The Best Places to Stay in Africa
By Ann H. Waigand, GoNOMAD LODGINGS GUIDE
There is a wide range of budget lodging opportunities in Africa from pitching your own tent to homestays in tribal villages. But for a real treat, head to one of these unique lodges and pretend you’re Papa Hemingway on safari.
A tall blonde with foot-long eyelashes provides a big, wet kiss as the wake-up call at this luxury hotel located on 120 acres of forest just outside Nairobi, Kenya. The blonde is a statuesque and graceful Rothschild giraffe, one of the herd that shares the property with guests, and who’ll crane their necks, through doors and windows, to fetch a treat—maybe even part of your lunch.
The hotel’s manor house, built in 1932, was the home of Betty Leslie-Melville, the first person to raise wild giraffes successfully. Today its grounds are shared with giraffes, warthogs, and over 180 species of birds. Among celebrity guests who’ve stayed at the elegant five-room hotel are Walter Cronkite, Mick Jagger, Margaret Mead, and Brook Shields.
Rates: Single, full board, $350/day; single, half board, $310/day; double, full board, $540; double, half board, $480/day.
Kagga Kamma Bushman Lodge
North Paarl, South Africa
Kagga Kamma means “the place of the Bushmen,” and the lodgings here reflect that heritage. Visitors have a choice of luxury huts or caves carved out of the surrounding rock formations, and dining is al fresco. Knowing that the settlement and development of South Africa led to severe social problems within the Kalahari tribes and virtual extinction of their culture, Kagga Kamma’s managers invited the tribes back to live on this land that their ancestors left over 250 years ago. Travelers staying at Kagga Kamma can join game drives or accompany a ranger to site excavations to view 6,000-year-old paintings left by ancient tribesmen.
Rates: All rates quoted in South African Rand. Double, R896 per person/day; single, R1146 per person/day. Includes three meals and two guided excursions per day.
Kagga Kamma Private Game Reserve
P.O. Box 7143
North Paarl 7623, South Africa
Tel: + 011- 27-21-863-8334
fax: + 011-27-21-863-8383,
Ngorongoro Crater Lodge
Local mud-and-stick design inspired this camp’s luxurious suites that stand on stilts on the edge of Ngorongoro Crater, a World Heritage Site. This is arguably the most elegant, pampered choice for enjoying one of the best wildlife viewing in the world. A personal butler attends each of the 18 suites which are fashioned from Tanzanian hardwood and furnished with raw silk curtains, hand-beaded chandeliers, and a fireplace.
Rates: Double, $400 – 500 per person/day, depending on season; single, $500 – 665 per person/day, depending on season; includes full board and scheduled safari activities.
Mahale Mountain Camp
There are no televisions, no minivans, no silk sheets or antique-laden suites at Mahale Mountain Camp on Lake Tanganyika, the world’s longest freshwater lake. What you will find is a virtually undiscovered slice of Africa with a chimpanzee population that, having been studied for more than 25 years, is so undisturbed by the presence of a human, you can sit and watch the chimps for hours. Roland Purcell, who served as head of the Mountain Gorilla Project in Rwanda following the death of its founder, Dian Fossey, and his wife Zoe own and manage Mahale Camp which, with its sister camp, Katavi, can accommodate only 12 people at one time. Lantern-lit tents on the beach have a simple bedroll and mosquito net and, though the chimpanzees, buffalo, elephants, and zebra stay year-round, the camp itself is dismantled twice a year during the rainy season (mid-October to mid-December and mid-February to May).
Rates: Double, $395 per person/day; single $480 per person/day, plus park fees of $50 per night. Includes all meals.
Mahale Mountain Camp
c/o Park East Tours
New York, NY 10023,
Dodo’s Tower (Ndiret Estate)
Great Rift Valley, Kenya
It takes a chartered plane flight (20 minutes from Nairobi) to reach one of the most unusual accommodations on the African continent, a 115-foot Cypress tower on the shores of Lake Naivasha. The tower, named for the owner’s wife and converted into a luxury accommodation of five rooms (for up to nine people), actually looks, in the early morning and evening light, like just another tree trunk. Elegantly furnished with antiques and local pieces, the tower has a staff of six who prepare memorable meals using organic vegetables grown on the property and guide guests on game walks and drives (eland, giraffe, hippos), birdwatching (over 300 species), sailing, and fishing.
Rates: $650 per person/day, including all meals, airstrip transfers, most inner-estate activities, and laundry!
Dodo’s Tower – Ndirect Estate
c/o Fi Culligan
PO Box 24397
1920’s Safari Camp
Maasai Mara, Kenya
Cottars Safari Service, founded in 1919 and still a family-run company, was the first to use white canvas tents on African safari, and this camp evokes that earlier “golden age” of the safari. The founder’s great grandson, who leads current operations, has deliberately shunned the more modern interiors favored by most 21st-century safaris, retaining white canvas tents furnished with period antiques, including a chair the Queen Mother may have used when on safari in her twenties. Staff in traditional attire tote hot bucket showers and prepare meals from recipes originally used in the 1920s.
Rates: from $295 per person/day, all inclusive.
1920’s Safari Camp
Cottars Safari Service
U.S. Contact: Uncharted Outposts International
750 Piedmont Avenue, NE
Atlanta, GA 30308
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