This new breed of safari lodges is looking further afield for aesthetic inspiration

Transcending cliche

Safari as a design ‘style’ has evolved dramatically from the Out of Africa, cookie-cutter khaki mould into something much harder to pin down.

Now more than ever, you can expect lodges as varied as they are prolific, which seek to embody unique design identities that speak to their locations and elevate the experience beyond the obvious. Three such destinations stand apart for a fresh interpretation of their surroundings, and their ability to transcend cliché in favour of an aesthetic that digs a little bit deeper.

Saseka lodge. Photography: Greg Cox

While certain features will always be part and parcel of this type of travel – a focus on outdoor living, textures to complement the climate and colours conducive to relaxation – a new generation of lodges are rethinking the safari concept. Cue progressive craft, eclectic culture clashes and contemporary lines.

Singita Faru Faru in Tanzania

Singita Faru Farus main lodge and lounge area. Photography: Adriaan Louw
Singita’s main lodge and lounge area. Photography: Adriaan Louw

As first and foremost a conservation company, Singita strives to celebrate its locations – their unique beauty and standout attributes. Its lodges walk a fine line between strikingly memorable and almost self-effacing in favour of foregrounding the setting. Singita Faru Faru’s recent redesign takes a cool and collected approach to serenading the Serengeti.

Singita's lounge. Photography: Adriaan Louw
Singita’s lounge area. Photography: Adriaan Louw

These iconic plains with their neutral tones and vast skies prompted an interior approach that was more about creating an experience than a look. As a super high-end lodge, the aim naturally was to instil a sense of luxury, but here it was more about the feeling they wanted to foster – retreat. As a result, designers Cecile & Boyd conceived a scheme that communicates calm on every level, through soft tones and textures and a lack of clutter.

Singita Faru Faru tented bedroom suite. Photography: Adriaan Louw
Tented bedroom suite. Photography: Adriaan Louw

The predominantly pale palette that makes up the landscape seeps into the interiors – sunbleached blonde and light blue grey are grounded by earthy river-bank inspired clay. Handmade basketry, ceramics and furniture further reflecting the earthiness beyond the lodge’s boundary and breed a sense of connection.

Grumeti Reserves, Tanzania

Singita lodge bedroom and bathroom suite.
Photography: Adriaan Louw

Saseka in Hoedspruit, South Africa

Saseka lodge lounge and detail
Photography: Greg Cox

Reinterpreting the tented camp trope, Thornybush’s Saseka is an immersive but luxury setting that engages with the bush while offering an entirely design-forward space. Smartly conceived ‘tents’ – that filter outdoor sounds and celebrate the palette via contemporary décor – and a lodge that’s all about easygoing comfort make it simultaneously high-style but low-key.

Guernsey Rd, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa

Saseka in Hoedspruit, South Africa
Tented bedroom suite. Photography: Greg Cox

Kubili House in Hoedspruit, South Africa

Kubili House in Hoedspruit, South Africa
Photography: Micky Hoyle

Kubili House was born of its owner’s love of architecture and conservation and the designer’s eye for design. Their mutual appreciation for details that pique the senses comes alive inside the private villa in South Africa’s Kruger Park. An eclectic and dramatic stone structure houses an interior experience that’s both global and bespoke.

Thornybush Game Reserve, Guernsey Rd, Hoedspruit, 1380, South Africa

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