From arid deserts to lush rainforests, vast plains to lofty peaks, Africa is rich in stunning wilderness that takes your breath away. The rich natural treasures of this continent, along with the diversity of wildlife, means that your African safari will be full of ‘wow’ moments.
I am delighted to share with you my top 10 list of favourite places to stay in Africa that all have stunning ‘rooms with a view’. These luxury camps and lodges are placed in the most extraordinary landscapes, close to excellent wildlife. You will find that breathtaking moment when you wake up in the morning, look out of your window and can’t believe your luck to be met with such a glorious sight.
A visit here always provides one of my favourite views in Africa, taking me back to my childhood in Mana Pools in northeast Zimbabwe. Chikwenya occupies just the best location in the greater Mana Pools National Park and the views from every room are simply spectacular.
Situated on the eastern boundary of the Park, the lodge and its rooms face a large, open golden plain which at any time of the day has wildlife walking by or resting. Why go out on a game drive when it’s all passing by? Just whilst sipping on an iced tea pre-afternoon game drive I have spotted 10 species of birds, waterbuck, warthog, buffalo, impala and two jackal from here.
Beyond that is the great Zambezi River, at this point sometimes a kilometre wide with blues and silver colours flowing by and home to hippo and huge crocodiles. The Zambezi escarpment hovers over this all creating a purple and lilac boundary to the Lower Zambezi National Park on the Zambian side.
It’s a view that changes with the sunrise and sunset yet is ever present and just wonderful viewed from the comfort of this camp. Chikwenya is surrounded by a dense forest of albida and Natal mahogany trees, which provide deep shade in the heat of the day. The albida shed their protein-rich pods during the dry season, providing vital sustenance for many species, particularly elephant.
Privately owned Ol Malo is a 5,000-acre ranch and game sanctuary, lying on the edge of Kenya's north-eastern province. This is the land of the nomadic Ndorobo people. Ol Malo is set in a stunning location with 180 degrees views overlooking the Laikipia wilderness and the Mukogodo; the lodge sits literally on the edge of a cliff! It is dramatic to say the least. With the wilderness below you, you can see elephants passing by and listen to the birdsong from the gardens surrounding the lodge and from below, rising up over the forest floor.
The Francombe family own Ol Malo and welcome you into their home. Its very relaxing here, and a place where you stop and contemplate, take time out. However, there are a wealth of safari activities to do if you want to keep busy.
Day and night game drives result in sightings of giraffe, zebra, antelope, elephant, leopard, buffalo and wild dog. Walking is encouraged, with excellent local guides to take you out and explore, and there are mountain bikes and horse riding too. Their helicopter scenic excursions are absolutely stunning; you swoop through the Suguta Valley and touch down in the Chalbi Desert to ‘surf’ down the dunes before flying all the way to Lake Turkana to see the Jade Sea from the air.
Day excursions to the Karisia Hills and to the Samburu town of Maralal are a wonderful way to interact with local communities. I highly recommend venturing out fly camping for a night under the stars, getting to your wild camping area on foot with a bush walk, or by riding a camel!
If ever there was an iconic view of Kenya, then it’s the one from your room at Saruni Samburu. This private safari lodge has views that guests need to prise themselves away from. Lying north of Mount Kenya in the Kalama Wildlife Conservancy that borders the Samburu National Reserve, each room looks down and over a vast plain with mountains ahead. This pristine wilderness is home to a range of wildlife and the lodge is Italian owned - so of course the food is excellent!
The reason this lodge is one of my firm favourites in terms of ‘room with a view’ is because the rooms also blend into the hill: they are unobtrusive, organic, stylish, Africa chic with lots of space, light and flashes of Kenyan colours and a semi-Moroccan influence thrown in. They’re incredibly comfortable, another reason to sit and stare at the landscape for a while!
Saruni Samburu comprises only six very sizeable, eco-chic villas made from plaster, rock and canvas, which are very well spread out. There is one double and one twin villa and four family villas giving plenty of options for larger groups or families travelling together. All are tastefully and delightfully furnished in a semi-Moroccan style that complements the more arid northern environment very well indeed.
