Top Luxury Safari lodges to see the Big Five in South Africa

Top Luxury Safari lodges to see the Big Five in South Africa

Top Luxury Safari lodges to see the Big Five in South Africa

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1.Earth Lodge Sabi Sabi  

Earth Lodge is part of the Sabi Sabi Game Reserve neighboring the Kruger National Park, this conservation area is very well known for the big 5, the lodge is not only beautifully designed to get lost in the geography of the terrain. But it is also one of the most beautiful lodges in the area. The service and generosity of their staff is overwhelming. You don’t realize you have arrived at the lodge until you see someone standing at the end of what looks like a walkway into a tunnel. After greeting you they walk you through this tunnel-like walkway to come out to a spectacular setting with incredible views. If you are lucky you will get some elephants near your room with a private pool or even a lion or a leopard. I was told that more than once guests have to call receptions for a little help with the leopard using their poolside day bed. 

Recently my honeymoon clients experienced an elephant walking by their outdoor shower and coming to the front to see if it could get some water from the pool. 

In Sabi Sabi you will be able to see the big 5, this area has become more and more known for spotting leopards which are generally very hard to find. 

2. Saseka Thornybush

Saseka Tented Camp was a very nice surprise for me, actually an incredible surprise, the rooms are so different from any other lodge I’ve been to and it is so well designed and finely done, it is the epitome of taste and style. The common area is fantastic and it makes you feel like there’s a show about to start and you need to choose one of the very comfortable seats and wait for it to happen, it’s just fantastic. 

When I visited it the river was a bit dry. I was told that when the river flows it’s so relaxing just to sit there and enjoy the However, remember that when the river is dry there are waterholes near and the animals come to drink so that is a plus. 

Also being situated next to Kruger Park, this means that the animals roam freely between the park and the Thornybush game reserve. 

When you start a game drive, the ranger usually asks “what would you like to see” (make sure you tell them what you want to see), so I very quickly replied and said I wanted to see a leopard on a tree (I’d seen leopards before, but never on a tree). Well within 15 minutes they spotted one, and voila! we were done with the most difficult of the big 5. So now all we needed to do is find the other 4 which, well if lucky enough, is not that difficult. 

3. Lebombo Singita

Lebombo is one of the 5 lodges that Singita has in the Kruger area. Although it is a bit more difficult to reach than the ones in the Sabi Sands area of Kruger, it is a beautiful lodge nestled on the side of the hill next to the N’wanetsi River, near the South African border with Mozambique. Our trip there was a bit long but very much worth it. One flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. Then a charter flight, directly into the Satara Airstrip. From there it’s a 30 – 45 minutes drive to the lodge through the Kruger National Park (if you are lucky you will start your game viewing on the way already).

I always tell my clients to make sure they go to a private game reserve for the simple reason that there the vehicles are allowed off-road, making the wildlife sighting a lot more exciting and special. You might say, “wait a minute, Lebombo is inside the Kruger National Park?” Yes, it is, but it is a concession so Singita is allowed to do what they want as long as they make sure they take good care of the area and protect it. Let’s be honest, all game reserve lodges have the same goal, to protect and take care of the wildlife. 

I was lucky enough to travel there with a client of mine who was traveling alone. Our experience didn’t start too well because on our first game drive we didn’t see many animals – Least of all any of the big 5. However on day 2 during one game drive, the afternoon one, we saw all of them (the big 5) at one point in a big open space. We saw Elephants, Rhinos, Buffalo, and Lions. Then later that afternoon we saw a big pride of lions and on our way back to the lodge we saw 2 leopards. Now that is what we call luck, and it was incredibly fabulous. Both my client and I were super happy and excited about it. 

4. Karula Kapama

 

Kapama Karula located in the Kapama Game Reserve is their flagship lodge. Impeccable elegance and style, it is a world of its own. Kapama Game Reserve is located near the Kruger National Park as well, but this reserve does not share borders with it. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to be able to see the big 5. Au contraire, I sometimes think it’s even easier to see them here. Keep in mind that it all comes down to luck, and being at the right place at the right time. But whenever I’ve been there I have seen the big 5 and even Cheetahs which are very hard to find in this area. 

