft sofas and plush loungers incite visitors to laze a little longer.
Each beautifully appointed tented suite is mounted on a raised dais, each stunningly decorated, each tent with private verandah, and large gauze panel-windows, which lure the bush sounds and breezes in.
Oversized bathtubs, twin vanities, and delightful outside showers, are standard luxuries in these soothing up-to-date canvased suites.
Honeyguide Mantobeni Tented Safari Camp
Deep in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, set in a grove of Tamboti trees, in close proximity to a nearby waterhole, the twelve tented suites of Mantobeni Tented Safari Camp, echo old-school safari of Hemingway’s Africa.
Perched on a weathered wooden platform, complete with leather couches and matured wooden kists, the Nehru-styled tents have walk-around terraces, and roll-up sides, virtually bringing the outdoors in.
Each softly lit tent comprises a king-sized bed with mosquito net, and an en suite bathroom, with sunken concrete bath, double shower, and double basins.
The comfortable main guest area at Mantobeni is set against dappled polished concrete floors, and consists of a large dining and lounge space with an assortment of comfy seating options, as well as a bar, and outdoor area, with fire boma, and gorgeous splash pool.
Within a private concession in the very heart of Hwange National Park, on the edge of an ancient seasonal floodplain, you will find the seven gracefully furnished Sail tents of Somalisa Camp.
Squirreled away on a khaki Acacia island, each stylish canvas suite brags a glass-fronted wood-burner fireplace for chilly nights, and overhead fan for the hotter summer weather.
Further amenities include both indoor and outdoor showers, whilst a polished copper slipper-style bathtub takes centre stage of the lavish en suite bathrooms.
Dubbed as the ‘Land of Giants’, for its sizeable elephant herds, these impressive pachyderms can be viewed from the split-level wooden decks of the main lodge which gaze out over a natural waterhole.
With the emphasis on warm gentle tones, the main camp area includes separate dining and lounge areas, and a very pleasing guest plunge pool overlooking the ‘Elephant Pool’.
Suspended on the edge of a hippo and elephant lagoon, the four pallid canvas tents of Chindeni, in South Luangwa, are sheer safari romance.
Decorated in honeyed hues, the well-appointed suites are all bleached wood, rattan furniture, and contemporary four-poster bed elegance.
Each spacious stilted suite has it’s own verandah, adorned with swaying hammock; all en suites are complete with double vanities, and shower.
Snuggled around and under a forest of lush Ebony trees, the main camp area at Chindeni comprises extensive varnished viewing decks, with spectacular vistas of the lagoon, and the wildlife therein.
At night polished hurricane lanterns provide soft dreamy lighting throughout the camp, casting swaying shadows on canvas walls.
AndBeyond (the new & updated) Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp
Beautifully positioned on the yawning channels of the Okavango Delta, Nxabega, meaning, ‘Place of the Giraffe’, comprises nine exclusive tented suites.
Each light and earthy suite is raised on a wooden podium, with private deck with sitting area, as well as it’s own entirely enticing and altogether magical sala.
Sumptuous amenities include lovely linens, private dressing rooms, and beautiful bathrooms with indoor shower; for a wholly outdoor experience, a romantic al fresco shower completes the luxury features.
Nestled into a thick Ebony forest, Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, enjoys expansive panoramas of the watery causeways of the Delta from it’s solicitous decks.
A sizeable swimming pool, with striking views rounds off the lavish and lofty guest areas, all made from local timber, reed and thatch.
Khwai Tented Camp (once it’s re-built 2017)
On the eastern border of the Moremi Game Reserve, located in an incontestably idyllic site, on the banks of a lagoon flowing into the Khwai River, lies Khwai Tented Camp.
The camp consists of six mini Meru-style tents, each perched on a shallow wooden platform with a small private verandah, each with en suite bathroom with flush loo, and a bucket shower beneath the stars.
Whilst not overly luxurious, the tents are comfortable, and all enjoy utterly enviable views.
Sheltered amidst verdant woodland, the main guest area is also under canvas; sat atop wooden decking, the dining area and comfy lounge, adjacent to each other, enjoy enchanted vistas.
Khwai Tented Camp is in a community-run concession, where the emphasis is very much on nature and the environment, the camp maintains an element of yester-year; treading lightly on the earth, there are no permanent structures … every item can be removed leaving the wilderness exactly as it was.
