The de-stressing effect of nature has come in full-force in 2019, with the NHS adding forest bathing to its prescriptions while in Japan Shinrin-yoku has been promoted as part of a longer, healthier, happier life since the 80s. But did you know spending time with animals has similar relaxing and depression-reducing benefits? With the release this week of Disney’s live-action remake of The Lion King, we’ve been getting a little nostalgic about our favourite furball and his musical friends. If you’ve been inspired to take a walk on the wild side of the savannas, then check out these luxury safari spa retreats in Africa for a wellness experience fit for a lion king.
Mahali Mzuri, Kenya
One of Virgin’s Limited Edition luxury collection, Mahali Mzuri is the definition of safari-chic. Catering to a maximum of 24 guests at any one time, the luxury tented safari camp in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy in Maasai Mara, Kenya, features 12 luxury suites, an infinity pool and spa. Twice daily game drives give you plenty of opportunities to spot the wild animals in the park, including giraffes, zebras and three lion prides. Unwind in the evening with a massage at the spa, which uses Africology products—100% natural plant extracts and essential oils, you’ll truly be getting back to nature at this luxury spa safari retreat.
Bushman’s Kloof, South Africa
Renowned as one of South Africa’s best luxury retreats, Bushman’s Kloof is a four-hour drive north of Cape Town in the foothills of Cederberg Mountains. The award-winning retreat offers an immersion in nature, with daily safari drives into the open plains to spot lions, elephants and giraffes, while still helping guests retain their healthy habits. Whether you’re more on the adventurous side—think hiking, biking, canoeing and archery—or want to take things easy in the spa, recently awarded the Best Spa in Africa, there’s something for everyone here.
&Beyond Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
Just inside the world-famous Serengeti National Park, &Beyond’s luxury lodges on the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater offer a unique experience of Africa’s wildlife. The elegant chateaus are designed with ornate baroque architecture and Victorian furnishing, but simply stepping outside transports you to the beauty of the African savannas. Seasonally, flamingos flock to the crater’s soda lakes, and the Serengeti is where the ‘Great Migration’—the largest mammal migration in the world—takes place annually January to March, and its large population of predators means you have a high chance of spotting a cheetah or lion on your game drives.
Finch Hatton, Kenya
Situated in Tsavo West National Park, just east of Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya, Finch Hatton is a luxury tented camp kitted out with one of the largest bush spas in East Africa. Between game drives, guests are invited to take advantage of the property’s comprehensive wellness facilities: an infinity pool, air-conditioned massage pavilions, a comprehensive gym, and the creme-de-la-creme, an elevated yoga deck overlooking the Chyulu Hills. Plus, for anyone with specific dietary needs, Finch Hatton can adapt its menus to suit allergies, intolerances, and preferences for any diet.
Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, Botswana
Located in Botswana’s first national park, Belmond invites you to discover the wonder of nature in its eco-luxury camp in a remote and rarely accessed part of the park. Unsurprisingly, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge boasts access to one of the largest elephant populations in the world with more than 50,000 in the park, but there’s plenty of opportunities to spot other wildlife, like big cats, warthogs, and hyenas. Choose from luxe tents or stilted lodges, all fitted with four-poster beds and air-conditioning, and bliss-out in the spa with a massage or body scrub using TheraNaka, organic and sustainably sourced oils and lotions. Another restorative highlight of this unique lodge is the stargazing opportunities: isolated from outside light pollution, use the on-site powerful telescope to observe the night sky and constellations.