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Soccer Wives Go Inland for World Cup Retreat

Soccer wives and girlfriends, or 'wags,' can avoid the paparazzi by heading further into Africa to these luxury retreats.

LOS ANGELES (TheStreet) -- He's on the soccer field playing for his nation, pitting himself cleat to earth, trying to bring home the World Cup and, with it, coveted endorsements and sponsorships.

She's his trophy "wag" -- an abbreviation for "wives and girlfriends," picked up by the French as "les Wags" and Germans as "die Wags."

After some of these ladies caused a stink for the U.K. team during the 2006 World Cup, living it up with paparazzi and partying in Germany, the U.K. wives "will only be allowed to see husbands one day per week following national matches," according to the U.K.'s



So what's a wag to do? As it happens, South Africa is a prime hub for extraordinary lodges and luxury retreats -- from the exotic Sossusvlei Desert to the beach-chic Benguerra Island in Mozambique. Best accessed by private plane from Cape Town or Johannesburg, these exotic retreats provide a wag with the things she loves most: a glittery hotel and lots of preening staff.

The Sabi Sands Private Reserve is a 90-minute flight from Johannesburg. Probably the most exclusive game reserve on earth, Sabi Sands is home to the Singita Boulders Lodge, Londolozi, and Chitwa Chitwa Lodge. Originally a private estate named for a giraffe that, for years, made himself at home along the nearby lakeside,

Chitwa Chitwa

is now an exquisitely designed getaway that can break the fashionable scowl of even the toughest wag.

The freeform architecture, with tumbled stone walls that reveal bush views, is best enjoyed atop a comfy leather wingback in the private Chitwa House. The massive private villa comes with its own butler and safari vehicle, because a wag must never be awoken at 5 a.m. for a communal safari drive. One of the few lodges that welcomes kids, Chitwa Chitwa offers a safari-themed daycare so mom can enjoy first-class Big 5 game viewing with only one interruption: midday lunch, sounded by the pop of Perrier-Jouet and roaring tigers. Afterward, retire to Chitwa House, which is equipped for relaxation with a large, family-style infinity pool and a private spa space. An outdoor massage with native oils and lotions is sure to rub away the stress of the bush.

For more adventurous wags, who like to be the first ones seen at the latest global it-spot, the Namib Desert in Namibia is home to the world's tallest sand dunes, desert-adapted wild game and

Little Kulala Lodge

. Located in a sand sea of red rolling dunes, Kulala presents the perfect setting for brag-worthy Facebook photos. Weather in June and July is ideal, with tolerably warm days and crisp evenings perfect for Chanel sweaters and Moncler jackets. Among a main lodge that resembles a

haute couture

circus tent -- with freeform edges, open windows and circular lounge furnishings -- are open decks for gazing upon plains of wild ostriches and bat-eared foxes. Private rooms are set in freestanding steel and glass villas, outfitted with minimalist decor and wag essentials like plunge pools and outdoor showers.

Nearby Botswana has dominated the uber-safari circuit in recent years. Operators like

Uncharted Africa

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dream up impressive safari experiences while operating one-of-a-kind lodges like the exclusive Jack's Camp in the Kalahari Desert. The latest wildlife excursion is ideal for the woman who loves a bit of adventure -- as long as her husband doesn't mind her being protected by other, perhaps even better-looking, men. The Kubu Island Quad Bike Safari combines two nights of fly-camping on custom itineraries that span through mystical red baobab tree groves, lake bed archeological areas and flamingo breeding grounds. While she scours for artifacts dating back 10,000 years, the attentive staff travel further ahead on the route. There, they set up a gourmet evening feast, with fine glassware and bone-handled silver, awaiting her in a bohemian luxury camp complete with vintage antique tents and exquisite linens.

After the second night, the staff guarantees a life-changing "cerebral rearrangement" that is quickly followed by a hedonistic stay at Jack's Camp. For those who have never been, Jack's Camp was originally a '60s trapping outpost in the Makgadikgadi Pans before it evolved into one of the country's best luxury-safari destinations. The tent camp combines eco-sensibility with a bohemian luxury aesthetic straight out of

Elle Decor

. The canopied pool tent is something out of dreams: steamer chairs and heavy rose-colored drapery against a flat desert horizon. Ten vintage canvas tents may even hold a few decorating finds, with antique wardrobes, period writing desks and oriental rugs.

And for the wag who wants nothing to do with animals, preferring swathes of white sand and waterfront real estate, there's

Azura Retreat

on Benguerra Island within the Bazaruto Marine National Park. A direct flight from Johannesburg and private transfer aboard a six-seat Eurocopter brings a wag to a white sand paradise of just 14 villas -- one of them the coveted Presidential Villa. Measuring well over 4,000 square feet, the villa has a private beachfront and butler-serviced infinity pool. Thatch-roofed architecture gives way to soothing modern furnishings cocooned inside masonry walls and glass windows that actually close tight to keep out the creepy-crawlies. Meals are taken in the dining room, with an on-site sushi chef cutting up the daily catch (protein is a wag's favorite), and private dining options that can mask even the most serious wag eating issues.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of -- a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in In Style, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine, ITV and BBC.