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Hear the roar of a lion pierce the still air over the wispy grass on the never-ending plains and you know you’re in Africa. As the beloved classic The Lion King makes a live-action return to the big screen this summer, the breath-taking scenery of the Pride Lands will become the setting of epic fights and tear-jerking reunions, inhabited by some of the planets most precious animals. The good news?
You can experience the spine-tingling moment of coming face to face with the Big Five: lion; leopard; rhinoceros; elephant; and Cape buffalo, in the surrounds of luxury lodges hidden in some of the most biodiverse landscapes. The only trouble you’ll have is narrowing down our favourite picks of safari camps and lodges.

TANZANIA

Singita Faru Faru Lodge
Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park sits in the north of the African country and is famous not just for its unforgettable scenery but the annual migration of wildebeest and zebra that takes place there. Plucked straight out of a film scene, think a burning orange sun, the size of your hand up against the sky, slowly falling behind the flat top Acacias, creating strokes of magenta painted across the canvas above. The Serengeti is hot property at the moment, and Singita, a favourite of our managing director, David Ox, boasts five luxurious lodges and camps across this wild heartland. A conservation brand that has been dedicated to the preservation of the African wilderness for the past 25 years, Singita marries together youthful luxury with meaningful actions. A stay at a Singita lodge will take you to a world of transformative safari experiences, incredible reserves and extraordinarily consistent game viewing. Our top pick in Tanzania is Faru Faru Lodge, located in the Grumeti Reserves forming part of the Serengeti Mara ecosystem. Life takes a pause in this haven of stylish, yet traditional African décor set against the backdrop of sweeping views over the savannah plains.
Imagine the sound of the drums getting louder as you try and take in the real circle of life in the luscious green lands surrounding the lodge. Just like The Lion King, this is the kind of place that would open the wondrous eyes of anyone, any age, and the family suite is perfect for children. A game drive here will provide the perfect opportunity to see cheetah, wildebeest, giraffe, lion, elephant, leopard and the rare Colobus monkey, among others. Evening drives will reveal the mystical charm of nocturnal life in the African wild as the sun sets on the endless golden scrub. You also have the chance to see first-hand how Singita is helping to protect the animals from poachers with a visit to OP 7 where you’ll meet the game scouts and experience their daily work. Perched atop a grassy hill offering an incredible sunset view over the vast plains, this is a truly beautiful location, both in sight and in purpose.

KENYA

The Giraffe Manor
Kenya could be the most authentic spot for reliving The Lion King, as this is where Disney’s writers actually visited to scout out inspiration for the live action remake. Kenya’s lion country provided the perfect canvas to imagine Pride Rock and the Pride Lands with the discovery of locations like Borana Ranch on the Laikipia Plateau. Escape the bustling city of Nairobi and head west to the Masai Mara National Reserve, a savannah wilderness on the Tasmanian border. The annual migration of wildebeest from July to October will hear the thumping of hooves transcend across the bushy carpet and rolling hills of the expansive plains. The rest of the Big Five are not left behind though, with elephants strolling across the path in front of your safari jeep as if the green man on the crossing is eternally stuck.

However, if Sukari and Bahati, the giraffes from the film are your absolute favourite, then a stay among these long-necked beauties is a must. The Giraffe Manor within 140 acres of indigenous forest in Nairobi is home to a herd of resident wild Rothschild’s giraffe who love to poke their winding necks and inquisitive heads into the windows in hope of a breakfast treat.
Angama Mara
With 12 different room options, elegance and simplicity is woven throughout the décor, a colour palette of warm beiges and browns complementing the patchwork of auburn spots printed across the creatures’ skin. The rest of the Pride Lands family are not forgotten, with the chance to adopt and meet a baby elephant as well. 

For those who prefer to admire the grandeur of African animals from a distance, the stunning panorama out across the echoing chambers of the Masai Mara grasslands at Angama Mara will do more than satisfy. Skies will be struck with hues of radiant orange and candyfloss pink as you look out of your private tented suites, uncluttered in design floating among the heavenly scene of luscious vegetation. Game drives are entirely bespoke, with the guiding team making it their mission to find out where you’ve been, what you’ve seen and what your passions are to then structure your time out in the wilderness accordingly. Alternatively, sit down and take it all in from your room deck where the 300m of animal playground below may see buffalo lazing, giraffe strolling or hippos bathing, taking their time choosing with body of water is just right.