Tintswalo Atlantic is absolutely beautiful and possibly one of the most relaxing properties in the Cape, South Africa. Located within the Cape Mountain Reserve, near Hout Bay, Tintswalo Atlantic also lies within driving distance to explore a beautiful part of South Africa’s southern coast.
With fishing villages and scenic drives, some of the best cuisine in Africa and the Atlantic Ocean literally on the doorstep, the setting and therefore the views from each room makes this one of the best places to be based in order to explore. The air-conditioned suites face the sea, the Sentinel hill, the open ocean and one can sit and watch as the sun sets across the bay – magnificent!
The pebbled beach in front of the lodge is secluded and sheltered by the winds. Being surrounded by extraordinary diverse and unique flora and fauna, taking a swim is a lovely way to start the day before you venture out into the winelands or city.
One thing that is not in short supply in Namibia is a lodge with a stunning view. However, Boulders Camp does stand out! Firstly, it is located in the middle of nowhere, but what a “nowhere” to visit – sign me up! They are currently refurbishing and it is set to reopen in March 2023. Demand is likely to be high so be sure to plan in advance!
It is situated in the southern section of the private NamibRand Reserve and sits at the base of a rocky hill with lovely, huge boulders dotted about the vast flat landscape surrounding the lodge. The lodge rooms are spread out around the base with absolutely nothing in front of them for miles and miles.
Boulders Camp is ideally suited for the discerning and adventurous traveller. With all this space the camp has a tranquil, intimate atmosphere, where the desert adapted wildlife roam in their natural habitat, in a diversity of desert landscapes. The rooms all open out to let the breeze in and where one can sit and relax, taking in the vibrant colours – golden grasses swaying in the breeze, blood red sand dunes in the distance, pale green thorn bushes and mauve and purple mountains, all changing hues subtly throughout the day.
Camp Nomande in Zakouma National Park is a place where few people have ever had the privilege to venture. The safari camp itself is actually fairly simple but very comfortable and has been modelled on the traditional nomadic camps of the Sahel region, beautifully decorated with brightly coloured local carpets, nomadic bells and brassware.
The ‘luxury’ element actually comes from the landscape and wilderness that has an incredible beauty far beyond one’s imagination. This is the Africa of old, one where you are unlikely to see anyone else except for the odd patrol unit or nomads on the edge of the park and where the luxury is having this all to yourself, surrounded completely by wildlife.
This is really one of the richest ecosystems in central Africa! Sitting on your tent’s verandah looking over the wetland with your cool drink in hand, there are no fences, no boundaries and the wildlife is in front of you.
The Reqek pans are really the most impressive wildlife destination I have ever seen. There are enormous flocks of birds, especially quelea, herons and storks including saddle billed storks, grey herons, black headed herons and squadrons of pelicans all jostling for the water. Between them giraffe crouch to drink water and reedbucks, Egyptian and spur geese, as well as wonderful herds of reedbuck and gazelle come to drink.
Actually, you do not need to venture out of camp for game viewing, it all comes to you. Camp Nomad is positioned in exactly the right place for extraordinary sights. This is very exclusive and what many Africa safari aficionados search for.
One of the most gorgeous areas on the African continent, the Bale Mountains lie in the south-central part of Ethiopia. This area is a firm favourite of mine because of the diversity of vegetation and habitats, the wildlife, the birdlife, the setting, the views: all are incredible! This is a place where you linger longer and I recommend staying for at least four nights (preferably more). You need time here to explore, to take in the magnificent views and savor being in one of the most beautiful places possible.
Bale Mountain lodge lies at the base of the plateau that dominates the Bale Mountains. Unless you arrive by private helicopter, you will cross this plateau enroute. The Harenna Forest surrounds it on the other side; an unexplored forest teaming with wildlife, where new species are still being discovered regularly. The forests are like a dream world with trailing “old man’s beard” lichens and delicate flowers on vines. You may even catch a glimpse of the highly endangered Bale monkey through the trees.
