Couch Safaris: 7 Top lodges where the animals come to you

2019-06-11 05:30 - Gabi Zietsman
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Who says you need to go on a game drive to do a safari?

Known as a 'couch' or 'sofa' safari, this term is applied to wildlife lodges that are just a little extra when it comes to getting you closer to nature. 

They normally have specially-located watering holes and views right on your villa or chalet's doorstep, where you can relax and view animals the whole day without having to move an inch.

These kinds of holiday experiences are perfect for photographers who love waiting around for the perfect shot, and those who are less keen on getting up early during their time off to make it to the morning drive. 

Here are a few of South Africa, and the rest of the continent's, top places to book your next sofa safari.

Mhondoro Safari Lodge and Villa, Welgevonden Game Reserve

You might have heard of them - this is the place where elephants drink from their salty swimming pools, making for one extra selfie. At just the right height for their thirsty trunks, the lodge and villa pools have become a favourite watering hole.

One of the key attractions of Mhondoro is its ingenious watering hole built at eye-level. Far in the front of the lodge, it's accessed by walking a 65-metre underground tunnel which lights up with each step, its walls lined with photos taken of its four-legged visitors.

WATCH: The 5-star lodge where elephants drink out of the pool

The Hide, Hwange National Park

Situated in Zimbabwe's most popular wildlife reserve, The Hide's accommodation includes private tents overlooking watering holes, all surrounded by the park's wildlife, with lots of opportunities to see the animals roaming at night.

It's most popular accommodation is The Dove's Nest - a treehouse-tent with exceptional views across the pans, as if you're royalty surveying your very own kingdom.

Tintswalo at Lapalala Wilderness

Encounter nature and view game as you quietly indulge in the closeness of the outdoors in a tented room, connected via elevated wooden walkways. Completely private, here you really feel like the bush is yours. It offers you luxury under the zero-light-polluted sky.

As you wake up for your middle-of-the-night loo break, you may hear impala rutting into the night. The family-friendly lodge can accommodate a total of 16 adults and four children and comprises of seven luxury tented suites with private plunge pools, fireplaces and en-suite bathrooms, some with outdoor baths and showers. 

ALSO WATCH: See the other Big 5 at the Waterberg's Lapalala Wilderness

Mfuwe Lodge, South Luangwa National Park

This Zambian lodge is famous the world over for the elephants that walk right through its reception lobby. When it was built back in 1998, the owners didn't realise they were building across a traditional elephant path, and the giants just kept walking right through.

To catch the spectacle, the herd normally travels through the lodge's reception every year from late-October to mid-December to get to the delicious fruit growing on Mfuwe's grounds.

Jamala Madikwe Safari Lodge, Madikwe Game Reserve

The luxury lodge is designed to give the best views from all of their five exclusive villas, with expansive views from their wooden decks. The lodge looks out across to a watering hole and grande Savannah.

The lodge is also well-known for their African-inspired cuisine, and what better way to watch the animals go by with a delicious meal filling your being with spicy aromas. 

SEE: Put on your khakis - 5 top wildlife destinations in Africa to visit now

Onguma The Fort, Etosha National Park

Not only can you watch animals from its various decks, The Fort also offers one of the most beautiful bush sunset experiences, the view decorated with camelthorn trees and tranquil animals.

Its design might look a little out of place - instead of the traditional lodge design, you might more like you have escaped to Morocco or India, its sand-dusted walls inspiring visions of sultans and their menagerie of exotic animals.

The Ark, Aberdare National Park

The quirky Ark in Kenya is made up of an array of balconies and decks at varying levels, giving you the opportunity to spot animals from every angle. 

Similar to Mhondoro, The Ark also has an eye-level watering hole bunker for those perfect photos, as animals treat themselves to a very tasty salt-lick. 

QUICK GUIDE TO KENYA: Visa-free travel for South Africans

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