With FIFA’s 2010 World Cup soc­cer cham­pi­onships going on now, many eyes are turned toward South Africa. If you haven’t yet vis­ited one of the country’s many lux­ury safari lodges, you are miss­ing out. Hid­den away in the bush, these opu­lent lodges rival the best Euro­pean hotels in terms of ser­vice, food and wine, and some­times even spa treat­ments. Of course, the real draw of any safari is the chance to get close to the “Big Five:” ele­phant, lion, Cape buf­falo, leop­ard, and black rhi­noc­eros. In most of South Africa’s game reserves, you’ll see those species as well as many others

If the World Cup has piqued your inter­est in South Africa, con­sider these lux­ury lodges:

Sabi Sands Pri­vate Game Reserve

Leop­ard Hills

Aptly named, you often won’t have to leave camp to see leop­ards. The res­i­dent female is fre­quently seen drink­ing from guest plunge pools and loung­ing on lodge decks. She has even left her cub on prop­erty while she went off hunt­ing. If you don’t spot a leop­ard at the lodge, you almost cer­tainly will dur­ing a game drive. Leop­ard Hills rangers and track­ers reg­u­larly lead guests to sight­ings of lions, ele­phants, Cape buf­falo, giraffe, wild dogs, and occa­sion­ally even chee­tahs. This inti­mate lodge fea­tures eight air-conditioned glass-fronted suites—each with a pri­vate plunge pool and gor­geous views of the bushveld. The spa­cious bath­room fea­tures a stand­alone tub, his and her sinks, and both an indoor and out­door shower. The main lodge offers a spa and small gym, library, din­ing room and bar, deck over­look­ing a water­ing hole, and swim­ming pool. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,000/night.

www.leopardhills.com

Kruger National Park

Sin­gita Sweni Lodge

Sin­gita is one of the most rec­og­nized names when it comes to lux­ury safari lodges. Here at Kruger National Park, Singita—a Relais & Chateaux property—offers two options: Sweni and Lebombo lodges. (over at Sabi Sands you’ll find Sin­gita Ebony, Boul­ders, and Castel­ton Camps). Sweni Lodge, sit­u­ated next to the Sweni River, intrigues many guests since it’s built on stilts—affording you a giraffe’s-eye view of the area. There are six open-concept suites, all with the oblig­a­tory out­door shower. The big draw is the fact that you can sleep out under the stars on the day bed on your view­ing deck. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,450/night.

www.singita.com

Jock Safari Lodge

If you’re trav­el­ing to South Africa with chil­dren, Jock Safari Lodge should be at the top of your list. The lodge allows chil­dren over 7 to join the daily game dri­ves (although kids need to be over 16 to go on a walk­ing safari). If you need sev­eral rooms for your fam­ily any­way, con­sider book­ing “Lit­tle Jock.” This trio of suites come with a chef, wait­ress, and ranger. This level of pri­vacy and flex­i­bil­ity is appre­ci­ated by fam­i­lies who may need to adjust the times of daily game dri­ves to coin­cide with their children’s sleep and wake sched­ules. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $650/night. (Chil­dren 7–11 charged 50% of nightly rate. Chil­dren 12 and older require a sep­a­rate room and are charged full price.)

www.jocksafarilodge.com

Tim­ba­vati Pri­vate Game Reserve

Kings Camp

Kings Camp is one of the only places in the world where you have a chance to catch a glimpse of white lions in the wild. You may assume that white lions are a sub­species of Pan­thera leo, but they are not. These ani­mals actu­ally carry a reces­sive gene that acts as a color inhibitor that’s respon­si­ble for pure white coats instead of the usual tawny ones. Res­i­dents of the Tim­ba­vati area have told sto­ries of these lions over the cen­turies. A pride of white lions is cur­rently tra­vers­ing the area near Kings Camp, so it’s def­i­nitely worth a visit. The rangers at Kings Camp also under­stand all aspects of wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy and are fan­tas­tic when it comes to maneu­ver­ing the game drive vehi­cle so you’ll get the best shot of the ani­mals being viewed. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $560/night.

www.kingscamp.com

Camp Jab­u­lani

For some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, look no fur­ther than Camp Jab­u­lani (another Relais & Chateaux mem­ber). Not only is this one of Africa’s most opu­lent game lodges, it also offers elephant-back safaris. Here you’ll be granted one-on-one encoun­ters with a herd of trained ele­phants, includ­ing six babies. (Many of these ele­phants were res­cued from Zim­babwe, where they had been tagged for slaugh­ter.) Now these ani­mals live a priv­i­leged life at Camp Jab­u­lani and guests are thrilled to make their acquain­tance. The accom­mo­da­tions are no less exhil­a­rat­ing. Dur­ing the day, the walls of your suite can be rolled back so you are one with the great out­doors. On chilly evenings, you’re sure to use the in-suite fire­place. There’s also an on-site spa that offers a vari­ety of mas­sage and skin care treat­ments. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,000/night.

www.campjabulani.com

Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Safari Lodge

For those who are a bit ner­vous about safari vaca­tions in the first place, a good first step is a trip to Madikwe Pri­vate Game Reserve, because it’s located in a malaria-free region. No spe­cial health pre­cau­tions are required to visit this area of South Africa. &Beyond’s Madikwe Safari Lodge is one of the best accom­mo­da­tions in Madikwe. At twenty suites, this is a larger lodge than those men­tioned above but the rooms are dis­trib­uted across three sep­a­rate camps so you’ll still get the “out in the bush” vibe. Ani­mal sight­ings have been very good recently and often include chee­tah and wild dog in addi­tion to the Big Five. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $400/night.

www.andbeyondafrica.com

To fur­ther research safari get­aways in South Africa, visit South African Tourism www.southafrica.net.

