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  • Writer's pictureMike Sutherland

Top 10 Long Stay Destinations

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Charles Darwin once said: 'It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives, but the species that survives is the one that is best able to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself’. How true these words now resonate, as we face the most challenging global pandemic known to our generation. To be resourceful, malleable and courageous are our only way forward.

As the tales of Covid-19 fill up our daily lives, we have had to adjust to a new reality and a new way of living. We have been confined to our homes, apart from our loved ones and unable to escape to the places that make us feel so alive. This time has given us all an opportunity to reflect on what is important to us and there is now, more than ever, a burning desire to reconnect with the outside world. This bodes well for travel and tourism and we believe there will be a strong resurgence of inbound travel into Africa.

What we know for certain that the way we travel going to change drastically and this "new norm" will become second nature to us all. There will be pre-travel screening and testing, travel procedures and protocols in airports and stringent methods of sanitization and germ containment on flights. But all of this can be overcome and will be a part of the travel process into the foreseeable future.

Where we see the trend moving is toward a far more exclusive travel experience. Think private aircraft, private transfer and private safari vehicles, limited or no interaction or engagement with other safari-goers and your own team of staff in the lodge, who are solely responsible for your group during your stay. The most notable shift will be toward longer stays in the same destination and the desire for exclusive-use villas and homesteads. Guests will be able to travel in a "fully contained" environment from arrival to departure and there will be limited or no interaction with other parties outside of your own.

Longer stays will ensure guests are not only safe but will also allow guests to relax and truly immerse themselves into the experience. As you unwind and relax, the outside world will seem farther than usual and there will be a noticeable shift in the conversations being had on a daily basis.

For so long, our daily lives have evolved around this one burning issue. It is in the front of our minds, it is present in every decision we make and we all long for a world where we can escape from it, even for a little while! An exclusive safari, in a private villa, for an extended period of time, has to be one of the best ways to fulfil the desire.

These are our Top 10 Private Villa retreats you can research and explore, so that when you are ready to plan your next trip, keep these in mind:

Reminiscent of an African farmhouse, Singita Castleton is designed for exclusive use. This former home of the grandfather of Singita’s Founder, Luke Bailes, is situated in the world-renowned Sabi Sand and features state-of-the-art wellness facilities such as a fitness centre, yoga pavilion and double and single massage treatment rooms.

All activities at the villa are tailored to specifically suit the interests of each group and every preference is catered for. Guests have complete freedom to set the pace of their days.

An aerial view of Singita Castleton. Image @Singita
The boma, overlooking open grassy plains. Image @Singita

Blending seamlessly into the natural surroundings, and designed like a contemporary bush farmhouse, Phinda Homestead is an elegant and homely sole-use villa, ideal for both families and small groups. Four private bedrooms and spacious bathrooms fuse harmoniously with the cool, expansive, and inviting guest spaces.

An interactive kitchen brings the lodge’s private chef into the centre of the guest experience. Game drive times, as well as meals, are tailored completely to the guests’ preference to create a fully personalised safari.

Evenings around the pool and main deck. Image @andBeyond
The stunning boma setting. Image: @andBeyond

With only 3 rooms, your own private guide, chef, Butler team and housekeeping, Little Mombo is perfectly suited for the most exclusive safari getaway. Based within a private concession in Moremi National park, you truly are in remote Africa.

This exclusive safari camp offers magnificent views of the surrounding floodplains which are home to some of the best wildlife viewing in the Okavango Delta. Little Mombo features its lounge, dining area as well as swimming pool.

Oppulent luxury of Little Mombo. Image @Wilderness Safaris.
Wildlife from the edge of your deck. Image: @Wilderness Safaris.

Tarkuni has a natural bush camp feel with understated elegance and, above all, a sense of luxury, relaxation and tranquillity. While guests will experience the comfort and an incredible sense of space in the shared living areas, they are guaranteed exclusive privacy at this sole-use villa.

Set within the folds of the Korannaberg Mountain range, it is not uncommon to visit Tarkuni and not see another human, besides the in camo staff, for your entire stay.

Outdoors at Tswalu Tarkuni. Image: @Tswalu.
The stunning interiors of Tarkuni. Image: @Tswalu.

The Zarafa Dhow Suites is an intimate, two-bedroom, exclusive use tented villa located on the 330,000 acre Selinda Reserve in northern Botswana, an area linking the Okavango Delta and the Chobe.

