The Private Safari Experience
The best luxury private African safaris place you centerstage in nature’s greatest theater. No other experience creates a greater connection with nature and the world of wildlife.
Not all safaris are the same. A luxury private safari in Africa is the ultimate wildlife experience the continent can offer. Everything is customized. Animal-rich landscapes become your private playground. You always get the best seats and scenes. It’s just you and the raw brilliance of the wilderness. And there’s a surreal exclusivity to the wildlife experience
What is a Private Safari?
Through the trees the guide spots a swishing tail. It swings languorously, betraying the leopard’s hiding place. Slowly, cautiously, the driver leaves the trail and heads towards the elusive cat. By inching closer the spots come into view. Piercing green eyes stare straight back at you, the leopard meeting your gaze with a firm show of pride and power. And what’s this? Another inquisitive face. Now one more. Two leopard cubs are peeking out, curious as to their visitors. The driver cuts the engine. You stop and stay silent. Slowly the leopards grow accustomed to your presence and you’re consumed by the unique family interaction, three leopards in a tree in wildest Africa, nobody else around.
It’s so much more real when the experience is completely private. No other people, no other agendas, no interruption to what you do and see. That’s what the best luxury private African safaris are all about. Just you and a theater that unfolds wherever you choose to go. This style of safari offers the absolute privacy that some people demand; there are no other guests in your game vehicle and you have a personal driver and guide. More importantly, with a private safari you find an exclusivity of wildlife experience, one that heightens what other safari programs are able to offer.
PRIVATE SAFARI AT A GLANCE
Customized Private Travel in Africa
Private travel means you have the best of Africa to yourself, sharing it only with those you want to travel with. Our truest private travel option is a journey without encountering people other than guides, charter flight pilots and camp staff. It’s a journey without limitation, allowing you to combine destinations all across Africa. A plethora of terms can make the distinction difficult – private game reserve, private game drive, private safari. So much is named private and we explain the distinctions later on this page. But for us, the very best luxury private African safaris start with this notion of private travel.
WHAT IS PRIVATE TRAVEL IN AFRICA
Private Guides, Activities and Travel
Private guides and activities are integral to all the best private luxury African safaris. Exclusive-use camps elevate the privacy. But the ultimate potential comes from private travel. A vast network of airstrips can be found across Africa, within national parks and private concessions. Often they must be cleared of passing wildlife, or you touch down to an elephant herd nearby. With private charters you can fly anywhere, enjoying a combination of destinations that are unfeasible by any other means.
For example, Rwanda gorilla trekking, the Serengeti and Okavango Delta, three of Africa’s world-famous experiences. To travel overland to all thee would take the best part of a month. Scheduled flights struggle to connect these remote wildernesses, certainly not without multiple changes and uncomfortable overnights. With a private air charter there is no limitation to where you can go. Dream the Africa safari bucket-list and it is obtainable.
Combine Distant Destinations on the Best Luxury Private African Safaris
In particular, private travel is a means of combining destinations in East and Southern Africa. Without an air charter we rarely recommend both regions in one trip, the flight connections are too time-consuming and energy-sapping. With a private air charter you hop straight from a remote savannah camp to a misty gorilla-filled rainforest and then onto the great desert and delta of Botswana. But that’s one example. Where do you want to go?
Anonymity comes as standard as well. Using trusted camps, guides and pilots we make sure that nobody knows where you are. Princes Harry and William are among those who escape to Botswana to woo future princesses, and while they aren’t clients of ours, we always apply a level of confidentiality that royalty requires. Many people have an idea of African travel that conflates distant destinations and experiences into a single vacation. With private travel everything becomes possible.
What is a Private Game Reserve?
It’s important to distinguish a private safari from a private game reserve. It’s also important to recognize the wide-ranging definition of a private game reserve. National parks and national reserves are areas gazetted and operated by government; anyone who pays the entrance fee can visit but there are strict rules on what you can’t do. For example, no off-road driving, no nighttime driving, no following animals, no walks. Private game reserves are private swathes of land – usually on a long-term lease from the government – managed and operated privately. Visitor access tends to be restricted to guests staying at the reserve; there are rules here too but you can usually do and see more. The great highlight being a limit on the number of vehicles per sightings.
The best private game reserves are those that are contiguous with national parks or other wilderness areas. These places are typically called private concessions, unfenced stretches of land that allow the free movement of animals. However, some private game reserves, especially in South Africa, are standalone. They have fences which restrict wildlife movement and sometimes separate predators into their own areas, with staff feeding the cats rather than allowing them to hunt. So while it may sound exclusive, a lot of private game reserves don’t offer a true safari experience.
Read more about the distinctions on our detailed where to safari in Africa page.
