African islands come in all shapes and forms, from palm studded jewels in the Indian Ocean to enclaves in the middle of the Okavango Delta. They can all have the tag ‘exclusive’ attributed to them in one way or another – here are some of our hand-picked favourites.
Chief’s Island in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta is so named because it was once the hunting preserve of the local chief. These days it is home to one of the richest concentrations of wildlife in the Delta. At 70km long at 15km wide, it sits permanently above the seasonal flood waters, providing a refuge to the wildlife seeking dry ground. Some of Africa’s most exclusive camps and lodges have set up home here among which are Sanctuary Chief’s Camp and Mombo – both renowned for prolific wildlife.
Beach islands for all
From Madagascar and Mauritius to the Seychelles and the spice island of Zanzibar, there are islands a-plenty around the African coast. Private island resorts proliferate and you’ll find some of the world’s best here including the Seychelles’ North Island and Mnemba Island just off Zanzibar. Head to Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago for some stunning beach hideaways while to the north, the Quirimbas Archipelago is a scatter of islands to match any dreamt up in a Robinson Crusoe fantasy. The Maldives comprises over 1,000 islands with enchanting resorts providing a range of accommodation options from family friendly to sophisticated romantic luxury.
Island adventure on the Zambezi River
Anyone after a bit of an adventure – which is, after all, one of the most appealing aspects of a safari – will love Sindabezi. This idyllic, exclusive bush camp comprising five open-sided thatched cottages sits on a private island in the Zambezi River, just upstream from Victoria Falls. It’s a great spot from which to enjoy the activities in Livingstone and a wonderfully tranquil place to return at the end of the day and dine under the starlit African sky. With wonderful views over the river and the Zambezi National Park, guests hardly need to leave their chalets to spot elephant, impala, hippo and waterbuck. The island accommodates a maximum of 10 but can be taken on a private basis by groups of four or more.
Heading away from the coast doesn’t mean you lose the chance to enjoy a water-side location as part of a safari. Several of Africa’s great lakes sport islands harbouring enchanting lodges and this beautiful Lake Malawi property is one we go back to again and again. Set on the south westerly tip of Likoma Island (a small island on Lake Malawi), Kaya Mawa is exquisitely designed to make the most of its natural surroundings but without scrimping on luxury or comfort. The premier rooms offer almost panoramic views of the lake and also have private plunge pools. Families or groups travelling together will enjoy the private houses here. Taken on an exclusive basis, there are three to choose from, each offering the same chic style as the rest of the lodge. Delicious food, an impressive range of activities and fabulous service have earned this lodge its five star following.
Off the beaten track exploring
Sailing around a string of tropical islands in northern Mozambique combined with a few nights relaxing at lovely Ibo Island Lodge is a trip to take you back in time. Island hopping in a traditional dhow, under the leadership of an expert guide, you’ll stop to snorkel off deserted beaches and sleep in mobile fly camps on uninhabited tropical islands. Back at the lodge you can soak up the culture of fascinating Ibo Island which, conquered and crossed by many, has architectural heirlooms of a bygone era from its Portuguese and Omani Arab rulers. This definitely isn’t all about exclusive luxury, but it’s a special opportunity to explore as travellers of the past might have done.
We would be delighted to help you plan a holiday, or answer any questions about the best exclusive islands. Our team of experts have travelled widely throughout Africa. They can offer expert advice on every type of safari from beach holidays to riding and primate safaris. If you would like to talk to someone who has been there and done it, please just send us an email or give us a call.