Even in the vast African wilderness, some of the more popular destinations can become a little crowded at times. However, if you have a hankering for the truly remote, there are a few hidden gems where peaceful isolation can be guaranteed year-round. Here’s our top-10 selection of African safari lodges for getting well off the beaten track in 2020, from Ruaha to Selous, Kidepo and the Quirimbas.
Selous is one of the largest game reserves in the world, and also one of the remotest. Less well known than its cousins in northern Tanzania, the reserve is no less spectacular. The eight open-fronted cottages of Sand River Selous are perched overlooking the floodplain of the Rufiji River. Here you can go on exciting game drives and boat cruises or simply listen to the hippo splashing about as you watch the sun set over the water from your room.
- You’ll be able to enjoy sweeping views of the Selous from all sides when staying at Sand Rivers Selous. © Nomad Tanzania
- Enjoy a picnic on the riverbank at Sand Rivers Selous. © Nomad Tanzania
- Watch the Rufiji River from your lodge and see what wildlife you can spot. © Nomad Tanzania
- The whole family will love exploring the river from Sand Rivers Selous. © Nomad Tanzania
- The hillside suites at Sand Rivers Selous have enormous beds. © Nomad Tanzania
- Walking safaris are a great way to explore the Selous. © Nomad Tanzania
- The guest lounge at Sand Rivers Selous has marvellous views of the river. © Nomad Tanzania
- You’ll have tables to dine at when fly camping in southern Tanzania. © Nomad Tanzania
Liuwa Plains National Park in western Zamia is remote … so remote in fact that it was formerly only the domain of seasonal mobile camps. However, King Lewanika Lodge, this wild region’s first permanent camp, has made it possible to visit almost year round. Experience the second biggest wildebeest migration in Africa here, and summer lightning displays that rival the best firework shows around.
- After the rains you can canoe the waters near King Lewanika Lodge. © Time + Tide
- The migration in Zambia includes zebra. © Time + Tide
- King Lewanika Lodge’s guest area is chic but cosy. © Time + Tide
- The Liuwa Plains wildebeest migration is extraordinary to see. © Norman Carr Safaris
- Gaze across the plains while you dine at King Lewanika Lodge. © Time + Tide
- After the rains, there’s plenty of water near King Lewanika Lodge. © Time + Tide
- The villas at King Lewanika Lodge have splendid views. © Time + Tide
- You’ll see many lovely sights during the migration in Zambia, like this hyena smelling a flower. © Time + Tide
Kenya’s far north is home to Meru National Park, made famous by Elsa the lioness in the story Born Free. From a small hilltop, Elsa’s Kopje Meru overlooks the plains of the reserve, where you can be on safari in complete isolation and tranquility. Explore the savannah on foot, or follow the strange doum-palm-fringed rivers that flow through the park in search of elephant and other inhabitants.
- With a view like this, there’s no need to leave the large honeymoon suite at Elsa’s Kopje Meru at all. © Elewana Collection
- Bush sundowners are a must when staying at Elsa’s Kopje Meru in Meru National Park. © Elewana Collection
- Look out for elephant while on game drives in Meru National Park. © Elewana Collection
- Wash down the sunset with a chilled glass of wine on your private cottage deck at Elsa’s Kopje Meru. © Elewana Collection
- The bush breakfasts at Elsa’s Kopje Meru are the real deal, set in the long grass of the Meru National Park savannah. © Elewana Collection
- If you keep an eye on the wild Meru landscape, you might spot some game right from your private cottage deck at Elsa’s Kopje Meru. © Elewana Collection
- Meru incorporates a thriving, 8,400ha rhino sanctuary, which you can visit on your game drives. © Elewana Collection
- Children are welcome at Elsa’s Kopje Meru; when they’re not with you, there are children’s activities to entertain them. © Elewana Collection
Truly remote locations sometimes have the best names. Located in the Karamoja region of northern Uganda, Kidepo Valley National Park is ‘out there’. Hidden among several granite outcroppings, Apoka Safari Lodge’s cottages offer commanding views over the savannah, mountains and valleys of Kidepo. A place where few travellers go, here you can experience an unadulterated Ugandan wilderness, and take time to meet the local Karamajong and the Ik peoples.
- Game come close to camp at Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- Go for a walk in the wilderness from Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- Sip sundowners on a rocky ridge near Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- Take in the views while dining alfresco at Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- Lion in a sausage tree is a quintessential sight that’s possible to see in the Kidepo Valley. © Uganda Safari Company
- Cool off in the large swimming pool at Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- Bush breakfasts are a must when staying at Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
- You’ll sleep well in the solid beds at Apoka Safari Lodge. © Uganda Safari Company
The red sands of the Kalahari are far from it all. Tucked into South Africa’s remote northern wilderness is the country’s largest private game reserve, Tswalu. Not only will you be truly alone here, but the region offers the opportunity to see uniquely adapted desert wildlife, from desert black rhino to meerkat and pangolin. With only six suites and three family suites, Tswalu The Motse offers true exclusivity.
