We’re not sure who invented glamping, but we’re pretty sure that the African-safari industry perfected it. People have been camping in Africa’s wilderness for centuries, but the more recent combination of the ‘under canvas’ experience with cutting-edge interior design, top-quality service, exceptional cuisine and breathtaking locations has elevated luxury tented safaris to a veritable art form.
Here’s our top-10 (not necessarily in order) selection for going on safari under canvas in 2020, in style!
Camping is, by its very nature, impermanent. While most glamping safari lodges are fixed structures, the semi-permanent camps that follow the Great Wildebeest Migration across the Serengeti embody the essence of camping. Every couple of months, the camp operators up sticks and relocate to new campsites to ensure their guests are in the best possible locations. Legendary Serengeti Mobile Camp does this without any compromise on luxury, with tents that epitomise old-world elegance and charm.
- Serengeti Mobile Camp moves with the Great Wildebeest Migration in Tanzania. © Legendary Expeditions
- Serengeti Mobile Camp is split across two independent sections, each with their own dining and lounge areas. © Legendary Expeditions
- Dine right on the savannah at Serengeti Mobile Camp. © Legendary Expeditions
- In between game drives, relax in the guest area at Legendary Serengeti Mobile Camp. © Legendary Expeditions
- While away lazy evenings in the guest area at Serengeti Mobile Camp. © Legendary Expeditions
- Relax on your own private deck at Serengeti Mobile Camp. © Legendary Expeditions
- Communal dining is encouraged at Legendary Serengeti Mobile Camp, although you’re welcome to dine privately too. © Legendary Expeditions
- Your family will love holidaying at Serengeti Mobile Camp. © Legendary Expeditions
Famous for its elephant, Hwange National Park offers one of the most expectational safari experiences in Southern Africa. Located in the remote southeastern corner of the park, Somalisa Camp’s luxurious tents overlook a well known vlei, a seasonal grass and marsh area that’s irresistible to the local wildlife. Your time can be spent out on game drives, but Somalisa’s permanent waterhole means that sometimes it’s better to stay in camp and watch the wildlife come to you.
- Somalisa Camp has a splash pool for guests. © African Bush Camps
- Solid furniture and neutral colours with burnished metal details fill Somalisa Camp’s guest tents. © African Bush Camps
- Dine under the stars at Somalisa Acacia. © African Bush Camps
- © African Bush Camps
- Somalisa Camp’s guest areas has a lovely Zimbabwean flavour. © African Bush Camps
- You'll love this bathtub at Somalisa Camp in Zimbabwe. © African Bush Camps
- Families can meet other guests in the communal area at Somalisa Acacia. © African Bush Camps
- Sit poolside and watch wildlife frolic in the waterhole at Somalisa Camp. © African Bush Camps
With its billowing canvas tents housing large canopied beds, silver chandeliers, candelabras, leather trunks and beautiful vintage furniture, Cottar’s 1920s Camp evokes the glamour and romance of a bygone era. This is the epitome of glamping, in colonial style on a private concession overlooking both the Masai Mara and the Serengeti. The experience comes complete with top-quality local guides, personal butlers and a trove of antique treasures, from sepia-toned safari photos to a vintage safari vehicle.
- Dine in the bush at Cottar's Bush Villa. © Cottar's 1920 Camp
- Spoil yourself to a lantern-lit, colonial-style bath under the African night sky at Cottar’s 1920s Camp. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
- You can even bath outdoors at Cottar's Bush Villa. © Cottar's 1920 Camp
- You’ll be able to gaze out at the Masai Mara right from your luxury, four-poster bed at Cottar’s 1920s Camp. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
- The safari tent bathrooms at Cottar’s 1920s Camp feature twin basins, flush loos and showers. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
- Some afternoons at Cottar’s 1920s Camp are best spent having a siesta and a quiet sundowner in your safari tent. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
- The guest tents at Cottar’s 1920s Camp are elegantly understated, offering calm comfort. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
- This large guest area at Cottar’s 1920s Camp is complete with comfortable couches, beautifully set tables and a sociable bar. © Cottar’s 1920s Camp
With tents huddled together in the wilderness, camping makes for an intimate experience; with just six tents on a small island in the heart of the Okavango Delta, Duba Explorers Camp embodies the true intimacy of under-canvas luxury. Persian carpets, soaring ceilings covered in fabric, ivory canvas walls and a king-sized bed – dressed in royal blue and draped in mosquito nets – combine to make this an unforgettable glamping experience.