My clients love this game reserve because it is actually the closest reserve to the Hoedspruit airport, one of the three airports you can fly to when visiting the Kruger National Park area. It is probably the shortest land transfer from any of the Airports to the lodge. 

Within the reserve there’s a lodge called Jabulani, they have an amazing elephant interaction experience. If you love elephants this is the best interaction with them that you will have in South Africa. They have an Elephant Orphanage – these rescued elephants will spend the rest of their lives there and will be taken care of by the people that run it, it’s a true labor of love.

5. Royal Malewane

Also located in the Thornybush game reserve this is part of the Royal Portfolio hotels, it has been recognized as the top luxury lodge in South Africa, one of the best lodges in the world, as well as some of the other hotels that belong to this group. 

Being in the Thornybush Game Reserve, it is a sure thing that we will be able to see the big 5. But it all depends on our luck and how long we are there. 

The game drive experiences here are fantastic! Their game rangers are very knowledgeable and good at finding the one big 5 animal you need to see. The area, being next to Kruger Park, has plenty of animals that roam freely between the game reserve and the national park. So all we need is patience and luck and we will definitely have a great chance to see all of the big 5. Leopards are always being the cheeky ones to find – but as a piece of good advice, and this goes for most of the lodges in the Kruger area, always ask to see if they can find African Wild dogs. I find them adorable and beautiful. But they are vicious and very difficult to find because they are always on the move,. They are very good hunters and to watch them work as a group is mind-blowing. I would say that here is where my clients have seen them the most. 

Royal Malewane just opened a new lodge nearby, called Waterside, it opened last July, and I can’t wait to go visit it.

6. Bayethe Shamwari

Shamwari Game Reserve was my second safari ever, I will never forget how we chased two cheetahs that were on the hunt for a couple of reedbuck, or was it wildebeests? Anyway, we followed them for a while until they gave up, but the amazing thing that I remember from this, was the sound these animals make. They literally sound like kittens, like a house cat. 

Bayethe Lodge is one of the top lodges in the Shamwari Private Game Reserve located in the Eastern Cape province. The name means “I salute you” which is a very warm welcome in the African culture of this area of the country. As you can see, you don’t need to be in the Kruger National Park to see the big 5. Depending on your trip you can have your safari experience here at the end of the garden route, or the beginning, (depending on which way you do the Garden route). 

When I did my first Safari I was under the impression that giraffes were lonely animals (now I know they are not). But when I came here for the first time there were so many Giraffes I could not believe what I was seeing. All of them together and walking so graciously on the big plains of the reserve. Leopards are very hard to find here, but they do have them so if you see one here, consider yourself Lucky. Elephants, rhinos, and buffalo are plenty. However that doesn’t mean that sometimes you will struggle to find them – once we spent almost 3 hours looking for elephants and just as we were about to give up they surprised us by walking out of the bush right next to us, quite a few of them.

6Phinda Vlei

Considered one of the most beautiful lodges in the Phinda Game Reserve. Here you can also see the big 5 even though it is not near Kruger. This reserve is only 4 hours drive from Durban, or 2 hours drive from Richard’s Bay. It’s also very near Sodwana Bay in the Isimangaliso Wetland Park, which is a great spot for Scuba Diving. This means you can do an early morning dive and an afternoon game drive – and with some luck, you will see the big 5 and the big ocean 5 (Whales, Dolphins, Sharks, Seals, Penguins).

Phinda was the first game reserve I ever visited, my first ever safari back in 2001. I can say that my passion for South Africa, its wildlife, and this beautiful continent started here. I was very impressed by what I saw and I know that still to this day it impresses me every time. 

