The stunning beauty of Africa's safari camps and lodges is obvious, but what isn't always as obvious is the fascinating history behind them, or just how far back in time they can be traced. So, in this blog we present the intriguing stories behind some of Africa's most historic camps and game reserves.
Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge is based in the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, one of Africa's oldest reserves which was first established in 1895 and is famed for its conservation efforts, most notably its preservation of both the black and white rhinoceros. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve was the base of Operation Rhino during the late 1950s into the 1960s, this initiative is widely acknowledged as being the saviour of the White Rhino from extinction. As the name suggests, Rhino Ridge Safari Lodge enjoys spectacular views out across the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park from its location perched high on top of a ridge.
Cottar's 1920s Camp's namesake, Charles Cottar first travelled to Africa in 1909 and with his three sons by 1919 had established one of Africa's very first safari companies, 'Cottar's Safari Service'. The business has been passed down through generations of Cottars and is regarded as a pioneer of photographic safaris. The first ever tented camp set up specifically for photographic safaris was opened in the 1960s in Tsavo National Park, followed by Cottar's Mara Camp in the 1970s and Cottar’s Kimana and Cottar’s Bushtops in the 1980s. Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in the Masai Mara opened in the mid-1990s and continues to represent the Cottar safari heritage to this day.
Sharing an unfenced 12-mile border with the world-famous Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands Game Reserves, the Mala Mala Game Reserve has been in existence since 1927 and is one of the largest Big Five game reserves in South Africa at over 33,00 acres, as well as being the oldest. Originally known for being a hunting concession, by the early 1960s guns were being traded in for cameras and so Mala Mala is widely credited for being behind the creation of the photographic safari.
Covering more than 17,000 square miles in Southeastern Tanzania, Selous Game Reserve is named after Sir Frederick Selous, an early pioneer of conservation. The area was first designated a protected area in 1896 and became a hunting reserve in 1905, before being established as a game reserve in 1922 and given UNESCO World Heritage status in 1928. The reserve offers tremendous game viewing opportunities, with an extraordinary population of giraffes, elephants, lion and cape buffalos. The reserve is also home to some fantastically authentic safari camps, the best of which includes Beho Beho in the north of the reserve and Siwandu on the shores of Lake Nzerakera.
Formerly known as Sparta Farm when it was bought in 1926 by Frank Unger and Charles Boyd Varty as a hunting farm, once Londolozi was bought by Charles' two sons they developed a focus on ecotourism and photographic safaris and subsequently renamed the farm in 1971, with Londolozi being a Zulu word meaning 'protector of all living things'. The owners went on to create the blueprint for conservation in Southern Africa, with Londolozi going on to be known as a world-class safari destination and in 1993 it became the first game reserve in the world to be accorded Relais & Châteaux status. There's many excellent safari camps in Londolozi, including Londolozi Pioneer Camp, Tree Camp, and Founders Camp.
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