A safari experience is essential to a South Africa holiday.

With a stay at one of the best safari lodges in South Africa, you'll discover a sun soaked world of dusty plains or lush green grass and leaning fever trees. Better still, you can have up-close encounters with the country's endangered big five: lions, leopards, black rhinoceros, African bush elephants and African buffalos.

So, where is best to go to experience it? South Africa has an array of luxurious lodges to choose from across its protected game reserves. Here's our round-up of the finest safari lodges you can call home while you explore.

1. Royal Malewane

  • Located in the Thornybush Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park
  • Stay in a luxury family-friendly suite with a private plunge pool
  • Find conservation activities or try safaris on foot and photographic safaris

Royal Malewane stands finely beneath a veneer of green in the Thornybush Game Reserve, just minutes from Kruger National Park. It's home to six luxury suites, each with a fireplace, indoor-outdoor bathroom, viewing deck, gazebo and plunge pool with panoramic views across the wilderness. Reside in Africa’s largest luxury suite, the Malewane, and relish its impeccable service, including a private butler and chef, private game drives, and up to four massages per day.

Bush Spa and Malewane Lodge at the Royal Malewane, South Africa
Bush Spa and Malewane Lodge

Your morning and evening safari drives are led by expert guides and master trackers helping you to spot the big five. Share the stories of your sightings as you feast under the stars with the family, courtesy of the hotel’s top-quality chefs.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Look out for hyenas, giraffes, zebra, hippos, wild dogs, antelopes and hundreds of bird species

2. Morukuru Lodge

  1. Located in the Madikwe Game Reserve
  2. Relish personalised dishes prepared by your personal chef
  3. Enjoy outdoor swimming pools with stunning views across the plains

Hitched tree-house style above the Marico River, Morukuru Lodge offers an authentic safari experience in stunning surroundings.

Morukuru Owner's House, South Africa
Morukuru Owner's House, South Africa

Find everything you need at this exclusive-use retreat, including a personal manager, ranger, chef, butler, tracker, nanny and housekeeping staff, all dedicated to your stay.

There are three private villas to choose from, each boasting open-plan rooms of earthy décor and outdoor swimming pools to soak up the scenery from. Call on your private chef to prepare personalised dishes any time of day. You can also enjoy access to a private game drive vehicle, and a private guide and tracker.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Look out for cheetah, spotted hyena and the endangered African wild dog, along with a variety of antelope

3. Londolozi Private Game Reserve

  • Located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve
  • Take a trip to a nearby village to meet with the local residents and hear their stories
  • Choose from five luxury lodges boasting Relais & Châteaux status

As one of South Africa’s original private game reserves, the family-run Londolozi Private Game Reserve has perfected the safari experience, offering nothing but the best. Expect peaceful seclusion across each of the five lodges, granted Relais & Châteaux status for their charm, with options fit for families, couples or larger groups.

Private Granite Suites at Londolozi Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Private Granite Suites

Alongside luxury, Londolozi Private Game Reserve directs its focus to conservation, playing an active part in the management of the reserve’s surrounding land and wildlife. You can hear expert insight when learning more about the retreat’s initiatives, or take a trip to the nearby villages to meet the local residents.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Sabi Sands is an excellent place from which to spot elusive leopards, plus you may see square-lipped white rhino and hook-lipped black rhino

4. Ulusaba Private Game Reserve

  • Located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve
  • Enjoy scenic plain views from your outdoor showers and private viewing decks
  • Kids can savour the fun-filled Ulusaba Cub’s Club

Set deep in the Sabi Sands Games Reserve, Sir Richard Branson’s privately-owned Ulusaba Private Game Reserve offers 20 beautiful rooms and suites across two lodges, Cliff Lodge and Rock Lodge.

Safari Suite at Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Safari Suite in the Safari Lodge

Each luxurious safari lodge offers the finest features, including outdoor showers, a private viewing deck and an infinity plunge pool. Spend your days on fascinating safari walks and community tours, and your evenings gourmet dining in the moonlight. The Ulusaba Cub’s Club keeps children entertained with a range of fun and educational activities, with a tailored itinerary for each group.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Join a ranger and tracker to see the 'little five' - beetles, African shrews, leopard tortoises, buffalo weavers and ant lions

5. Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge

  • Located in the Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Admire the passing wildlife from your stunning glass-fronted suites
  • Enjoy wildlife photography lessons

This beautiful lodge gazes out onto Madikwe Game Reserve’s serene stretch of untamed wilderness, offering a scatter of just 11 glass-fronted suites. Set with a verandah and private plunge pool, each suite at Madikwe Hills Private Game Reserve is the pinnacle of luxury, with an earthy theme that extends the outdoors in.