This &Beyond properties lodge in the Kwa-Zulu Natal province of South Africa, has a a world renowned standard of luxury. Their staff are incredibly friendly and gracious, you will feel like you belong here. One thing that I will always remember from my first visit was the encounter we had with a family of Cheetahs and thier cubs. It was quite incredible, keep in mind Cheetahs are hard to find, and also, not every private game reserve has cheetahs. So on top of the big 5 you can also see them here. 

Need some help planning Your Luxurious Big 5 Safari?

Book a FREE 30-minute consultation with German – for the perfect advice on where to stay, what to do, and how to get the best out of your travels.

What Our Clients Say

Maria Isabel Armejo
Maria Isabel Armejo
2022-11-29
We had the best experience with our honeymoon trip. German booked our tours, pick up taxis and even our local flights. The trip exceeded our expectations and we had a lot of fun, and enjoyed each day, just like we wanted. Very lucky to find Nanan travel. Cant wait to book another trip with them. Thank you ❤️
Geoffrey Chin
Geoffrey Chin
2022-11-24
Excellent Service! German went above and beyond making our arrangements. Very professional! Highly recommend.
Antonio Sánchez
Antonio Sánchez
2022-11-12
He tenido unas vacaciones espectaculares en Sudáfrica, el entorno, los hoteles, el personal y nuestra guía Alicia Maravillosa y el Organizador y Director Germán también de gran nivel para viajes de lujo, los 2 siempre pendientes de todo. Muchísimas gracias por estar con nosotros hasta en los mínimos detalles. Berny
Paola Izaguirre
Paola Izaguirre
2022-10-23
100% recomendado. Germán planeo con nosotros nuestro viaje a africa. Estuvo literal 24/7 durante todo el viaje, haciéndonos sentir seguros durante las 3 semanas que estuvimos en Africa. Los hoteles donde nos quedamos súper bonitos y súper bien ubicados, sus recomendaciones también súper! Definitivamente entendió lo que queríamos en este viaje. Los guías que nos puso todos con bastante conocimiento, muy buen inglés y amigables. Y en Capetown definitivamente Germán nos hizo sentir como locales y en casa! Ahora a planear africa parte 2 y con muchas ganas de volver a Cape Town! Thanks German!
Rachel Konforti
Rachel Konforti
2022-10-21
German from Nanan Travel was amazing to work with! I found Nanan Travel on instagram when I was researching places to do our safari at. I had some questions before booking but he actually helped take over that process for me which was so helpful! Also, I never thought to work with a travel agent because I wouldve thought they charge us but turns out they dont and even more….they have discounted pricing to hotels I wouldve already booked at myself. So truly it is a win win situation for a traveler to work with Nanan Travel & I will definitely be using Nanan again. 🙂
Betina Menahem
Betina Menahem
2022-10-04
Gracias Germán por tu búsqueda, tu buena onda, tu paciencia y tu predisposición. Gracias a tus recomendaciones pasamos un hermoso fin de semana en un safari cerca de Port Elizabeth y tuvimos nuestra primera experiencia en un safari como familia. 100x100% recomendado!
Ernesta Swanepoel
Ernesta Swanepoel
2022-09-26
This was the second time that German from Nanan Travel arranged accommodation for us during our holidays. And every time he delivers ! German understands what it is that you are looking for in accommodation and he makes sure that you gets what you want. He is quick to respond and happy to answer all questions. We recently travelled to the Maldives and he patiently guided us through the 1000+ options until we found what we were looking for. The accommodation that he suggested exceeded our expectations. Everything went smoothly and all our transfers were arranged. Nanan Travel is the company to use when you want to have a picture perfect holiday !
Pablo Tapia
Pablo Tapia
2022-08-29
Una experiencia alucinante todo el viaje a Sudafrica! Gracias German y a todo el equipo de Nanan Travel! El lodge de Kapama y los safaris fotográficos un éxito! Vimos a los big 5 y muchos más muy cerca! CapeTown también de maravilla! Una ciudad espectacular, el hotel 👍🏻👍🏻! La zona de viñedos también espectacular, un viaje recomendable para los amantes del vino! Clouds estate donde nos alojamos estuvo excelente! Y la Garden Route (si bien manejamos mucho por los pocos días) fue muy interesante, paisajes preciosos, actividades súper divertidas (caminatas, avistamiento de tiburones y ballenas, kayak en stormriver!…) Gracias por todo!
Paola Protzel
Paola Protzel
2022-08-27
This is our second time traveling with Nanan Travel and it just keeps getting better and better !!! We are already dreaming , saving and planning for our third trip to Eastern Africa with German. . If you want to visit Africa please look no further and do it with Nanan Travel . German is super experienced , knowledgeable and caring and thanks to him we have fallen in love with this amazing continent . Can’t wait to be back and discover new places. Thanks German . You are the best !!!
Daniela Abugattas
Daniela Abugattas
2022-08-25
We had the most amazing trip of our lives… the perfect honeymoon package: Safari + Zanzibar! German thought of every detail for our trip and his recommendations were spot on! The hospitality we experienced in every place went above our expectations in every sense!

