South Africa's Most Impressive Luxury Bush Breaks

Madikwe's Dithaba Lodge screams luxury
Madikwe's Dithaba Lodge screams luxury | © Madikwe Safari Lodge
Photo of Carina Claassens
16 May 2018

No trip to South Africa would be complete without a visit to the bushveld. We’ve rounded up the best luxury breaks for those who like the finer things in life.

Dithaba Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

Outdoor dining area at Dithaba Lodge
Outdoor dining area at Dithaba Lodge | © Madikwe Safari Lodge
Madikwe Game Reserve’s ultra-luxe accommodation options offer a five-star experience, and a favourite has to be Dithaba (“mountain”) Lodge. Think private plunge pools and viewing decks that overlook the African landscape. The reserve is the fifth-largest game reserve in South Africa and a Big Five park. It’s also one of the best conservation areas within the country, as it lies right by the Botswana border and close to the Kalahari Desert, making it a haven for wildlife.

Fish Eagle Villa, Lion Sands Game Reserve

Lion Sands Game Reserve Ivory Lodge’s Fish Eagle Villa is the ultimate private getaway for family and friends. Accommodating up to six people, this spectacular villa comes complete with an in-house chef, a dedicated field guide, and a private game-viewing vehicle. There’s also a wellness area, private exercise facilities, and a lap pool and jetty with breathtaking views of the Sabie River.

Kapama Karula

The elegantly decorated lounge is perfect for taking it easy after a day spent outdoors
The elegantly decorated lounge is perfect for taking it easy after a day spent outdoors | © Kapama

There’s no doubt why Karula is Kapama Private Game Reserve’s flagship lodge. Set in the Greater Kruger National Park, Karula boasts 12 suites with views stretching as far as the eye can see. Each is decorated to reflect true African style and design and has a private deck area and a full-sized heated pool. Two daily game drives ensure that visitors are able to get into nature and see many of the country’s magnificent animals, including the Big Five. Karula’s luxury villas are ideal for romantic getaways, while each family villa comes complete with a flatscreen TV, a selection of movies, and a Wii game console, perfect for entertaining the kids.

Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge

The restaurant overlooks the African plains
The restaurant overlooks the African plains | © Legacy Hotels and Resorts

Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge is situated in the heart of the malaria-free Pilansberg Game Reserve on the slopes of an extinct volcanic crater. Situated only 143 miles (230 kilometres) from Johannesburg, this is the ideal city escape for families, couples, and friends. On game drives, experienced field guides will share their knowledge of the fauna and flora found in the reserve, including the Big Five and over 300 species of bird. Don’t forget to head to the hide (via a tunnel connected to the lodge) and see animals up close as they get their daily fill at the waterhole.

Marataba Safari Lodge

Alfresco dining under the African sky
Alfresco dining under the African sky | © Marataba
Marataba, meaning “place of sanctuary” in Tswana, is an all-year-round safari destination within Marakele National Park, Limpopo. The canvas-and-stone tented suites at Marataba Safari Lodge represent glamping at its best. All beautifully furnished, with a combination of modern and traditional elements, the suites exude comfort. Marataba falls within the UNESCO-recognized Waterberg Biosphere, which is the only savannah biosphere in the world. What’s more, this is where you’ll find the largest colony of endangered Cape vultures in the world, as well as many Iron Age sites that are scattered throughout the park.

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge

Each luxury bush villa has a large viewing deck
Each luxury bush villa has a large viewing deck | © Guy Upfold / Isibindi Africa

Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge is situated in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, Africa’s oldest proclaimed nature reserve, and a stay here is guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re honeymooning or simply after a luxurious getaway, you’ll be staying in the heart of the bushveld. When venturing away from the amazing accommodation set-up, safaris, bush walks, Zulu cultural visits, and many other activities await.

Bayethe Tented Lodge, Shamwari Game Reserve

Bayethe Tented Lodge
Bayethe Tented Lodge | © Shamwari Game Reserve
Shamwari Game Reserve is situated in the Eastern Cape and is the southernmost private big-game reserve in Africa. Shamwari places emphasis on the importance of conservation and is all about responsible tourism, while at the same time ensuring that each and every guest has an unforgettable experience. The reserve boasts six luxury lodges, all of which are five-star graded. Bayethe Tented Lodge offers top-class private accommodation, and why wouldn’t it, as the name translates as “I salute you,” denoting a warm African welcome.

Private Granite Suites, Londolozi Game Reserve

The perfect setting for a romantic evening
The perfect setting for a romantic evening | © Londolozi

Looking to impress your significant other with a romantic weekend away? Look no further than Londolozi Game Reserve’s Private Granite Suites (so-called because of the extrusion of granite rocks in the area). Suites sleep two people and overlook the Sand River, where elephants love to spend lazy afternoons taking mud baths and cooling off. Each suite includes an outdoor bath and a private heated swimming pool where you’re guaranteed to spend much of your time. No children under the age of 16 are accommodated here.

MalaMala Game Reserve

Sable Camp's large wooden safari deck
Sable Camp's large wooden safari deck | © Heather Smith / MalaMala Game Reserve

MalaMala’s Sable Camp has a more intimate feel than the reserve’s Main Camp, and is perfect for small groups traveling together, families, or even couples. Situated on the Sand River, the camp’s large wooden deck allows for hours of relaxation and spotting animals from all angles. What sets MalaMala Game Reserve apart from its competitors is the absolute remoteness of the area. Undisturbed by human intervention, the reserve is as natural as it gets. Apart from safari vehicles, no other cars are seen here, so animals are left to be their wonderful, wild selves. This means that only those staying in the reserve have the luxury of experiencing all it has to offer. Sable Camp sleeps up to 14 guests and can be reserved for exclusive use.

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