Experience a different kind of African safari in a break-taking desert location.
One third of the earth’s landmass is covered by desert, with the largest being the sub-tropical Sahara if excluding the polar desert of the Antarctic. While many non-polar deserts are totally sand-covered, most are not. Instead, many are rocky surfaces that offer some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Apart from presenting remarkable views and photographic sunsets, desert ecosystems are home to a variety of fascinating animals and plants.
Discerning travellers can enjoy this particular experience whilst staying in elegant accommodation with world-class hospitality at any of the following desert lodges and camps.
A curious hyena pup rests in the shade © Under One Botswana Sky
With both the delta and desert safari experience, Botswana offers travellers to Africa the best of two distinct types of biomes. Under One Botswana Sky’s multiple luxury lodges and camps are scattered across the Okavango Delta to the edge of the Nxai and Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and Central Kalahari Desert.
Eat dinner al fresco at night © Under One Botswana Sky
Nata Lodge is perfectly located to take a game drive to encounter the splendid pink wash of flamingos that seem to dance across the surface of the naturally forming salt pans. While Under One Botswana Sky doesn’t have a camp within the Central Kalahari Desert Game Reserve, Nata Lodge is close enough to drive into the game reserve for good wildlife viewing opportunities. Guests should look out for the black-maned Kalahari lion that follows the migratory herds of oryx, springbok and blue wildebeest.
At Moremi Crossing, Gunn’s and Pom Pom camps, traditional mokoros or dugout canoes navigate through the vast watery plains of the delta moving quietly between smaller waterways without disturbing the elephants and antelope grazing on the banks nearby.
A cool oasis at Nata Lodge © Under One Botswana Sky
Balancing the typically ‘brown’ desert safari with the aptly named Green Desert Safari, Under One Botswana Sky has packaged the best of lush, fertile Botswana with the option of adding on the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Makgadikgadi Salt Pans and the Nxai Pan National Park. The Romantic Safari also offers a good mix of desert and delta safari experiences.
Horseback safari through the NamibRand Desert © Wolwedans Dunes Lodge
The NamibRand Nature Reserve is a privately-owned game reserve in the southern Namib Desert on the edge of the Sossusvlei salt and clay pan. The Wolwedans lodges and camps capitalise on the peace and tranquillity presented by this lesser-known desert safari destination.
Dunes Lodge blends into the desert landscape © Wolwedans Dunes Lodge
The wooden chalets of Dunes Lodge sit atop a dune plateau, which means guests get to witness the light changing over the desert as the sun makes its daily journey across the sky. For a more rustic feel but with equally amazing views, guests can bed-down in the raised tents of Dune Camp.
As one of the least light-polluted areas in the world, the NamibRand Nature Reserve is quite possibly the best place to stargaze the constellations of the Southern Hemisphere. It is known for its diverse landscapes, which includes almost all facets of the Namib Desert.
Peaceful relaxation at Dunes Camp © Wolwedans Dunes Lodge
A very special sight not to be missed is the mysterious ‘fairy circles’ found in the arid grasslands of the Namib Desert. Forming as regular patterns of bare circles outlined by hardy plants, the jury is still out on how this phenomenon occurs. As concessions to the reserve are limited, guests won’t have to share this desert safari experience with crowds of tourists.
Mount Kilimanjaro peeks above the clouds © Elewana Collection, Tortilis Camp
Where Kenya meets Tanzania, lies the Amboseli National Park and beyond it the Serengeti Plains. Tortilis Camp, which is part of the Elewana Collection, positions guests in the stomping ground of the one thousand African bush elephants which call this dry and sparsely vegetated landscape home.
The perfect view of Mount Kilimanjaro © Elewana Collection, Tortilis Camp
All accommodation types in the camp have spectacular views of Mount Kilimanjaro as well as of the 30000-acre private wildlife conservancy, Kitirua. A large part of Amboseli is the dried-up bed of an ancient Pleistocene lake, which provides a watery haven for hippos, elephants and birdlife when filled with water from the network of deep underground springs.
During open game drives and bush walks with expert guides, look out for white-bearded wildebeest as they make their annual migration accompanied by zebra and antelope. Within Amboseli live a fair number of predators, including lion, cheetah and leopard, along with 600 species of large and small birds.
Evening settles in at Tortilis Camp © Elewana Collection, Tortilis Camp
It is clearly for good reason that Amboseli is one of Kenya’s most popular national parks as it affords travellers the opportunity to encounter wildlife roaming different habitats ranging from wetlands with sulphur springs, the savannah and woodlands. A trip to Amboseli combines well with an onward journey to the Serengeti plains in Tanzania.
Wildebeest look on from a rocky desert outcrop © Tutwa Desert Lodge
In South Africa’s Northern Cape region, bordering eastern Namibia, an ancient desert found between the Green Kalahari and Orange River can be explored whilst staying at the stylish Tutwa Desert Lodge.
Guests can enjoy this magnificent desert landscape from the comfort of their private verandah and sleep soundly in a suite dressed in fine linens and cooled by air-conditioning. The sundowners following an afternoon game drive will whet your appetite for a sumptuous dinner influenced by local African flavours.
A stunning landscape surrounds Tutwa Lodge © Tutwa Lodge
Staying at Tutwa means guests can take day trips to the scenic Augrabies Falls National Park and the fields of wild flowers that bloom in the Namaqualand during springtime. During 4×4 safari drives into the Richtersveldt, Green Kalahari and Orange River, guests can look out for a wide range of antelope, baboon, black-backed jackal and a small population of the protected Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra.
Recline and unwind by the pool © Tutwa Desert Lodge
At Tutwa, guests are treated to a pristine wilderness area, which the lodge is deeply committed to protecting. It places great importance in conservation and is engaged in a leopard protection project along with other programmes that work to preserve the local ecosystem.
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