Internationally renowned TIME Magazine released their second annual list of the “World’s Greatest Places” to travel to, taking into consideration culinary and accommodation experiences that have that x-factor.
To compile the list of destinations, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories—including museums, parks, restaurants, and hotels—from their own editors and correspondents around the world as well as from industry experts. The nominees were then evaluated based on key factors, including quality, originality, sustainability, innovation and influence.
How does one measure the greatness of a place—in miles covered, dollars spent, or visitors captivated? Such metrics can play a part, but also important is something that many travellers aspire to experience: the sense that one has stumbled upon the extraordinary.” – TIME Magazine
Out of the 100 finalists, five destinations across Southern and East Africa made the cut – Lekkerwater Beach Lodge in De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa, Wolfgat in Paternoster, South Africa, Gorongosa National Park in Sofala, Mozambique, Leopard Hill in Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya and Omaanda in Windhoek East, Namibia.
Read on below to discover what makes these four destinations so unique and view TIME Magazine’s full list right here.
Lekkerwater Beach Lodge in De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa
“The De Hoop Nature Reserve, a few hours from Cape Town, is a haven for vulnerable species like the Cape vulture and the bontebok. Now, visitors can appreciate this rare nature up close with a two-night summer-camp experience, courtesy of the Lekkerwater Beach Lodge, which opened in April on a private white-sand beach.
Up to 16 guests arrive at the lodge at the same time, share family meals cooked with local ingredients, and take part in activities like exploring tidal pools, hiking and whale watching. While the lodge’s communal atmosphere is reminiscent of summer camp, the sleeping quarters are anything but. The seven beachfront bedrooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto private verandas with views of the Indian Ocean.” —Samantha Cooney
Wolfgat in Paternoster, South Africa
[TO EAT & DRINK]
“A meal at Wolfgat, which opened in 2016, has always been a dining experience for the truly dedicated. That’s because the 20-seat venue is in the remote fishing village of Paternoster (pop. 2,000), a two-hour drive from Cape Town. There, owner Kobus van der Merwe serves strandveld cuisine (which roughly translates to “beach vegetation”), harvesting his ingredients from the beach in front of his restaurant and the wild bush behind it.
Until recently, his customers mostly kept quiet about the experience, giving up bragging rights in order to secure tables at the best restaurant you had never heard of. Then, in February, the World Restaurant Awards dubbed Wolfgat the best restaurant in the world. Walk-ins are now impossible, but bookings can still be made up to 90 days in advance online.” —Aryn Baker
Gorongosa National Park in Sofala, Mozambique
“In 2004, Gorongosa National Park was re-envisioned as a “human-rights park”—one that both protects wildlife and invests in nearby communities. The park’s rebirth is the result of a recently extended collaboration between the Carr Foundation and Mozambique’s government. Roughly one-third of the park’s budget goes to community programs, from after-school clubs to aid for those affected by Cyclone Idai.
Local fauna has also gotten a boost: there are more than 100,000 large mammals in the park, a 10-year increase of over 700%. “When we first started … I could drive all day and perhaps see one animal,” says Carr Foundation founder Greg Carr. “Now we are a sea of wildlife.” —Cate Matthews
Leopard Hill in Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Kenya
“The volume of wildlife crowning the locally owned Mara Naboisho Conservancy around Leopard Hill is exceptional—elephants playfully clashing tusks, sturdy zebras galloping, big-maned lions nuzzling cubs. But animals aren’t the sole highlight at this eco-camp, which opened in early 2018 with six tents outfitted with outdoor showers and retractable roofs for stargazing from the bed, starting at $375 a night.
The all-Kenyan guide staff includes three trailblazing young Maasai women who attended guide school and learned to drive 4x4s. They pursued this career path with help from Basecamp Explorer, Leopard Hill’s parent company, a staunch supporter of female guiding.” —Kathryn Romeyn
Omaanda in Windhoek East, Namibia
“Plenty of resorts sell themselves as an escape, but few can offer the near-total isolation of Omaanda, a clutch of 10 huts in a 22,000-acre nature reserve in Namibia. French hotelier Arnaud Zannier opened Omaanda in 2018 after philanthropist and TIME contributing editor Angelina Jolie persuaded him to join Namibia’s still developing safari scene and work with the nearby Naankuse animal sanctuary—partly funded by the Jolie-Pitt Foundation—to protect local wildlife.
Now, guests can spot zebras, giraffes, rhinos and more on daily excursions, or simply relax in the hotel’s infinity pool.” —Ciara Nugent