Travel and Leisure has voted one of my favorite safari properties, Gibbs Farm in Tanzania, the world’s #1 safari lodge! In addition it was voted the 18th best hotel in the world! Awesome!
Looking more closely at the 2018 World’s Best List of Safari Lodges I had a laugh at their intro sentence “These remote properties, voted best by T+L readers, have unparalleled game viewing and superior accommodations.”
Gibbs Farm is awesome. I LOVE IT and we send many clients there. It still has the same wonderful vibe it did when I visited for the first time in the late 90s BUT there is nothing remote about it. It is located 2 minutes from the bustling town of Karatu, it offers no game viewing, and although the cottage rooms are wonderfully cozy I would not call them superior accommodations.”
Delving deeper I realized a great number of incredible safari properties were not noted – and I have a pretty good idea of why.
#5 Ngala Great Lodge (21 rooms)
#4 Crater Lodge (30 rooms) One of my top 5 in Africa for luxury and fun / unique style… but again nothing remote about it on the crowded Ngorongoro Crater rim.
#3 Mfuwe Lodge (18 rooms) – Really? I won’t even start…
#2 Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve (51 rooms) Nothing remote about it… there are 37 lodges and camps in Sabi Sands and outside the fencing you have freeways, shopping malls….
#1 Gibbs Farm (21 rooms)
Most African safari lodges and camps have 8-12 rooms whilst a good number are smaller with only 3 or 4 rooms – and many of these are STUNNING. Take for example Zarafa Camp (4 rooms) or Singita Boulders (12 rooms) – but they didn’t make the list. Why? All of the the World’s Best Safari Lodges have the same thing in common: lots of rooms! The World’s Best lodges, with up to 17x’s as many rooms as the smallest safari properties, can receive up to 17x’s as many votes in T+L’s awards.
Two other notes while being picky:
Most of the World’s Best properties are quite built up – more like hotel rooms with solid cement walls, sliding glass doors, mains electricity with AC and so on… none of these are really set right in amongst the wildlife in wilderness areas. Don’t get me wrong – game viewing in Sabi Sands and Ngala is awesome… but civilization is right around the corner (homes, schools, freeways, power lines, KFC’s and gas stations).
Lastly most of the world’s best properties range in price from pretty decent value to luxurious – but none are in the most expensive top luxury tier…. Crater Lodge being an exception.