When you dream about luxurious vacationing, you probably don’t envision herds of wildebeests being a part of the experience. But thanks to some exquisite new and soon-to-open properties around Africa, that will all change. From Kenya to Tanzania, there’s a host of options for those who prefer fine amenities with their adventure. Here are five resorts in game-filled reserves that we are wild about right now.
Mahali Mzuri, Maasai Mara, Kenya
This exclusive property will be the newest in Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Limited Edition portfolio when it opens in summer 2013. Mahali Mzuri (which means “beautiful place” in Swahili) sits on the side of a valley in the path of the annual great migration. Twelve tented suites (a far cry from your average campsite) will feature elegant bedrooms and terraces with sweeping views of the rolling terrain—and the zebras, gazelles and wildebeests that pass in thick herds. Guests will also be able to soothe aches and pains that come with game drives and hikes with a luxe spa treatment in the bush.
Singita Serengeti House, Singita Grumeti, Tanzania
Sitting on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill in Tanzania, this newly opened homestead features veranda views of a nearby watering hole in the Grumeti Reserve. You’ll want to bring friends to this intimate hideaway—it’s an exclusive-use retreat that can host up to eight guests in four lavish suites. A personal chef, dedicated staff and private guide mean your biggest stress will be deciding whether to spend an afternoon lounging by the infinity pool or getting up close and personal with some of the world’s most elusive animals on a game drive.
Olare Mara Kempinski, Maasai Mara, Kenya
When Europe’s Kempinski Hotels officially takes over this opulent tented camp on Jan. 15, 2013, it will bring European luxury to the Kenyan countryside. On the banks of the Ntiaktiak River, the resort features eco-friendly touches like a large organic garden and tents furnished with four-poster beds made from indigenous woods. But the exquisite camp’s main draw is the on-site wildlife: Two lion prides call the property home, and guests who have breakfast riverside see a family of hippos in the water.
Chinzombo, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Scheduled to open March 2013, this six-villa camp owned by Norman Carr Safaris is set among a shaded tree canopy on the banks of the Luangwa River in Zambia. Each villa combines modern architecture with Zambian building methods (think cooled sleeping areas with timber floors made from local wood). Those seeking a glimpse of the local wildlife will have private access by boat to South Luangwa National Park, known for its large population of giraffes, elephants and buffalo. And private plunge pools in each villa, a yoga area and a spa will mean plenty of opportunities for post-adventure relaxation.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Central Serengeti, Tanzania
Each room in this newly minted Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti (formerly the Bilila Lodge) offers panoramic views of the Serengeti. Guests can choose among 60 rooms, 12 suites and five villas; but it’s the decadent dining options and spa treatments that set this sub-Saharan lodge apart. The spa offers nature-inspired services like an exfoliating scrub made from local coffee beans, while dinner options include a fireside African feast with traditional dancing. And spotting a wildebeest or two won’t be a problem—two nearby active waterholes provide plenty of chances for glimpses of the local wildlife in the world-renowned sanctuary.
Photos Courtesy of Four Seasons, Chinzombo and Olare Mara Kempinski