Icons & Innovators: Wilderness Safaris: Safari Sanctuaries

  • Jack Smith

Ruckomechi Camp, Zimbabwe
The grunts of hippos can be heard all day at Ruckomechi Camp, which is nestled in a large grove of acacia and mahogany trees overlooking the Zambezi River and Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The river attracts such feathered favorites as Livingstone’s flycatcher, the red-necked falcon, and the yellow-spotted nicator. The camp accommodates guests in 10 thatched chalets.


Makalolo Plains, Zimbabwe
Windows at Makalolo Plains overlook water holes frequented by elephants and buffalo. The camp is situated in a remote area of the vast Hwange National Park, renowned for its massive herds of big game. The park’s wild dog population is thought to be one of the largest such groups in Africa.

North Island, the Seychelles
One of the 40 inner granitic isles of the Seychelles, this Wilderness Safaris property is considered by some to be the most beautiful island on earth. The resort, which occupies the entire island, has only 11 guest villas. A new spa, perched high above a powder-white beach, specializes in holistic treatments.

River Club, Zambia
Victoria Falls is one of the seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the River Club is the place from which to see and hear its thunderous cascade. Set away from the crowds on the Zambia side of the Zambezi River, the club’s 10 chalets have a distinctly Edwardian flavor. The rooms are completely open in the front, affording the best possible views of the action.

Pafuri Camp, South Africa
Pafuri Camp is located in one of the most remote and mysterious sections of Kruger National Park, the Makuleke. Here, early man shuffled through the forest 2 million years ago. In the 15th century, the Thulamela dynasty emerged to build citadels and towns. Today, 20 tented rooms look out over the Luvuvhu River, where elephant, nyala, waterbuck, and bushbuck come to drink. Pafuri Camp also offers the best birding in all of the Kruger.

Domwe Island, Malawi
Domwe Island lies within a private concession area in Lake Malawi National Park, known to water-sports buffs as the site of the finest freshwater scuba diving in the world. The camp comprises five large safari tents tucked into foliage, each furnished with its own deck and hammock. The island’s 6-mile circumference and 1,300-foot highest elevation make for extensive and challenging hiking and kayaking.

Chintheche Inn, Malawi
Palm-fringed beaches and soaring mountains surround the warm, clear waters of Lake Malawi, and picturesque fishing villages dot the shoreline. Here, on a broad sandy beach, stands Chintheche Inn. Big game is rare, but you might spot oryx, cape fox, jackal, springbok, ostrich, and aardvark.

Kaya Mawa Lodge, Malawi
Wilderness Safaris constructed Kaya Mawa Lodge in partnership with the local community and without the assistance of machinery, which was not available on Lake Malawi’s Likoma Island. The lodge consists of 10 stone- and teak-framed thatched cottages set into a granite headland surrounded by hundreds of baobab trees. Each cottage faces the lake and has a 7-by-6-foot mahogany four-poster bed, a sunken stone bathtub, and a loo with a view.

Little Kulala, Namibia
Little Kulala is the gem of Namibia’s extraordinary Sossusvlei region. This desert retreat’s eight thatched villas merge seamlessly into the timeless landscape of the Namib dunes, which have been called the most photogenic place on the planet. Each villa offers a bleached-wood deck and a private plunge pool, as well as a rooftop bed for stargazing. A balloon safari at first light wafts you aloft in style before returning you to earth to toast the new day at a Champagne breakfast.

Palmwag Rhino Camp, Namibia
The nonprofit Palmwag Rhino Camp is a joint venture between Wilderness Safaris and the Save the Rhino Trust, which helped ensure that the rare, desert-adapted black rhino survived the slaughter that went on throughout other parts of Africa in the 1980s and ’90s. Today, the local population of rhinos is growing, and the area boasts one of the largest concentrations of the animals anywhere on earth. The camp itself accommodates 16 guests in eight East African–styled Meru tents.

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