On a continent rich with natural wonders, there are also jewels of the manmade kind: special camps and lodges known to few outside Africa but beloved by those who have called them home, if only for a short while.
From simple to luxurious, the properties we work with have been hand-picked based on common elements: intimate in size, spectacular location and overall authentic experience.
What is a Hidden Gem?
For most first-time travelers to Africa, the sheer number of camps and lodges from which to choose, most of which are not part of well-known international brands, can be daunting. On the subject of brands, do not be fooled. While there are some well-known hospitality brands represented in Africa, the properties are typically large and cookie-cutter in style. An authentic safari experience is only truly experienced in a smaller, more off the beaten path safari lodge. After decades traveling to Africa and inspecting (and re-inspecting) our favorite places as well as all the new properties that come on the scene, has given us a deep perspective on what is truly special.
The properties we select for you are carefully chosen to ensure they meet your vision and fit within the budget parameters that you set. Most are owned and operated by people devoted to preserving the wilderness and the culture of the local people. The lodges we choose are often located on private concessions and are as individual and eclectic as their owners.
We will not let you down when it comes to choosing the right accommodation to suit your journey!
Some of Our Favorites:
FIRST: Somalisa Camp in Hwange, Zimbabwe SECOND: Lemala Kuria Hills in the Northern Serengeti
Somalisa Camp in Hwange, Zimbabwe – It’s very well located in front of a large waterhole where large herds of elephants frequent. Watching them emerge from the background forest in such a hurry to drink water is unforgettable. They also stand just feet away from guests as they drink from a swimming pool which is now considered theirs. Lemala Kuria Hills in the Northern Serengeti of Tanzania – the location is excellent, the guides superb, and wow the cats up there were plentiful and very active.
FIRST: Mateya Lodge, Madikwe South Africa MIDDLE: Bushcamps Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa, Zambia THIRD: Royal Chundu Lodge, Livingstone, Zambia
I love Mateya Safari Lodge in the Madikwe Reserve in South Africa. It's a fabulous safari experience combined with an elegant lodge filled with fine art, and top notch food & service Andy Hogg's Bushcamp company's lodges in The South Luwangwa in Zambia starting at Mfuwe Lodge where the elephants walk through at certain times of the year– it's “Old Africa”... I just adore Royal Chundu on the edge of the Zambezi in Livingstone, Zambia owned by our friend Tina. Last time I was there, I got to go fishing on the river for tiger fish and bream.
FIRST: Elephant Pepper Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya MIDDLE: La Residence, Franschhoek, South Africa THIRD: Greystoke, Mahale, Tanzanaia
Elephant Pepper Camp in Kenya's Masai Mara – a traditional tented camp with a distinctly “Old Africa” feel, it is also spectacularly located close to the wildlife action. La Residence in Franschhoek, South Africa – I hold a special place in my heart for this beautiful mansion within a wine village in the Cape Winelands just outside Cape Town – spectacularly designed with original art, sculpture and antiques. If they’d let me I’d just move right in. Greystoke Mahale in Tanzania – as noted above, it is remote, magical, and one of the few places on earth where one can track wild chimps.
FIRST: Shinde Camp in Okavango Delta, Botswana MIDDLE: Royal Malewane, Greater Kruger, South Africa THIRD: Ol Malo Lodge Laikipia, Kenya
For me absolute heaven is Shinde Lodge in Botswana's Okavango Delta for such a fun atmosphere at dinner, with Genet Jackson (the local genet cat) coming down for a visit. For total splurge luxury there's nothing like the Royal suite at Royal Malewane in South Africa's Greater Kruger region, which I have had the pleasure of staying in twice... it's so grand I have to pinch myself...and last time while I was taking a shower the monkeys came in and raided my fruit bowl. And, Liz, my longtime friend, the owner came and had dinner with me. Plus, I love the lodges up in Laikipia, Kenya, nothing like sitting around with the Francombes, the owners of Ol Malo and hearing stories of old Kenya! Plus the next generation, their kids Andrew and Julia are so involved in the lodge, with her working with the local Samburu woman and children. I remember blowing bubbles with the kids there.