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13 African Luxury Safari Lodges that Offer the Best Value for Money

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Devryn Panaino

Safari Travel Planner

Safari Enquiry
 Devryn Panaino

Author: Devryn Panaino - 11 May 2023

Last Update: 6 May 2024

Going on safari doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. With the right advice and careful planning, you can enjoy a great safari experience at any number of luxury safari lodges and get excellent value for money at the same time.

Our safari experts are ready and waiting to guide you on where and when to splurge and save, so you have an unforgettable vacation. Get inspired with our list of African luxury safari lodges that offer the best value for money.

1. Lion Sands River Lodge

Not only does Lion Sands River Lodge boast spectacular river views from the main guest areas and rooms, but it also offers guests a welcoming ‘home away from home’ ambiance. What makes the lodge unique is its position within the only South African reserve to offer safaris in both the Sand River and Sabie ecosystems.

Lion Sands River Lodge is also one of the few destinations in this region that offers treehouse sleep-out experiences – something you really have to try at least once.

Treehouse suite at luxury lodge, Greater Kruger Park | Photo credits: Lion Sands River Lodge
Treehouse suite at luxury lodge, Greater Kruger Park | Photo credits: Lion Sands River Lodge

Off-road driving, night drives, open-sided safari vehicles, a team of experienced rangers and trackers, and reliable Big Five game viewing all add up to make Lion Sands River Lodge an unforgettable destination for an authentic safari. 

Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Room Types: 12 Luxury Rooms, 6 Superior Luxury Suites, 2 River Suites

Lodge Facilities: Dining area, safari lounge and bar, barista station with artisanal coffees, art gallery, boutique, spa, gym, two swimming pools

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, all meals, Skukuza airport road transfers, local branded beverages, safari activities

Experiences: Morning and afternoon game drives, guided walking safaris, bird watching, hippo tours, local school visits, wildlife lectures, astronomy, bush sleep-outs

2. Madikwe Safari Lodge

Covering a massive 76 000 hectares, Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuaries. Madikwe Safari Lodge features three one-of-a-kind lodges that are situated in a sprawling area of the reserve, and each has been designed to welcome couples, families, and solo travelers.

Suite at a luxury lodge in South Africa | Photo credits: Madikwe Safari Lodge
Suite at a luxury lodge in South Africa | Photo credits: Madikwe Safari Lodge

The safari experience at Madikwe Safari Lodge is world-class and features open safari vehicles with highly trained guides. You’ll easily be able to spot the Big Five, African wild dog, and up to 60 other species of mammals. Being located in the North West Province, it’s also a great option to pair with a stay at the Sun City resort.

Location: Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province, South Africa

Room Types: 20 Suites

Lodge Facilities: Wellness spa, relaxation areas, WiFi connectivity, outdoor dining areas, swimming pools, private viewing decks

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation with a private plunge pool, all meals, teas and coffees, selected local brand beverages, twice daily game drives, snacks and refreshments on game drives, transfers to and from Madikwe airstrip

Experiences: Morning and evening game drives, bush walks, bird watching, ecology house and local community village tour, bush dining, astronomy, spa treatments 

3. Kwandwe Ecca Lodge

Kwandwe Ecca Lodge is a luxury lodge located in a private reserve not too far away from the seaside town of Gqeberha.

Lounge area at Kwandwe Ecca Lodge | Photo credits: Kwandwe Ecca Lodge
Lounge area at Kwandwe Ecca Lodge | Photo credits: Kwandwe Ecca Lodge

This malaria-free Big Five game reserve is perfect for families and can easily be paired with a Garden Route tour or a holiday at one of Gqeberha’s beachside hotels for a great bush and beach experience.

Location: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Room Types: 6 Suites

Lodge Facilities: Various lounging and dining areas, wooden viewing decks, interactive kitchen, bar, a rim-flow lap pool, play center for kids

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, local brand beverages, meals, teas and coffees, nature walks, twice daily game drives, big game walking safari, laundry, complimentary child-minding, emergency medical evacuation insurance, transfers to & from the reserve’s airstrip

Experiences: Big game walking safaris, interpretive bush walks, morning and afternoon game drives, spa treatments, fishing

4. Phinda Forest Lodge

Set within a rare and gorgeous sand forest, Phinda Forest Lodge is one of the world’s first eco-designed lodges.

Luxury suite at Phinda Forest Lodge | Photo credits: Phinda Forest Lodge
Luxury suite at Phinda Forest Lodge | Photo credits: Phinda Forest Lodge

The suites feature glass walls that leave you feeling close to nature, and you’ll be able to explore two habitats on game drives that provide spectacular Big Five game viewing as well as other unique species.

