Architecturally Amazing Safari Lodges

By Sarah Gold November 17, 2019

There’s a marvellous and timeless romance to the classically styled, tented safari camp—especially when it’s appointed in sumptuous luxury, like many of Micato’s partner properties throughout Eastern and Southern Africa. Very recently, though, a handful of safari lodges have been offering a new sort of aesthetic to their guests—one that combines the majesty of Africa’s wildlife and landscapes with striking, architect-designed accommodations.

Here are a few such properties where Micato guests can opt to stay.

Cheetah Plains, Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa

cheetah plains
Set within the 250-square-mile sanctuary of Sabi Sand Game Reserve—which borders, and shares wildlife with, Kruger National Park—Cheetah Plains debuted in early 2019 with a design that radically diverged from that of traditional safari lodges. First, rather than embracing the typical collection of private sleeping quarters united by a single communal gathering area, Cheetah Plains emphasizes a more private experience. The property comprises three separate, palatial, individually booked “Plains Houses,” each of which comes with its own dining room and chef, lounge areas, heated lap pool, and a cluster of freestanding sleeping villas for parties of up to eight. Additionally, all components of these three “Plains Houses” have been built in a sleekly modern style that the architects (the Cape Town-based firm ARRCC) call “Afro-minimalist”— featuring open-plan spaces with floors and walls of raw stone and sustainably sourced wood, slick furnishings punctuated by colourful contemporary African artworks, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer gorgeous views of the surrounding landscape (and its wild inhabitants).

Bisate Lodge, Parc Nacional des Volcans, Rwanda

Wilderness Safaris Bisate Lodge

Built high in the amphitheatre-like remnants of an extinct volcanic cone, and overlooking the rainforest-clad peaks of Volcanoes National Park, the 2018-built Bisate Lodge showcases design that, at first, seems to have grown organically out of the lush surrounding landscape. Created by Johannesburg-based architects Nicholas Plewman and Associates, the property features six elevated woven “nests” that echo both the traditional thatched dome of the King’s Palace of Butare and the aeries of local weaverbirds. The interiors of these basket-like villas, however, are a marvel of modern comfort. Each contains two adjoining, spherical rooms that meet around a central volcanic-stone fireplace; a bathroom with a lavish soaking tub; furnishings incorporating Rwandan textiles and imigongo-style geometric patterns; and a private deck providing sweeping views over the nearby volcanoes of Karisimbi, Bisoke, and Mikeno. The surrounding 62-square-mile preserve, where legendary primatologist Dian Fossey conducted her research, is home to a dozen habituated groups of spectacular Mountain Gorillas.

Shipwreck Lodge, Skeleton Coast, Namibia

Shipwreck Lodge

Inspired by the numerous shipwrecks that punctuate Namibia’s forbidding, starkly beautiful stretch of Atlantic coastline, Shipwreck Lodge, when it opened in mid-2018, was lauded for both its exceedingly light environmental footprint and its singular design. The solar-powered property encompasses 10 separate timber-clad chalets perched atop a stand of dunes; they overlook both the 310-mile-long, seal-colony-punctated shore and the sere Namib desert, home to hardy desert-adapted elephants, giraffe, and lions. Envisioned by Windhoek-based architect Nina Maritz, the cabins—and the larger communal gathering area—evoke the hulls of stranded boats, with curved wood-plank walls, round porthole-style windows, snug built-in furnishings and cozy woodstoves to keep the chilly ocean breezes at bay. At night, the lit-up row of bungalows cast a cheery glow, illuminating the lonely landscape.

A Micato safari can be customized to incorporate your choice of lodgings—from elegant luxury tented camps to stately estates to one-of-a-kind architecturally dazzling gems. Contact one of our planning experts, and start designing your perfect safari adventure.

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