SOUTH AFRICA

Lion Sands Ivory Lodge Treehouse
South Africa should always be on the radar of anyone looking for a holiday oozing with luxury and adventure, but for fans of The Lion King, Kruger National Park is a gem of natural beauty and landscape that matches any five-star property. Timeless memories are sure to be made in this haven of endearing wildlife, located around a four-hour drive from South Africa’s largest city. A roam around this varied collection of rivers, watering holes and clusters of towering trees will drop you right in the middle of a film set, as the cutest lion cubs nuzzle into their mother and groups of zebras stand still in the cooling water. This is the ideal destination for a romantic getaway and the Lion Sands Game Reserve offer candlelit rooms in the twinkling sky. Take your pick from the selection of unique treehouses for a night to remember out of your suite, waiting for you to come back to after this incredible experience. Green vines weave their way up the wooden stilts propping up your very own private escape, cream drapes hanging still in the air, sheltered by wood and glass.
Feather beds and a hot shower provide all the mod cons you need, while the absence of Wi-Fi will let you experience the intensity of African nature by the soft glow of lanterns. Africa may have been called the greatest show on earth but a safari at Lion Sands will have you in the midst of all the action. A cast of 137 mammal species and more than 450 varieties of birds will be yours to capture through the film lens while your guide navigates long sandy paths and rocky outcrops of land. Let your eyes feast on the wondrous beauty of the leopard, known as the most elusive predator, or try and follow a herd of hyenas hoping they’re a little kinder than Scar and his friends. The Big Five, of course, will be teasing your inner explorer, but beware – they earned their titles from being regarded as the most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. You can rest assured knowing your guides are experts in finding the best spots while posing no threat. What’s more, ethical and responsible conservation management is one of the main threads to Lion Sand’s ethos.

RWANDA

Hot on our travel radar right now is Rwanda, the African nation known as the land of a thousand hills. Epic scenery covers the mountainous country, while the safeguarding of many iconic species is undertaken by the government. However, it’s not the Big Five game that people flock here in their tens of thousands for. It’s the incredible population of gorillas. It may feel more like Tarzan than The Lion King, but can you blame us? Gorilla trekking is an experience reserved for a bucket list and puts a trip to your local zoo out in the dark. The opportunity to see gorillas in their natural habitats is truly life changing and getting to stand just a few feet away from these gentle giants amongst bamboo lined trails is as precious as an African experience can get. With only approximately 1,000 gorillas left in the wild and 12 gorilla families living in the Volcanoes National Park, where you can trek, there has never been a better time to tick this off. 
One&Only Nyungwe House
When it comes to luxury accommodation Rwanda is bursting with options, but there’s one and only place we would want to go. Hidden in ancient rainforest within a working tea plantation, One&Only Nyungwe House sits on the edge of a national park covering 1020km² of bamboo, grasslands, swamps and bogs. Both the two-bedroom forest suite and Nyungwe room consist of contemporary design signature of the hotelier, with an African-inspired flavour throughout, all in the foothills of the dramatic mountains. Chimpanzee trekking is the hotel’s speciality, whisking you out into the depths of the park before the sun breaks through the clouds. An early rise is essential for the best viewing, but a beautiful breakfast will be prepared for you to enjoy on the go. When back at base, cuisine comes in the fusion of rustic tradition and modern flair, consistently served with sweeping views. What better to come back to after a day of spotting some of nature’s most inquisitive and proud creatures? 

As The Lion King makes a return to cinemas, there’s no time to wait to book your dream safari getaway. Let the thought of an idyllic white beach drift out of your mind for just a moment and open your imagination to a luscious landscape with pockets of incredible wildlife. To find out how we can design a bespoke holiday exclusive to you, call 0203 816 0985 or enquire here. To discover the depths of African luxury click here
Ellena Rowlin

Ellena Rowlin is a Content Writer

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