The rooms in Bale Mountain Lodge all look out either onto the calming forest or up to the plateau that looms above you. Each day guests can venture out either into the secondary forest, small areas left of bamboo, or climb high up onto the Afro-alpine moorlands where the temperature is much cooler. This is a land dominated by everlasting flowers, unique endemic species and the world’s rarest carnivore, the Ethiopian wolf, in its last stronghold.
Perched on the ridge of an escarpment within the private Loisaba Conservancy in Laikipia, Loisaba Tented Camp affords guests stunning views of the Laikipia Plateau with Mount Kenya on the horizon. Each tent looks out across the breath-taking mottled landscape which changes from green against rusty brown rocks and soil during the day, to mauve and oranges under the stunning sunsets.
The Conservancy is owned by a Community Trust that is committed to ecological and wildlife conservation. You can enjoy walking with guides from the communities that know this region to the finest detail and are delighted to share their knowledge with you. The area is abundant with elephants and protects vital elephant movement corridors. They help local communities to maintain sustainable livestock production to support this.
They also have another camp nearby, Loisaba Star Beds, that are incredibly romantic to stay in - I highly recommend that you include them in your safari. Perched on a raised platform poised on a rocky kopje, a hand-crafted four poster bed is rolled out onto the platform from a thatched roof accommodation. The beds give you the most stunning, sweeping views over the valley and breathtakingly clear views of the night sky as you sleep directly beneath the stars.
Perched on the rim of the ancient Ngorongoro caldera, the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is classic, elegant, romantic, and ideally placed for the most stunning views of this legendary Tanzania safari region.
The lodge is divided into three intimate camps, each with their own sitting and dining areas and private butlers. You can relax and watch the changing views of the crater as the rising sun first illuminates the crater walls, the mists swirl around the soda lakes below, and later as the sunset paints the sky in the most indescribable colours.
Alternatively, there is plenty to do to keep you busy! Take game drives into the crater to spot lion, black rhino, elephant, leopard and more. Enjoy a picnic banquet on the crater floor for one of the most stunning backdrops to your meal! You can also spend time with the Maasai tribe, take walks and hikes in the highlands, and spend time with the KopeLion conservation team to learn how they are protecting lions in the crater.
Kunene River Camp overlooks the Kunene River and though a relatively simple camp, it is incredible in terms of view! It is only possible to stay here if you are taking part in a flying safari over Namibia with the Schoemans. This is one of my favourite ways to see Namibia and the entire safari is all about the view from the air!
With their exceptional pilot guide, you will traverse over some of Namibia’s most spectacular and dramatic landscapes, giving you the opportunity to take in the diversity of the land, see desert-adapted wildlife and meet the tribes that survive in desolate wildernesses. You will swoop over the dunes of the Namib Desert, touch down in Cape Cross to see their seal colony, and see the shipwrecks of the Skeleton Coast from the air.
The region around Kunene River Camp itself is also wonderful to explore and you reach it via a scenic drive through the mountains and dunes of the Hartmann Valley. You can also take a boat trip along the Kunene River to see the scenic desert landscape around it, spotting birdlife along the way.
Africa is a place made for those that seek those breathtaking moments; where you simply stop and take in the world around you, barely even believing your eyes at the beauty of what lies before you. There is a huge diversity of geology and ecology, wildlife and weather, that allow for so many moments of wonder. Please do get in touch to find out more, so we can find something perfect for you. Alternatively, if you just want to dream for now, you can do so at our Video Library.
Images by kind courtesy of Skeleton Coast Safaris, &Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Loisaba Tented Camp with Silverless, Bale Mountain Lodge, Maureen Kirk, Wolwedans Boulders Camp, Tintswalo Atlantic, Saruni Samburu, Ol Malo, Wilderness Chikwenya Camp with 'Kyle and Ruth'.