Humans can be funny creatures. No matter how exquisite the experience, we still ask ourselves “how could this be just that tiny bit better?”.
Often when it comes to idyllic destinations, we find ourselves wishing that it was just us there; either our family or only the group of friends we are travelling with. A whole camp all to ourselves, somewhere in the African wilderness.
Given that the capacity of bush camps is regularly 20 or so guests though, this is a tough order, as the majority of travelling groups aren’t as big as that.
However, recent developments in the safari industry have seen a marked move towards the development of smaller, exclusive-use camps, and given that the trends are leaning more and more towards longer stays, these homes-in-the-bush are coming into greater and greater demand.
Your own private ranger and game drive vehicle, your own chef, the freedom to decide on your own timetable… imagine the ultimate flexibility in the ultimate luxury, with the ultimate wildlife viewing experience right on your doorstep.
We’ve picked a few of our favourite exclusive-use camps for you to ponder on…
Feel like a game of lawn tennis whilst elephants lumber slowly past and a herd of wildebeest grazes peacefully in the distance? Then Singita Castleton is for you.
A conversion of the Bailes family homestead (the Singita founders) in the year 2000, Castleton Camp is positioned on a sprawling open hillside overlooking a pristine waterhole. Many are the lion sightings from the open lawns in front of the main area, and the central positioning of the camp within the greater reserve means that all sections and habitats are equally accessible.
Sip a gin and tonic on the edge of the expansive pool during the warmth of the African midday, or enjoy a glass of fine wine under the stars around the fire, where everything is forgotten and the conversations are just those between you and the people you have chosen to travel with.
Singita Castleton is truly a special place.
Londolozi Pioneer Camp
Since the 70s Londolozi has been the blueprint African Safari destination. THE place to view leopards, the lodge is set in the Sabi Sand Reserve, and boasts 5 magnificent camps strung out along the Sand River, all operating independently of one another.
The western-most camp, Pioneer, although not specifically classified as an exclusive-use camp, generally has its three stunning suites hired out by travelling groups or families, and its separation from the rest of the Londolozi Camps is such that you truly feel as if you are miles from anyone else. The spacious rooms all have uninterrupted views over the Sand River, and breeding herds of elephants are almost a constant feature in front of the camp decks.
The beauty of Pioneer Camp is that one still has access to the rest of the Londolozi Camps, so a trip to the Healing House, the Boutique Living Shop or children’s involvement in the Cubs’ Den program are all easily facilitated.
Pioneer Camp normally takes six guests in its three suites, but for visiting families the rooms can be tweaked to easily accommodate more family members, and capacity can be pushed to 12.
Royal Malewane Africa House
Royal Malewane’s reputation precedes it as one of the ultimate African Safaris. Sought out by celebrities aplenty, their experienced guiding team and prolific game viewing are already world-renowned.
Now add in the recent addition to their portfolio of the Africa House, an exclusive-use villa that sleeps up to twelve guests, and you have the perfect destination for a large family getaway.
Africa House is a totally self-contained bush paradise where you can relax in the most opulent and easy-going style. Although designed to suit families and close-knit travelling groups, each of the six air-conditioned rooms has its own private deck and outdoor shower, and magnificent views of the surrounding bush.
Angama Safari Camp
Tucked away at the base of the Oloololo Escarpment (although officially the site is mobile and able to change locations) and a few kilometres south of the main Angama Mara Camp, the Safari Camp, which sleeps up to 8 guests, is perfectly placed to avoid the busier sections of the reserve, and is far enough away from other camps to be able to enjoy the first part of game drive hours without any other vehicles near.
The camp is tented, and having just a wall of canvas between you and the African bush makes for a wonderfully immersive experience, with the evening song of the nightjars and the roar of the lions making sure your stay feels like a true connection to the primal part of yourself.
The light footprint of the Safari Camp is exemplary, and this is a place where you genuinely feel as though you are leaving the world behind.
The above four camps are by no means the only ones in our extensive list, they are just a few of our favourites.
In a travel climate in which Covid fears are steadily dissipating but many are still nervous about mingling with other guests, exclusive-use camps have seen a dramatic rise in popularity.
Given their very nature however, the timing of a booking is more important than ever, so get in touch with us if this sounds like the kind of safari stay that you’d be interested in…