From stick and grass structures inspired to look like giant bird nests; tree-houses perched above gorgeous views; see-through Perspex bubbles; to eight-story towers; I love my safari to include quirky and interesting hotels and lodges in Africa. I recommend you consider these for your own travels. Here are some of Africa’s most unforgettable places for you to try, amidst breath-taking scenery…
Located in the natural amphitheatre of an eroded volcanic cone in the epicentre of mountain gorilla country, Bisate Lodge was inspired by the former Rwandan Royal Palace.
The Lodge is perched amidst the jungle hillside and comprises just six rounded villas clad in woven matting, sustainably crafted by local artisans using generation-old skills. Charming traditional 'kitenge' clad staff look after your every need, and you will need to do plenty of hikes to warrant the scrumptious African and Internationally inspired cuisine! What better place to be based whilst tracking mountain gorillas, hiking to stand face to face with those gentle giants.
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast on the treacherous Atlantic Ocean might not be the first on your list for a luxury stay. But quirky Shipwreck Lodge offers warm hospitality in the cosy wooden “rib” and planking accommodation. Designed to echo the enigmatic shipwrecks this section of Namibia is known for, the suites are placed amongst the dunes and each is en suite. There are also two that can have extra beds set up for children.
This is the perfect place to go on walking and driving safaris looking for unique desert-adapted wildlife. You can visit the seal colony at Mowe Bay, spotting shipwrecks along the way. There is also the option of quad biking across the sands or taking a sunrise breakfast before you explore the dry riverbeds in this fascinating, remote region.
Don’t miss the chance to stay in the intriguing Nay Palad star bed. With bird’s eye views, you can perch atop the spiky tower and see the landscape stretch before you. Inside is a perfectly luxurious hideaway for two, with the option to sleep out under starry skies.
Segera Retreat’s riverside location is teeming with life, including dozens of species of birds. Sitting on the deck you will hear them twittering and tweeting in the early evening, just as the light is fading and the birds return to their carefully crafted nests in the trees. While here, visit the main lodge which has the most eclectic collection of contemporary art from the owner's private collection.
The Nest @ Sossus is one of Namibia’s most unique private villas in both design and décor. It uses the sociable weaver’s nest as an inspiration and this theme continues throughout the exterior and interior.
Stay here and get immersed in the picturesque landscape of the Namib Desert whilst being hosted on an exclusive, all-inclusive basis by one of Namibia’s best naturalist guides and a locally renowned gourmet chef. Activities include visits to the Sossusvlei dunes, nature drives and walks on the Namib Tsaris Conservancy, hot air ballooning over the dunes and visits to the Plateau, earmarked for the release of black rhino in foreseeable future.
You have a chance to stay in Zambia’s newest intimate bush camp’s Bird Nest Suites! Chisa Busanga Camp will soon launch just four unique sleep-out ‘pods’ woven from twigs and raised above the ground on stilts in the heart of the magical Busanga Plains, in the North of the Kafue National Park (Zambia).
The camp itself is owned by keen conservationists and has recently invested in ‘e-vehicles’ to give you a wonderful wildlife Silent Safari experience.
Head to Pemba Island near Zanzibar for a surreal night under the turquoise sea in the Underwater Room at Manta Resort. This is a three-floor floating platform with a reinforced-glass bubble beneath the surface, your very own private floating island!
You can fall asleep underwater surrounded by darting fish and colourful coral. Or if you want to see the sky, why not climb up to the deck to see the sunrise over the shining sea.
The eight-story, 120 ft Dodo’s Folly at Hippo Point offers one of the most unusual experiences in Kenya, where the tower becomes your African home. To me, the joy of the property is that it offers a truly excellent place to relax.
This slightly bizarre wooden edifice integrates into the surrounding fever tree woodland and offers a stunning, eagle-eye view over the lake and its hippos and pelicans. There is space for a family with four double rooms and a single room, as well as dining room, kitchen and spacious living area with an incredible wrap-around balcony! There is also the viewing room at the very top of the tower.
With over 350 species of birds and incredible wildlife in Lake Naivasha National Park, you can walk, swim, cycle or just relax!
Designed by award-winning architects, Leobo Private Reserve’s Observatory Villa is quirky and brilliant. Most importantly, it’s exclusively yours! My favourite feature is the observatory tower. You climb up a ladder from the library into a fully-automated revolving dome with a high-powered telescope. The guides take you on a sky-safari with laser pointers and you can learn from astronomy expert Dr Philip Calcott.
Elsewhere on the reserve, there is every possible adventure and adrenaline-sport you could image, perfect for the active family! Try sky-diving, heli-paintballing, mountain rope adventures, kayaking, cross-country Polaris - the fun never ends! Of course, you can also relax doing yoga, dining under the stars and having picnics by helicopter; the whole reserve is your playground!
Once a grain store, The Silo on Cape Town’s famous V&A waterfront is THE hip place to stay, with its pillowed glazed panels glowing like a Moroccan lantern at night. The Silo occupies six floors above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and has gorgeous views over the harbour to Table Mountain.
You can enjoy a truly luxurious stay, explore Cape Town and the art gallery below, before returning to your room to find an eclectic mix of contemporary artists featured privately for you in your very own suite! My favourite experience here is to cool off with a dip in the glass rooftop pool, followed by a zesty cocktail at the wacky bar!
Highlands Camp sits snugly on the sides of a hillside in the forest, near the stunning Ngorongoro Crater. Eight futuristic domed canvas-and-glass rooms offer elegance and comfort with king-sized beds and windows opening out to the spectacular view.
The crater itself is a short drive away and home to some of the richest wildlife viewing in Africa, with the Big Five and an extraordinary concentration of predators all found in the area. You can also partake in activities close to the camp by hiking to the top of the Olmoti volcano, drinking in the vast landscape beneath you. Then take a drive down to the unique Empakaai Crater with its soda lake and thousands of pink flamingos!
There are so many more quirky and memorable lodges and hotels across Africa that I think can add excitement and wonder to any safari. Please do feel free to get in touch, or, if you would just like to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.
Images by kind courtesy of:
Segera Retreat, Natural Selection Safaris, Ultimate Safaris, Wilderness Safaris, Royal Portfolio, Leobo Private Reserve, The Highlands Lodge, Manta Resort, Green Safaris,