3 Ultra-Luxury African Retreats Redefine 2024’s Wildlife Safari Experience

From waking up to giraffes outside your window to private plunge pools with views of the Masai Mara– safari lodges that break away from the archetypal canvas-style glamps.

  • 21 Jun '24
  • 2:53 pm by Satarupa Datta

Thousands of wildebeest and other herbivores embark on the longest journey every year across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem in search of rain-rich grasslands. The epic, wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Crater reserve and the rippling golden plains of the Serengeti see the largest congregation of wildebeests, zebras, and others that make the 1,200-mile oval circuit in search of food and water. This annual migration in East Africa‘s sprawling plains, seen as the largest overland mammal migration, is popularly referred to as the Great Migration. Following this spectacle, Africa‘s top predators join the trail with their watchful eyes to partake in a special hunting event.

While the migration of wildebeests and zebras is the most impressive sight, along with spotting the ‘big five’, the endless plains, fantastic clouds over the snow-capped Kilimanjaro, and kaleidoscopic shades of East Africa woo wildlife enthusiasts.  We found that some of the best ways to experience the endless expanse of African savannah with unobstructed open views is when paired with organic food, and comfortable stays while being one with nature. DP picks contemporary safari retreats in Tanzania and Kenya for wildlife enthusiasts that break away from traditional mobile African glamps. Some of these spots include sightings of lions stretching out across a river bank or the leopard on a tree top putting his eagle eyes to good use. 

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Fusing floor-to-ceiling glass windows, canvas roofs, sweeping decks, and parquet flooring adds a glamorous touch to these functional African Glamps.. ( Image Credit: Angama Mara)
  1. Angama Mara Sits Mid-Air With Panoramic Views Of Maasai Mara 

Floating mid-air, the tented suites guarantee a front-row seat to the plains of Mara, with a lingering gaze that stretches for miles. Perched on an escarpment, the 700-hectare site comprises two unfenced camping grounds with thirty tented suites and views reminiscent of scenes from ‘Out Of Africa,’ the Meryl Streep starrer shows her in the role of a baroness managing a coffee farm in British Kenya. In reality, many scenes from the movie were filmed at Angama Mara. The high-end tented suites have an extended wooden deck that hangs above the valley. Designed by Architects Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens and interior designer Annemarie Meintjes, the interiors exude a contemporary charm, offering 180-degree views of the African savannah from every space. Whether lying in bed or enjoying a soak in the standalone tub, the experience is unparalleled. 

The meet-and-greet area is called the ‘Baraza’, a circular-shaped lounge with dramatic views overlooking the Maasai Mara ideal for a sundowner. (Image Credit: Angama Mara)

Mornings start with a hot-air balloon safari over the Maasai Mara, followed by a game drive. A private road takes you down to the Mara Triangle in 10 minutes—putting you at the centre of the action. Maasai Mara is one of Africa‘s biggest draws and a pivotal stop to sight lions, leopards, cheetahs, the rare black rhino, and a thriving herd of elephants. There are Maasai-led walking safaris, too. A reverential part of Angama Mara’s hospitality is serving food at gorgeous locations–in-suite breakfast on the balcony deck, lunch or tea by the poolside at the Pavilion, and lantern-lit forest dinners. Is it the thrilling safari, the enchanting sundowner at the Pavilion, or the mesmerizing warrior dance of the Masai tribe inside the Boma that stands out? It’s hard to pick just one memorable experience. 

A game drive into the Mara Triangle sets you up close to the season’s massive animal herds from the Great Migration and with the occasional visit from a black-maned lion. (Image Credit: Angma Mara)

​​DP loves the elegant Tented Suites, designed to capitalise on stunning views of the Maasai Mara and the sounds of the wild reverberating across the valley. 

