Booking a private safari house or camp all to yourselves provides the ultimate in exclusivity, privacy, and flexibility throughout your trip. You establish the schedule, you pick the activities, you get all facilities at your disposal. These nine topnotch, exclusive-use options will ensure that every member of your family feels like the true king (or queen) of the jungle.
1. Phinda Homestead
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2. Sirikoi House
Perks: Get a house suited for six with private driver and chef, and no shortage on amenities. Niceties range from Wifi to music system to elegant Victorian baths. Outdoors, the arid scenery is captivating, however, there are lush green trees nearby in the Ngare Ndare Forest, where you can all walk the cool canopy bridge or go for a dip in blue glacial pools.
You and your family will all feel good about supporting the Conservancy’s incredible efforts to protect wildlife, too. Dedicated to preserving Africa’s rhinos, the Conservancy started with only 15 black and white rhinos and now has close to 100! One of our favorite aspects of staying here is how guests are encouraged to explore the greater Lewa Wildlife Conservancy’s “behind the scenes” operations. You can visit the Operations Room, Tracker Dog Unit, meet the security or anti-poaching team, and visit the Lewa school and clinic. Further afield, consider flying by helicopter to see the Samburu and Pokot tribes of Northern Kenya, or horseback riding across the plains among area’s abundant wildlife
3. Singita Castleton
Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Greater Kruger Area – South Africa
Perks: Formerly the family home of Singita founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather, Castleton Lodge retains its original country farmhouse charm and comfort, plus additional high-end amenities, which include a vast garden, swimming pool with views of Castleton dam and open grasslands, wine cellar, gym, tennis court, spa treatment room, and even a trampoline for the kids. The lodge’s six cottages, laid out across the grounds, mean families of 12 will have plenty of breathing room, so a snoring grandpa or crying baby won’t keep up the whole clan.
Two of the cottages have been designed with inter-leading rooms, ideal for parents to keep a close eye on their young children while still having some adult down time. Relax in the courtyard, within the low fence of the traditional outdoor ‘boma’ or meet in the country-style kitchen before or after activities. In addition to the outstanding wildlife in the Sabi Sands, visit the nearby communities of Justicia and Lillydale that border the reserve and learn about local Tsonga culture and their traditional songs and dances. For a little off-the-beaten-path adventure, you may want to sign up for archery and/or astronomy lessons because, well, when you have all this space and endless stars in the sky, why not?
4. Mkombe’s House Lamai
Location: Lamai, Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
Perks: Situated in the northern Serengeti with close proximity to the Maasai Mara National Reserve makes this private house great for migration viewing at two of Africa’s most iconic destinations without sharing your home-base. Spacious enough for 10 guests, Mkombe’s House caters to families with more kids than they know what to do with – up to six, to be specific. Adults will enjoy the house’s two light and breezy open-fronted suites while knowing the kids are safe and sound in fully enclosed children’s rooms nearby. Mkombe’s even has you covered with car seats, high chairs, and babysitting services.
Meals are planned daily with the in-house chef while your private guide helps craft each day around your family’s needs. Game drives tend to be the focus, but bush walks and picnics in the scenic Serengeti are not to be missed. When you’re ready to kick back poolside, let the kids explore the kopjes the house is built around in search of lizards, hyrax and other harmless creatures. Cool bonus: Anyone under 21 is priced at the reduced child rate.
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5. Melton Manor
Location: Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape – South Africa
Perks: Your little ones will love the host of activities designed just for them. On arrival, children receive a Rangers in Training backpack and are invited to explore the reserve, either on specialty guided tracking adventures or minnow fishing trips, plus more. Adults will appreciate the Manor’s sleek and modern aesthetic, its cultural engagement and rhino conservation activities, personal chef and butler, nature walks, fishing, or cooking a traditional South African braai (open-fire grilled dish) with the head chef. Enjoy the spectacular scenery and wildlife in your own private 4×4 safari vehicle, along with a dedicated ranger or host.
6. Singita Serengeti House
Location: Grumeti Reserve, Serengeti National Park – Tanzania
Perks: On the slopes of Sasakwa Hill, guests have direct access to the stunning Serengeti plains from a sophisticated home to call all their own. While children will love the 25-meter infinity swimming pool, stargazing, and archery available here, the elegance and amenities of Serengeti House cater especially well to more mature tastes. With two suites in the main house, and two in the garden, the space comfortably fits eight.
Make the most of the dine-in kitchen, media room, extended deck, multiple fire pits, full gym, and updated tennis pavilion. Of course, your family will have use of the house’s private staff, including a full-time guide and dedicated vehicle. While the kids take in a cosmic stargazing “safari,” the adults can unwind with a personalized wine tasting.
7. Chitwa House
Location: Sabi Sand Game Reserve, Greater Kruger Area – South Africa
Perks: Set on the banks of one of the largest dams in the area, Chitwa House is simply stunning. Designed for just four guests split between two en-suite rooms (with private decks and outdoor showers), Chitwa is best for small families…or picking favorites when it comes to the in-laws! With that in mind, the spacious design and on-site pool leave plenty of room to spread out. Adults will appreciate the bartender’s sommelier training and the property’s trendy subterranean wine cellar. Add original contemporary art pieces by owner and artist Maria Brink, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a night at the gallery in the middle of the bush. Game drives and bush walks are a staple here, with personalized attention for children too young for long drives (under age 6). Guests can also hire state-of-the-art camera equipment; we loved the access to the photo lab and editing with an expert photographer!
8. Enasoit Camp
Location: Laikipia Plateau – Kenya
Perks: Down-to-earth luxury with classic, Hemingway-esque tented suites, Enasoit welcomes 12 guests. Not enough to bring the whole crew? Add four more in the two thatched cottages at the Pool House, a 20-minute walk (or five-minute drive) away. Between the beauty of the surrounding plains, which give way to the foothills of Mt. Kenya, topnotch guiding, hosting and delicious food, plus a variety of activities for everyone, it’s hard not to love this camp. The heated swimming pool, media room with Wifi, and library all make this a brilliant fusion of modern comforts in pristine wilderness. Watch wildlife drink from the nearby waterhole, investigate the salt licks right from camp or listen to guest speakers lecture on topics, ranging from wildlife conservation to African rock art to Kenyan politics.
For the younger folks who enjoy constantly being on the move, there’s always some new adventure to try, including night drives through the sanctuary, horseback rides, or guided game walks. Also, be sure to introduce your fam to the resident family of rescued orphaned animals, including “Mable” the ostrich, “Ziggy” the zebra and “Piggy” the warthog.
9. Morukuru Farm House
Location: Madikwe Game Reserve – South Africa
Perks: Babysitting services, exclusive use of a private chef, butler, vehicle, and guide, plus a swimming pool for up to 10 guests—this place has it all. The Farm House really does feel like a beautiful, modern home with riverside views and a helluva backyard—100-hectares, to be exact, of fenced-in luscious green lawns, so kids (and adults alike) can play and roam free. More broadly, the reserve borders Botswana and lies in a transition region between Lowveld bushveld and the Kalahari thornveld, making it a diversity hotspot for wildlife and ecosystems. The second largest population of elephants in the country hang out here, as well as wild dogs.