5 Top Luxury adventures in Africa

5 Top Luxury adventures in Africa

5 Top Luxury adventures in Africa

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1. Train Journey between East Africa & West Africa 

Imagine a 15 days journey on board the most luxurious train in Africa crossing from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic, crossing the entire African continent, and experience incredible adventures on the way, from visits to cultural villages to great game drives in some of the best national parks of the continent, Join the Rovos Rail on this expedition traversing Tanzania, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Angola. This is the first time that a passenger train travels the famous east-to-west copper trail on this route.

The journey includes a two nights fly-in into South Luanga National Park for a safari then joining the train to go to DRC and finish in Angola.

How does this adventure sound?

Would you be interested in joining the Rovos Rail journey?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

2. Fly around Namibia & Botswana

The best way to visit these two beautiful countries, is by traveling on private charter flights between each destination, visit the beautiful red sand dunes of the Kalahari desert in Sossusvlei, fly over the amazing Skeleton Coast and stay overnight in one of the amazing lodges, visit the famous Etosha national park and then fly across to the Okavango delta in Botswana, after that you can fly south to the Makgadikgadi plains to finish this adventure in the well-know Chobe National Park.

This is an incredible adventure trip, the best part of it is that you travel through so many different echo systems, from the arid desert areas of Namibia, its incredible coast to the wetlands of Botswana and its salt pans to end in the amazing Chobe river. Here’s a tip, why not cross over to Zambia or Zimbabwe and visit the fantastic Victoria Falls.

Doesn’t this sound interesting?

Would you be interested in joining this adventure?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

3. Luxurious South Africa adventure

 

When visiting South Africa, there are so many things one can do, we always recommend a minimum stay of 4 full days in Cape Town but 5 is better, Stay at a private villa, fully serviced with a private chauffeured vehicle to take you around the city and all the places it has to offer, but even though your villa will include a chef, don’t miss out on the amazing restaurants the city has to offer, take some time to relax while sipping champagne on a private yacht watching the sunset, or maybe a nice helicopter flight over the city, even better, a helicopter flight to the Winelands to spend 2 or 3 nights there, after that fly out to the Kruger Park area and spend 3 or 4 nights in a 5-star luxurious Safari lodge.

If you are a beach person we can also add some time at a beach in a coastal town near Cape Town or maybe even fly out to Mozambique after the safari and stay at a fabulous beach resort in one of those amazing islands, enjoy some time under the sun or go Scuba diving, etc.

City, country side, safari, and beach what else can you ask for?

Would you be interested in an adventure like this?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

4. The complete East Africa experience, & Seychelles

 

We know that when someone thinks of Africa they are usually thinking of East Africa, the never-ending plains full of wildlife and fabulous landscapes, Mount Kilimanjaro, and the Wildebeest migration, this is Kenya and Tanzania, but why not add Rwanda to the show and finish this adventure with an amazing beach destination like Seychelles, Right? 

