Tourism Update asked readers to submit hidden safari gems. We’ve rounded up some of the best ideas.

Tutwa Desert Lodge

“Tutwa Desert Lodge at Augrabies in the Northern Cape offers both river and game-viewing activities. It is great for anyone looking for somewhere different or for those who enjoy adventure in comfort. Go where you've never been before – you won’t be disappointed.”

Wendy Dold, Tourism Manager at Southern Cross Marketing Management.


Mtomeni Tented Camp

“Mtomeni Tented Camp in Letaba Ranch, north of Phalaborwa, is a hidden gem as it is a newly renovated camp and the only tourism facility in the reserve. It provides an extraordinarily tranquil safari experience with guided game drives and bush walks. The camp facilities are rustic and simple, offering a guests an authentic bush experience, while offering modern ablutions and nice linen. The facilities can be booked on a self-catering or catered basis and are ideal for both overlanding groups as well as FITs.”

Eleanor Muller, Marketing at Transfrontier Parks Destination.


Tembe Elephant Park

“Tembe Elephant Park in northern KwaZulu Natal is probably the most affordable Big-5 full-service lodge in SA, with the friendliest of staff, expert guides, great facilities, wonderful meals, and exceptional buy-in from the local community.”

Dries de Wet, Blogger at de Wets Wild.


Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve

“Mount Camdeboo Private Game Reserve in the Graaff-Reinet area is fantastic value for money, with outstanding guides and great lodges. It offers great game viewing, fantastic hospitality and excellent cuisine. Definitely a best-kept secret.”

Wendy Dold, Tourism Manager at Southern Cross Marketing Management.


Ghost Mountain Inn

“The safari cruises on Lake Jozini are amazing! Spot elephants and other game on the banks of the Pongola River and the hippo/bird watching from the boat is amazing.”

Claire Roadley, PR Manager at Ethos Marketing.


Lukhanyo Private Game Reserve

Lukhanyo Private Game Reserve is 28km from Grahamstown and offers self-catering accommodation for a maximum of 12 people in three cottages. The main lodge overlooks a watering hole and guests can see buffalo, giraffe, wildebeest, buck and bird life. The vegetation is ideal for hiking.”

Sue Waugh, Director at Makana Tourism Association.


Mutale Falls Tented Safari Camp

“Mutale Falls Tented Safari Camp in Makuya Reserve, Limpopo, has five safari tents and is very remote with only 4x4 access. Guests with 4x4 vehicles can self-drive to places such as World’s View and the Luvuvhu Gorge look-out, while those who want to get up close to the bush are taken on guided walks to the Mutale Falls. The camp offers self-catering facilities and offers views over the Mutale River.”

Eleanor Muller, Marketing at Transfrontier Parks Destination.


Madi-Madi Karoo Safari Lodge

“Madi-Madi Karoo Safari Lodge, near Oudtshoorn, Klein Karoo, is a unique luxury safari lodge that has an exceptional setting and offers pure tranquillity. In addition to the bush activities, also on offer are stargazing, horseback safaris and sunset river cruises. It is a wonderful hidden gem ideal for honeymooners and romantics.”

Penny Lotz, Product Manager at Perfect Africa.


Elephant’s Eye Camp

“Elephant's Eye in Hwange is a luxury eco camp in Zimbabwe comprising eight tented chalets overlooking a waterhole. Sunsets and sunrises here are simply sublime as you sit on the deck and watch the elephants come up and drink from the pool while you sip your gin and tonic. There are some great cultural activities to experience as well as a very romantic sleep-out deck on stilts in the middle of the concession. Truly a magical African experience.”

Liz Rampfshaw, Project Manager at Jenman African Safaris.



“Umlani is in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, which shares an unfenced border with the Kruger National Park. This is true Big-5 territory and guests have an opportunity to see lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino on safe, expertly guided game drives and bush walks. The area is also home to more than 40 mammal and 350 bird species. Umlani is an eco-lodge that offers a true African experience that combines excellent and super-friendly service with simplicity. Here you won’t find air-cons and electrical appliances in your accommodation but rather simple reed and thatch huts with mosquito gauze windows and open-air bush showers for the ultimate stargazing experience. Operating off the grid, each rondavel is discreetly lit by a combination of solar and oil lanterns. The Umlani philosophy of simple luxury and 'getting back to nature' is enhanced by the romance of operating without electricity, so each hut and the entire camp are lit by candlelight and oil lamps, providing a warm and magical atmosphere. Meals are served under the stars or in a traditional African boma and are simple but plentiful and delicious. There is a well-stocked help yourself bush bar and deck overlooking a waterhole with amazing game viewing. Rates are fully inclusive of all meals, drinks and two game drives a day.”

Kathleen Cowie, Owner and Manager at Travel Pals.