Location: Phinda Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Room Types: 16 Suites

Lodge Facilities: Rim-flow swimming pool, dining area, bar, lounge, interactive kitchen, outdoor boma, safari shop, WiFi connectivity

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, local brand beverages, meals, teas and coffees, laundry, refreshments on game drives, scheduled safari activities

Experiences: Morning, afternoon, and evening game drives, Zulu village tours, seasonal night turtle drives, Black rhino tracking on foot, scuba and ocean safaris, guided bush walks, birding and photographic safaris, family safaris, rhino notching, private safaris 

5. Matetsi River Lodge

Matetsi River Lodge is a luxurious lodge offering superb accommodation, outstanding service, and an authentic safari experience featuring both land and river-based activities.

Suite at Matetsi River Lodge | Photo credits: Matetsi River Lodge
Suite at Matetsi River Lodge | Photo credits: Matetsi River Lodge

The lodge is also reasonably close to Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world and classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Location: Matetsi Private Game Reserve, between Zambia and Zimbabwe

Room Types: River Lodge is made up of two river-facing camps. Each camp features 8 suites and one family suite.

Lodge Facilities: Outdoor boma, Alfresco lounge areas, fitness studio, library, boardroom, shopping boutique, complimentary laundry service, indoor and outdoor dining spaces, 20-meter lap pool, massage sala, private wine cellar, iPads for guest use, free WiFi connectivity

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, local brand beverages, all meals, laundry, safari activities, refreshments on game drives, emergency medical evacuation insurance

Experiences: Zambezi canoeing, morning and evening game drives, full-day game drives, night game drives, Zambezi River boat cruises, walking safaris, fishing, bird watching. There is also a range of activities you can do at Victoria Falls, including bungee jumping, seasonal whitewater rafting, guided tours of the falls, micro lighting, and scenic helicopter flips.

6. Ulusaba Safari Lodge

Nestled in the private Sabi Sands Game Reserve, Ulusaba Safari Lodge offers some of the world’s best sightings of the ever-elusive leopard. You’re also guaranteed to see the Big Five up close.

Pool area at Ulusaba Safari Lodge | Photo credits: Ulusaba Safari Lodge
Pool area at Ulusaba Safari Lodge | Photo credits: Ulusaba Safari Lodge

Featuring cutting-edge equipment and facilities, Ulusaba Safari Lodge is one of South Africa’s most upmarket safari destinations and will not disappoint. 

Location: Ulusaba Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Room Types: 10 Rooms and one Suite

Lodge Facilities: Lounge area, swimming pool, two tennis courts, reception area, dining area, gym with a treadmill, stationary bike, free weights, and multifunctional weight station, spa treatment room, bush observatory, wine cellar, outdoor boma, gift shop

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, beverages including fine champagne and top quality wines, all meals, twice-daily game drives, informative talks, walking safaris, laundry service

Experiences: Panorama tours, helicopter flights over the bush, morning and late afternoon open vehicle game drives, authentic Shangaan experiences, local village visits

7. Vumbura Plains Camp

Vumbura Plains Camp provides guests with the chance to experience authentic tented safari accommodation and an array of land and water-based activities. Not to be missed is a hot-air balloon safari.

Family suite at a luxury lodge in the Okavango Delta | Photo credits: Vumbura Plains Camp
Family suite at a luxury lodge in the Okavango Delta | Photo credits: Vumbura Plains Camp

During the annual floods, the plains surrounding this exquisite destination are flooded, attracting a diverse abundance of wildlife and offering spectacular game viewing opportunities.

Location: Okavango Delta, Botswana

Room Types: 14 tents split between two camps

Lodge Facilities: Dining area, bar, lounge, spacious viewing deck with a fire pit

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, local brand beverages, all meals, laundry, park fees, twice-daily scheduled camp activities

Experiences: Night game drives, boating safaris, mokoro (dugout canoe) excursions, morning and afternoon game drives, guided nature walks, bird watching, catch-and-release fishing, hot-air balloon safaris

8. Zarafa Camp

Linking the world-famous Okavango Delta, Chobe, and Savute corridors, Zarafa Camp is situated in an incredible wildlife viewing area.

Fire pit at Zarafa Camp | Photo credits: Zarafa Camp
Fire pit at Zarafa Camp | Photo credits: Zarafa Camp

Guests at Zarafa can expect an exclusive safari experience (there are few other safari lodges in the area) and look forward to an array of land and water-based activities, not to mention luxurious tented accommodation. 

Location: Selinda Game Reserve, Botswana

Room Types: 4 luxury tents

Lodge Facilities: Dining area, library, lounge area, curio shop, in-room massage treatments

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, beverages excluding champagne, all meals, daily laundry, scheduled safari activities, return airstrip road transfers

Experiences: Boat cruises, game drives, guided bush walks, bird watching

9. Mala Mala Main Camp

Mala Mala Main Camp is situated in one of South Africa’s most immaculate private game reserves featuring 39 536 acres of pure unfenced wilderness.

