Natural Selection is a collection of owner-operated lodges, who have joined with the common aim of offering unique safari experiences while being an important part of the conservation solution for Africa’s wildlife.
We think frills are great, but they are no match for thrills, especially when it comes to African safaris. Don’t get us wrong, we love a great bottle of wine and soft sheets as much as anyone. But for us, the greatest luxury of all, by far, is experience. That’s why we’re creating a portfolio of welcoming camps and one-of-a-kind experiences that are full of unique soul and colorful character, with extraordinary staff, located in the very heart of where the wild things are.
We’re pleased to offer you a unique portfolio of some of the finest owner-operated camps in Southern Africa. Stay tuned for more — we’re just getting started!
We’ve got a lot going on in 2017 and beyond! We’re working on plans to develop some extraordinary new camps and lodges in some of Southern Africa’s most remarkable wild areas. Such as…
De Hoop Nature Reserve, an easy three hour drive from Cape Town, has been called ‘the jewel of the Western Cape,’ and for good reason. For one thing, it offers some of the best land based whale watching on the planet. The sheltered bays off the coast are among the world’s most important calving grounds for the southern right whale — up to 400 at one time have been spotted from shore. With over 40 miles of rugged coastline and white sand beaches, the reserve is part of the greater Cape Floral Kingdom, the world’s smallest and most threatened plant kingdom and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2017, Natural Selection will open Beach Lodge, located steps from the beach in a private area of the reserve. The lodge was once served as the equivalent of Camp David for South African ex-president and Nobel Prize winner F.W. de Klerk. The new five star ocean-front boutique style lodge will include seven bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, indoor and outdoor showers and lavish baths, and outdoor lounge areas. Activities at the lodge will include hiking, snorkeling, mountain biking, bird watching and whale watching from June to November.
Mkambati Game Reserve, which sits along the “Wild Coast” in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, ranks as one of the most beautiful coastal reserves anywhere in Africa. Pristine rivers, tumbling waterfalls, deep gorges, rolling grasslands, pockets of dense swamp forest and beautiful secluded beaches are a few of the ingredients that make up this sublimely beautiful nature destination. The rolling grasslands create the sense of being on the plains of the Serengeti – but with the Indian Ocean as a backdrop. Imagine watching a big herd of eland or zebra as dolphins and whales splash in the ocean behind them or strolling along a beach where the only other footprints belong to an eland or an otter. Gwe Gwe Lodge, which will open its doors in 2018, will be located inside the reserve right on a beautiful, white sand beach and will offer guests restrained seaside luxury that blends in seamlessly with its natural surroundings.
Nkasa Rupara National Park (formerly known as Mamili National Park) is located in eastern Namibia’s “Caprivi Strip.” It borders three of Botswana’s most iconic game reserves and is within a stone’s throw of some of Africa’s finest and best-loved safari camps. If it sounds great, that’s because is it! To get a visual, picture Botswana’s famed Okavango Delta, with its lush waterways interspersed with raised islands, but with almost no tourists. In fact, last year only about 200 people visited the entire park! The government of Namibia recently agreed to allow Natural Selection to run a massive tract of the park as a private safari concession. In 2017, we’ll be working in partnership with the local community, which will receive jobs and a share of the camp’s revenue, to build a high quality tented camp in the concession with its own private airstrip and customs and immigration office.
Namibia is one of our favorite countries in Africa and the austerely beautiful Kaokoveld region is one of our favorite parts of Namibia. In 2017, Natural Selection will open the Desert Elephant Camp in the Hoanib River valley. Here the focus is on the surprising diversity of desert-adapted species which survive in this harsh eco-system; giraffe, elephant, springbok, oryx, giraffe, and even lion. The camp will also be home to a long-running giraffe research project by Dr. Julian Fennessy, the world’s foremost expert on the species. Guests will have the opportunity to learn about the project and even walk with some of the more habituated gentle giants. On top of all that, the camp will boast some of Africa’s most jaw-droppingly spectacular scenery and offer encounters with traditional Himba people and day trips to the famed Skeleton Coast National Park to the west. We think it’s a winner!
Botswana has a special place in all of our hearts. After all, our company founders got their starts here decades ago as safari guides. While much has changed during that time (including some of our hairlines), the fundamentals haven’t. Botswana is still Africa’s go-to destination for truly remarkable wildlife encounters in some of the continent’s last great wild and pristine areas. And though our roots certainly run deep here, we’re only just getting started! Stay tuned as we branch into brand new, undiscovered areas and partner with old friends to revitalize and reinvigorate some of the country’s best-loved and most iconic camps.
Namibia is vast and diverse, and we’ve got the plans to match! From The Caprivi to the coast, we’re working on some big ideas for 2017 and beyond. For starters, we’ll be expanding into Hoanib River area in the Kaokoveld with a brand new camp and some truly out-of-this-world wildlife experiences. To the east, we’re working on an ambitious plan to bring photographic safaris and a new conservation ethic to Nkasa Rupara National Park, one of Southern Africa’s last great undiscovered wild places.
Southern Africa has so much more to offer than just incredible wildlife. Take South Africa, for example. With more than 1,200 miles of coastline (that’s about 50% more than the state of California), there is a whole wet, wild world waiting to be discovered before or after your safari. That’s why we’ve set our sights on two of the country’s most beautiful coastal areas: the De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape, with our own lodge-to-lodge coastal walking trail, and Mkambati Game Reserve on the “Wild Coast,” where we’re developing a luxury lodge in the midst of pristine rivers, tumbling waterfalls, and sugar sand beaches.
Natural Selection may be a new company, but our roots in the African safari business run deep. Our founders got their starts as guides in the bush decades ago and today are among the true pioneers of photographic safaris in Southern Africa, with over a century of combined experience in the industry. They are old friends devoted to the simple premise that safari tourism, when done right, can be an incredibly powerful tool for conserving and protecting Africa’s last great wild places. As such, Natural Selection partners with local communities, governments and conservation organisations to help protect and even expand protected areas and critical wildlife habitat through the development of gold-standard ecotourism projects across Southern Africa. This deep commitment to conservation is matched only by our devotion to providing our guests with truly extraordinary safari experiences.