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The log-inspired suite is a mishmash of canvas walls and banana fibre ceilings featuring a private plunge pool. (Image Credit: andBeyond)
  1. andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge Is An Oasis By The River In Tanzania’s Remote Wilderness

andBeyond Grumeti River Lodge has a unique hold on visitors the moment they head up to the luxury suite by the Grumeti River. The river by the luxury suites attracts abundant wildlife and extends private game viewing for wildlife lovers. Designed by Fox Brown Creative, the stylish log cabin-inspired suites feature canvas walls, while the circular banana fibre ceilings honour the traditional ‘Masai Manyatta,’ a native dwelling of the tribe. Inspired by the winding river below, these ten suites are designed as if they are floating above the terrain, each boasting an exclusive plunge pool.

Drawn on the cultural homesteads of the Maasai people the bathroom is decked out in all wood with a show-stopping standalone tub. (Image Credit: and beyond)

For those with large families on an African safari adventure, the Family Suite, featuring a smaller children’s bedroom, is best for enjoying quality time with kids after every game drive. Meals can be enjoyed on the extensive deck overlooking the river watching the resident hippo grunting in the tranquil pools. The dining space opens up to a traditional African boma, where dinner is served underneath a billion stars. Besides its spectacular natural setting, the resort organizes two expert-led game drives daily in the pristine section of the Serengeti, allowing for an intimate and exclusive safari experience. They also offer a walking safari inside the world-famous Serengeti National Park which is ideal for avid birders and keen photographers. Call for an in-suite wellness treatment at sundown, and save the nights for star gazing and astronomy lessons.

A pool dinner is accompanied by catching sights of the resident hippos playing with water and other unexpected wildlife sightings. (Image Credit: and beyond)

DP loves the pan-African dining experience surrounded by the warm glow of a traditional boma fire.

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The luxury tents don a classic safari aesthetic fusing natural textures, dark wood, deep leather and luxe finishings. ( Image credit: andBeyond)
  1. At andBeyond Balateau Camp Bed Curl Up In The Forests Of Masai Mara

The Balateau Camp is an oasis of luxury against an astonishing landscape brimming with Masai’s astounding year-round concentration of animals, including the seasonal Great Wildebeest Migration. This experience includes waking up to a family of giraffes moving along outside your cabins in oblivion, and herds of wildebeest and elephants are commonplace. Chances are, between the green, one can spot the blazing yellow, a lion, not ready to surrender his basking site. Nestled in this private corner of Masai Mara, andBeyond Balateau has two intimate camps of nine luxury tents each and a luxury family tent exclusively for larger safari-lover families. All of these camps come with a private butler and housekeeper. 

A bush dinner under the star-studded skies in the vast expanse of Balateau Camp’s ground is a quintessential African experience. (Image Credit: andBeyond)

Designed by Fox Brown Creatives, the canvas suites draw inspiration from nature with organic shapes, natural textures, and earthy-hued accents chosen for the interiors.  The intimate tented camp offers modern luxuries, such as two pools with magnificent views over the plains, a massage sala, a bar by night and café by day, a safari shop celebrating Kenyan high-end fashion, and a gym. Between all the superlatives, the biggest draw is the game drive experience amid gently rolling hills and wide open plains. The Great Wildebeest Migration passes through the Mara for approximately three months each year, and viewing a kill in the season is a routine sight. Game drives may last a couple of hours to the whole day, followed by a picnic lunch on the open ground. An unforgettable experience, the dining options only add to the splendour, whether it is at one of the many alfresco-style dining locations at Balateau camp, the outdoor boma dinner space at South Camp or the extended deck lit-up lantern area at North Camp– it will be spectacular. These paired with a fascinating guided bush walk or thrilling night drives complete the Savannah experience.

The private deck of the tents rewards unbroken views of the grassy plains of Masai Mara with a delectable breakfast. (Image Credit: andBeyond)

DP loves the Bateleur Camp’s dramatic setting in the forest on the edge of the Masai Mara.

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Often one encounters heart-in-mouth moments in an African safari when a lioness crosses the path with her entourage of tiny tots. (Image Credit: andBeyond)

These handpicked African retreats in unique locations attune visitors to living out their wildlife documentary dreams. These suites come with cultural immersion tours, private game drives accompanied by experts and other experiences that delight at every turn. The Great Migration starts this July, so now would be a good time to pick up that telephoto lens and safari gear for an intimate safari on the private grounds of the African wilderness.