A high-end safari experience doesn’t have to mean staying at the most expensive or luxurious properties. It is equally about exclusive access to stunning and remote wilderness areas. The properties on this list are some of the most remote in Africa and while they offer every comfort, their true value lies in their isolation and ability to offer travelers access to untouched and pristine wilderness.
Located near Namibia’s border with Angola, Serra Cafema is one of the most remote camps in Southern Africa and one of our all-time favorite properties on the continent. The camp’s name comes from the mountains to the north that dominates the skyline. The Kunene River is the only permanent source of water in the whole region, creating a lush oasis along its banks surrounded by rugged mountains and sand dunes. The scenery around Serra Cafema, including in the Hartmann Valley to the south, is truly breathtaking. Explore the area’s sand dunes on quad bikes or float down the Kunene River on a boat and spot the Kunene crocodiles along the banks. Walking trails in the remote mountain and river valleys are also a highlight. Serra Cafema also offers opportunities for relaxed, authentic interactions with local Himba people.
Greystoke’s major appeal is its proximity to the Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest population of chimps remaining in the wild. Greystoke Mahale itself sits on a pristine, white sandy beach overlooking the turquoise waters of Lake Tanganyika with the forested Mahale Mountains rising behind. In the 625 square miles of the Mahale Mountains, there are no roads. This, and the fact that the only practical way of reaching camp is by boat, add to the sense of seclusion. Flying in over the northern end of the mountains, you’ll see nothing for miles and only small villages and local fishermen in dhows dotted along the lakeshore. Spend your days at Greystoke trekking to visit groups of habituated chimps, hiking the forest or swimming or kayaking on Lake Tanganikya. In the evening, hop on the Greystoke dhow and head out for sundowners.
3. Desert Rose Lodge – Northern Frontier, Kenya
Desert Rose is situated in Kenya’s remote and largely untraveled Northern Frontier, 50 miles south of Lake Turkana and 5,500ft up the side of Mt. Nyiro. Desert Rose Lodge is a small, family owned and operated lodge that offers incredible views over the Northern Frontier. The handmade furniture, stone-carved baths, wooden washbasins, and open bathrooms are just a few elements that make this property truly special. The swimming pool, dining room, lounge, and relaxing-decks all have views over the valley plains below. While at Desert Rose you can enjoy a camel-back safari, explore Sibiloi National Park and Lake Turkana or visit and interact with local tribes including the Samburu, El Molo and Turkana.
North Luangwa National Park is one of Zambia’s least visited and most remote national parks and Mwaleshi is one of its only properties. Guests, accompanied by an experienced guide and an armed National Park scout, enjoy the freedom of the North Luangwa bush on foot as game-drives are not allowed in the park. To make the most of this walking safari adventure (and the time it takes to get there) we recommend spending four to five nights at Mwaleshi Camp.
5. Bale Mountain Lodge – Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia
Bale Mountain Lodge is an eco-lodge set within the 1,367 square-mile Bale Mountains National Park (BMNP) in south-central Ethiopia, 250 miles from Addis Ababa. The lodge offers guests access to a pristine wilderness and the largest tract of Afro-alpine moorland remaining on the continent. The high altitude Sanetti Plateau rises to over 13,000 feet and includes the highest peak in the southern Ethiopian highlands. This stunning plateau is marked by glacial lakes and swamps and surrounded by volcanic ridges and peaks while the southern slopes are covered by the largely unexplored Harenna Forest. In addition to this spectacularly diverse landscape Bale Mountains National Park is a biodiversity “hot spot.” The park is home to 60% of the remaining Ethiopian Wolves (the world’s rarest canid), the Mountain Nyala, Menelik’s Bushbuck, rare Giant Forest Hogs and significant numbers of endemic or rare bird species.
Lugenda Wilderness Camp is currently the only photographic safari property operating in northern Mozambique’sNiassa Reserve, an area the size of Wales! Lugenda is a 12+ hour drive or a 90 minute flight in a 4-seater plane (with some stunning views along the way) to a dirt airstrip. Intimate and understated, Lugenda’s eight tents are set along the banks of the Lugenda River. The friendly and close-knit staff creates a relaxed atmosphere. While the game viewing is not as prolific as the Maasai Mara or the Serengeti, the sightings are all yours. Walking, canoeing, visits to caves with ancient rock-art and sundowners on rocky outcrops are great additions to game-drives. If you are planning on ending your safari at the beach in Mozambique, adding three nights at Lugenda is absolutely worth it.
7. Singita Pamushana – Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve, Zimbabwe
Singita Pamushana is Zimbabwe’s most remote and luxurious property. Located within the virtually untouched Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve bordering Gonarezhou National Park in south-eastern Zimbabwe, Pamushana is simply stunning. The game-viewing is incredible and Malilangwe is chock-full of elephants and practically void of other safari vehicles. The lodge is set atop a kopje with incredible distant views and views overlooking a gorgeous dam. This 5-star lodge offers incredible guiding, accommodations, service, and cuisine. And these selling points are all enhanced by the fact that you are in the middle of the true African wild.
8. Tassia Lodge – Lekurruki Community Ranch, Kenya
Tassia Lodge is set in a stunning wilderness area within the 60,000-acre Lekurruki Community Ranch, adjoining the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. The camp is dramatically perched on the edge of a rocky bluff that overlooks a valley filled with Acacia and Newtonia trees, with spectacular views of mountains in the distance. In every direction the vistas are immense. To the north there is the Mathews Range and snow-capped Mt. Kenya lies to the south. There is not a sole person or road in view. It is raw scrub, sometimes green after the rains, often brown between the bushes and trees. When it is green, thousands of elephants converge to eat the succulent new grass. Walking is the major activity here and we find it very exciting in this particular area. Tassia Lodge offers amazing home cooked food and a lovely pool. This is a great place to take some time to just be, and to relish the peace and the beauty of this amazing spot that time has forgotten.
Apoka Lodge is located in the south-western sector of Kidepo Valley National Park. Kidepo is Uganda’s most remote national park (more than 400 miles from Kampala) and Apoka is its only property. The park is located in the far north-eastern section of Uganda, at the crossroads of Kenyan, Sudanese, and Ugandan ecosystems that provide an amazing wildlife experience in a remote and pristine wilderness. Apoka itself is set on a picturesque kopje overlooking the Narus River Valley, Kidepo’s primary game-viewing area, with views over vast plains interrupted by craggy, rocky outcrops.