Luxury safaris travel guide

One of the most important things to know about our luxury safaris is that ‘luxury’ doesn’t mean elitist. In 2022, thousands of Maasai pastoralists in northern Tanzania launched a campaign to try and prevent their government evicting them from their ancestral lands around Ngorongoro and Loliondo near the Serengeti. The reason? Claims that Ngorongoro is overpopulated, which leads to competition with the wildlife for water and land, while in Loliondo the land is sought by a safari company planning to expand its hunting operations.
Luxury safaris attract the best guides in the business. And there’s nothing better than a knowledgeable local guide to teach you about the wonders of their country.
Too often tourism and conservation come at the expense of indigenous people, leading to dispossession and conflict. In contrast, our luxury safari partners work closely with local communities, ensuring that they have a meaningful stake in tourism through employment, which in turn makes them more likely to support vital conservation initiatives. Choosing a responsible luxury safari means that your trip will benefit not only the wildlife and habitats you’re enjoying, but also the people whose home you’re visiting.

Keep reading our luxury safari travel guide to find out more.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Luxury safaris or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Why choose a luxury safari?

Luxury safari lodges & camps

The best luxury African safaris tend to be those that put the emphasis on immersing their guests in the wilderness rather than seeking to impress with lavish furnishings and other trappings that don’t exactly ring with authenticity.

For that reason, you’ll find that when it comes to accommodation, many of our partners seek out luxury safari lodges and camps in remote and secluded areas of the big-name parks and reserves or stay just outside in private concessions and conservancies. You can spend all day out on a game drive and rarely encounter another jeep.

These lodges and camps typically cater to a small number of guests, focusing on very high levels of service so you get that sense of exclusivity. Plus, as these areas have greater freedom when setting rules, such as being able to go off road for closer viewings (which you can’t do in many national parks), they can offer a larger range of activities such as night-time game drives and walking safaris.

Upgrading to a luxury safari can certainly mean you get all the bells and whistles with your accommodation, if that’s to your taste – spas, same-day laundry service, huge four-poster beds and private plunge pools. But the essence of going on safari is a feeling of being close to nature, and for many travelers it is about the experiences and the atmosphere, not the amount of choice when it comes to pillow softness.

Saving time by traveling in style

Safaris can cover very long distances, over harsh, bumpy terrain at times. One way that luxury safaris in Africa often stand out is that they will often include internal flights between locations, rather than transporting their guests overland. Indeed, some lodges in remote areas have built their own private airstrips – often the only practical way to bring in equipment and supplies.

Flying from place to place means that you can really maximise your time on safari. It also means spectacular views at times, as pilots will swoop low over the landscapes and you’re never far from a window. These are typically small propeller planes – we no longer sell vacations that feature jet flights of under an hour as part of our mission to make travel more sustainable.

Greater choice of experiences

Our Africa luxury safaris are almost always tailor made trips. That gives you immense freedom not only in your travel dates and the places you stay, but also in what you do each day (and night). Your adventures can take you far beyond the traditional game drives to safaris on foot, horseback or mountain bike, helicopter and hot air balloon flights, and incredible sleep-outs on purpose-built decks or fly camping in the bush.

“We love finding more unusual ways to get out among the wildlife,” says Simon Mills from our partner Native Escapes. “So you have safaris on horseback or mountain bike, where the animals don’t hear you approaching as they would in a jeep. And in certain parks you can do incredible walking safaris that give you a completely different perspective.”

Our luxury safaris to Africa are suitable for adventurous honeymooners, but also for families. Kids are not an afterthought but expressly catered for with exciting activities that immerse them in nature while their parents and older siblings are out in the bush.

Luxury safari and beach combinations are also popular. After a few long, hot days bouncing along trails in a jeep, what could be more appealing than leaping into a beautiful ocean, or a massage in a tent on a white-sand beach? A few days in Zanzibar, the Mafia Islands, Mozambique or Mauritius complement a safari perfectly, and depending on where you go, they’re usually just a few hours’ flight away.

The best, most responsible safari guides & drivers

All safari guides go through extensive training, so you can be sure they’ll be very knowledgeable wherever you are. They’re out in the bush for much of the year, so they really know their stuff.

But it is true that generally, the very best guiding talent is going to be sourced and retained by the people who can afford it. On a luxury safari, you’ll be accompanied by true experts with almost preternatural capabilities for finding wildlife and who can skilfully explain the behaviours you’re witnessing.

Those who can afford it can often arrange a private jeep and guide too. By exploring far less-visited areas, as many luxury safaris do, then there is not so much competition for viewpoints. In busier areas, drivers keen to give their passengers the optimum views can encroach upon the animals’ personal space causing them worry, especially if they have young with them.
Travelers want to see genuinely local people employed, they’re starting to notice this kind of thing, and companies are responding.

Responsible tourism made easy

It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but luxury safari companies and lodges tend to be better placed for financially supporting community and conservation initiatives in their local area, so your trip can make a significant difference. That might be tracking wolves using GPS, helping with anti-poaching methods, educating school children, or working with farmers to protect their crops and livestock. But this is just one element of a holistic approach. Many luxury lodges make a point of employing local people wherever possible – not just from that country, but from that specific area, and encouraging their guests to patronise and support local craftspeople. Non-intrusive village visits are a growing feature of safaris too, with travelers not so much interested in song-and-dance performances as getting a real idea of ways of life. “A lot of the improvements I see in the safari industry are dictated by the client,” says Rebecca Blakey from our partner Wayfairer Travel. “The world in general is becoming more environmentally and socially conscious. Travelers want to see genuinely local people employed, they’re starting to notice this kind of thing, and companies are responding.” Safaris demand healthy wildlife populations which require countless conservation projects across Africa. These projects are most likely to succeed when local communities support them, and giving people a genuine stake in tourism is a proven way to earn that support.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Bram Vranckx] [Intro: MEF13] [Luxury safari lodges & camps: Paul Balfe] [The best, most responsible safari guides & drivers: Sebastian Canaves]