10 Hidden Safari Gems In Southern Africa


Fancy a getaway in the heart of the bush? Take a look at these little gems that are off the beaten track and offer incredible viewing, superb sunsets and a quiet, natural space.

  1. Mutale Falls Tented Safari Camp, Makuya Reserve, Limpopo

Five safari tents in a remote camp with self-catering facilities and splendid views of the Mutale River. Only accessible by 4×4, guests can self-drive to places such as World’s View and the Luvuvhu Gorge lookout, while those who want to get up close to the bush are taken on guided walks to the Mutale Falls.

  1. Madi-Madi Karoo Safari Lodge, near Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo

A unique luxury safari lodge in an exceptional setting that offers pure tranquillity. In addition to the bush activities, also on offer are stargazing, horseback safaris and sunset river cruises. Ideal for honeymooners and romantics.

  1. Tutwa Desert Lodge, Augrabies, Northern Cape

Offers both river and game-viewing activities. It is great for anyone looking for somewhere different or for those who enjoy adventure in comfort. Go where you’ve never been before – you won’t be disappointed.

  1. Mtomeni Tented Camp, Letaba Ranch, north of Phalaborwa

A newly renovated camp and the only tourism facility in the reserve, it provides an extraordinarily tranquil safari experience with guided game drives and bush walks. The camp facilities are rustic and simple, offering guests an authentic bush experience with modern ablutions and nice linen. The facilities can be booked on either a self-catering or catered basis and are ideal for both overlanding groups, as well as independent tours.

  1. Tembe Elephant Park, northern KwaZulu-Natal

Probably the most affordable Big-5 full-service lodge in SA, with the friendliest of staff, expert guides, great facilities, wonderful meals, and exceptional buy-in from the local community.

  1. Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve, Graaff-Reinet

Fantastic value for money, with outstanding guides and great lodges, it offers great game viewing, fantastic hospitality and excellent cuisine. Definitely a best-kept secret.

  1. Ghost Mountain Inn, 6.8km from Ubombo Mountain Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal

The safari cruises on Lake Jozini are amazing! Spot elephant and other game on the banks of the Pongola River and enjoy the hippo/bird-watching from the boat.

  1. Lukhanyo Private Game Reserve, 28km from Grahamstown

Offers self-catering accommodation for a maximum of 12 people in three cottages. The main lodge overlooks a watering hole and guests can see buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest and buck and birdlife. The vegetation is ideal for hiking.

  1. Elephant’s Eye Camp, Hwange, Zimbabwe

A luxury eco camp comprising eight tented chalets overlooking a waterhole. Sunsets and sunrises here are simply sublime as you sit on the deck and watch the elephants come up and drink from the pool, while you sip your G&T. There are some great cultural activities to experience, as well as a very romantic sleep-out deck on stilts in the middle of the concession – truly a magical African experience.

  1. Umlani, Timbavati Private Nature Reserve

Timbavati shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. This is true ‘Big Five’ territory and guests have an opportunity to see lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino on safe, expertly guided game drives and bush walks. The area is also home to more than 40 mammal and 350 bird species. Umlani is an eco-lodge that offers a true African experience that combines excellent and super-friendly service with simplicity. Here you won’t find air-cons and electrical appliances in your accommodation but rather simple reed and thatch huts with mosquito-gauze windows and open-air bush showers for the ultimate stargazing experience. Operating off the grid, each rondavel is discreetly lit by a combination of solar and oil lanterns. The Umlani philosophy of simple luxury and ‘getting back to nature’ is enhanced by the romance of operating without electricity, so each hut and the entire camp are lit by candlelight and oil lamps, providing a warm and magical atmosphere. Meals are served under the stars or in a traditional African boma and are simple but plentiful and delicious. There is a well-stocked help-yourself bush bar and deck overlooking a waterhole, with great game viewing.

Compiled by: Melissa Jane Cook

Source: Tourism Update. Image: Istock