Now, being in Africa, I was hungry for more of it, the names of the trees, of the small animals, and all the birds, to have time to be in it and to move slowly.
-Ernest Hemingway Green Hills of Africa
Will My Safari be Private in a Private Concession?
Probably not. Even at very high-end lodges and camps, safari activities are typically shared. For example, there will be four to six guests in a game drive vehicle. So if you only come to Africa as two, you’ll be sharing the experience during activities. Everyone should get a great view, but the guide must appease diverse interests. On most luxury safaris, guides must balance the interests and mood of the small group on that activities. That includes not only the animals they focus on, but the timings and level of adventure.
But the possibilities are near limitless on the best luxury private African safaris. The program will be designed exactly how you want it to be. Game walks suited to your fitness levels, drives that focus on specific animals, going in search of the wild Africa from your dreams. This exclusivity of experience is only really possible in private concessions. Not only do concessions restrict the number of guests, concessions are where you can tailor different activities and drive off the trails for the most intimate wildlife encounters. It’s here that wilderness can becomes your playground, and that’s a very personal playground on a private safari.
Of course you must pay for this exclusivity, so it’s good to have an idea about the indicative costs of a private safari.
The Best Luxury Private African Safaris Take You Closer With Tailored Activities
Eat breakfast to a scene of quarreling hippos, two males posturing by the river. It’s a show of intrigue and excitement, so you delay the game drive for now. And you are completely safe from any danger the hippos may bring. On another drive you’re deep in the woodland at noon, mesmerized by elephant herds that keep rumbling through. Rather than cut the experience short you stay amid the trees with a picnic lunch. That afternoon you find two lionesses creeping up on a wildebeest herd. The guide informs you it’s probably a reconnaissance mission, the hunt most likely to take place when night has fallen. With a private safari you can choose whether to watch and wait it out, return to the lions at dusk, or do anything else in the concession.
Walking safaris have the same flexibility on the best luxury private African safaris. Perhaps 30 minutes around the lodge, simply getting a feel for walking in the land of giants. Or maybe six hours in the wild, with a pre-arranged picnic spot on route and a vehicle returning you to camp. Your nighttime game drive could depart at midnight and spend three hours exploring beneath moonlight. We find that some guests want a program fully tailored around their interests. Others are happy for the private guide to lead the way, so timings and activities are adjusted to wildlife sightings and scenes. In most cases a private safari allows you to go places and do things that aren’t possible on any other safari.
Private Safaris in Africa Are Customized to Your Diverse Needs
Absolute customization caters for niche passions, like the love for hippos or the desire to photograph black rhinos or pearl-spotted owlets. It creates special interest adventures, such as following Botswana’s recently discovered zebra migration or recounting the journey of famous explorers. By tailoring every aspect, a private safari also ensures that Africa can become a reality for all travelers.
Catering for Special Needs
A medical disability does not mean you will be disabled in Africa. Physical impairments can be catered for, such as a program adapted to energy levels or an itinerary specifically for those who aren’t mobile. Unique solutions can be found for special needs. Africa is an incredibly inclusive destination when you’re on the best luxury private African safaris. Travel challenges can be overcome through a dedication to working out all the details.
Thanks again for the wonderful trip… and we will keep referring potential clients to you.
US Ambassador to Namibia G. Dennis Mathieu
Exclusive-Use Accommodation Elevates the Best Luxury Private African Safaris
Space and privacy is a feature of Africa’s luxury camps and lodges. You gaze out onto nature’s uninterrupted landscapes, listening only to the wild, in a space where you can be alone with those you love. Usually there are other guests, but you only see them in the restaurant area or on a safari activity. With almost all luxury safaris, the accommodation offers a privacy that allows romance to thrive.
That privacy is elevated with exclusive-use accommodation. There are various options just in the Greater Kruger, catering for everything from a group of four to a multi-generational family of 20. With the camp you get the guides and there’s no need for everyone to be together all the time. Some can be out on a game drive as others relax by the pool. Grandpa can be in a photography hideout while the grandchildren are out looking for lions. Then you meet back at the camp and there’s the space to share stories, without being interrupted by others. It’s just you, your guests, and all those scenes from the wildlife documentaries.
Read more about where to stay on safari.
A Private Safari Creates the Best Safari Photos
7 INSPIRATIONAL PHOTOS FROM A PRIVATE SAFARI
Why You Need a Private African Safari To Take The Best Photos
Let’s go back to those leopards in the tree. The mother stretches. Click. She shares a moment of affection with the cubs, then bounds down the trunk, onto the savannah floor.
