Southern Africa’s Luxury Bush Camps (24.04.14)
One of the most exciting aspects of the developing international tourist industry is the overwhelming rise in high quality holiday accommodation. Even as specialists in guiding clients in search of that ‘something special’, we at Nomadic Thoughts are often taken aback at the array of extraordinary accommodation options.
From ice-hotels, ancient castles and heritage palaces to intimate hideaways, luxury wilderness camps and private islands, the phenomenal range of options is thrilling.
It’s certainly a far cry from the ‘quality hotel/lodge’ options available two or three decades ago. The difference nowadays is that modern technology, which affects logistics, accessibility and service, is matched by a more relaxed political freedom and the aspirations of today’s traveller, whose demands have resulted in the development of an opportunistic and truly diverse market place for luxury tourism.
Since the early days of Nomadic Thoughts we have seen the effects of globalisation dramatically change both the international tourist, and the international tourist destination. To the point that ‘remote’ no longer means ‘poor’ and ‘other side of the world’ no longer implies ‘difficult to access’.
Nowhere is this more relevant than in Africa. As a continent it is blessed with some of the world’s largest wilderness areas, often thousands of miles from a city. Indeed the sheer remoteness of Africa’s inland areas is best illustrated by images taken from space at night (ref’ my blog: ‘Darkest Africa, Black Marble & Space Travel’).
Southern Africa, with its numerous national parks and wildlife reserves, leads the field in remote, luxury, top-of-the-range wilderness properties. All this, combined with the region’s high regard for eco-tourism and relative political stability, provides an opportunity which needs to be experienced to be believed. Stay in a small, remote and unique luxury camp, lodge or tree-house and the rest of the world will fade away. The peace and jaw-dropping isolation of a middle-of-nowhere safari experience is hugely enhanced by stunning camp design and exemplary standard of service, with delightful cuisine and highly professional staff.
As these photos (which I took recently whilst travelling in southern Africa) illustrate, the standard of luxury in a tented camp is astonishingly high, especially when you factor in the remoteness of so many properties – which often cater for only a dozen or so clients. Earlier this month, while staying in a fabulous ten-roomed camp – positioned less than 100 miles from five countries’ borders (Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Angola and Zambia) – I was agog to learn how complicated the logistics system, combining aircraft, boats, trucks and 4x4s, was in bringing the supplies, personnel and clients to such a remote and beautiful area. Once there, the camp’s skill in supplying luxurious accommodation – with staff to guest ratios often higher than 10 to 1 – is matched by their ability to safely engage guests in what is truly a wild and untouched wilderness environment. I could smell the hippos bathing outside my tent, as well as hear the roar of a nearby pride of lions.
So if you have the opportunity to clear your diary I recommend getting the maps out and letting us explain where, when and how best to plan an escape into southern Africa’s luxury wilderness areas. The treat of waking up in an open-air four-poster-bed with dawn chorus of birds, elephants, and baboons at sunrise, is a magical as enjoying a sundowner with blowing hippos as they accompany a deafening frog orchestra.
Southern Africa has after all over a thousand species of birds, 34 national parks and reserves and an inexhaustible supply of local flora and fauna. Ready and waiting.