—Andrea M. Rotondo for LuxurySafariExperts.com

With FIFA’s 2010 World Cup soc­cer cham­pi­onships going on now, many eyes are turned toward South Africa. If you haven’t yet vis­ited one of the country’s many lux­ury safari lodges, you are miss­ing out. Hid­den away in the bush, these opu­lent lodges rival the best Euro­pean hotels in terms of ser­vice, food and wine, and some­times even spa treat­ments. Of course, the real draw of any safari is the chance to get close to the “Big Five:” ele­phant, lion, Cape buf­falo, leop­ard, and black rhi­noc­eros. In most of South Africa’s game reserves, you’ll see those species as well as many others

If the World Cup has piqued your inter­est in South Africa, con­sider these lux­ury lodges:

Sabi Sands Pri­vate Game Reserve

Leop­ard Hills
Aptly named, you often won’t have to leave camp to see leop­ards. The res­i­dent female is fre­quently seen drink­ing from guest plunge pools and loung­ing on lodge decks. She has even left her cub on prop­erty while she went off hunt­ing. If you don’t spot a leop­ard at the lodge, you almost cer­tainly will dur­ing a game drive. Leop­ard Hills rangers and track­ers reg­u­larly lead guests to sight­ings of lions, ele­phants, Cape buf­falo, giraffe, wild dogs, and occa­sion­ally even chee­tahs. This inti­mate lodge fea­tures eight air-conditioned glass-fronted suites—each with a pri­vate plunge pool and gor­geous views of the bushveld. The spa­cious bath­room fea­tures a stand­alone tub, his and her sinks, and both an indoor and out­door shower. The main lodge offers a spa and small gym, library, din­ing room and bar, deck over­look­ing a water­ing hole, and swim­ming pool. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,000/night.


Kruger National Park

Sin­gita Sweni Lodge
Sin­gita is one of the most rec­og­nized names when it comes to lux­ury safari lodges. Here at Kruger National Park, Singita—a Relais & Chateaux property—offers two options: Sweni and Lebombo lodges. (over at Sabi Sands you’ll find Sin­gita Ebony, Boul­ders, and Castel­ton Camps). Sweni Lodge, sit­u­ated next to the Sweni River, intrigues many guests since it’s built on stilts—affording you a giraffe’s-eye view of the area. There are six open-concept suites, all with the oblig­a­tory out­door shower. The big draw is the fact that you can sleep out under the stars on the day bed on your view­ing deck. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,450/night.

Jock Safari Lodge
If you’re trav­el­ing to South Africa with chil­dren, Jock Safari Lodge should be at the top of your list. The lodge allows chil­dren over 7 to join the daily game dri­ves (although kids need to be over 16 to go on a walk­ing safari). If you need sev­eral rooms for your fam­ily any­way, con­sider book­ing “Lit­tle Jock.” This trio of suites come with a chef, wait­ress, and ranger. This level of pri­vacy and flex­i­bil­ity is appre­ci­ated by fam­i­lies who may need to adjust the times of daily game dri­ves to coin­cide with their children’s sleep and wake sched­ules. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $650/night. (Chil­dren 7–11 charged 50% of nightly rate. Chil­dren 12 and older require a sep­a­rate room and are charged full price.)

Tim­ba­vati Pri­vate Game Reserve

Kings Camp
Kings Camp is one of the only places in the world where you have a chance to catch a glimpse of white lions in the wild. You may assume that white lions are a sub­species of Pan­thera leo, but they are not. These ani­mals actu­ally carry a reces­sive gene that acts as a color inhibitor that’s respon­si­ble for pure white coats instead of the usual tawny ones. Res­i­dents of the Tim­ba­vati area have told sto­ries of these lions over the cen­turies. A pride of white lions is cur­rently tra­vers­ing the area near Kings Camp, so it’s def­i­nitely worth a visit. The rangers at Kings Camp also under­stand all aspects of wildlife pho­tog­ra­phy and are fan­tas­tic when it comes to maneu­ver­ing the game drive vehi­cle so you’ll get the best shot of the ani­mals being viewed. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $560/night.


Kapama Game Reserve

Camp Jab­u­lani
For some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent, look no fur­ther than Camp Jab­u­lani (another Relais & Chateaux mem­ber). Not only is this one of Africa’s most opu­lent game lodges, it also offers elephant-back safaris. Here you’ll be granted one-on-one encoun­ters with a herd of trained ele­phants, includ­ing six babies. (Many of these ele­phants were res­cued from Zim­babwe, where they had been tagged for slaugh­ter.) Now these ani­mals live a priv­i­leged life at Camp Jab­u­lani and guests are thrilled to make their acquain­tance. The accom­mo­da­tions are no less exhil­a­rat­ing. Dur­ing the day, the walls of your suite can be rolled back so you are one with the great out­doors. On chilly evenings, you’re sure to use the in-suite fire­place. There’s also an on-site spa that offers a vari­ety of mas­sage and skin care treat­ments. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $1,000/night.


Madikwe Game Reserve

Madikwe Safari Lodge
For those who are a bit ner­vous about safari vaca­tions in the first place, a good first step is a trip to Madikwe Pri­vate Game Reserve, because it’s located in a malaria-free region. No spe­cial health pre­cau­tions are required to visit this area of South Africa. &Beyond’s Madikwe Safari Lodge is one of the best accom­mo­da­tions in Madikwe. At twenty suites, this is a larger lodge than those men­tioned above but the rooms are dis­trib­uted across three sep­a­rate camps so you’ll still get the “out in the bush” vibe. Ani­mal sight­ings have been very good recently and often include chee­tah and wild dog in addi­tion to the Big Five. Per per­son rates are approx­i­mately $400/night.

To fur­ther research safari get­aways in South Africa, visit South African Tourism.

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