Safari Lodges and Camps Explained
Open the curtains to a herd of buffalo; admire silhouetted elephants while fine dining beneath the moon; drift off to the sound of nature’s lullaby…lodges and camps aren’t just places to stay, they’re an integral part of the experience. Africa’s unique accommodation ensures that the safari never stops and you’re going to love the relaxed evenings, surrounded by the sights and sounds of the wild.
There are Plenty of Accommodation Options
Accommodation is a wonderful and often unexpected treat in Africa. Lodges and camps blend seamlessly into their surroundings and their non-obtrusive style ensures that wildlife isn’t scared off. Often they use the natural surroundings as unique features; we can recommend some beautiful tree houses, or luxurious camps forged from granite boulders in remote Kenya.
The setting is always exquisite and the views defy the imagination. Some are perched high above the landscape and you can really savour the scale of Africa. Many overlook permanent water, either a river or a waterhole. Every animal must come to drink so you enjoy a whole procession of wildlife when you’re relaxing at the camp or lodge. Evenings are the most popular time of day for the animals to quench their thirst, so you’ll be lounging on the balcony admiring the show.
Boutique and Unique Properties
Safari accommodation is both the compliment and the contrast to a day of exploring; you still get to enjoy the animals, yet there’s a luxury and serenity to bring you down from the adventure. You’ll even be able to lie on the bed and enjoy the wildlife, sometimes by sight and definitely by sound.
Always expect space and seclusion. And always expect something unique. Camps and lodges have been boutique since way before boutique became a buzzword. We love how everywhere you stay has something memorable about it, whether that’s an outdoor shower overlooking hippos, a decadent deck for watching elephants, or having a massage while admiring migrating zebra. Often the accommodation is so good you’ll happily spend the whole day just sitting back and taking it all in.
One of a Kind Designs
Design is also unique. Some have an old-world charm, evoking the sense of the explorers from the early 1900's. Others showcase contemporary African style, with outlandish art or opulent wooden fittings. At certain camps you have a Masai or Samburu warrior accompanying you when walking around the open grounds, while at others there are massage therapists waiting to knead out any travel aches.
Our accommodation picks are luxurious
We only recommend camps and lodges that meet certain standards for comfort and luxury. They provide you with a private space, often with a personal deck or lounge area for relaxing. You’re never squashed next to another tent or room as all camps have seemingly endless wild grounds. For honeymooners we know some outstanding camps where private rooms are accessed on bridges over the floodplains or ladders into the forest canopy.
Communal lounges and decks are where you can meet other visitors and really savour the grandeur of the settings. As most camps are on a small scale, there’s always a friendly and inclusive atmosphere, especially when everyone is sharing their safari tales around the fire.
Lodges, camps, mobile camps? There are some specific differences. Lodges are permanent structures and can come with salubrious extras, like private plunge pools or spa facilities. You can think of them as luxury hotels in the wild, complete with everything you’d expect from a four or five-star establishment. Some have electric fences to keep the wildlife from getting too close and most have magical views.
Lodges vs Camps
Our passion for Africa helps us recommend some outstanding lodges all over the continent. If you’re a little apprehensive about accommodation in Africa, then a lodge makes a great first stop as it gently eases you into the experience. Remember, safari first developed as a luxurious travel experience, so it’s always had an infrastructure that caters to discerning needs. Many of the lodges have been around for decades and have pioneered the modern safari experience.
Camps are smaller, enabling them to be situated in the areas that are richest in wildlife. We love the enchantment of a safari under canvas and the opportunity to immerse all your senses in the landscape. Canvas walls enable you to hear everything and wild Africa creates a spectacular song; the drumbeat of hooves, lion roars, elephants trumpeting and sporadic calls echoing from the trees.
Most luxury camps aren’t that much like typical camping trips. They usually have large en-suite bathrooms, featuring Western-style toilet seats and some fancy extras. The locals have devised ingenious ways to get you a hot shower in the bush, piping the water from a roaring fire straight into your bathroom. Don’t be put off Africa by thoughts of the bathroom. You’ll be astonished at how good they are. And for those who like a bath with a view, we can recommend some private outdoor bathrooms that fully immerse you in nature.
Here’s a general guide on what to expect:
Luxury Eco Tented Camp
These camps have minimum impact on the environment, providing basic tents with solar power, tarpaulin floors, bucket showers, and simple furnishings. Eco camps can also be mobile which means they move with the animals and are usually private.
Luxury Tented Camp
Permanent or semi-permanent camps, offering canvas tents with semi-solid flooring and upgraded furnishings. These are intimate camps, with usually no more than 15 tents.
Luxury Tented Lodge
Modern, permanent camps featuring structured tents with hard wooden flooring and canvas walls. These camps usually have running showers, and sometimes feature a swimming pool.
The most luxurious option, these lodges offer permanent solid rooms and suites. Lodges can have bigger occupancies, and usually feature a communal swimming pool and a spa.
Elephants drinking from the swimming pool? Honeymoon seclusion and champagne picnics? Somewhere for the children to run free? We understand that everyone has their own tastes and expectations. Working with the full range of camps and lodges ensures we can tailor a holiday that perfectly suits your needs and desires.