The best new luxury safaris for 2017

(CNN)Searching for Africa’s wild heart is one of travel’s most magical experiences.

But being stuck in a 4×4 convoy while scanning the horizon for a distant lion can take the sheen off somewhat.
These new luxury safaris offer premium views, expert guidance and the chance to truly get among rhinos, hyenas and hippos.

    A private plane safari across Kenya

    Kenya’s varied landscapes and breadth of biodiversity means it is one of Africa’s premium safari destinations.
    Seeing it all can be a tall order though. That’s where Scenic Air Safaris comes in.
    Its new nine-day endangered species itinerary makes use of a freshly kitted out 10-seater private plane, with rotating leather seats for spectacular aerial views.
    The tour takes in the Maasai Mara, the Great Rift Valley, Samburu, Laikipia and Lewa, with exclusive access to scientists and researchers specializing in lions, reticulated giraffes, elephants and zebra.
    Prices start at $9,630 per person based on 10 guests traveling together.

    A forest villa in Rwanda


    Karkloof Safari Spa has all the trappings of the usual luxury safari lodge: private guide, game drives and spectacular wildlife.
    But it’s the wellness aspect that makes it stand out. The first inclusive spa property in Africa, visitors can indulge themselves with unlimited hydrotherapy and up to 11 different treatments per day.
    There’s no daily schedule, but it’s worth making time in between massages to head out and see the hippos, antelopes and rhinos which roam here.
    Health and Fitness Travel offers a seven-day package including flights, spa and private guide starting at $5,759.

    A rhino-tracking adventure in Kenya

    Located in a dry riverbed, the new Saruni Rhino camp, opening in February 2017, has just two small luxury “bandas:” open, stone cottages with king-size beds and waterhole views.
    Visitors can take part in a walking safari tracking endangered black rhinos, which have been reintroduced to this part of Kenya after a 25-year absence.
    Local guides use traditional techniques and electronic transmitters to help intrepid safari-goers get close to these incredible creatures.
    Saruni has a four-night experience starting at $630 per person per night based on two sharing.

    A tailor-made airborne safari in Namibia

    Namibia’s ethereal landscapes are unlike anything else in southern Africa.
    They’re best explored by light aircraft, with the chance to experience the Etosha Pan salt flat and the Namib desert without too much rough riding in a 4×4.
    Rainbow Tours has a tailor-made tour of the country, suggesting visitors touch down at the uber-luxury Kulala Desert Lodge, with the opportunity to sleep under the stars, and Ongava Lodge, on a private game reserve which borders Etosha National Park.
    Lions, elephants, springboks, ostriches and hyenas can all be spied in their natural habitat.
    Prices start from $4,767 per person for a 10-day trip.

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