Going on safari is a bucket-list experience that alludes most exotic travelers. Not only does it require North America-based travelers to spend a full day in the air (at least), but it demands at least a week off if you want to make those 30-hour flights worthwhile. Safaris can be an expensive ticket, between the desert accommodations, international flights, and highly skilled tour guides. And the reality is, wildlife is unpredictable, so there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually experience local animals on safari. However, one way to increase the likelihood of an unforgettable wildlife adventure is to stay in accommodations where animals will come right up to your hotel pool.
You might still want to book your safari at these destinations, but the chance to see wild animals while you’re en route to the spa or walking to breakfast allows you to respectfully see the animals in some of their most authentic moments. Whether you’re hoping to encounter a giraffe on your way to lunch, or you want to wake up next to a window you can bird watch directly out of, wildlife is all around in these destinations.
These luxe accommodations will help you find the animal adventure of your dreams, all while protecting the animals and ensuring their comfort. It’s the perfect marriage between roughing it and relaxation—at these eight spots, you’ll find the amenities you’re accustomed to, with the adventure you’re itching for. Here are eight places where you can see wildlife up close.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti, Tanzania
Wild animals come right up to the lodge in the Serengeti. One of the most eagerly anticipated sights at the lodge is the elephants who often come to the nearby watering hole. Not only that, but the Four Seasons Safari Lodge Serengeti will also organize game drives where you might spot some of the millions of wildebeest and zebra that migrate across the Serengeti each year.
Resort Sarang Wildlife Sanctuary, Nepal
Set on 18-acres of remote Nepalese jungle, Sarang Wildlife is a five-hour drive or 30-minute flight from Kathmandu. They have 24 deluxe cottages and resident elephants on the self-contained property. You can tour the property on a Jeep safari, or even help wash the elephants.
Port Lympne Hotel, United Kingdom
A sanctuary for endangered animals in Kent, Port Lympne even breeds rare animals and when possible, introduces these animals to a protected area of their natural habitat. The animals are not caged, but rather live in the wild on Port Lympne’s expansive grounds. Stay in Port Lympne’s luxury tiger, rhino, or wolf lodges, or opt for a private safari in hopes of seeing the wildlife up close. If you're lucky you may even get to see wolves or a tiger up close.
Lapa Rios Eco Lodge, Costa Rica
On 1,000 acres of rainforest, Lapa Rios Lodge will put you right in the middle of the Costa Rican ecosystem. You’ll bunk in the rainforest with a myriad of birds and mammals like monkeys, sloths, and toucans.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
The Nordic animals await in Lapland, as do the Northern Lights and glass-top igloos at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort. There are three farms on the property, which are home to more than 400 huskies and 16 horses.
Jumeirah Vittaveli, Maldives
Private island life in the Maldives takes you off the grid, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be an animal adventure component of your trip. You’ll see native fish swim right up to the private island, and can participate in daily stingray feedings at Jumeirah Vittaveli. The island’s grey herons like to pop by for the stingray feedings—the herons have actually inhabited the island and might even stop by your private pool.
Giraffe Manor, Kenya
The luxury hotel in the middle of a Nairobi private forest doesn’t own giraffes—the giraffes roaming the property are actually considered wild animals. However, at Giraffe Manor, you can usually expect at least five giraffes a day to mosey over for breakfast or afternoon tea, when guests are given grass pellets to feed them.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort, Florida
Looking for a safari without an international flight? More than 200 animals live on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort, including gazelles, zebras, and giraffes. Spot them from the viewing deck, or take a three-hour sunset safari to see the wildlife in action.