Wilderness Safaris Little Vumbura
In the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta, on a beautiful island in a private concession, you will find Little Vumburu.
Surrounded by the Delta itself, the camp is a watery wonderland, offering spectacular and diverse wildlife sightings.
Rested in the shade of an ancient forest canopy, Little Vumburu is made up of six tented suites, each one airy and tastefully decorated, with expansive gauze panes truly inviting the outside in.
Amongst the amenities, all luxury tents feature a private deck, and en suites with double basins and a shower.
Wood, rattan, and leather feature abundantly, which along with cooler colours, sets a stylish and soothing mood, in both suites as well as in communal guest areas.
Abundant timber viewing decks cleverly soak up the surrounding vistas, a reading area and alluring plunge pool are well-placed with panoramas of the spectacular floodplains.
Richard’s River Camp
In the Mara North Conservancy of the Maasai Mara, Richard’s River Camp is sublimely sited on the banks of the Njageteck River, an area permanently fed by the Ngoyanai springs. Of the amazing wildlife drawn to the perpetual supply of water, Richard’s is famed for it’s striking resident lion pride.
The camp is private and exclusive, and consists of just seven beautifully appointed canvas tents, each tent with own verandah and sizeable armchair … from which to take in the abundant views of the surrounding Acacia copses, rivulets, and grassed plains.
Each unobtrusive tent is en suite with flush loo, vanity, and dreamy open-air shower.
In the suites, as well as in the main guest areas, furnishings and fabrics are soft, muted, and relaxing, with hints of Persian rugs, and carved wooden furniture pieces … complimented by well-stuffed sofas, and solid canvas safari chairs.
The dining and lounge areas of the camp are also all under canvas; the entire camp transforms into an inimitable fairyland of warm dancing lantern light at night.
The epitome of ‘Out of Africa’ is here.
AndBeyond Bateleur Camp
Overlooking the endless plains and landscapes of the Maasai Mara, just below the spot where the famed final scene from Out of Africa was filmed, Bateleur Camp shelters in a thick profusion of riverine forest.
Each of the stylish tented suites is surrounded by dense foliage ensuring complete seclusion, each suite on a hardwood platform with private verandah and generous leather armchairs.
The luxury safari tents are well-appointed with contemporary four-poster beds and substantial comforts, all are en suite with twin vanities and showers, each with it’s own dedicated butler.
The main camp area reverberates an elegant colonial Africa, with bold dark furniture, classic vintage Kilims and plump patterned sofas, juxtaposed against sophisticated silverware and graceful crystal.
Bateleur offers unrivaled views of the Mara from it’s timber decks, and a delightful plunge pool under the Tamboti trees, where guests can cool off.
Any seasoned African explorer would shamelessly have made this classic safari camp his home.
Chem Chem Lodge
Set within the privileged Burunge Wildlife Management Area, wedged between Tangire National Park and Lake Manyara, the latter renowned for it’s millions of migratory flamingoes, Chem Chem Lodge is nestled on the southerly banks of Lake Manyara itself.
Fashioned from canvas, lava-stone, and wood, each with spectacular and private lake views, the eight extensive suites at Chem Chem, are secluded and stylishly decorated.
All luxury suites have been appointed a reading corner, a dressing room, a private patio with indulgent day-bed for absorbing the elements, as well as a lush bathroom with twin vanities, free-standing bathtub, and a wistful outdoor shower.
Reminiscent of a pair of unfurled flamingo wings, the main guest area consists of two comfortable annexes.
One wing houses a lounge-bar, a fully-stocked library, and a fire-place, the second wing holds the gourmet restaurant and another fire-place.
Pewter tones provide an assuring backdrop for dark leather sofas, armchairs, and traveling chests, khaki hues are offset by solid wood furniture and Bamileke sitting stools; polished glass hurricane lamps, charming sepia photography, and the odd pith helmet complete the picture.
The main house boasts a deck with views of Lake Manyara, and tucked in between the African acacias and Ilala palms, cloistered in further lava-rock, guests will find the blue-grey swimming pool, perfect for a reviving afternoon dip.
If the word ‘safari’ conjures up for you romantic images of sallow khaki, G&T’s under sun-kissed straw-hued canvas, Karen Blixen wood-and-cane reclining Rampel chairs, and the sounds of heavy fabric flapping in a warm late afternoon breeze … all contrasted against crisp percale linen, polished silver, and gleaming crystal, there is a tented camp in Africa waiting for you.