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Safari Accommodation – Making the Right Choice

Accommodation is an essential part of any safari experience. Among the many different types of accommodation available on safari are ‘tented’ options. Though comfort is very important on any holiday, there are several other key elements to consider when evaluating accommodation options.

Your overall safari experience will be determined by a variety of factors, namely:

  • Value for money,
  • location and views,
  • size of camp (number of rooms),
  • management style and camp atmosphere,
  • food quality and dining arrangements (communal or individual),
  • service levels,
  • variety of activities,
  • security from wild animals at night
  • quality of guiding,
  • relaxation opportunities
  • game-viewing potential

Everyone has different priorities, and you may decide to change them for different stages of your holiday, perhaps choosing to ‘mix and match’ the styles of accommodation you experience.

So, what accommodation choices are available in an African Safari?

Options include mobile tented camping, large commercial lodges (similar to hotels), intimate eco-camps and upmarket camps / lodges with luxurious tents, some with plunge pools and spas.

Boutique Lodges and Small Luxury Camps

These are more exclusive, usually catering for less than 30 guests and offer impressive accommodation with high
standards of décor, service and cuisine. Facilities may include swimming pools, private plunge
pools and spas with in-house beauticians and massage therapists. Higher prices, of course, reflect this luxury.

Like the Eco-camps, most guests arrive by air, flying in on light aircraft to avoid long journeys over bumpy roads. Guests are taken on game drives in the property’s own 4×4 safari vehicles by driver-guides who know the area
well.

Eco-camps

These camps are small and exclusive, often with just 6 to 10 guest tents. They have minimal impact on the environment through ecofriendly design and operating systems while still offering
comfortable accommodation and high standards of hospitality. The guest tents have proper beds and ensuite
bathrooms with safari showers and flush toilets. They are ideal for guests who wish to get close to nature and to enjoy an authentic safari experience with excellent guides.

Large Tourist Safari Lodges and Larger Permanent Tented Lodges

These are popular with the mass-market tour companies operating minibus tours by road and have the type of facilities expected of hotels, with bars, dining rooms, swimming pools. The biggest may accommodate over 200
guests and so they can be a little impersonal and crowded but offer a lower-priced option for those on a more limited
budget. Many have good standards of professional management such as those of the Sarova and Serena groups or Heritage Hotels.

Adventure Camps and Mobile Camping

These are usually small camps with 2-man dome tents. It is “real camping” with sleeping bags on a
mattress on the floor, but many will have their own adjoining bathroom cubicle with safari shower and flush toilet.

Some of the Adventure Camps actually offer the same high quality wildlife viewing experience provided by the top-end safari camps, with 4×4 game viewing escorted by top class guides and in exclusive wildlife conservancies away from the tourist minibuses, but at a hugely reduced price.

These camps are for those for whom the wildlife safari experience is more important than the accommodation and who don’t mind an element of “roughing it” if this brings down the price!

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