- Duba Explorers Camp has plush furniture and carpets in its guest area. © Great Plains Conservation
- Your tent at Duba Explorers Camp comes with a glorious four-poster bed. © Great Plains Conservation
- Duba Expedition Camp is set in the private Kwedi Reserve. © Great Plains Conservation
- The guest area at Duba Explorers Camp is elegant yet comfortable. © Great Plains Conservation
- Dining is communal at Duba Explorers Camp. © Great Plains Conservation
- While Duba Explorers Camp is isolated, the food is top notch. © Great Plains Conservation
- The tented suites at Duba Explorers Camp have fully equipped bathrooms. © Great Plains Conservation
- Soak up the view from your private verandah at Duba Explorers Camp. © Great Plains Conservation
Nestled beneath a shady canopy of indigenous trees in the greater Kruger and overlooking the Timbavati River, Ngala Tented Camp is one of Africa’s original luxury tented camps. It’s been refurbished many times since it first opened, and its now-elegant and pared-down simplicity offers all the necessities for absolute comfort. Return from an early morning safari to relax at the sinuous lap pool, or visit the massage sala for one of the many indulgent treatments on offer.
- Ngala Tented Camp is a luxury South African safari lodge nestled beneath indigenous trees overlooking the Timbavati River. © &Beyond
- Ngala Tented Camp has nine spacious air-conditioned tents set under vast canvas roofs. © &Beyond
- A cooling mint-green theme runs throughout Ngala Tented Camp. © &Beyond
- Ngala Tented Camp is a magical place in the Greater Kruger. © &Beyond
- You’ll be blown away by the views from Ngala Tented Camp. © &Beyond
- With a pool like this, you’ll be as cool as a cucumber at Ngala Tented Camp. © &Beyond
- Bush dining is a must when staying at Ngala Tented Camp. © &Beyond
- Unwind with an evening cocktail in Ngala Tented Camp’s guest area. © &Beyond
There are many reasons to love Ngare Serian, but at the top of our list are the Indiana Jones inspired walkway that has to be crossed to reach the camp and the outdoor bathtubs, sunk into the deck of the luxury tents overlooking pods of hippo in the Mara River. You’ll come for the abundant wildlife in the surrounding Masai Mara, but you’ll return for the relaxed elegance of this luxury tented camp… and the baths!
- This sunny couch at Ngare Serian is perfectly situated for lazy afternoon hippo watching. © Alex Walker's Serian
- You'll sleep in style at Ngare Serian in gorgeous four-poster beds. © Alex Walker's Serian
- The baths at Ngare Serian, with views over the Mara River, are arguably the best in the world. © Alex Walker's Serian
- Ngare Serian is nestled away under shady trees alongside the Mara River. © Alex Walker's Serian
- You won't fight for space in the bathrooms at Ngare Serian. © Alex Walker's Serian
- Ngare Serina in accessed only by this swing bridge, which crosses the Mara River. © Alex Walker's Serian
- Toast successful game sightings with an afternoon sundowner on the deck at Ngare Serian. © Alex Walker's Serian
- The tented guest area at Ngare Serian has inviting couches. © Alex Walker's Serian
While our top-10 might not be to order, this luxury tented camp would be at the top of most lists. Situated on the U-bend of the Mara River in the northern Serengeti, Mara River Tented Camp is directly in the path of the Great Wildebeest Migration as it moves from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara and back again. Despite being a pinnacle of glamping, this camp has been created using a wide selection of recycled and natural materials.