Rwanda is a beautiful country to visit and learn about their struggle and how they overcame all the tragedy to become one of the best countries in Africa but it also has some of the best Gorilla sightings in the world, so let’s start our adventure there and then fly to Kenya to start our safari, visit the most famous African national parks and if we are lucky we will witness the river crossings of the millions of wildebeests and Zebras, Maasai Mara, Serengeti, Ngorongoro are three of the most well know parks and why not, let’s do this in style, fly on private charters to each park, that way we can concentrate more on the game drives, after a couple of days on a fantastic safari, we can go and relax at one of the most beautiful and fantastic islands in the Indian Ocean, Seychelles.

How does this adventure sound?

Would you be interested in seeing the migration and the Gorillas?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

5. South Africa & Antarctica

Whether it is on the top 5 of your bucket list or not, imagine flying into Antarctica for 5 nights, visiting the south pole, walking with the Emperor Penguins and experiencing no nights at all, and then having a wildlife safari in South Africa, this adventure sounds crazy but awesome at the same time, right? 

Direct flights from Cape Town to Antarctica, So we need to plan a few days in the mother city and when you come back from the South Pole fly to Kruger and do a 4-days Wildlife safari at one of the best luxury lodges South Africa has to offer, why not add a couple of days in the wine lands to make it more exciting…

The flights to Antarctica are limited and only from November to early February so this needs to be planned very much in advance.

Antarctica! I’m in, are you?

Would you be interested in joining this adventure?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

BONUS TRIP* – Egypt and the Red sea

OK, OK, I did say 5 top luxury adventures but I couldn’t leave Egypt out of this list for Africa, Egypt is Incredible and a luxury cruise along the Nile visiting the breath-taking temples of ancient Egypt, a short flight to see Abu Simbel and then some downtime at the beach in Sharm el Sheik in the Red sea, one of the best places on earth for Scuba Diving, how does that sound? 

Spend a few days in the crazy, buzzing city of Cairo, enjoy the Pyramids and one of the biggest museums in the world with an incredible display of artifacts from most of the Egyptian dynasties, that date almost 5000 years, and much more, the night market, the hanging church, Visit the Siwa Desert, Alexandria, etc. all in the luxury and comfort of your own private vehicle with your guide, and if this doesn’t sound adventurous enough how about we add Petra to the list? OK, we might as well add the Dead sea. 

How does this adventure sound?

Would you like to visit Egypt and its Pyramids?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

We would be happy to plan your luxury adventure to any of these destinations or any other place in Africa that you would like to visit. The options are endless and the possibilities limitless. Let us know when you’d like to travel?, for how long? And, how many of you? 

What Our Clients Say

Thank you German for organising an unforgettable trip, your flexibility and the fact that you were on top of everything making sure everything went marvellously, I hope I can come back soon to see more! #GermanKnows

Yessica Flores Camborda
Peruvian

Unfortunately I was not able to travel with German to South America but he did provide the best touring and personalized service in Cape Town. Would highly recommend to anyone, for anywhere, at any time! Thanks an epic trip German!!

Jack Herman
USA

Excellent Organisation, Beyond our expectations! Thank you German!!

Salvador Rodriguez
Peruvian

He organised 10 to 28 friends of mine in Cape Town (#30Peruvians)… they definitely showed them the best of the city, the wine lands and a Safari!… Thank you very much German!

Fico Pastor
Peruvian

They organised our trip to Cape Town and everything was incredible, we did everything and it was all A1 a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Thank you German. Blindfolded the best option to get to know South Africa.
Tera Ascuna
Peruvian
The best way to see and fall in love with Africa! Thank you German for your advice and recommendations!

