Taking a holiday or safari in an exquisite, completely exclusive villa – whether that be in Africa or Asia – is surely the best way to go on vacation right now! Social distancing is part of the attraction, but most importantly, one has complete privacy and flexibility, allowing one to make lifelong memories.
With the hangover of COVID-19 still fresh in our minds, the thoughts of how we conduct our holidays in the future have never seemed more pertinent or more pressing. Social distancing holidays will, in the immediate future, become the norm, before we all become entirely relaxed about where we travel on holiday.
The obvious aspect is that for the next 18 months, our holidays should be all the more private. Private in terms of flying to reach destinations and private in terms of accommodation. This is where a private villa or safari house in Africa or in Asia fits in so beautifully.
There are villas one can choose in every location that one could possibly desire! Whether one wants to be on a beach, overlooking the sea, or in the middle of the African bush, or on an island in Asia, or in the middle of the jungle, there is the perfect villa for you out there!
These days with our busy lives, we don’t spend enough time with people we truly care for and this provides the perfect answer. Whether children are boarding at school or university or college, or when couples pass like ships in the night whilst working, a villa provides the perfect opportunity to bridge those gaps, spending quality time together with one another.
A villa makes the most sense for a family, two families, or a group of friends. That’s the obvious choice. But there are some villas and private houses that cater for just two or four people too. This is simply perfect as many people want their privacy, their flexibility and their exclusivity.
If there is a larger three-generational party, then sometimes it makes sense to take over a small lodge, perhaps with just five or seven rooms. It all depends upon each party’s dynamic and proclivities.
At the various villas themselves, they would typically offer a fully catered experience, with amazing food and fabulous staff. The lodges will come with the very best private guides, butlers and house staff that you simply want to take back home with you (and wonder how on earth you managed to live life without them!).
There would often be a games room, with a snooker table, darts, perhaps table tennis and every board game imaginable! There might even be a tennis court. There would usually be horse riding or camel trekking and hiking and walking on offer, privately guided, as well of course as the incredible safaris by open Land Rover or land cruiser.
For the fly fishing enthusiast, there are even some beautiful wooden log cabins where one could spend a night whilst fishing. Then there would be visits to the local community and schools, and for those who are interested, they could spend a day with the anti-poaching team or tracking rhino on foot, or behind the scenes with the conservation team.
In Kenya, there are some truly beautiful villas in the Laikipia region, north of the equator. Magnificent family homesteads in the midst of fabulous big game country, with incredible scenery, it is hard to beat the experience here!
One can tailor a stay interspersed with adventure, such as quad biking and having a night in a tent, or going camel trekking or walking for a day and spending the night in a fly camp, beneath the stars or perhaps horse riding to a camp set up on the banks of a river. One could even take a helicopter to Lake Alice for some fabulous fly fishing for trout for the day.
One of the private houses, Ol Jogi, is unique in that it offers a fabulous underground walkway to a private hide where one can simply watch streams of wildlife congregate at any time of the day or night! Perfect for those early risers or insomniacs, and perfectly safe!
My other favourites for an exclusive safari to Kenya include:
In Tanzania, there are some beautiful villas in the Serengeti, in private conservancies, which means that you can walk amongst the Great Migration with your private, expert guide. One could also stay in areas such as Ruaha in southern Tanzania, where ten percent of the entire African lion population resides!
I always recommend the below private houses for an extraordinary safari to Tanzania:
In Zambia, outside the South Luangwa National Park, there are a couple of really lovely villas. They are simply perfect for game viewing or even walking out during the day and returning to the villa each evening. There is one of my favourite villas in the Lower Zambezi, which is amazing for wildlife, especially elephant, and activities revolve around game drives as well as boating along the river.
My top recommendations for Zambia private houses include:
In Botswana, there are some beautiful villas in the Linyanti region, which is renowned for its excellent lion population, cheetah and wild dog. In the Okavango Delta, there is a beautiful villa called Seba Camp, where one can see herds of elephant passing by.
Otherwise, one could stay at Little Mombo, located in the very best wildlife region which boasts the Big 5 and is located on Chief’s Island. Here you take over the small tented lodge with just three suites. You can game view by open vehicle as well as on foot and of course by boat.
Other wonderful private houses and lodges in Botswana include:
In South Africa has some excellent villas in Cape Town such as Ellerman Villas as well as just outside the Cape, such as Grootbos. This truly is one of my favourite places, in a hugely important conservation area amongst the most beautiful array of flowers.
Lovers of nature come here to walk, to see the ‘Marine Big 5’ and to see the greatest concentration of the southern right whale which migrates from Antarctica to give birth in the warmers waters of the Indian Ocean, right here in Gansbaai. There is also cycling, horse riding and wine tasting!
Other fantastic private villas and safari houses in South Africa include:
Of course, there are truly fabulous villas on the ocean – in Kenya, in Tanzania, Mozambique, Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar. Here you can go diving or snorkelling, or take a private boat out for a day to explore small islands or dive the most pristine corals. Some of my favourite options include:
In Asia, one can take the most beautiful villas in Thailand on the island of Koh Yao Noi as well as in the sun-kissed island paradise of the Andaman Islands, where one can stay at Jalakara - almost as off-the-beaten-track as you can get in Asia!
In Sri Lanka the private villas and bungalows are architecturally beautiful and cited in fabulous regions, from the tea plantations to the ocean and of course in Tangalle where you can stay at Villa Mawella. In the tea country, I would recommend the Ceylon Tea Trails bungalows, where you can walk between bungalows each day should you wish – divine!
In India, one of my favourites is Shakti 360° Leti, located in the Himalayas, where one has views of the imposing, snow-clad Nanda Devi, considered the highest mountain prior to Mount Everest being pronounced the world’s tallest mountain.
In Kerala, there are some beautiful villas that overlook the backwaters, which are the perfect antidote to the chaos of the cities of India. Here you can stay at Chittoor Kottaram in Cochin, a 300-year old royal residence which has been beautifully restored. You arrive at the exclusive mansion by boat through a private canal – what an experience!
The vibrant, colourful region of Rajasthan too, has some exquisite villas – one is simply spoiled for choice! Dev Shree Deogarh is a serene home where one can enjoy the slow life, taking walks and picnics or even a steam train through the hills.
This is just a sample of my favourite villas across Africa and Asia, but there are many more; please do feel free to contact me for more information! If you are interested in a more authentic experience, there is also a wonderful range of private mobile tented camps across Africa and Asia. You can get in touch at The Explorations Company for more inspiration.
Images used by kind courtesy of :
Feline Fields, Seba Camp, Alfajiri Villas, Lengishu House, Cottar's Private Bush Villa, Ol Jogi, Ol Lentille, Grootbos Private Reserve, Leobo Private Reserve, Mkombe's House, Nomad's Lamai Private, RPS Luangwa Safari House.