Africa is the world’s most vast, rugged, and unforgiving continent, so it’s easy to find trips that embrace its harsh nature. But, there are also myriad boutique lodges and luxury safari guides to facilitate a posh, bucket list-worthy trip that would make even David Livingstone envious.
The aptly named &Beyond is arguably Africa’s premier boutique luxury travel company. Their lodges and camps are among the continent’s most architecturally breathtaking. The design of Botswana’s Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge, for example, is inspired by the nests of golden weaver birds and the overlapping body armor of the pangolin, seamlessly woven into the fabric of the Okavango Delta’s endless papyrus reeds. The interior decor is awash in locally-sourced craftwork including traditional basketware, hand-sculpted wooden furniture, and copper-clad mekoro. In true five-star safari lodge fashion, every room is decked out with thoroughly modern amenities. Standard in all 12 rooms are fireplaces, Wi-Fi, luxurious outdoor showers, and plunge pools that overlook your own seemingly private slice of the delta. There’s even a full library, a gym, a spa, and a gourmet restaurant with a dining area anchored by a massive table carved from the root of a single ironwood tree.
But, &Beyond’s luxury lodges aren’t just about superficial beauty and high-tech trappings. They’re also situated in Africa’s most impossibly stunning destinations, including Sabi Sand Game Reserve, the Namib Desert, and Victoria Falls. Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge’s location on the banks of the Okavango Delta is no different, and the real adventure of a stay here lies off-property. The delta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with good reason — it’s the largest inland delta in the world, and it supports a staggering amount of biodiversity. The unique geography and topography mean that it’s dry for most of the year and the water never flows into any ocean or sea. When the banks flood each winter, however, it draws a massive variety of wildlife. While elephants, hippos, and giraffes are plentiful, some of the continent’s most endangered animals — African wild dogs, lions, cheetah, and black and white rhinoceroses — call the delta home as well. The lodge is ideally situated to see them all in the adjacent Moremi Game Reserve. Plus, daily excursions into the Delta include land and boat safaris, bush walks, and scenic helicopter tours over the plains.
Rates start at USD $1,140 per person per night. (Vacationing like a modern day Hemingway doesn’t come cheap …)