When on safari, nothing beats getting back to camp after a hot, dusty morning of game viewing and slipping into the cool depths of a swimming pool. From lap pools to infinity pools, here’s our top pick of pools with a view in some of Africa’s wildest places.
1. Matetsi Victoria Falls
Matetsi Private Game Reserve, Zimbabwe
At Matetsi, a contemporary lodge with 17 miles of private river frontage on the Zambezi, the 66-foot lap pool has front-row views of the river as it flows lazily towards Victoria Falls 25 miles downstream. Each of the 18 suites, plus the four-bedroom River House family villa, also has a private plunge pool and outdoor shower—making cooling off after game drives, walks, and river cruises easy and relaxing.
Okavango Delta, Botswana
When Wilderness Safaris rebuilt Mombo, its iconic Okavango Delta camp, the special requests of repeat guests were taken seriously, which is why the modern, entirely solar-powered camp not only has a lap pool overlooking the floodplain, as well as a spa and gym, but also private plunge pools in front of every extra-spacious tented suite. Located on the northern tip of Chief’s Island within the Moremi Game Reserve, Mombo and satellite camp Little Mombo are first-class bases for viewing enormous concentrations of plains game and predators year round.
Makgadikgadi National Park, Botswana
Jack’s Camp epitomizes glamorous East African safari style—and especially glamorous is the dreamy pool beneath a Rajasthani-style tented pavilion. The water is always perfectly chilled, just like the help-yourself G&Ts from the vintage drinks chest. When respite from the desert heat calls for a siesta between activities like quad biking, walking with bushmen, and tracking the brown hyena, sink into a deck chair at the pool and gaze out across the mesmerizing, seemingly endless Makgadikgadi salt pans. The silence is deafening, save for the rustling of the palm trees.
Lebombo concession, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Petite sister to Singita Lebombo, Sweni Lodge was recently transformed from head to toe in jewel tones and sexy midcentury furniture. The makeover included a smart new pool deck, show kitchen, a bar serving everything from smoothies to cocktails, and a seventh suite designed for families with two bedrooms and its own pool. Guests share the entire, animal-rich 33,000-acre Lebombo private concession only with those staying at nearby Lebombo Lodge.
Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa
Private, deep plunge pools, teetering above a wooded ravine, are a highlight of the six suites at revamped Phinda Rock Lodge in the heart of Zululand. The elevated, adult-friendly hideaway is one of a clutch of luxury AndBeyond lodges in the recently expanded Phinda Private Game Reserve known in particular for its stellar rhino conservation. This is not the place to miss out on game drives where getting up close to large elephant herds and predators, such as lion, is not unusual.
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
From the infinity pool at Jabali Ridge Lodge, there are remarkable views over the baobab forests that fill Ruaha National Park’s 7,800 square miles. Southern Tanzania is East Africa’s new under-the-radar safari destination with noticeably fewer vehicles than the Serengeti, which results in prolific game viewing and an obvious luxury of space. Remarkable 360-degree views are guaranteed from Jabali’s eight futuristic, shuttered suites and open-fronted communal areas, wedged between boulders on a kopje. This year, Jabali Private House opened with three bedrooms, a plunge pool, in-room spa treatments, and dedicated staff.
The vast infinity pool, overlooking the endless, wildlife-strewn plains of the southern Serengeti, is an unexpected treat at Mwiba Lodge, an off-the-beaten-track safari outpost attracting Hollywood A-listers. Giant bean bags and a rustic-chic gazebo for lazy lunches add to the poolside appeal. From the ten glass-and-canvas tented suites, situated between candelabra and fever trees, guests can observe animals drinking in the river below. Guided walks, sundowners on the edge of the escarpment, and night drives are part of the experience of being in a private concession.
8. Kichwa Tembo
Masai Mara, Kenya
The spectacularly positioned pool at Kichwa Tembo in Kenya’s famous Masai Mara overlooks the passing parade of Topi antelopes, zebras, giraffes, elephants, and buffalo on the open plains below. Located on the Oloololo escarpment of the Great Rift Valley, Kichwa Tembo has 40 updated tents, each cleverly positioned to maximize the glorious sense of space and privacy that is part of the Mara’s iconic appeal. Next door, AndBeyond has just reopened Bateleur Camp, with two nine-tent camps, a pool, spa, and gin bar.