African Luxury Safaris are evolving to fit into the Modern World

African safaris have been around for a long time, and while it has evolved from a purely trading/hunting activity to one that focuses on observing/studying animals and nature in their natural habitat, luxury safaris only really began in the 70s-80s. Its major distinguishing feature was the incorporation of modern comforts and activities in modern settings, but now, this is about to change.

The suites at West Midland have an open plan living room
Traditional luxury African safaris concentrated on incorporating modern comforts and activities. Image courtesy of West Midland Park

In the last decade or so, luxury African safaris have made a subtle move from fully-fitted thatched tents to truly luxurious lodges featuring wooden facades. However, this is just one of the numerous changes this niche is undergoing . If you’re booked on one of such safaris, here are some transformations to look out for

Contemporary, innovative designs

For a long time, African safari lodges were designed to imitate their surroundings. Interiors featured earthy colour palettes, and even furniture took inspiration from the surrounding flora and fauna.

The baobab suite at the Royal portfolio is part of the luxury african safaris evolving to modern tastes
African luxury safaris are infusing more vibrant, natural colours into their lodges. Image courtesy of the Royal Portfolio

Today, the interiors of luxury safari lodges range from colourful — like the Waterside House at the Royal Melewane designed by Liz Biden and featuring natural (but non-traditional) colours such as the electric blue of a malachite kingfisher, the dusty pink of an impala lily and the burnt orange of a Lebombo aloe – to stylish modern — like the newly revamped AndBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge in Tanzania built on a frame of light-gauge steel covered in natural textures of rough canvas, banana fibre and sustainably-sourced local hardwoods.

Then there is the Baobab Safari lodge, a concept designed by MASK Architects that puts sustainability at the front and heart of the safari experience. Each modular lodge, whose design is inspired by the ancient baobab tree, is capable of producing its own water through an ‘Air to Water’ technology that converts humidity from the surrounding atmosphere to water using solar energy.

Modern ‘green’ technology
The Baobab luxury safari by MASK Architects
Luxury African Safari concepts are evolving to be more green and sustainble. Image courtesy of MASK Architects

When it comes to incorporating greenhouse gas emission reducing tech, African luxury safaris are the leaders on the continent. An increasing number of these safaris are ditching diesel vehicles for solar-powered rides, while others run solely on solar energy, like Botswana’s Xigera Safari Lodge.

Increased and creative inclusion of the local community

It has always been the case that safari lodges would source for raw materials and even furniture from the community they are situated in. Luxury safari lodges these days are doing more to incorporate the works of local artisans, artists and other professionals.

The Singita art gallery is one of the ways luxury african safaris are evolving
Other luxury African safaris are exploring creative ways to include the surrounding local communities in their projects. Image courtesy of Singita

In 2022, Singita debuted its premier art galleries, first at the Singita Sabi Sand safari resort and later at the Singita Kruger National Park, to “celebrate Africa’s rich cultural heritage, its unique places and people, and the beautiful stories and experiences that have shaped who they are.”

Others, like the Molori Safari in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve, continue to feature more works from local artisans in creative ways. Working with five South African artists, designer Andrea Kleinloog reinterpreted their artwork as colourful rugs which in turn were woven by a local textile mill.

The Athi Patra Ruga rug at the Molelo lounge in Rora Molori
Art has always been a big part of the luxury safari experience, but these days, it has found more creative uses. Image courtesy of the Rora Molori Safari

African luxury safaris would continue to be a top vacation idea for just about anybody looking to do more than sit back and relax for days. Be ready, however, to enjoy more than the wildlife, the scenery or the experience of a new culture.

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