On an African safari, it's practically a given that you may get a bit dusty tracking lions by day, but you won't be roughing it at night. Yet these days, luxury in the bush is taking on ever greater heights, literally and figuratively. From a high-up vantage point above Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater to the first five-star camp in Zimbabwe’s pristine Mana Pools region, these four properties prove there’s never been a better time to be spoiled in the savannah.
Ruckomechi Camp, Zimbabwe
Safari outposts in Zimbabwe are booming for many reasons—top-notch guides, ample opportunities for adventure-packed walking and canoe tours, and their relative affordability. The best-kept secret may be Mana Pools, a reserve in the Zambezi Valley with high concentrations of African wild dogs and a newly minted luxury lodge, the area’s first. Ruckomechi’s 10 tents have glass-walled rain showers with breathtaking river views, often complemented by visiting elephants; a follow-up property called Little Rukomechi has already added four more tents just next door. Rooms from $1,480 per night
The Highlands, Tanzania
The Ngorongoro Crater is one of the few places where you can see hundreds of animal species in a single compact reserve, and the Highlands by Asilia Africa is the area’s new crown jewel. Its eight geodesic domes—each outfitted with House of Tartan throw pillows, cowhide rugs, and a wood-burning fireplace—are set back from the crowded crater rim. They come with exclusive access to nearby Maasai villages, the flamingo-filled Empakaai Crater, and private picnic sites in Ngorongoro itself. Rooms from $690 per night
It took 10 years to build this dream estate atop Kenya’s Laikipia Plateau, a remote area known for its rhino populations and views of snowcapped Mt. Kenya. The effort paid off: The design is extravagant, with vaulted doorways, a courtyard like those you’ll find in Ethiopian monasteries, crystal chandeliers, and a Turkish hammam. The showstopper is a “constellation suite,” which features an outdoor bed for all-night stargazing. From $7,500 per night to rent out the estate
Singita Lebombo, South Africa
Throughout its 26-year history, Singita has established itself as the standard-setter for luxury camps in the bush, and the top-to-bottom redo of Lebombo is no exception. The lodge’s 13 glass-walled suites—set in a private, 33,000-acre concession near Kruger National Park—are styled with rattan living room furniture and gauzy canvas canopies over the beds. But it’s the amenities that seal the deal. Follow a leopard-filled game drive with alfresco spa treatments or a dip in the 82-foot lap pool. At dinner, choose a limited-production bottle of South African white from one of the continent’s largest wine collections. Rooms from $3,240 per night