The best African hotel and safari openings of 2018

2018 sees a spate of exciting new hotel openings across Africa, particularly in Namibia and Rwanda, two of the continent’s current hottest destinations. Some of these are reopened lodges and camps that have undergone a major refurbishment and redesign, while others are brand-new resorts in areas without any previous luxury accommodations. Each one provides a new incentive to visit some of Africa’s most beautiful destinations. Here are some of the most intriguing openings of the year.

Shipwreck Lodge
Shipwreck Lodge in Namibia is one of 2018’s new openings.

Mombo and Little Mombo, Botswana

February 2018

These iconic Botswana lodges were recently closed for a refurb and reopened at the beginning of 2018. Located in one of the most game-rich areas of Botswana, Chief’s Island in the Okavango Delta, Mombo Camp’s nine new tented suites combine classic safari elements with luxury finishings, including deep, freestanding copper bathtubs. Across the island, connected by a raised walkway, sister camp Little Mombo comprises of just three tents and is ideal for exclusive-use bookings.

Mombo Camp, Botswana.

Four Seasons Seychelles at Desroches Island, Seychelles

March 2018

Just a 35-minute flight from Mahé, Desroches Island resort was purchased by the Four Seasons and reopened in March this year after a full renovation. There are 71 suites with private pools, including 11 private residence villas, set along these pristine Seychelles shores. The resort is the only hotel on this idyllic island, which guests can explore on bicycles, by kayak or on foot.

Four Seasons Desroches, Seychelles
The private pool of a two-bedroom villa at Four Seasons Desroches, Seychelles.

Hoanib Valley Camp, Namibia

May 2018

This six-tent camp is on the banks of the Hoanib River in Namibia. In this starkly beautiful area of southern African wilderness, it is possible to spot desert elephants, rhinos and lions. This new camp joins Natural Selection’s other Botswana and Namibia properties, including the new Shipwreck Lodge (see below).

Hoanib Valley Camp, Namibia.
Hoanib Valley Camp, Namibia.

Verney’s Camp, Zimbabwe

May 2018

Verney’s Camp is located in a 10,000-hectare private concession in an area of Hwange National Park less visited by other tourists, offering a more exclusive safari experience than other camps in the park. The 10 stilted tents overlook a waterhole frequented by the many elephants of Hwange, which is just a three-hour drive from Victoria Falls.

Verney's Camp
Communal dining at Verney’s Camp, Hwange National Park.

Singita Pamushana, Zimbabwe

May 2018

Singita Pamushana reopened in May this year after a major refurb and redesign, losing its bold colour palette of red, black, yellow and green to a subtler one of white, beige, copper and gold. A new corner section of the communal deck area opens up a panoramic view of the Malilangwe Dam, over which the lodge is positioned. Two new two-bedroom villas bring the accommodation count to nine, including the five-bedroom villa, which will be refurbished separately, later in 2018.

Singita Pamushana.
The pool at Singita Pamushana.

Serra Cafema Camp, Namibia

September 2018

A truly remote Namibian camp, Serra Cafema is located on the banks of the Kunene River. The eight chalets are elevated and covered in thatch, their interiors simple but stylish with muted, natural tones of brown, tan and sage-green. The area is known for its semi-nomadic, distinctive-looking Himba tribe. As well as meeting some of the Himba people and learning about their culture, you can explore the area on quad bikes, nature walks and boat trips.

Serra Cafema
Quad biking around Serra Cafema, Namibia.

Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia

June 2018

Shipwreck Lodge lives up to its name, designed in the image of the many wrecks strewn along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, a notoriously dangerous coastline for the sailors of past centuries. The ten standalone cabins, dotted along the beach, are snug inside, with an abstract shipwreck design. Come here for the sense of wilderness, for spotting desert lions and elephants, climbing hulking sand dunes and admiring the wild, wind-swept Atlantic coastline.

Shipwreck Lodge
Shipwreck Lodge, Namibia.

Zuri Zanzibar Hotel & Resort, Tanzania

July 2018

A new Design Hotel, Zuri Zanzibar is on the north coast of the island, designed in a ‘barefoot luxury’ style and with its own private beach. The 54 villas have thatched roofs and comfy yet stylish interiors favouring natural materials and tones, with hammocks slung up on the terraces. There are two onsite bars, a restaurant and a pool.

Zuri Zanzibar
Zuri Zanzibar, a new Design Hotel.

Morukuru Beach Lodge, South Africa

July 2018

In stunning De Hoop Nature Reserve, about three hours’ drive outside Cape Town, Morukuru Beach House is a kilometre from the exclusive-use Morukuru Ocean House, with five suites for individual bookings. The eco-hotel overlooks De Hoop’s white sand dunes and the Indian Ocean – a prime whale-watching spot, particularly from June to October.

Morukuru Beach Lodge
Morukuru Beach Lodge, De Hoop Nature Reserve.

Mpala Jena, Zimbabwe

August 2018

The newest Great Plains Conservation lodge, Mpala Jena, is located about an hour outside Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwean bank of the mighty Zambezi River in Zambezi National Park. Whilst close enough to the iconic falls for guests to easily visit, it is also far enough away to feel like a safari lodge in a more remote area of Africa.

Victoria Falls
Mpala Jena is an hour away from Victoria Falls, on the banks of the Zambezi River.

One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda

October 2018 

Opening at the beginning of October, Nyungwe House is the first of two Rwanda openings for the One&Only brand this year. This working tea plantation lodge will be the sister property to Gorilla’s Nest, slated to open later in the year (see below). From Nyungwe House, you can go chimpanzee tracking, hiking and mountain biking, before returning to unwind in the open-air spa.

Nyungwe House, Rwanda
One&Only Nyungwe House, Rwanda.

Magashi Camp, Rwanda

December 2018

This is Wilderness Safaris’ second property in Rwanda, their first being the wildly popular Bisate Lodge, a gorilla trekking ecolodge in Volcanoes National Park. Magashi is in Akagera National Park, which has been managed and restored by the international conservation group African Parks. They have successfully reintroduced the Big Five back into the area and the camp will allow ecotourism to sustain their conservation initiatives. Update: The opening of Magashi Camp has been delayed until May 2019.

Magashi Camp
Rendering of the new Magashi Camp.

Cheetah Plains, South Africa

December 2018

Sabi Sand safari lodge Cheetah Plains has undergone an extensive and lavish transformation. There are three, exclusive-use ‘bush homes’, each with two lounges, a wine cellar, an outdoor boma, a heated pool and a private game vehicle. Each villa has its own private chef and an excellent wine selection.

Cheetah Plains
A rendering of the refurbished Cheetah Plains lodge.

One&Only Gorilla’s Nest Lodge, Rwanda

late 2018

In the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, One&Only’s gorilla trekking lodge will have 22 tented suites, a restaurant using locally grown, organic produce and a spa with African-influenced treatments. Its opening date is still loosely set, so expect the lodge to open between late 2018 and the first half of 2019. Update: The opening of Gorilla’s Nest Lodge has now been pushed back to some point in 2019 – exact date TBC.

Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda.

Check out our list of the most exciting African hotel and lodge openings of 2019.

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