An immaculate canvas room at the foot of an immense sand dune in the Namib Desert. A private house with an infinity pool overlooking Kenya’s wild northern frontier. A table set with fresh sashimi, on the shores of Lake Tanganyika. The best luxury stays go beyond memorable – they verge on the theatrical.

Providing stand-out luxury in the harsh environment of the African bush requires resourcefulness and creativity. It’s not enough just to look beautiful – it has to work, too. So the challenges of building, let alone operating such places, are extreme.

When hard work pays off

While luxury means superb food (often cooked in ingenious ways) and indulgent comfort, it’s the sensational locations and the people who run such places that are the real reason to visit. This is what sets the great apart from the good. For example, a wonderfully comfortable, boutique camp in the Kalahari is special. But to be hosted by its owner, who also happens to be one of the world’s leading experts on desert-adapted species – that’s once in a lifetime.

So what does something like this cost?

Luxury in Africa comes at a price, largely because of huge and often unseen logistics – what do you do when you run out of eggs and the nearest shop is 17 hours away by boat? Expect to pay a minimum of a thousand dollars per person per night for the top luxury camps and lodges. But remember, what you’re paying for here (usually all-inclusive) bears little resemblance to a normal hotel experience – you’re buying a slice of magic.

What do I get for this?

Incredible locations, world-class game viewing and guiding, excellent service, delicious food and wines… You’ll be spoilt top-to-toe, in other words.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely – the best camps of this kind will be like nothing you’ve ever experienced. However, our advice is to mix it up. A night or two in the lap of luxury may be enough. Variety is the spice of life, after all, and you may want to combine it with something completely different. A couple of nights in a simple traditional safari camp perhaps, or even a wild flycamp under the stars. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to suggest some winning combinations to whet your appetite.

I need to keep in touch with work – can I?

Like it or not, internet access pretty much comes as standard in luxury safari lodges these days. However you do need to remember that connections are often restricted and relatively low bandwidth. So keeping on top of emails, yes. Downloading The Lion King to work out what species of hornbill Zazu is, no. Wait until you get home.