- Mara River Tented Camp is an intimate camp with only six tented rooms. © Singita
- Relax in the elegant guest area at Mara River Tented Camp in Tanzania. © Singita
- You can watch the Mara River from your private deck when staying at Mara River Tented Camp. © Singita
- Mara River Tented Camp is an intimate camp with only six tented rooms. © Singita
- Watch the world go by from a comfortable lounger at Mara River Tented Camp. © Singita
- Camp in style at Mara River Tented Camp, where your bedding is crisp and white. © Singita
- The guest tents at Mara River Tented Camp have fully equipped bathrooms. © Singita
- Cool off in the plunge pool at Mara River Tented Camp, overlooking the river. © Singita
For a glamping experience off the beaten track, Wolwedans Private Camp should fit the bill. To understand the sense of remoteness, have a look at the first picture in the gallery below. This luxury tented camp is also one of the many private safari houses and villas that are dotted across Africa, ideal for family safari holidays or small groups looking to have the place all to themselves. Each room is complete with a private deck from which to enjoy the panoramic desert views.
- Private Camp is surrounded by mysterious fairy circles. © Wolwedans
- Private Camp in Namibia caters for six guests. © Wolwedans
- Meals can be served at your convenience at Private Camp. © Wolwedans
- Private Camp affords spectacular views. © Wolwedans
- Private Camp has three bedrooms. © Wolwedans
- Private Camp’s bathrooms face out over the wilderness. © Wolwedans
- Sip wine as the light changes over the mountains near Private Camp. © Wolwedans
We love a tented camp with a view! Loisaba Tented Camp is located on a hilltop overlooking one of the endlessly remote valleys of the Laikipia region in northern Kenya. Whether relaxing in the infinity pool, lazing on the sundeck of your luxury tent with its modern, clean-lined interiors or dining al fresco, you’re guaranteed uninterrupted panoramas of pristine wilderness all the way to Mount Kenya.
- The guest area at Loisaba Tented Camp is right next to the pool. © Elewana Collection
- Modern and chic, Loisaba Tented Camp has an infinity pool and nine tented suites. © Elewana Collection
- The tented suites at Loisaba Tented Camp are chic, with a modern African theme. © Elewana Collection
- Loisaba Tented Camp’s guest area is cheerfully inviting in the evenings. © Elewana Collection
- The tented suites at Loisaba Tented Camp all have spectacular views. © Elewana Collection
- The infinity pool at Loisaba Tented Camp seems to drop off over the edge of the plateau. © Elewana Collection
- Loisaba Tented Camp has nine tented suites, including three doubles. © Elewana Collection
- Relax with a good bottle of wine on your private verandah at Loisaba Tented Camp. © Elewana Collection
The stark whiteness of the Makgadgadi Pans provides the backdrop for the Arabian-style white tents of San Camp. The big sky and featureless surroundings are juxtaposed by the detailed and stylish elegance of this luxury tented camp. From lovingly polished antique wooden furniture to prints of birds and old maps and four-poster beds with a pin-striped pattern echoing the interior walls of the tents, this camp is impossibly romantic!
- San Camp is an intimate safari lodge in the Makgadikgadi with a white marquee mess tent. © Uncharted Africa
- There are five twin and two double guest tents at Botswana's San Camp. © Uncharted Africa
- There are two double guest tents at San Camp. © Uncharted Africa
- No trip to San Camp is complete without sundowners on the pans. © Uncharted Africa
- Tea time at San Camp is a magical affair. © Uncharted Africa
- San Camp’s guest tents are scattered along the edge of the saltpans. © Uncharted Africa
- Dining at San Camp is at a lovely communal table. © Uncharted Africa
- Swimming at San Camp while surrounded by salt pans is a surreal experience. © Uncharted Africa