Vanessa Luna

Top 5 Honeymoon Trips in Africa

Top 5 Honeymoon Trips in Africa

Top 5 Honeymoon Trips in Africa

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For most newlyweds, your honeymoon is the trip of a lifetime. Sure, you may end up taking bigger or wilder trips down the road, probably with your growing family, but the first post-wedding getaway is epic. It allows you time to enjoy each other, to leave all the planning and stress behind you. It sets the tone for the adventures you’ll have in the future together and creates memories that will last for a lifetime.

Whether you’re a lie-on-a-beach-with-a-coconut couple, daring foodies, adventure junkiesglamping, or exploring city-scapes folk, there are incredible places in Africa to help you write the next chapter to your happily-ever-after. I’ve created this perfect list of the Top 5 African Honeymoon Trips to help you create the perfect romantic getaway!

1. Just South Africa

Cape Town Winelands & Safari near Durban, plus a visit to a stunning beach resort on the northeast coast of South Africa. Great for a more budget-friendly Honeymoon, or people that don’t want to cross borders and deal with Covid tests, etc. Perfectly suited for couples looking for some city vibe, contact with nature and wildlife, and great relaxation by the beach.

How does this romantic rendezvous sound?

Romantic strolls in the vineyards anyone?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

2. South Africa and Mozambique

If you like a bit more upscale vibe, visit Cape Town and the Winelands, followed by a great luxury safari in the Kruger area. Finishing off with a stay in Mozambique for a unique beach experience in some of the most amazing beach resorts.

Would you like to spend some time in the bush & on the beach?

Want to celebrate close to nature?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

3. East Africa Kenya

There are plenty of combinations here, the possibilities are endless. We could recommend 3 national parks in Kenya, followed by a visit to some of the fantastic beaches on the coast of Kenya (no need to cross borders to Zanzibar).

This would fit you perfectly if you are not interested in visiting a city and just want to immerse yourself in nature and relax by the beach. The best time to book your honeymoon for this would be between June to October to enjoy the migration (just keep in mind this is peak season so High prices).

DOESN’T THIS SOUND INTERESTING?

Would you be interested in joining this adventure?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

4. East Africa and Zanzibar

Same as before, lots of options. This package would include 6 – 7 nights of safari between Kenya and Tanzania and then 4 -5 nights in a fantastic beach resort, ideal for romance and relaxation, much needed after the safari portion of your adventure. This is a Luxury trip, small plane flights, expensive but worth it. The best time to do it is June – October to enjoy the migration (also peak season so High prices).

Could you do with Safari - seaside & sun?

Would you be interested in joining this African journey?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

5. Rwanda, Migration, Seychelles

The ultimate luxury trip! Imagine spending time with a family of Silverback gorillas in beautiful Rwanda, then visiting Serengeti for some 5 Star Big Five Safari. Followed by a visit to the Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro. Only to end with a fabulous stay in Seychelles, Now this is Luxury and romance at its best.

How does this adventure sound?

Would you be interested in seeing the migration and the Gorillas?

For more information please contact us via email [email protected] or via  WhatsApp +27767687708

What Our Clients Say

Thank you German for organising an unforgettable trip, your flexibility and the fact that you were on top of everything making sure everything went marvellously, I hope I can come back soon to see more! #GermanKnows

Yessica Flores Camborda
Peruvian

Unfortunately I was not able to travel with German to South America but he did provide the best touring and personalized service in Cape Town. Would highly recommend to anyone, for anywhere, at any time! Thanks an epic trip German!!

Jack Herman
USA

Excellent Organisation, Beyond our expectations! Thank you German!!

Salvador Rodriguez
Peruvian

He organised 10 to 28 friends of mine in Cape Town (#30Peruvians)… they definitely showed them the best of the city, the wine lands and a Safari!… Thank you very much German!

Fico Pastor
Peruvian

They organised our trip to Cape Town and everything was incredible, we did everything and it was all A1 a truly unique and unforgettable experience. Thank you German. Blindfolded the best option to get to know South Africa.
Tera Ascuna
Peruvian
The best way to see and fall in love with Africa! Thank you German for your advice and recommendations!

Vanessa Luna

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