Accommodation on Safari
There are many different styles of accommodation available on safari, including a variety of ‘tented’ options. Whilst feeling comfortable and relaxed is hugely important on any holiday, we would also strongly point out that there are several other key elements to consider when assessing accommodation options. Value for money, location, 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, quality of guiding, relaxation opportunities and game-viewing potential are all hugely important factors to consider. Your overall safari experience will be determined by a variety of factors, and not just comfort levels.
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. However, in order to give you appropriate suggestions, we will need to have a general idea how adventurous you are happy to be, and what those personal priorities are.
To begin with, you may wish to consider three particular aspects of safari accommodation which may be significant to you.
Security from wild animals at night
This may well have an impact on your choice if you are intending to stay ‘under canvas’. Some properties will be surrounded by electric fences, whilst others will offer open access to all animals. We know that you are perfectly safe sleeping in any form of tent in wild Africa, but sleeping ‘under canvas’ is clearly more adventurous and takes you ‘closer to nature’ than sleeping behind a solid wall. We see this as a huge advantage, and indeed, perhaps part of the real safari experience, allowing you to enjoy something memorable and different from home. However, it is important that you feel comfortable, and not nervous, about your choice of accommodation.
The ‘sophistication’ aspect
Having the space, degree of luxury and facilities that make you feel comfortable is important. Both tented properties and those of ‘solid structure’ vary hugely in how basic or luxurious they can be. For a genuine overall safari experience, we would encourage you to view ‘safari’ accommodation in a completely different light to any other holiday you might take, although we would not want you to be unhappy with the level of comfort and sophistication provided.
It is quite common these days for safari camps to offer en-suite flush toilets and plumbed showers. However, more adventurous camps may have open-air bathrooms, long-drop (a hole in the ground with a box-seat over it) or chemical toilets and/or traditional ‘bucket’ showers (hot water provided on request, but a limited amount for each shower). Occasionally, facilities may be shared and/or located separately from your sleeping tent. If you are at all worried about this aspect of your accommodation on safari, then you need to decide what you feel comfortable with.
With these factors in mind, the various different styles of safari accommodation available are described below:
Fly-camping or Adventure camping
The most adventurous form of camping, using small tents on the ground or mosquito gauze ‘tents’, which are very lightweight and can be moved daily. Beds will generally be mattresses on the floor, or rudimentary camp beds, and ablution facilities most probably shared (long drop or chemical toilets and bucket showers). Sleep-out platforms or tree houses can offer a similar ‘close to nature’ experience where they exist.
Traditional Luxury Mobile Camps
Larger walk-in tents on the ground with proper beds, basic furniture and en-suite ablution facilities (chemical or long drop toilets are usual, with bucket showers). Such camps are more likely to be located in one spot for several days at a time before moving on to a new area.
Seasonal Tented Camps
The more permanent nature of these camps allows greater infrastructure and facilities, such as larger tents, more comfortable furnishings, flush toilets, 24 hour lighting, more extensive relaxation areas and more staff to look after you. However, you’re still likely to have bucket showers and such camps usually close during the rains.
Sometimes built seasonally, these offer a ‘close to nature’ experience and are built from a variety of local materials such as wood, bamboo, reed matting, grass and thatch. Comfort levels vary, as do ablution facilities. More adventurous bush camps are ‘open-fronted’ and have ‘open air’ bathrooms without plumbed facilities.
Whilst the walls of your accommodation are still canvas, permanent structures are used throughout, with tented rooms (often including solid frames and proper doors) built onto concrete plinths or raised wooden decks, often under a thatch roof. Comfort levels vary hugely, but tents will invariably have en suite plumbed ablution facilities. Central areas may be more extensive with additional facilities such as a swimming pool, and occasionally air-conditioning or private plunge pools.
Accommodation will vary hugely in comfort levels and design, but will not be tented. Rooms or chalets will have en suite plumbed ablution facilities, and central areas will often be extensive, with additional facilities such as a swimming pool. Lodges will also vary hugely in size, from small, boutique properties to large, mainstream hotels. Upmarket lodges could include air-conditioning, extensive personal living space and private plunge pools.
Private Safari Houses
Generally solid structures with multiple en suite rooms and extensive communal areas making them perfect for families or small groups of friends travelling together. Levels of comfort and facilities will vary, but the key factor is the exclusivity and privacy associated with hiring the whole facility on a private basis.
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