Luxury lives here

Feel like royalty on your own private island, marvel at untamed beauty in the bush or revel in a coastal sanctuary... Three African escapes where luxury abounds but community counts

By Ingrid Wood
Morukuru Ocean House Ⓒ Supplied


Imagine your own private island with all the paradise trimmings. Located off the Tanzanian coast (a 45-minute helicopter flip) in the largest marine protected reserve in the Indian Ocean, Thanda Island is an idyllic, pristine haven.

Thanda Island Villa and Pool Ⓒ Supplied
Thanda Island Pool Ⓒ Supplied

Wellness and happiness are behind the Thanda ethos, and there is no shortage of amenities and activities to ensure that those two things are taken care of. The accommodation consists of a large five-bedroom villa and two beach chalets (bandas) on the other side of the 8-hectare island. There’s a magnificent rim-flow pool, tennis and volleyball courts (lit for night games), a gym, yoga and spa treatments (which you can enjoy in the privacy of your room or on the beach, if you prefer).

Then there’s an adventure zone right on your doorstep. Thrilling water activities include scuba diving, swimming with whale sharks, snorkelling, big game fishing or exploring the ocean in the catamaran or cruiser provided – with a dedicated skipper, of course. Then there are leisurely walks and jogs, exploration adventures, snoozes under the brollies and indulging in the finest seafood. One of the highlights is taking a bath in the copper tub on the beach as the sun sets. It really doesn’t get better than this!

Passion and purpose

Thanda Island partners with the Tanzania Marine Parks and Reserves and Sea Sense, a leading non-governmental organisation that is involved with various marine conservation and education programmes in the region, including the preservation and rehabilitation of the Shungimbili coral reef. The island team also participates in social empowerment programmes on nearby Mafia Island.


While Africa has no shortage of incredible safari experiences, Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage Site, remains an unparalleled spot for both its beauty and wildlife encounters. Wilderness Safaris Vumbura Plains, which reopened earlier this year after an extensive refurbishment, undoubtedly has one of the prime positions in the heart of the Delta.

Vumbura Plains Ⓒ Supplied
Vumbura Plains Patio Ⓒ Supplied

Made of wood, glass and canvas, the 14 suites are perched on raised decks under tree canopies overlooking the grasslands (melapo). Each suite has an indoor and outdoor shower, private plunge pool and an outdoor sala (living room). Inside, the green and blue hues reflect the Delta, and the furniture is designed to echo the landscape, while artwork screens and installations pay tribute to the Okavango Community Trust, displaying the heritage and culture of the local people.

Given the exceptional location and horizon-wide views – you can expect to see predators, antelope, elephant, hippo and many of the 600 bird species from the comfort of your deck – you might not want to leave your large, airy suite. But you will be missing out on the opportunity to see even more. Vumbura Plains experiences include day and night game drives, walks, meanders along the water channels in mekoro (dugout canoes) or a zippy boat, hot-air ballooning and scenic helicopter flights.

Passion and purpose

The 60 000-hectare Vumbura Plains Private Wilderness Area is leased from five villages, through the Okavango Community Trust, a participation plan that generates revenue and creates jobs. Vumbura’s menus also draw on seasonal ingredients purchased from local farmers to reduce food miles and provide neighbouring communities with an additional revenue stream.


Located in the De Hoop Nature Reserve on the Southern Cape Coast, Morukuru Ocean House is an exclusive-use, five-star eco-retreat for those who want beach and bush, as well as privacy, which in our mind is the ultimate luxury.

Morukuru Ocean House Patio and Pool Ⓒ Supplied
Morukuru Ocean House Aerial Picture Ⓒ Supplied

The Ocean House is perfectly positioned for everything from whale-watching – the entire length of the De Hoop coast is a marine protected area and home to the Southern Right Whale nursery – to stargazing (and, yes, telescopes are provided), thanks to its seclusion, rooftop terrace and vast double-glazed glass doors. The interior is inspired by the surrounding dunes and fynbos vegetation – think soothing palettes of blues and greens, a quiet nook with tranquil views for a Zen moment, open plan lounges, fireplaces for cooler evenings and a wine cellar. The outdoor area is a wind-free design (essential in the Cape!), with a huge swimming pool, rooftop terrace and sun deck with sofas. Ocean House is fully serviced and comes with a private butler and chef.

If you’re keen to burn some calories, take your pick from guided bush or marine walks, mountain biking, sandboarding and snorkelling. Boat, as well as helicopter trips, can be booked during whale season (from June to November).

Passion and purpose

The entire beach house is off the grid; even the underfloor heating is solar. Water is filtered and bottled on-site. The Morukuru portfolio has supported Cape Nature since 2010, as well as Ouplaas Primary, Elim House and Nuwerus Nasorg. Morukuru also backs Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travellers to participate in community projects.

This article first appeared in the 2022 annual special edition of YourLuxury Africa.

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