What Type of Safari Accommodation is Best for You?
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Underneath the starry African sky, a cacophony of sounds jolts you awake.
You hear a lion roaring in the distance as an elephant’s silhouette walks by painting intriguing shadows on the walls.
A safari in Africa isn’t just about spotting animals on a game drive during the light of the day. The experience continues through the night, as wildlife surrounds the tents and lodges. It all seems overwhelming, but from the safety of your accommodation, you find that the sights of the wilderness are nothing short of breathtaking!
When it comes to safaris in Africa, most travelers imagine having to stay in a tent in the middle of nowhere. Few anticipate the quality and variety of places to stay on a safari adventure. But the reality is, there are plenty of options available for your choosing.
From tents to lodges, in this article, we are offering detailed information on the types of accommodation you can expect to find during a safari in Africa so that you can choose the one that suits you best.
Types of Accommodation on an African Safari
Hotels and Resorts
Photo credit: Bio D Island LLC
Before and after the safari, you’d sometimes spend a night in a hotel or resort located in or near cities or airports.
The comfort level and amenities depend on safari you book, but most operators allow you to switch to a budget option or upgrade to a more luxurious one.
Photo credit: Viva Safaris
Lodges are permanent structures typically located in or near national parks and reserves or in remote areas. Safari lodges range in comfort level from basic (the equivalent of budget hotels) to mid-range (3-star hotels), luxury and ultra-luxury (4-5-star hotels).
If it’s your first time on a safari or you are not comfortable sleeping in a tent, a lodge makes an excellent choice.
Camping sites come in many shapes and forms and the same goes for the experience.
Adventure camping requires the guest to assist with camp duties. The guides assist but an essential part of this type of safari is to participate. You will have to put up your tent, pack the vehicle, and help prepare the meals.
The campsites can be located inside or outside the national parks but essentially it will entail you, the tent, and the wilderness. The comfort level depends on the campsite but note that you’ll sleep in sleeping beds. Generally speaking, the campsites located in public parks may only offer basic amenities (bucket shower and pit bathroom), while the private option may even offer a pool.
Full-serviced camping is the typical modern-day equivalent of the “traditional safari”. There are both en-suite and non en-suite options.
You will not have to help with anything, there will be proper flush toilets, but you will sleep in sleeping beds. The vehicles used are 4x4 safari vehicles and you’ll even have a chef to prepare the meals. The spacious tent may have or not en-suite bathroom (depending on the option chosen).
Tented camps are considered one of the best options for a safari and are usually small camps (5-20 tents). You’ll find a real bed, en-suite bathroom, and wi-fi service (where available).
They come with private decks and amazing views of the surrounding area. There is always cold and hot running water, as well as electricity. The dining service is comparable to fine restaurants.
Generally, they come both in mid-range and luxury options. Depending on the country you are visiting, the tented camps may or may not be fenced. However, they are typically patrolled 24h a day by armed rangers that keep you safe.
Photo credit: Safari With Us
Permanent tented camps combine the permanent base – which can be concrete or wood – with the luxury tented camps.
If you are looking for accommodation which is similar in construction to the lodge but offers a more intimate experience, the permanent tent camp is a great choice.
A special type of camp is the bush camp, also known as fly-in camp. These are usually small camps, located in remote areas. During the wet season, these camps are not accessible and therefore they are often totally broken down and rebuilt next year.
Mobile camps are also unique. They are set up for a limited time and then broken down. Mobile camps are typically set up for special events, such as the Great Migration in the Serengeti and Masai Mara. They can also serve as camp as part of a walking or overland safari.
Comfort Level of Accommodation on an African Safari
Luxury and Ultra-Luxury
Photo credit: Heritage Tours and Safaris
For safari-goers seeking excellence, luxury and ultra-luxury lodges and tented camps are the best choices. The views are magnificent, the rooms spacious, and the services incredible.
Luxury accommodations are the equivalent of 4 or 5-star hotels, offering amenities such as spa facilities and entertainment. They also offer world-class restaurants. You can book the luxury and ultra-luxury comfort level as part of an all-inclusive package.
Photo credit: Adventour
The mid-range lodges and tented camps are the best choices if you are a family or a couple looking for comfort on a budget.
There is usually wi-fi on-site, as well as a restaurant, bar, money exchange, and laundry service. However, the facilities, location, and rooms set up vary quite a bit between accommodations. Do expect to find running hot and cold water, as well as flush toilets.
Typically, mid-range lodges and tented camps are the equivalent of 3-star hotels.
Photo credit: Kruger Park Tours
Perfect for those traveling on a budget, the budget lodges and campsites cater to those who are seeking more adventure.
The budget lodges are the equivalent of budget hotels. Expect basic room amenities and facilities.
The budget campsites can come in many shapes and forms. You can expect to find western bathrooms but there may be pit bathrooms, too. There are bucket showers and the water is typically heated over an open fire.
Excited to go on your next adventure? Book a camping safari in Tanzania and enjoy the beautiful African wildlife without breaking the bank.