Rustic Chic: 5 Boutique African Lodges Boast Local Luxury


There is no solid line between truth and fiction in architecture, as these fantastic-but-realistic rural retreats illustrate with beautiful balance. None is purely a reflection of regional materials or local techniques, but neither are they far-fetched fictions divorced from time and place.

“Meaning harmony or understanding in Kiswahili, Elewana alludes to a balance sought between all the elements expected by the most discerning traveler and the exquisite but fragile ecosystems of the African bush. A balance between people and nature, tourism and conservation, between extremes of comfort and style and the raw, often brutal, beauty of the worlds greatest wildlife experience.”

A rich dark-wood theme (hinting at earth, growth and perhaps roasted beans) permeates one residence set alongside the largest coffee plantation.

Another retreat that looks out on the Indian Ocean has elements of both East African and Mediterranean building traditions.

A series of tree houses (above) take a low-impact approach, raised above the ground and set inside a private gaming reserve to preserve but allow direct experience of the wilds. Meanwhile (below) along the Serengeti sits something that looks straight out of the history books, or an African Safari-themed film, but is not so overdone so as to feel completely false in context.

There is no particular moral to the story of these resort residences, save the obvious: the places are pretty and various architectures are engaged with their environments. They offer luxury in an unusual blend with direct experience, but are not ever made nor meant to be truly authentic, either. Sometimes, simply balancing the desires of someone seeking a dream vacation against climactic and local fact can be enough – at least for a temporary retreat.

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