Our special correspondent Sophy Roberts has been on 20 safaris in 13 African countries. Here, her Gold List picks for the ultimate properties that reflect the pulse of Africa, where the wild things roam right outside your door.

Author: Sophy Roberts


andBeyond Phinda Vlei Lodge, South Africa

If South Africa is the sure-hit destination for the safari virgin, then this lodge—in a private game reserve easily overlooked for the more touristed Sabi Sands—is the one to satisfy the most finicky of travelers. Within this glass-and-thatch private world, you don’t have to move from your king-size bed or tub to take in the cheetahs and rhinos crossing the vleis in front.

Camp Nomade, Chad

Brightly painted steel trunks, camel bells, and scores of lanterns make this sometimes mobile tented camp in Chad completely of its place in north-central Africa. The wildlife highlight is Zakouma National Park’s thriving elephant herd.

Greystoke Mahale, Tanzania

One of the most beautifully built lodges in Africa, it was redesigned by the so-called Brunelleschi of the Bush, Kenya-based Ben Jackson. You come to track habituated chimps, but this Tanzanian lodge detoxes your soul.

Mwiba Lodge, Tanzania

Extreme luxury done with class—you can feel the care of the American owners here. Rooms catch the Tanzanian dawn, the leopard coming in to drink, the weaver bird nests that quiver like baubles in the acacia trees.

Singita Sabora Tented Camp, Tanzania

Made up of 1920s-style tents on Tanzania’s Sabora Plain, Sabora makes you feel like you’re the mistress in White Mischief, surrounded by campaign furniture, Persian rugs, gramophones, a hundred candles, and zebras snorting under a star-pricked sky.

Segera Retreat, Kenya

Kenya’s Segera works for second-time visitors to Africa, or for a large hit of luxury at the end of a dusty tour. Hole up in the spa, beside the pool, and savor every bite of that seriously thoughtful organic food.

Sirikoi, Kenya

This Kenyan lodge has the inimitable texture of longtime owners who care (hence the high repeat rate), with fireplaces adorned with family photos of the odd HRH. Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s healthy rhino herds graze like happy sheep all around. Food is a generous alfresco feast every day, from beef salads to Anglo-Indian curries.