Africa Under Canvas: The Best Luxury Tents in Africa

An African luxury tent safari is not merely a vacation; it’s a rendezvous with the untamed, a journey into the heart of nature's grandeur. And what better way to immerse oneself in this raw, unbridled beauty than through the lens of a luxury tented camp? These canvas sanctuaries offer an unparalleled experience, where luxury meets wilderness, and the soul of Africa whispers through every fold of fabric blowing in the wind.

The Allure of Tented Camps

Tented safaris originated in Kenya during the 1920s and ‘30s and have evolved into an iconic emblem of Africa's wildlife safari landscape. Staying in an African safari tent amid the wilderness isn't just about a place to sleep; it's about surrendering to the rhythm of nature. Here, the sounds of prowling lions and the scent of acacia trees feel closer, more vivid, stirring a primal connection to the earth.

Singita Mara River Tented Camp

Contrary to misconceptions, today's top luxury tented camps are everything but roughing it in a neon coloured, polyester ‘dome tent'. Rather, think Hemingway-esque mobile safari setups and expansive, multi-room tented suites boasting private plunge pools and sturdy polished wooden floors. So much more than Africa safari glamping and with an incredibly wide range of options and destinations, these camps marry the romance of a bygone era with modern comforts through a seamless blend of opulence and authenticity.

Those looking for an even more authentic way of exploring the magic of Africa, have the option of choosing a mobile tented camp, or even a “fly camp”: set up for a night or two at a time, before moving onto the next, true wilderness beneath the start-studded African sky! Touching the earth as lightly as possible, yet experiencing it more deeply than ever, a mobile tented camp safari is our top-recommended option for anyone wanting to know Africa at its purest.

Barclay Stenner, Okvango Delta - Botwsana: the epitome of authentic mobile tented safaris?

Africa's Finest Tented Camps: Our Pick!

Embarking on a luxury tented safari is a voyage of discovery, and Africa boasts a myriad of camps catering to diverse preferences. And if you have a destination or specific occasion in mind, we’ve got you covered too! Here's a quick overview of our top destinations featuring luxury tented camps in Africa:

  • The Wilds of Zambia: A unique and exciting itinerary that journeys to the very heart of Zambia's best wilderness areas.
  • Spectacular Kenya: Spectacular game viewing combined with unique cultural experiences with the Maasai and Samburu people.
  • Bucket-list East Africa: Explore East Africa's incredibly diverse habitats, from the tallest mountains, vast, rolling savannas to impenetrable forests.
  • Tanzania's Timeless Tale: Magical sights steeped in elegant luxury, explore Tanzania's finest landscapes teeming with wildlife and endless sights.
  • Wetlands and Waterfalls: Africa’s Last Eden, “The [Delta’s] very existence in the middle of the Kalahari Desert is nothing short of miraculous . . . like a dream.”
  • The Red Dunes of Namibia: Be enveloped by the utter beauty of Sossusvlei's giant red sand dunes, the endless Skeleton Coast and the lush oases around the Kunene River.

Explorer-Style Tented Camps

For those who don’t need fine dining, air-conditioning, or a heated swimming pool, but still crave a luxurious tented safari experience. An explorer style tented camp embodies the essence of vintage safari adventures, reminiscent of the expeditions undertaken by early explorers in Africa. These camps evoke a sense of nostalgia and romance, exuding the rustic charm of vintage exploration and transporting you to a bygone era of discovery and adventure.

Duke's Camp, an eco-haven in the Okavango Delta, Botswana

Tented camps are made up of canvas tents on raised platforms, replicating the accommodations used by early explorers and offering a connection to the surrounding wilderness while providing comfort and security. The interior of the tents is often adorned with antique furnishings, such as wooden trunks, brass lanterns, and campaign-style furniture. Persian rugs, colonial-era maps, and vintage photographs further enhance a sense of the bygone era of exploration. Often situated in remote wilderness areas, far from the beaten path, the seclusion adds to the sense of adventure and allows travellers a tranquil and undisturbed safari experience away from the crowds.

If all of this sounds right up your alley, we recommend visiting San Camp, a romantic camp with billowing white tents shaded by desert palms, on the edge of Botswana's Makgadikgadi pans. If it’s an eco-oasis you are looking for, Duke's Camp is one of the newest and most exciting camps to open in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, running totally on solar power. For those looking for the tented camp experience, but with a secure roof and private plunge pools, Sasaab in Samburu, Kenya is your destination! Further south, in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Wilderness Mombo offers a harmonious blend of luxury and wilderness immersion, with unparalleled game viewing and opulent living spaces.