- Cool down on The Motse's shady guest-area deck. © Tswalu Kalahari
- When on game drives from The Motse, keep your eyes peeled for lion. © Tswalu Kalahari
- You can dine privately, next to the pool, at The Motse. © Tswalu Kalahari
- Children are welcome at The Motse. © Tswalu Kalahari
- The gregarious meerkat is a favourite in the Kalahari. © Tswalu Kalahari
- The Malori is wonderfully open to the elements. © Tswalu Kalahari
- © Tswalu Kalahari
- The legaes at The Motse have views of the Kalahari. © Tswalu Kalahari
North western Namibia is a rugged, untamed and of course remote. When you first arrive the flat-topped mountains and rolling, rocky plains of Damaraland will seem almost devoid of life, but as you venture out from Desert Rhino Camp, you’ll uncover a diverse array of desert adapted wildlife that survive successfully in this seemingly barren landscape. Track desert black rhino on foot or soak up the endless horizons with a private sundowner picnic.
- Sundowners are a must at Desert Rhino Camp. © Wilderness Safaris
- Tracking desert rhino on foot is an authentic African experience. © Wilderness Safaris
- Desert Rhino Camp’s bathrooms have windows onto the wilderness. © Wilderness Safaris
- Oryx are a classic sight at Desert Rhino Camp. © Wilderness Safaris
- Cool off in the pool at Desert Rhino Camp. © Wilderness Safaris
- The Palmwag Concession is home to giraffe. © Wilderness Safaris
- You can stop for refreshments when tracking desert rhino. © Wilderness Safaris
- Desert-adapted black rhino can be found near Desert Rhino Camp. © Wilderness Safaris
Venture further west from the already remote Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania and you’ll find Ruaha National Park. Here, tucked away in what might just be the proverbial ‘middle of nowhere’, you’ll find Jongomero. Explore these untouched and diverse landscapes on game drives or walking safaris and, for a true adventure, spend the night fly camping on a dry riverbed.
- Jongomero is situated along the banks of a seasonal river. © Selous Safari Company
- You can see wildlife on foot at Jongomero. © Selous Safari Company
- You can enjoy poolside dining at Jongomero. © Selous Safari Company
- The elusive wild dog can be seen in Ruaha National Park. © Selous Safari Company
- Jongomero has eight tented suites. © Selous Safari Company
- Children aged six and older are welcome at Jongomero. © Selous Safari Company
- Birders will delight in the birdlife near Jongomero. © Selous Safari Company
- Evenings are spent around the campfire when fly camping in southern Tanzania. © Selous Safari Company
If getting away from it all is on the cards, then how about hitting a private island on Mozambique’s Quirimbas Archipelago, arguably the most remote chain of islands on Africa’s east coast? With only six, impossibly romantic villas, Vamizi Island lodge offers the epitome of remoteness in the lap of luxury. Chill on the beach with cocktail in hand, or explore the diverse marine habitat, with over 180 species of coral and 400 species of reef fish.
- Vamizi Island’s Kipila villa accommodates eight adults plus four kids in five rooms. © &Beyond
- On the Quirimbas Archipelago you can kayak channels down to the sea. © &Beyond
- Vamizi Island’s Suluwilo villa has a spectacular blend of Arabic influences and contemporary finishes. © &Beyond
- A sandbar picnic in Mozambique will give you time to reflect. © &Beyond
- Vamizi Island’s Casamina villa has a sparkling pool. © &Beyond
- Get close to the marine life by scuba diving from Vamizi Island. © &Beyond
- Vamizi Island is set in a pristine marine conservation area. © &Beyond
- The clear waters of Vamizi Island invite plenty of snorkelling. © &Beyond
South of the Serengeti, towards the edge of the Great Rift Valley (where you look out over the impossibly remote Lake Eyasi), is the privately owned Maswa Game Reserve, home to some of the world’s last hunter gatherers: the Hadzabe people. In the middle of this reserve, nestled among a series of boulders overlooking a river gorge, is the beautifully appointed Mwiba Lodge. Here, you’ll be ideally placed to witness the annual calving of the Great Wildebeest Migration, or simply kick back and soak in one of the last wild places in absolute luxury.
- You’ll be perfectly safe during your guided Serengeti walking safari. © Legendary Expeditions
- Enjoy bush dining on the rocks when staying at Mwiba Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions
- With a pool like this, you might not want to leave Mwiba Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions
- The tented suites at Mwiba Lodge are tucked among boulders overlooking a river gorge. © Legendary Expeditions
- With a pool like this, you might not want to leave Mwiba Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions
- The Great Wildebeest Migration passes nearby Mwiba Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions
- Take in glorious Serengeti views right from your king-sized bed at Mwiba Lodge. © Legendary Expeditions
- You can go off road on your game drives from Mwiba Lodge, enabling superb wildlife encounters. © Legendary Expeditions
In the Central Kalahari, the sense of space and remoteness is palpable. It’s the second largest game reserve in the world, and with only a handful of safari lodges – including Tau Pan – it’s the embodiment of the truly remote. Get lost in luxury while you explore this green desert in search of Kalahari black-maned lion, or walk with the indomitable San and understand a time gone by.
- Tau Pan has nine thatched guest rooms. © Kwando Safaris
- Now this is a special sighting: a leopard caught drinking from the pool at Tau Pan. © Kwando Safaris
- The spacious guest area at Tau Pan has expansive views. © Kwando Safaris
- It's possible to get really close to lion on game drives in the Central Kalahari. © Kwando Safaris
- Lion are often closer than you imagine in the Central Kalahari. © Kwando Safaris
- Oryx and springbok can often be seen wandering Tau Pan. © Kwando Safaris
- Tau Pan’s guest rooms have private viewing decks. © Kwando Safaris
- You might end up following a lion on your game drive from Tau Pan. © Kwando Safaris