The Hottest New African Safari Camps

There are more reasons than ever to plan a honeymoon in Africa

Updated 11/01/17

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

Waking up at 5 a.m. might not sound like the ideal way to start the most romantic trip of your life, but early wake ups notwithstanding, an African safari is, without doubt, one of the most romantic ways to honeymoon. Not only are you totally secluded in the middle of nowhere ("the bush," as it's called), but you also get the once-in-a-lifetime chance to spot all kinds of wildlife—elephants, leopards, lions, hyena, wild dog, hippos, crocodile, water buffalo, and more—in their natural habitats. The experience is wholly invigorating and awe-inspiring (watch lions hunt and kill their dinner, and you'll be thankful we took ourselves out of the food chain).

Where you choose to honeymoon should be based on your goals as a couple. For example, if you want to spot all the Big Five, you might choose South Africa. Those with deep pockets should look to Botswana, which has some of the most luxurious camps on the continent (hence the recent visit by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle). Kenya and Tanzania offer vast Serengeti landscapes and the chance to witness the Great Migration, while Zambia and even Ethiopia offer "I got there first" bragging rights.

Another way to make your friends and followers jealous: Choose a brand-new or recently refreshed safari camp—with stunning accommodations, plunge pools, and modern amenities to make the experience that much more luxurious. Here, we've rounded up the top new and renovated lodges to help you plan the most amazing African safari honeymoon.

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Jabali Ridge, Tanzania

Ruaha National Park is one of the most wild and remote areas of Southern Tanzania, and this new camp gives you even more reason to get off-the-grid. The camp is outfitted in a muted palette that blends seamlessly into the surroundings. And each of the eight rooms has louvered shutters for indoor-outdoor living and uninterrupted views of a forest of baobabs. But what we love most is the massive infinity pool overlooking the plains, perhaps one of the most stunning spots for sundowners in all of Africa. Jabali Ridge

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Bisate Lodge, Rwanda

A view of the rooms at Bisate Lodge, in Rwanda.

Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

This six-room sanctuary opened in June near Volcanoes National Park, one of the world's best areas for mountain gorilla trekking. And because it's managed by top safari outfitter Wilderness Safaris, Bisate sets the standard for luxury lodges. It's steps from the park boundaries, giving you unparalleled access to these amazing creatures, which can be spotted on hikes through the jungle. The camp is also a vision for conservation and community development: It was built by hand by members of the local community, the interiors were outfitted by a Rwandan fashion designer, and it's central to a 46-acre reforestation project. (Wilderness is planting more than 150,000 indigenous trees in an effort to further conservation of the Virunga Massif ecosystem.) Bisate Lodge

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andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge, South Africa

A view of the rooftop dining terrace at andBeyond Phinda Rock lodge in South Africa.

Courtesy of andBeyond

andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge has been a staple in the South African Zululand for more than 20 years, but this past May saw its complete transformation with fresh interiors and modern amenities. Guest rooms are done in an earthy soft-grey palette, are filled with rich textiles, and have french doors that open on to private decks with plunge pools and epic views of the surrounding valley. The lodge's central areas, meanwhile, were renovated to include a new rooftop terrace that's perfect for dining beneath the stars. andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge

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Sanctuary Chief's Camp, Botswana

The pool at renovated Sanctuary Chief's Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta.

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

Botswana's Okavango Delta is one of the most game-rich areas in all of Africa: You can spot all the Big Five (black and white rhino have recently been reintroduced to the area after years of poaching) plus some 400 species of birds. At this premier lodge, located on the northwestern tip of Chief's Island, in the middle of the Delta, you can embark on both land- and water-based safaris. It recently saw a tip-to-tail renovation that transformed its 10 thatched roof pavilions into honeymoon-worthy hideouts (outfitted with private viewing decks, outdoor showers, plunge pools, and oversize soaking tubs). There's also a new wellness center, outdoor fire pit, pizza oven, and spacious pool deck that hovers above the floodplains. Sanctuary Chief's Camp

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Mombo and Little Mombo Camps, Botswana

A view of redesigned guest rooms at Mombo Camp in Botswana's Okavango Delta.

Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Wilderness Safaris' flagship sister lodges in Botswana's Moremi Game Reserve are in the midst of a major overhaul (set to unveil in early 2018). The new camps will be thoughtfully executed in accordance with the outfitter's commitment to conservation: Both lodges will be 100 percent solar-powered and have as light a footprint as possible in order to preserve the environment of Chief's Island. But that doesn't mean the experience will be bare-bones. In fact, Mombo and Little Mombo will be more luxe than ever, with high-ceiling tented roofs, comfy day beds, and spacious outdoor decks with private plunge pools. If you're honeymooning before the reopening date, don't worry—you can still stay at the temporary tented outpost, Mombo Trails Camp, which will be dismantled when the lodges officially reopen. Mombo Camp and Little Mombo Camp

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Sanctuary Olonana, Kenya

A Masaai warrior in Kenya, Africa at Sanctuary Olonana camp.

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

Picking just one honeymoon spot in the Masaai Mara National Reserve—an epic savannah wilderness on the southwestern Kenya-Tanzania border—may seem an impossible feat. The first thing to consider is privacy; this camp, situated on a secluded stretch of the Mara River at the foot of the Siria Escarpment, wins in that department. Next year it will undergo an extensive renovation, set for completion in June. Expect the same exciting game drives, cultural visits, bush dinners, and daily sundowners, only with shiny new rooms to retreat back to at the end of the day. Sanctuary Olonana

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Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia

A view of the tented camp Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp on the Skeleton Coast, Namibia.

Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Want to honeymoon somewhere none of your friends have been? Try Namibia's vast, remote, and isolated Skeleton Coast. The wildlife is uniquely desert-adapted and ferocious during dry season, making it a singular, action-packed safari experience. At this relative newcomer, you can expect scenic views of the dry Hoanib River and tons of privacy since it's situated in a private concession. Take your pick among eight oversize tents, each with shaded outdoor decks, and be sure to request a private picnic atop the sand dunes. Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp

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Singita Sweni Lodge, South Africa

The pool at Singita Sweni Lodge, in Kruger National Park, South Africa.

Courtesy of Singita

A-plus amenities are now central to this just-refreshed fan favorite, located within a private concession inside Kruger National Park (home to large numbers of elephant, leopard, lion, rhino, buffalo, and hippo). There's a revamped restaurant and show kitchen, an outdoor dining deck, pool overlooking the Sweni River, fire pit, and secluded #honeymoongoals Pool Suite. Each of the six existing rooms were also reconfigured to maximize open-plan living—expect to spend a lot of time on your panoramic game-viewing deck and maybe even sleep under the stars on your outdoor day bed. Singita Sweni Lodge

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andBeyond Bateleur Camp, Kenya

A rendering of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, in Masai Mara, Kenya.

Courtesy of andBeyond

Renovation work has just begun on this iconic tented camp in the Masai Mara. The six-month refresh will include an entire guest tent rebuild to bump up square footage and enhance indoor-outdoor flow. There will be day beds on private verandas, as well as outdoor showers and open-air stone courtyards flanking the bathrooms. (Expect visiting wildlife as you brush your teeth.) There will also be a massage sala, two pools, and a gym with panoramic views of the Mara. Our favorite new amenity: An afternoon coffee bar that converts into a gin bar by night. andBeyond Bateleur Camp

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Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, South Africa

A star bed at Sanctuary Makanyane camp in South Africa.

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

Named for the African wild dog indigenous to the surrounding South African landscape, Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge is an eight-suite hideout in the riverside forests of the Madikwe Game Reserve. While it's not brand new (it was added to the Sanctuary Retreats portfolio in 2015), we still love Makanyane for its secluded suites, uninterrupted views of the bush, air-conditioned gym, stocked wine cellar, and—most importantly—its affordable rates (from $281 per person per night for a five-night stay). Not to be missed: walking safaris (to spot that rare African wild dog) and a YOLO sleep-under-the-stars experience. Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge

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Asilia Roho ya Selous, Tanzania

The lounge and bar area at the new Roho ya Selous camp in Tanzania

Courtesy of Asilia Hotels

Tanzania's Selous Game Reserve—home of this new eight-tent camp—is a unique safari destination because it's sparsely inhabited and because it offers a diverse mix of flatlands, shallow lagoons, lakes, and rivers. Here, the wilderness is best explored by boat—cruise down the Rifiji River and you'll spot pods of hippos and crocodiles basking on the shore. You can go fishing in between morning and after noon game drives, try a walking safari, and, even camp out on a dry riverbed far away (but not too far) from the main camp. Roho ya Selous

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Limalimo Lodge, Ethiopia

A view of Limalimo Lodge, in Ethiopia.

Courtesy of Limalimo

If you're looking for epic landscapes, few places inspire as much awe as the peaks of Ethiopia’s Unesco-listed Simien Mountains National Park. And at Limalimo Lodge, those views are front and center. With just 12 guest rooms—all built from natural rammed earth, wood, and thatch—you'll spend nights up in the clouds and days on the ground trekking through the wilderness in search of Gelada monkey, endangered walia ibex, leopards, and rare Ethiopian wolves. Limalimo Lodge

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Sanctuary Sussi and Chuma, Zambia

A view of Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma, overlooking the Zambezi River.

Courtesy of Sanctuary Retreats

As far as bucket-lists are concerned, Victoria Falls is a shoe-in. Located at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, this nearly mile-long waterfall is a so-called "natural wonder of the world." It's also where you'll find Sussi and Chuma when it opens next April. Set in one of the most beautiful parts of the Zambezi River, amidst Jackalberry trees and Phoenix palms, Sussi's 12 tree-houses will provide an exclusive home base from which to view the Falls and also go on guided walking safaris and visit the nearby Nakatindi Village, which receives philanthropic support from Sanctuary Retreats. Sanctuary Sussi & Chuma

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Qorokwe Camp, Botswana

A view of the renovated exterior of Qorokwe camp by Wilderness Safaris.

Courtesy of Wilderness Safaris

Set among permanent floodplains in a private section of the Okavango Delta, Qorokwe (opening this December) offers diverse landscapes for a bevvy of activities. These include: day and night game drives, nature walks led by highly-skilled guides, as well as boating excursions and traditional mokoro (dugout canoe rides). The nine-suite camp, managed by Wilderness Safaris, will overlook a scenic lagoon and offer plenty of places to relax in between safari—there's a dining area, lounge, library, bar, and infinity pool, all built on raised wooden platforms. Qorokwe Camp

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