Privacy and exclusivity are the core of the Dhow Suite, which has its own staff contingent and catering is done exclusively for guests who want to truly immerse them in the grandeur of the classic African safari experience.

Private, exclusive, intimate. Image: @Great Plains Conservation.
Waking up in the beauty of the Selinda.. Image: @Great Plains Conservation.

Singita Serengeti House is an exclusive-use retreat designed for families and friends. Located on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill with breathtaking vistas of the endless, open plains of the Grumeti Reserve, in the heart of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania. The house was Singita’s response to a growing demand for privacy and flexibility.

This was a forward-thinking move by Signita which will now play directly into this strong move to exclusivity. Itineraries, activities and meals are all tailor-made and tweaked as guests dictate the day-to-day pace and rhythm of their vacation according to their interests and needs.

Wildlife on your doorstep. Image: @Singita.
Endless views of the Western Serengeti. Image @Singita.

Elegantly designed and set within a rugged landscape, modernity meets classic safari at Fort House. Featuring two master bedrooms and two suites as well as free-flowing living and entertainment areas, it comfortably sleeps families of up to eight.

Peruse the wine cellar, help yourself to a snack from the pantry, spend some quiet time in the study or enjoy a massage in the private spa treatment room.

A complement of staff is discreetly on hand to ensure a seamless and memorable stay. Fort House offers total privacy and an abundance of space to reconnect with loved ones. Guests may enjoy unwinding on the front terrace that overlooks a wildlife-rich expanse of grassland close to one of the major waterholes on the reserve.

Tranquil views over Fort open areas. Image: @Kwandwe.
The perfect retreat for the whole family. Image: @Kwandwe.

Africa House has been dubbed the most luxurious and exclusive Villa in Africa. With a private chef, butler, housekeepers, ranger, tracker and game drive vehicle this ensures that service is tailor-made to guest requirements with children of all ages being welcome.

Stay in your little safari bubble, away from the rest of the world. Primed for privacy, family and nature in the most beautiful setting.

Mornings overlooking the infinity pool. Image: @Royal Malewane.
Private Dining and exclusivity. Image: @Royal Malewane.

Pioneer Camp is the most secluded of Londolozi’s camps with only three private suites. It boasts superb river views and is the perfect destination for private getaways. Focused on multi-generational family travel, this adaptable camp can be converted into a private bush homestead for family groups where a sky walkway links interconnected luxury family suites. 

Every touch and feature in Pioneer Camp is deeply personal. It is an ideal romantic setting for a new generation of sophisticated travellers in search of the perfect combination of unstructured freedom and top-end experiential and personal luxury.

The main lounge area of Pioneer Camp. Image: @Londolozi.

Your private pool and sunken deck area. Image: @Londolozi.

This contemporary and richly textured private villa was designed in response to its remarkable location in this unique slice of Africa. Designed for exclusive use, guests can enjoy relaxed freedom and quality time together in this secluded sanctuary. The villa is serviced with a private chef and host and is completely focussed around exclusivity for guests.

Singita Kataza House gives guests the unique opportunity to encounter one of Africa’s most majestic creatures in the wild, the mountain gorilla, while immersed in the beauty of their pristine natural habitat. It provides a comfortable, reflective and nurturing space in which to appreciate the transformative experience of coming face to face with the forest’s gentle gorillas.

Located on the edge of Volcanoes National Park. Image: @Singita.
The perfect place to spend your evening after trekking gorillas. Image: @Singita.

As we move to transition into a post-Covid world, Africa has an extremely unique opportunity to thrive. There has been an extremely positive response from the international community of travellers about their desire to travel and to reconnect once it is safe to do so. There will be a demand for not only the experiential but also for adventure and the outdoors. Big open spaces, fresh air and nature are synonyms with our continent and if there was ever a place to social distance, then an exclusive, private safari is the holiday of choice!

As a continent, Africa currently accounts for a very small percentage of inbound, international travel passing through our borders and the hope is that moving forward, this desire to reconnect and explore ignites a new flame in tourists and Africa becomes the ultimate destination post-Covid-19.

We have a rare opportunity to take advantage of a challenging situation by showcasing how our continent is best positioned to welcome guests and in so doing, we are able to continue to support the people and communities that are directly influenced by these wilderness areas, we are able to protect the wildlife that makes our home so uniquely special and finally, ensure that land under conservation remains that way for generations to come.

Until our next Escape.

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