Suites as Madikwe Hills Private Game Lodge, South Africa
Suites as Madikwe Hills

The Family Suite is ideal if you're travelling with children, offering a private Land Rover and ranger, entertainment for little ones and delicious meals served in the grand dining room. In addition to riveting game drives and bush walks, you can learn the ropes of wildlife photography, with tips and guidance from the rangers, many of whom are avid photographers themselves.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • There's a high density of leopard and African wild dogs to look out for, along with brown hyena

6. Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge

  • Located in the Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Relax with the family in your outdoor infinity pool, with views of the big five stalking the plains
  • Drift off under the stars with your loved one on your open-air sleeping deck

Beneath twisting branches and canopies of leaves, the Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge sits within one of South Africa’s most expansive reserves sprawling across 75,000 hectares. Open to just 16 guests, this exclusive hideout promises peaceful seclusion on it's privately-owned grounds.

Romantic & secluded suite at Makanyane Safari Lodge
Romantic & secluded suite at Makanyane Safari Lodge

Admire the view from your sun lounger beneath the sunshine or take a dip in your infinity pool as elephants meander in the distance. Indulge in a calming massage, either in the secluded bush spa or on the comfort of your own private deck. Wholesome buffet lunches and afternoon teas are available throughout the day, with three-course delights at dinner, paired with sunset cocktails.

For a fairy tale evening, couples can head to the open-air sleeping deck on the second floor of the lodge. Drift off beneath the stars to the soft glow of lanterns and the low hum of the night, with gentle birdsong to stir you at dawn.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • The reserve is one of the best places to see the rare wild dog, plus lions, elephants, leopards and black and white rhino are abundant

7. Kwandwe Private Game Reserve

  • Located in the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve
  • Embrace twice-daily game drives to discover the secrets of the sweeping plains
  • Families of six can stay at the exquisite Uplands Homestead, a stylish, luxury retreat with mesmerising views

Nestled in the hilltops, the Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is in prime position for big five sightings. Base your stay in a choice of four lodges, each with floor-to-ceiling windows to let the sunlight flood in.

Uplands Homestead at Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Interior Uplands Homestead at Kwandwe

The Uplands Homestead is a great choice for families, accommodating up to six people for exclusive use, and includes a dedicated ranger, tracker and incredible chef team. Enjoy twice-daily game drives to explore the sweeping scenery and all its secrets, along with a nocturnal wildlife adventure, guided bush walks and specialist walking safari tours.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Head to the Great Fish River to see if you can catch a large mouth bass,

8. Molori Safari Lodge

  • Located in the Madikwe Game Reserve
  • Relax in your private Jacuzzi as the sun sets
  • Little guests can enjoy the immersive Junior Rangers programme, offering a riveting itinerary of activities and games

Molori, meaning 'to dream' in Setswana, captures the essence of this otherworldly safari lodge, set within the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Ngwedi Premier Suite Bedroom Metsi Presidential Suite Bathroom

Choose from five stylish suites at Molori Safari Lodge, where the incredible safari experience surrounds you even as you sleep. Enjoy an outdoor deck, a private pool and a Jacuzzi, the perfect setup for relaxing evenings with the sunset. Spend your days tracking game and fishing, or relaxing into some indulgent spa treatments. The Junior Rangers programme keeps little guests entertained, with immersive activities such as pizza making, baking and games.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five or the 'super seven'
  • The reserve is home to the highest concentration of rhino is Africa and the endangered wild dog

9. Singita

  • Located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve
  • Admire contemporary ethnic and rustic interiors across the selection of suites
  • Savour incredible views of the flowing Kruger National Park River

The five stunning Singita lodges are spread across the privately-owned Singita Game Reserve in Sabi Sands, each with a unique flair to enhance your safari experience.

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa
Singita Ebony Lodge

The renowned Singita Ebony Lodge suites promise a premium stay with authentic elegance. Its neighbour, the Singita Boulders Lodge, is another haven of stunning suites, comprising rustic furnishings and relaxed outdoor living spaces. The Singita Lebombo Lodge and Sweni Lodge are high up in the hilltops, with 21 open-plan suites split between them, and the winding Kruger National Park River gleaming below.

Wildlife nearby:

  • Seek out the big five
  • Sabi Sands is known for its amazing leopard sightings

Discover your luxury safari lodge

To find your perfect safari lodge in South Africa, you can contact us to speak to our Travel Specialists. They'll share their expertise and tailor-make your own bespoke itinerary for the trip of a lifetime.

Find out more about South Africa holidays and safari experiences here.

Related Travel Guides

Stay in Touch

Subscribe to our inspiring newsletter to hear about exciting offers, trending destinations and unparalleled experiences