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    by Mahala Wallace

    In the wilds of Africa, surrounded by rolling grassland plateaus and watering holes where animals gather, you will find some of the world’s most luxurious (and most expensive) hotels and private game reserve lodges. Boasting intimacy and the finest service, here are our top five game lodges in Africa.

    Image courtesy of Singita

    1. Singita Sabi Sand

    Singita Sabi Sand Game Reserve lies on the edge of Kruger National Park, with an abundance of game, including the Big Five.  As trusted guardians of 45,000 acres of land, Singita Sabi Sand offers guests a stay that’s steeped in luxury and excitement, with three luxury lodges to choose from: Boulders, Ebony, and Castleton.

    Known as one of the world’s finest lodges, Boulders sits on the banks of the Sand River. Its open-aired elegance and rustic charm were inspired by the natural formations and geography of the area: the boulders and curving riverbeds. Inspired by the safari camps of old, Ebony Lodge has a camp feel, with thatched roofs and canvas accents. There are 12 Ebony Lodge suites, each with their own plunge pool. Castleton has a stronger community feel, with shared living areas and pool.

    Game drives operate twice a day, along with mountain biking safaris, walking safaris, visits to local villages and archery.

    Image courtesy of Singita

    2. Royal Malewane

    With its classic, old-world feel, quirky colonial design and animals roaming freely, it’s little wonder Thornybush Game Reserve is considered not only one of South Africa’s top lodges, but also one of the best hotels in the world.  Thornybush Game Reserve exudes luxury: each of its eight suites (including two separate, two-bedroom Royal Suites) is air conditioned, has a private plunge pool and is designed to perfection. If you want to step the luxe vibe up a further notch, the six-bedroom villa comes with a private chef.

    The sunrise and sunset game drives with expert trackers and guides are sure to thrill, as they take you both on and off the path. Lions are common in the area, along with the rest of the Big Five, which are sure to set your heart racing and your camera working in overdrive. When the game drive is over and you want to relax, the Reserve has you covered: its award-winning Bush Spa will leave you feeling like you’re floating on a cloud.

    Image courtesy of The Royal Portfolio

    3. Ulusaba Rock Lodge and Safari Lodge

    Of course, Sir Richard Branson would pick a top-notch location for his luxury game lodge. Located at the Western end of Sabi Sand, where game viewing is plentiful (including the Big Five, baboons, impalas and cheetahs), Ulusaba has two breathtaking accommodation options.

    Rock Lodge sits atop (you guessed it!) a rocky peak known as a koppie, and brings together tribal elements and textiles with natural materials.  Each of the eight rooms have their own unique design, and each comes with its own private infinity pool. The Safari Lodge can be found amongst the trees where animals come to quench their thirst at a nearby waterhole. You can stay in treehouse-like rooms with rope swing bridges connecting you to the common areas, and when you’re not encountering the plains and wildlife of Africa, you can relax with a spa treatment or work up a sweat with a game of tennis.

    Image courtesy of Sabi Sands

    4. Londolozi

    This family-run paradise has welcomed guests for the better part of a century. Set on the Sand River, Londolozi (Zulu for “protector of all things”) is one of the original and most famous safari lodges in South Africa. It’s easy to see why, with wildlife (especially leopards) roaming free, its conservation efforts and its Relais & Châteaux-status accommodations.

    There are five options to choose from: if you’re in the mood for a kid-free holiday, the adults-only Granite Suites offer unparalleled luxury, followed closely by Tree Camp and Pioneer Camp. For families, Founders Camp and Varty Camp are larger and have a greater focus on fun, family-friendly activities.

    With over 90 years of safari experience, Londolozi sure knows how to impress. They have activities for everyone, from game safaris and walking safaris to spa treatments and local village excursions. It’s a cultural experience of epic proportions.

    Image courtesy of Londolozi

    5. Lion Sands

    As the only lodge with access to the perennial Sabie River and with one of only four Master Trackers in the world onsite to help guests with sightings, Lion Sands is a unique game experience. Its collection of lodges are individually designed, all of which offer breath-taking views and safari-style luxury – you just need to choose which lodge suits your style, from the lavish Lion Sands River Lodge, with just 20 thatched rooms, or the ultra-luxe Ivory Lodge. These two lodges are the only properties to offer safaris in both the Sabie River and Sand River ecosystems, boasting some of the most spectacular game viewing the region has to offer. You will experience a level of luxury not found in many places.

    Image courtesy of Lion Sands

    For more personalised information tips and advice or to book these incredible holidays, contact your local TravelManagers’ personal travel manager here.

    With compliments of First Class: visit them online or at Instagram