Luxury lodge deck | Photo credits: Mala Mala Camp
Luxury lodge deck in South Africa | Photo credits: Mala Mala Camp

On the border of the world-famous Kruger National Park, wildlife ambles freely between the Sabi Sands and Kruger, making for spectacular Big Five game viewing. Amazing wildlife viewing is also on offer from the lodge’s viewing deck overlooking the Sabi Sand River, an essential source of water for wildlife thriving in this region. 

Location: Mala Mala Private Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa

Room Types: 10 Luxury Suites, 8 Luxury Rooms, and one Single Room

Lodge Facilities: Lounge, historic bar, free WiFi connectivity, library with satellite television, large wooden safari deck, indoor dining room

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, local brand beverages, all meals, laundry service, snacks, nature walks, twice-daily game drives, transfers to and from the Mala Mala airstrip

Experiences: Guided bush walks, bush dining, bird watching, game drives

10. Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp

Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp offers guests an intimate and world-class safari experience that’s well-suited to small groups and families.

Bar and dining area at Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp | Photo credits: Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
Bar and dining area at Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp | Photo credits: Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp

The mix of well-appointed suites, open safari vehicles, night drives, off-road driving, exemplary service, and guaranteed Big Five game viewing all adds up to make Sabi Sabi Game Reserve one of the best safari destinations. 

Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

Room Types: 6 Luxury Suites

Lodge Facilities: Boma, bar, boutique, lounge, WiFi connectivity, swimming pool

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, walking safaris, twice-daily game drives, a house selection of beverages, all meals, WiFi, transfers to and from Sabi Sabi airstrip

Experiences: Guided bush walks, bush dining, bird watching, morning and afternoon/evening game drives

11. Sanctuary Baines Camp

Sanctuary Baines Camp is located in one of Africa’s most sought-after safari destinations, offering top-notch luxury accommodation, world-class levels of personalized service, and an unbelievable authentic safari experience with both water and land-based activities available to guests.

Sanctuary Baines Camp in Botswana | Photo credits: Sanctuary Baines Camp
Sanctuary Baines Camp in Botswana | Photo credits: Sanctuary Baines Camp

Botswana’s approach of low-volume, high-cost tourism makes it a bit more expensive than most destinations, but Sanctuary Baines Camp squeezes in every ultimate drop of value available. 

Location: Private concession bordering the Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

Room Types: 5 Suites

Lodge Facilities: Lounge, bar, swimming pool with open pavilions, laundry service, dining area, spacious viewing deck

Rate Inclusions: All meals, non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages (except Champagne and premium brands), all game viewing activities, airstrip transfers, luxury accommodation

Experiences: Motorized boating excursions (when the water level allows), walking safaris, mokoro safaris, living with elephants activity, game drives

12. Kariega Settlers Drift

Kariega Settlers Drift offers a one-of-a-kind safari experience, exploring a variety of habitats that feature five different ecosystems – savannah grasslands, acacia woodland, fynbos, valley bushveld, and riverine forests.

Deck at Kariega Settlers Drift | Photo credits: Kariega Settlers Drift
Deck at Kariega Settlers Drift | Photo credits: Kariega Settlers Drift

The 10 000 hectare Kariega Private Game Reserve is perfect for families, with no malaria threat in the area and guaranteed Big Five game viewing. Its proximity to Kenton-on-Sea and Gqeberha make it an ideal destination for travelers who want a bush and beach safari experience.

Location: Kariega Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Room Types: 9 Tents

Lodge Facilities: Wine cellar, spacious decks, restaurant, bar, boma, pool, library, curio shop, spa treatments

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, safari activities, selected beverages, all meals

Experiences: Photographic safaris, fishing, guided bush walks, river cruises, canoeing, morning and afternoon game drives

13. Royal Chundu River Lodge

Royal Chundu rests on the banks of the mighty Zambezi River, a crucial water source for animals living in the area. The lodge’s unique situation provides a laid-back setting and spectacular wildlife viewing.

Suite at Royal Chundu River Lodge | Photo credits: Royal Chundu River Lodge
Suite at Royal Chundu River Lodge | Photo credits: Royal Chundu River Lodge

There are relatively few destinations in this region that can offer trips to the iconic Victoria Falls as well as water-based safaris in the Matetsi Private Game Reserve just beyond the lodge. With your every need met, the luxurious accommodation and the jaw-dropping views of the river, Royal Chundu provides excellent value for money. 

Location: Livingstone, Zambia

Room Types: 10 Riverfront Suites

Lodge Facilities: Swimming pool, restaurant, kids club, wine cellar, cocktail bar, library, free WiFi connectivity, outdoor boma, television room, helicopter pad, spa treatments

Rate Inclusions: Luxury accommodation, teas and coffees, local branded beverages, all meals, return airport transfers, scheduled activities

Experiences: Birding safaris, canoeing, fishing, river cruises, Victoria Falls tours, village tours, full-day safari in Chobe National Park


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