The Big Five takes centre stage in unrivalled wildlife encounters, but we want to focus on the big cats of Africa and the enviable elements of luxury travel. In the bygone days of the original safari travellers, they put a strong emphasis on bringing the luxurious creature comforts with them, on their journeys through the African bush. Even champagne glasses had their place on the packing checklist. Today, the luxury element has only been further enhanced and with big cat sightings that are guaranteed to keep you in a state of awe, these are our top choices for a truly luxurious big cat safari:
Chitwa Chitwa-Sabi Sands Game Reserve-South Africa
The Sabi Sands Game Reserve has a well earned reputation for being one of the best places in the world to get as close as possible to leopards and is a prestigious game reserve. The sightings here are simply unparalleled. The Sabi Sands Game Reserve is situated in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park, famed Big 5 country. No fences means the animals roam uninhabited and free.
Chitwa Chitwa is our chosen property when tracking leopards and prides of lions in the Sabi Sands and it embodies the luxury safari feel. It is boldly opulent, decorated in the modernised decor of black, beige and silver, while its exterior still harmoniously blends itself into the beauty of the natural surroundings. Its stylish infinity pool provides a welcome relief from the high African bush temperatures and overlooks one of the largest lakes in the reserve. Water in Africa equates to life and you’ll relish the sightings from this relaxing platform.
Duba Plains Camp-Duba Plains-Botswana
Bots, as its affectionately called, is home to the famous Okavango Delta, one of the most remote locations in the world. Built in the northern reaches of the Okavango Delta, you’ll find Duba Plains Camp, a beacon of luxury in this untamed land. On your luxury big cat safari, lion takes precedence here. Duba lions are estimated to be 15% larger than other lions and with thousands of resident buffalo, safari thrill seekers are often witnesses to predator-prey interactions.
Meru-style tents with indoor solar powered showers, private decks and plunge pools provide the luxury comfort after game drive adrenaline subsides. High ceilings and big windows allows nature to make its presence felt even when inside. Only six of these luxury tents, under a canopy of African ebony trees, makes for a classic luxury big cat safari.
Lemala Kuria Hills-Serengeti-Tanzania
East Africa is often described as the best destination for viewing big cats. It is home to approximately more than half of Africa’s lion population and its not uncommon to see more than 100 individual lions in the Serengeti in a day. It’s not only the lion that draws in the big cat lovers, there are remarkable leopard areas, the Serengeti Plains for cheetah and frequent serval and caracal sightings.
In the Northern part of the Serengeti National Park sits Lemala Kuria Hills. This tented safari camp is where you will be spoilt with decadent spa treatments, an underground wine cellar or spend a night in the ‘star bed’, keeping a look out for shooting stars.
Kanga Camp-Mana Pools-Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools is a wonderful lion area and you can even have the chance to spot them on a walking safari (a speciality of Kanga Camp). Mana Pools is not for the faint of heart and is considered one of the wildest areas in Africa. Leopard numbers are high here, and straying a moment away from the big cats, wild dog sightings are top quality. Kanga Camp packages the elements of luxury, seclusion and intimacy with a slight slant on the raw experience of camping in the African bush.
Zambia’s South Luangwa has excellent lion and leopard numbers during the dry season, when the vegetation is more open on the river. The behaviour of the big cats is fairly predictable, making it easy to track them down. Chinzombo has been pegged as luxury as you’ve never experienced it before. Its location, right next to the Luangwa River, makes it the ideal choice. Minimalist design and using natural building materials gives it an air of tranquil opulence.