Richard Madden, The Daily Telegraph, January 31, 2014
RUBONDO ISLAND, LAKE VICTORIA, TANZANIA
Off-the-beaten-track safaris don’t get much more adventurous than Rubondo Island Camp in the heart of a 60,000-acre island wilderness in the south-western corner of Lake Victoria. Home to elephant and wild chimpanzees, about 75 per cent of its equatorial forest remains untouched, and apart from camp staff and researchers the island is uninhabited. The eight luxury cottages are built by hand using traditional skills and local materials. Activities include trekking through wild chimpanzee territory, game-watching, birding excursions, canoe trips and fishing. The Ultimate Travel Company (020 3051 8098, theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk ) offers five nights on Rubondo from £3,275 per person, including full board, international flights, transfers and park fees.
COTTAR’S PRIVATE HOMESTEAD, MAASAI MARA, KENYA
Downton Abbey fans will love this latest addition to Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, a private homestead with stunning views over the savannah plains of the Maasai Mara and the annual wildebeest migration. The house was designed and hand-built by owners Calvin and Louise Cottar using indigenous and eco-friendly materials. The homestead has a large living room, dining room, an expansive viewing deck, five en-suite bedrooms and eight dedicated staff with game drive vehicles and guides on permanent standby, with bush walks, swimming and fishing also on offer. A three-night stay with Exceptional Travel (01608 638777; exceptional-travel.com ) based on six adults sharing costs from £9,435, including full board and activities but exclusive of flights.
HOANIB CAMP, SKELETON COAST, NAMIBIA
Opening in August 2014, Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is on the Hoanib River on the border of the Skeleton Coast National Park in one of the most remote areas of Namibia, renowned for its surreal desert landscapes. The camp is only accessible by light aircraft and looks out over starkly beautiful scenery with one of the greatest concentrations of desert-adapted elephant and lion in Africa. A nine-day Namibia safari including three nights at Hoanib and three nights at Ongava Lodge in Etosha National Park costs from £5,185 per person full board, based on two sharing, including international and internal flights with Audley Travel (01993 838 525; audleytravel.com ).
SINGITA CASTLETON, SOUTH AFRICA
It’s not often you get to stay in a family home in the heart of the bush. Castleton, the latest addition to the Singita portfolio, is just that. Formerly the family home of Singita founder Luke Bailes, Castleton has large communal living spaces with six individual cottages in the grounds, combining the best of a private safari lodge with the rustic charms of a country farmhouse. Facilities include a large garden, swimming pool, wine cellar, gym, tennis court and spa treatment room overlooking a waterhole where herds of elephant, antelope and big cats regularly gather to drink.
The cost of £3,925 per night is for full-board exclusive hire for eight people, inclusive of all game drives and activities, through Scott Dunn (020 8682 5070, scottdunn.com ).
KIGELIA RUAHA AND KURO TARANGIRE CAMPS, TANZANIA
Nomad Tanzania has recently taken over and refurbished Kigelia Ruaha tented camp and announced the opening of a brand new camp, Kuro Tarangire, both opening June 1. The former is in a grove of sausage trees in Ruaha National Park in southern Tanzania on the banks of the Ifuguru river in the best game area in the park, with large herds of elephant, big prides of lion and regular predator interaction. The latter is in a quiet area of Tarangire National Park in northern Tanzania with excellent elephant, buffalo and lion populations. A week-long safari combining Ruaha and Tarangire costs from £3,430 per person with The Ultimate Travel Company (020 3051 8098, theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk ) and includes international flights and transfers.