With so many different types of accommodation available on safari, how do you decide which is the best for you?
You could be forgiven for thinking a tented camp would be cheaper than a lodge but in most cases it is the complete reverse. The permanent tented camps are usually the height of luxury with large walk-in Meru style tents often on raised wooden platforms, proper beds, lounge furniture and en suite facilities including flushing toilets and hot showers (often both indoor and outdoor showers). The communal area of the camp is often a wooden structure with a thatched roof housing an elegant dining room, lounge and bar with African artefacts and some even have a swimming pool and sun deck. The permanent tented camps tend to be smaller than the lodges with only a few tents, so are more exclusive and private and usually more expensive.
For a more authentic safari experience you could choose to stay in mobile tented camps. These camps may stay in their location for safari season and then be dismantled when the season is over. They have a lighter footprint due to fewer facilities, usually just a mess tent and camp fire, but the tents are still the walk-in Meru style, just more simply furnished. The en suite bathrooms still have flushing toilets, but showers will be bucket showers with hot water provided on request. Electricity is supplied by a generator that only operates in the morning and evening rather than 24 hours a day.
For a more home from home experience the perfect choice is a safari lodge, which has many of the amenities you would expect to find in a hotel. They can vary greatly in standard but rooms are often chalet-style with solid walls, en suite facilities and sometimes private verandas. In the main lodge you will usually find a restaurant, bar, lounge, curio shop and reception area, and outside will usually have lush landscaped gardens and a swimming pool.
The more intrepid traveller may consider the adventure camping option. The tents are of a smaller dome style and bedding is a camp bed with a mattress, pillow and sleeping bag. Washing and toilet facilities are often shared but occasionally en suite and comprise of long drop toilets and bucket showers. The camp moves every few days to a new location, and therefore some adventure camping options require guests to participate in camp chores and help out around camp – something which usually adds to the experience! The more upscale adventure camps have a support crew that take on all camp responsibilities, leaving guests free to relax.
Whichever you choose – the main emphasis of the trip will always be the thrill of watching wild and endangered animals in their natural environment, roaming free, hunting, or just falling asleep in the bush. The sights and sounds of Africa will stay with you, wherever you choose to rest your head.