More clicks. Two adorable heads peer down. Looking back the mother coerces her offspring, who playfully follow into the grass. Rolling and rollicking, the cubs seem oblivious to the silent movements required of a predatory cat; a perceptive glance quickly brings them into line. You’ve taken over a hundred photos in less than two minutes. Yet you waited an hour for the leopards to move.
On a shared game drive it’s rare to spend more than 15 minutes at a single sighting or scene. On a private game drive the guide maneuvers you into prime position for the best photographic angles; the sun shines from behind and the guide has predicted where the leopards will travel, meaning the family of three crawl straight past the vehicle. You have the luxury of being able to sit and wait. And wait. In less than two minutes the leopards have disappeared into the high grass. But through patience and a private safari your photos are the kind that adorn a National Geographic cover.
Privacy on a Private Safari
As the name suggests, private safari means seclusion and privacy. A retreat from the world made just for two. An exclusive-use camp for a family or group of friends, with space to spend time with those you have missed in recent years. Everyone comes to Africa with their own ideas. The best luxury private African safaris lets you do what you want to do, with the people you want to do it with.
You’re alone out here. Every sound is a clue and every animal treats you to a personal display. In a national park there could be many other vehicles crowded around the waterhole, disrupting the lions and scaring the zebra. But this is your playground, your landscape for adventure and excitement. So why share the show? Africa’s safari destinations cover an incredible scale, immense wilderness expanses where animals thrive. These lands are diminishing and it’s impossible to know how long they will remain. You enjoy exclusivity on landscapes that are home to tens of thousands of wild animas. And that is a very special feeling.
Boy do we know how much you spoiled us on our cloud nine heavenly trip to Africa!! I am dancing with delight over your hard work for us all. Our visit has become a dream come true thanks to you. Did this glorious trip really happen?
Luci Johnson, daughter of the 36th US President
The Best Private Safaris in South Africa
A handful of destinations should dominate your thinking for a private safari in South Africa. While Aquila private game reserve may offer a big-five safari near Cape Town, true luxury is found in a raw and redolent wildlife experience. And for that we’d guide you towards Kruger private reserves along with Phinda private game reserve. It’s these destinations where you’ll find the country’s best guides and ultimate wildlife experiences. And it’s in these reserves where a private safari can be just as promised. Londolozi vs Singita vs Mala Mala is one consideration, three exceptional and unfenced destinations that are part of the Greater Kruger ecosystem. Sabi Sabi and Royal Malewane are also recommended, with Phinda an excellent contrast for creating a more rounded South African safari.
The Best Tanzania Private Safari
Moving with seasonal changes is the secret to the best luxury private African safaris in Tanzania. Private Serengeti concessions like Loliondo and Singita Grumeti should be on your list, although which one will depend on when you travel. With a mobile camping safari you can follow the great wildebeest migration and guarantee an immersion with the herds. You need at least a week for a Tanzania safari but by flying between destinations you enjoy some of Africa’s ultimate wildlife experiences. Superb lodges are located deep within the national parks, as part of small private concessions that stand at the heart of wildlife movements.
It’s all improbable, incredible. As if one were witnessing the birth of the world, that precise moment when the earth and sky already exists, as do water, plants, and wild animals, but not yet Adam and Eve.
-Ryszard Kapuscinski on the Serengeti,
from The Shadow of the Sun
The Best Private Safari in Kenya
Kenya epitomizes the appeal of a private safari. Famous destinations like the Masai Mara and Amboseli become crowded during peak season, especially the Mara in July and August. Private concessions take you away from all the noise, then a private safari program connects with storylines you’re most interested in. Cheetah and leopard cubs seen from up close; alone with elephants beneath Mount Kilimanjaro; walking safaris with Samburu warrior guides; meeting black and white rhinos on the same grasslands in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. So while the national parks can be crowded a private safari in a private concession reflects the endless possibilities on offer.
Botswana Private Mobile Safari
Botswana’s private concessions baffle the imagination. Enormous wild spaces at the heart of wildlife migrations, they are places where you can go a whole day without seeing other people. Linyanti, Selinda and Kwando are destinations for the very best luxury private African safaris. Private safaris in the Okavango create an adventure on land and water. Then there are mobile safaris, hopping from exclusive-use camp to exclusive-use camp, on lands that rarely see human eyes.
Planning Your Private Safari
Not all safaris are the same. This is your safari. And by going on private safari you have access to the ultimate experiences Africa can offer.
As independent safari operators Heritage Africa recommends the destinations that are best for you and your interests. We’re not restricted to a particular brand or lodge. Each of our safaris is different, and the variations are magnified when planning the best private luxury African safari for you.
For more than two decades we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy this exclusivity of wildlife experience. We want you to experience the same.