Accommodation in Africa
There are some very unique and inspiring accommodations in Africa, from very basic camping in the wilderness to some of the most indulgent luxury available anywhere in the world. What accommodation is suitable to you (and within your trip budget) is a major consideration in choosing the right safari for you. Most accommodations can be broken down into basic categories which is some cases may offer moderate options right up to luxurious ones. Below is a list of these accommodation options.
If you want to get close to nature, you may be suited to a camping safari. Traditional dome style tents are often employed and usually furnished with comfortable foam mattresses. Clients should be aware that this style of travel is usually of a more participatory nature and you will be required often to put up and take down your own tents, help with general camp chores and may even participate in cooking for the group on a rota-basis. There are some camping trips that offer the option of limited or no-participation, if you so choose.
Where we choose to camp may be of a more wild experience where facilities are limited, however the vast majority of campsites in Africa offer great amenities with ablution blocks, and in some cases, a camp bar where you can have an evening drink.
Camping holidays are not usually age-restricted, but travellers should be aware of their very basic nature and therefore are not for everyone. However, if you want to experience a truly African wilderness environment, this may be the best option for you.
If the thought of being close to nature appeals, but the lack of comfort does not, this accommodation option is a perfect marriage between comfort and remoteness. Comfort camping employs the use of large dome tents, often as large as 3m x 3m square and comfortable camp beds with duvets and amenities for a much more comfortable camping experiences. In some cases, en suite facilities complete with porcelain chemical toilets may be affixed to the back of your tent, or at most two tents will share one set of facilities.
One of the great advantages of comfort camping is its intimate and remote experience. The whole environment moves with you on safari and all duties are taken care of by your dedicated camp staff. Often your group size averages just six people and rarely goes larger than ten. If you are looking for an experience that gets you away from the hustle and bustle of a larger African lodge, this is the perfect choice.
Comfort camping yields some of the best feedback from our safari travellers who remark at the great level of service they receive on their experience and appreciate its uniqueness in taking you into the heart of the African bush, while not compromising on comfort.
Most travellers will experience what is known as the classic African accommodation, an African safari lodge. An African safari lodge can differ quite dramatically from small intimate lodges that may only cater to ten to twelve guests right up to lodges that can accommodate over one hundred. They can be of a more basic (3 star) nature right up to very indulgent luxury that beckons for a 6 star rating if one existed! It is important then to consider each individual lodge on its own merits and what is right for you.
African lodges however do have one thing in common, they are built in an inspired style which is reflective of the African bush. They fit within the environment and endeavour to be a continuous part of the bush rather than an eyesore upon the horizon. Often you will find a watering hole located below the lodge, offering some great game-viewing opportunities right from the lodge itself. It is advisable to wander down to the terrace with perhaps an evening drink and watch intently for animals visiting for a drink.
One thing that is common to African lodges is that they do often offer the greatest range of amenities, which may include a pool for relaxation during the heat of the midday, a lounge, a library, among other things. So if having some of these amenities is available to you is important, this may be the best choice for you.
Luxury Tented Camps
This style of accommodation was first made popular by Ernest Hemingway, and can be one of the most memorable types of accommodation experiences you will have in Africa! There are two types of Tented safaris, Permanent Tented Camps and Mobile Tented Camps. However, each have common elements such as a canvas roof and walls, full size and comfortable beds, amenities within the room and en suite facilities.
Permanent Tented Camps
Permanent tented camps are affixed in one area. They do not move from year to year and are often constructed on raised platforms with comfortable furnishings and deck chairs for relaxation after your safari activities. Like African lodges they can vary greatly in their comfort from more basic (3 star) to luxury (5 star), so it is best to evaluate which level is best for you and your budget.
Generally speaking permanent tented camp environments are smaller than lodge-based environments and can offer from just five or six tents up to 32. Again, consider what type of experience you would like in defining the size of the tented camp. Some of the larger permanent camps do offer a lot of the same amenities as lodges and too may have a pool available for relaxation.
Recently there has been a movement in design where new camps are being built that incorporate the beast features of a canvas tent with the more permanent feel of a lodge. Some of the most unique and luxurious camps have won awards for their architectural designs and offer a stay that will be unparalleled in its experience elsewhere.
Mobile Tented Camps
Mobile tented camps are much like the comfort camping experience in how they operate. You are accompanied by a crew who will take care of putting up and breaking down the camp as you move along on your safari. The furnishings that are provided with a mobile tented camp are comfortable, but do not expect the same level you may expect with tented camps of the more permanent nature. However they are generally bigger and more comfortable than a comfort camping option.
That being said, there are great advantages to a mobile tented safari. We can set up camp in more remote locations, closer to the game, requiring less driving to get out to see wildlife than may be common with the permanent style.
Mobile Tented Camps are quite common in areas like the Serengeti in Tanzania where the camps are moved every season or two as they follow the pattern of the Great Migration and can offer a front-row seat to this world-famous wildlife spectacle.
Chalets, Guesthouses and B&Bs
Africa can offer a wide arrange of accommodations that are more classic in nature and can range anywhere from the very basic to luxury. One thing that is often common in this style of accommodations is we seek out places that are small and full of character.
More common in Southern Africa, especially in countries such as South Africa or Namibia, guesthouses can offer a comfortable place to sleep along our journey or in some very scenic locations. Exquisite B&Bs offering a smaller, intimate experience are common along South Africa’s famed ‘Garden Route’. Chalets are often found in some of the National Parks as basic accommodations that offer an upgrade to camping. They may also be found in the vast stretches of wilderness of Namibia in some classic scenic locations.