Sasaab in Samburu, Kenya

Destination and Occasion Africa Safari Glamping

Looking for a special occasion destination or a bucket-list safari experience? Camps like Singita Mara River Tented Camp offer front-row seats to nature's greatest spectacle, the Great Wildebeest Migration. A unique offering on the Serengeti plains, the brand-new Wilderness Usawa Serengeti follows the year-round migration. Anticipating the herd movements, two camps will be set up as close to the migration as possible at any given time. In fact, choosing mobile tented camps is one of the best ways of experiencing the Great Migration, as many camps in Tanzania’s Serengeti and Kenya’s Masai Mara move with the herds.

Wilderness Usawa Serengeti following the year-round Great Migration

For honeymooners seeking seclusion and romance, destinations like Little Chem Chem or Singita Sabora in Tanzania provide intimate settings amid Africa's breathtaking landscapes. The Singita experience is synonymous with ultimate luxury & service, and the tented camp of Singita Sabora is no different. Set in the western corridor of the Serengeti, Singita Grumeti gives guests exclusive access to the Serengeti Mara ecosystem – the renowned migratory route of the Great Migration. Xigera Safari Camp in Botswana lays cocooned by the boughs of indigenous forests and gazes out over seasonal Okavango floodplains teeming with wildlife.

Bisate in Rwanda, enuinely luxurious and eco-sensitive safari accommodation

Those looking for the most unique tented camp in Africa, visit Bisate in Rwanda, where uniquely-shaped, wooden and thatched forest villas make up a genuinely luxurious and eco-sensitive safari accommodation, centred on Africa’s most immersive wild primate experience. And for the real-deal remoteness in utter luxury, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is the destination for you. With an extremely low population density, this valley is one of the last true wilderness areas in Namibia and one of the last settlements of desert elephants.

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, remote desert luxury.

The Great Plains of East Africa aren’t the only destination where mobile safari camps add that extra je-ne-sais-quoi: Barclay Stenner offers private Okavango Delta safaris under canvas, designed to make the most of seasonal conditions and wildlife moments, not being geographically restricted to one area or camp concession. Want to stay an extra night to make the most out of time spent with that charismatic pride of lions? Done! Keen to follow that elephant herd along the waterways of the delta? No problem! A mobile tented camp will allow you to do all of that, and more… Why not journey along the Kweene River system adjacent to the Sandveld tongue in the Western Okavango Delta, in the ultra-remote and exclusive paradise of Beagle Expeditions - Kweene Trails, accessible only by helicopter? Anything is possible!

Beagle Expeditions - Kweene Trails: true remoteness, accessible only by helicopter

The intimacy and homeliness of a tented camp, with communal mess tents where simply sumptuous homely feasts are taken after being prepared over a campfire in front of you, screams nothing short of family safari. Camps like Jao Camp in the Okavango Delta or Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi ensure unforgettable experiences for all ages, blending adventure with comfort and safety. Both camps have the option of tented accommodation, as well as safari suites accommodating up to four guests. With just three suites and two 2-bedroom family suites, the intimate camp of Mara Nyiko is the ideal family vantage point to explore the Masai Mara region of Kenya. Tucked away beneath the dappled shade of an Acacia grove, overlooking the golden plains of Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, Somalisa Acacia welcomes children of all ages and accommodates a maximum of 12 guests, in 2 luxury family units and 2 luxury sail tents.

A herd of elephants drinks in front of Little Chem Chem, Tanzania

And what of those craving an even more intimate encounter with nature? Camps like Pafuri Trails Camp in South Africa, Wayo Walking Safaris Camp in Tanzania, Kutali Camp & Chula Island Camp, Zambia or Zambezi Expeditions in Zimbabwe offer exquisite guided walking safaris, allowing you to connect with the African bush on foot, as well as through the tented camp experience.

Walking with elephants at Chiawa Camp in Lower Zambezi

Africa's best tented camps aren't just places to rest your head; they're portals to a world where the wild reigns supreme and every moment is infused with wonder. Whether you seek romance, adventure, or simply a retreat from the mundane, these camps offer a canvas upon which to paint your most unforgettable safari memories. So, pack your sense of adventure and embark on a journey under the African sky—where luxury meets wilderness, and every night is a symphony of stars.

Let's make it reality!

When you're ready to start designing your African tented safari, and experience the realness of the African wilderness tailored to your needs and wants, contact us to book or plan a FREE exploration call.

Written by Evelyn Poole

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