A Special Kind of Luxury in Southern Africa
Seven unicorns of the hotel world
There are many unusual places to stay in Southern Africa, and there are also many luxurious places to stay. However, it’s somewhat of a rarity to find a combination of the two. Here are seven unicorns of the hotel world that offer an opulent, one-of-a-kind experience.
1. Isibindi Zulu Lodge, South Africa
In the heart of KwaZulu-Natal, Isibindi Zulu Lodge gives guests the chance to sleep in a magnificent ‘beehive’ suite — in total comfort! Inspired by traditional Zulu architecture, the floor-to-ceiling exterior of the six suites is intricately woven using local grasses, which moderates temperatures so that guests can remain cool in summer and warm in winter.
The bedrooms offer spectacular views over the 2,000 hectare community-owned Isibindi Eco-Reserve, and each of the rooms is named after the mountain that it overlooks.
2. Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, Namibia
Not far from the Skeleton Coast and the Kunene River, you can find this lodge in the Purros Conservancy in the Kaokoveld region of northern Namibia. The presidential suite comes with two luxury bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, an open air shower, a lounge, a veranda, and two gazebos. And, as one of the most remote lodges in the country, it offers an intimate experience in a unique region where various desert-adapted members of the Big Five roam freely.
3. Malori, South Africa
The Malori is a unique sleep-out deck with a thatched overhang from which you can listen to the nocturnal calls of the Kalahari Desert. It offers the chance to sleep safely in this special wilderness on a king-size bed dressed in Egyptian cotton, with nothing between you and the fabled “diamond skies.”
4. San Camp, Botswana
On the edge of the iconic Nwetwe Pan in the hauntingly beautiful Makgadikgadi Salt Pans lies a romantic seven-bedroom camp of billowing white tents. This mysterious desert landscape was once an ancient lake, and the seemingly endless plains are a sight to behold.
San Camp’s magic is in its minimalism, but there is no scarcity of creature comforts, as each room comes with a four-poster bed, a Persian rug, a mahogany writing desk, a leather armchair, and a lazy day bed from which to watch the wildlife while you soak up the ethereal atmosphere.
5. Chalkley Treehouse, South Africa
As far as open-air sleeping options go, the luxury Chalkley Treehouse in Lion Sands Game Reserve offers one of the best experiences in the world. Set in a majestic old leadwood tree, this bush bedroom provides five-star comforts, while allowing guests to sleep out in the wild on a secure platform under the stars.
6. Nkwichi Lodge, Mozambique
On the northern shores of Lake Niassa lies a peaceful idyll that runs on renewable energy and provides the perfect opportunity to disconnect from the world. The pièce de résistance at Nkwichi Lodge is its star bed, where you can sleep under the African night sky on the lakeshore and appreciate why it is referred to as the Lake of Stars.
7. Wolwedans Dunes Lodge, Namibia
Perched on top of a dune plateau, this lodge provides marvellous vistas in all directions and a swimming pool suspended above the sand. Each of the nine chalets has an ensuite bathroom, a private verandah, and canvas blinds that open up to provide panoramic views of the desert from the four-poster bed.