By LINDSAY COHN
The idea of luxury African safaris most commonly conjures dreams of peeping majestic animals in their natural environment. And, sure, that’s a fair primary focus of such a travel experience, but the trip can be so much more. While offering health-boosting benefits that accompany communing with nature, the pace of a safari also caters to wellness-oriented wanderers who relish rising with the sun, enjoying nutritious meals, relaxing during ample downtime, stargazing, and hitting the sack at a reasonable hour.
To that point, many lodges for luxury African safaris have incorporated well-being elements—like yoga classes, in-room massages, and sound healing—into their offerings to provide travelers a more holistic experience, says Rachel McGuire, an Africa and safari specialist at luxury travel agency Scott Dunn. “There are a number of options that do a fantastic job immersing visitors in the wonder of the continent, while delivering a major dose of R & R.” Rounded up below are six of those options.
Read on for 6 luxury African safaris embracing wellness in their offerings.
1. Singita Kwitonda Lodge Rwanda
“Singita Kwitonda Lodge near Kinigi, Rwanda, combines the thrill of gorilla trekking with gracious hospitality and modern accommodations,” says McGuire. Not only do suites come with all the creature comforts you’d want—including private plunge pools and heated floors—but the expansive bathrooms feature massage tables for tension-melting rubdowns in the privacy of your room.
So, after being able to watch critically endangered gorillas live freely in their natural habitat, which can skew emotional and even life-changing for some, you can recoup in midst of first-rate accommodations to fuel your mind, body, and soul with spa services and farm-to-table dining. Furthermore, the natural spectacular views you can enjoy of the Virunga Mountains alone may have the power to shift your perspective.
2. Varty Camp, South Africa
Varty Camp is tucked away in one of South Africa’s original private game reserves, Londolozi. “This 90-year-old institution ensures an exclusive, heritage-rich safari experience, and the opportunity to check the Big Five off your bucket list,” says McGuire. (The “Big Five” was originally used as a hunting term to describe the most dangerous animals in the area to hunt: lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo. Now, it’s used widely by safari guides to point out which animals to see.)
After exhilarating drives, travelers return to the tranquility of Varty Camp for some relaxation, which may include contemplative strolls along the brick pathways, reading a book under the leafy cover of ancient trees, or taking a dip in a personal swimming pool. Transformative wellness experiences also await at the Londolozi Healing House, which offers everything from yoga and bodywork to sound therapy and reiki.
3. San Camp, Botswana
San Camp‘s position on the edge of the Makgadikgadi Basin, one of the largest salt pans in the world, is part of what makes it extremely unique. Both the activities and animal species (like Kalahari black-maned lions, honey badgers, bat-eared foxes, brown hyenas, and meerkats) vary from what you might expect to encounter on luxury African safaris: Guests can ride ATVs or fat-tire bikes, learn about the area’s history, walk with Ju/Wasi Bushmen, practice yoga in a tea tent surrounded by the Kalahari Desert, and do some soul-searching. “One of my favorite aspects of staying at San Camp was the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere,“ says McGuire of unplugging from the chaos of her life and reconnecting to Mother Earth.
4. Saseka Tented Camp, South Africa
Situated in the Thornybush Game Reserve, the recently opened Saseka Tented Camp is quite sophisticated (in addition to being a great place to reset and recharge. “Each spacious tent marries that classic safari look with contemporary touches, such as large sliding glass doors that let in tons of natural light, a private pool, and an outdoor shower,” says McGuire. If a soothing soak is a staple in your self-care routine, prepare to swoon over the tub in each tent and bath products locally made in nearby Hoedspruit. Afterward, the comfortable mattress and sumptuous linens all but guarantee quality zzz’s. Of course, it doesn’t hurt the property’s relaxation credit that it’s far from civilization, and the only audible noises are the calming sounds of crickets chirping in the night.
5. Omaanda, Namibia
Located near Namibia’s capital, Windhoek, Omaanda is an excellent rest stop at the beginning or end of an itinerary. “The property emphasizes leisure as well as enjoying and protecting the biodiverse landscape of Zannier Reserve—with game viewing coming as a bonus,” says McGuire. Omaanda operates an extensive well-being program, anchored by its spa. Drawing inspiration from ancient Namibian wisdom and cultural traditions, customized healing rituals take place in a hand-built thatched-roof hut. Another major health booster of Omaanda is its renowned chef, who uses local, seasonal ingredients (many sourced from the on-site organic garden) to create gourmet dishes with a global twist.
6. Angama Mara, Kenya
At Angama Mara, luxury is a primary focus. Guests of the property experience top-notch service, elite safari guiding, healthy cuisine, and, obviously, gorgeous accommodations. The best part, McGuire says, is the geographic setting atop the Oloololo Escarpment, which may conjure a strong sense of bravery that’ll allow for channeling courage to try something new, like a perspective-shifting hot air balloon safari. Back on the ground, glass-fronted suites offer cinematic vistas reminiscent, allowing travelers to reflect on their experiences while lounging in bed (or from its 24-hour fitness center, for an undisrupted workout regimen).