The Most Exclusive Safari Lodges in South Africa

14th May 2019 // By Alex Martin

Elite Traveler brings you the latest feature in our ongoing series. Here, we take a look at the five luxury safari lodges in South Africa.

South Africa is an incredibly diverse country with distinct ecosystems. The sprawling metropolis of Cape Town offers lush beaches and crystal-clear waters and the West Cape produces some of the best wine in the world.

Head north, however, and you enter a different world. It is here where you can come face-to-face with some of the most precious animals on the planet. Despite the vast emptiness of South Africa’s open plains, there are pockets of paradise; incredible lodges that offer once a lifetime adventures and all the amenities one expects from a luxury hotel. Here, we select five of the best.


Virgin owner and billionaire Sir Richard Branson knows how to build a luxury retreat – his own Necker Island is renowned for being one of the most exclusive destinations in the world. In Ulusaba, he has brought that unrivaled luxury straight to the heart of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The retreat is separated into two lodges: Rock Lodge and Safari Lodge.

Rock Lodge is perched on the top of a koppie with panoramic views over the bush below while Safari Lodge boasts adventurous tree house-style rooms. The Cliff Lodge, a part of Rock Lodge, is the height of luxury here. The two suites can be booked together for exclusive use, which includes your own private chef and a private vehicle for game drives.

Royal Malewane

Elite Traveler had the privilege of reviewing Royal Malewane following an extensive renovation in 2018. At the time, excitement was already building for their upcoming private safari lodge, The Farmstead. This stunning new section, which opened this month, is located just 12 minutes from the main house and offers the same exceptional service that guests have become accustomed to since it opened in 1999.

The lodge’s other villas also benefitted from last year’s renovation. The redesign was led by owner of The Royal Portfolio, Liz Biden, who succeeded in blending a classic safari style with modern and contemporary elements.

Each evening meal is an unforgettable experience. Guests can find themselves dining by candlelight on one night and dancing beneath the stars the next. There are also a range of activities to enjoy, including a visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for close encounters with eagles, owls, vultures, wild dogs, lions and leopard, among other wildlife species.