South Africa is one of the most exciting countries to visit in Africa, offering the best of both worlds, with top resorts in cities, as well as its myriad of game reserves where safaris take place. Most travelers come to South Africa for a well-rounded experience that takes them to resorts in different parts of the country, including the urban metropolis of Johannesburg, which has a fantastic arts and culture scene; the more laid-back and ultra beautiful Cape Town; and the beach and history-focused Durban.
From Kruger National Park to Sabi Sand and Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa has some of the best safari experiences on the continent. There are numerous reserves that are home to all budget categories of lodges and resorts that usually offer all-inclusive experiences, including meals and dawn and dusk game drives to see the animals. Here we present our picks for the best resorts in South Africa.
Located in beautiful Cape Town, The Silo Hotel has a central location and is Cape Town's swankiest new resort. Set in the V&A Waterfront area, where you'll find dozens of restaurants, shops, and the ferry to Robben Island, it occupies an old grain elevator and has an edgy modern design throughout.
Expect gorgeously decorated rooms and suites with the most Instagram famous bathtubs in the city – they face giant pillowed glass windows with views of the harbor, Table Mountain, and the city. Lots of local art is also incorporated around the property.
Amenities include a rooftop restaurant adjacent to a swimming pool, with glass sides and stunning city views. If you are in need of some pampering, book a massage or body treatment at the spa.
Address: Silo Square V & A Waterfront, Cape Town Central 8001, South Africa.
Between the cities of Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown on the N2, Shamwari Private Game Reserve is one of South Africa's most successful private conservation initiatives. It is also known for being both eco-friendly and ultra luxe.
In a malaria-free area, there are six luxury lodges on the grounds. Each is 5-star and offers a different style.
Rates are inclusive of meals, as well as twice daily safaris accompanied by super knowledgable guides who will get you as close as possible to the animals, including the big cats. There is also a spa on-site and a swimming pool.
Address: N2 between Port Elizabeth & Grahamstown, Shamwari Game Reserve 6000, South Africa
Accommodation: Shamwari Private Game Reserve Lodges
In Durban's ritzy Umhlanga Rocks suburb just north of downtown, The Oyster Box is the most luxe resort in the area. Decked out with a fusion of colonial European and Mediterranean styles, it has an old-world elegance about it – this is the kind of hotel where doors are opened by uniformed men in pith helmets.
Located right on a pretty stretch of gold sand beach near a lighthouse, the pool area facing the sea is particularly alluring, with red-and-white striped cushions and sun loungers, and matching hued umbrellas.
Rooms and suites are individually decorated and come in a few different classes, but some have views of the sea and lighthouse from private balconies. Amenities include an award-winning spa and a few different dining options.
Address: 2 Lighthouse Road, Umhlanga Rocks 4319 South Africa
Accommodation: The Oyster Box
Opened just a few years ago, Cheetah Plains has a different feel then many traditional South African safari lodges.
In the exclusive Sabi Sand Game Reserve, it has a very modern look about it, and offers guests accommodation in private villas that can sleep up to eight people. These are a perfect choice for groups of friends or multi-generational families vacationing together. Each villa has four bedrooms, a chef's kitchen, walls of windows that open onto furnished patios, and a private swimming pool.
Cheetah Plains prides itself on sustainability, and the included twice daily game drives take place in private electric Land Cruisers. Guests also have access to a Nikon D850 camera with a complimentary memory card, allowing you to capture incredible photographs. All meals and beverages at this 5-star property are included in the rate.
Address: Sabi Sand Game Reserve S36, Kruger National Park 1383, South Africa
Located inside Madikwe Game Reserve in the northwest portion of South Africa on the border with Botswana and at the edge of the Kalahari Desert, Jaci's Safari Lodge is a boutique luxury resort.
There are just eight luxury tents and two suites. Each is decked out in vibrant colors and features a mix of canvas, stone, and thatched roofs. There are indoor and outdoor shower options, and large porches from which you can often view animals.
Rates are inclusive of meals, and sunrise and sunset game drives where you'll see a plethora of animals – Madikwe is famous for its large lion population. Guides are very knowledgable, and drives take place in open vehicles that don't obscure the views. They are tailored to individual groups. Guests can also rent high quality cameras to photograph safaris.
Address: Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
One of the most luxe hotels in Johannesburg, The Residence is a boutique property in the Houghton suburb just about a mile from the city center. As such it offers easy access to Jo'burg's top attractions but is still a safe respite.
The rooms and suites are elegantly decorated with antique furnishings, freestanding tubs, and lovely balconies. Suites also come with private hot tubs that are a favorite with couples on a romantic getaway.
On-site you'll find a swimming pool, restaurant, spa, and a wellness center with a sauna. If you need transport to or from OR Tambo international Airport, a shuttle can be arranged. Breakfast is also complimentary
Address: 17 4th Ave, Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa
On the private Sabi Sand Game Reserve adjacent to Kruger National Park (the animals are free to roam between the reserves), Leopard Hills is a 5-star property set on a rocky outcrop with fabulous views of the bush, plains, and an active water hole below.
Rates include safari game drives as well as meals, and the quality of the food is excellent. If you are visiting South Africa for a honeymoon, Leopard Hills excels in the romance department. Private dinners can be arranged in your room, and you can follow this with a candlelit bath.
Address: Kruger National Park 1242, South Africa
Set between the mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, The Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa is a classic Cape Town 5-star hotel, with an old-world, elegant vibe throughout. Located past Camps Bay and just across the street from Oudekraal Beach at the edge of Table Mountain National Park, it features country luxe decor, with wallpapered walls and patterned bedspreads, upholstered furnishings, and reproduction antiques.
The on-site restaurant, Azure, does one of the city's most expansive breakfast buffets each morning, and for guests, it is included in the rate. There are also two swimming pools, a workout room, and a spa.
Guests can catch the free shuttle to the V&A Waterfront for easy access to downtown Cape Town.
Address: Victoria Road Cape Town, Camps Bay 8000 South Africa
Located next to the Sand River in the privately owned Sabi Sand Game Reserve next to Kruger National Park, Singita Boulders Lodge was inspired by the boulder strewn riverbank on which it sits. The luxury resort blends effortlessly into its surroundings and features beautifully designed public spaces, as well as 12 glass-fronted suites.
The suites have hand-crafted furnishings, African-style fabrics in rich colors and textures, fireplaces, and private decks. They also come with heated swimming pools and outdoor showers.
Rates are all-inclusive, and on your private twice daily game drives, you'll often encounter harder-to-spot animals like leopards and wild dogs.
Address: Singita Sabi Sand, Kruger National Park 1242, South Africa.
On South Africa's Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province, the village of Chintsa sits just back from the Indian Ocean beach. Here, you'll find the boutique Prana Lodge.
The small resort has just eight suites. These are individually decorated in the most luxe style, with art from private collections of famous South African artists, Persian carpets, and high-quality linens on comfy beds. Each suite has a private plunge pool off a patio that is isolated from other guests by garden walls.
Prana is a great choice for a romantic getaway and offers a number of honeymoon, mini-moon, and babymoon travel packages. Amenities include a restaurant with complimentary breakfast, a spa, and beach access. A full range of activities, from horseback riding to surfing, can be arranged.
Address: Chintsa Drive, Chintsa 5275, South Africa