Getting a good night’s rest is very important on holiday.
On safari there are lots of different styles of camps and lodges – each one provides a slightly different experience. We’re here to help match each client with the right accommodation but for a quick low-down, read on!
Remember all camps/lodges are different so although this will give you a general overview there will be exceptions to the rule…
Safari Lodges & Bush Homes
Safari lodges come in all shapes and sizes from traditional hotel-like properties with doors and windows, to quirky treehouse-style lodges with completely open-fronted chalet style rooms. Lodges are permanent solid structures, connected to the grid with the services you would expect such as running hot/cold water and electricity.
Some lodges are also fenced (but not all) allowing you to walk around freely after sundown. For this reason they are also popular with families.
Some lodges offer rooms/individual chalets which can be sealed from the elements (and insects) removing the need to sleep under a mossie net. A major benefit of this, of course is the ability to have air-conditioning! You’re also more likely to find mod-cons in properties like this, such as hairdryers, a mini-bar, electrical sockets for charging gadgets and WiFi.
Bathrooms are ensuite with flush loo, running hot/cold water and a shower – often there is an indoor and outdoor shower. Some lodges also offer a bath.
You may find a woodburning stove or open fires in cottage-style accommodation – these are lovely in the winter months.
Safari lodges often have leisure facilties such as a pool, or spa and things like a gift shop, sun deck and library. They offer large communal areas for dining and socialising. Depending on the size of the lodge there may be indoor and outdoor communal areas.
Some lodges are like small hotels. The larger they are the more traffic there will be around the lodge so this is certainly something to consider. We only tend to offer small properties.
We love the traditional homesteads or ‘bush homes’ which you tend to find in Kenya and South Africa – these are homes (usually farms) which have been converted to eco-tourism. These have a very different ‘home from home’ feel and are really intimate, characterful places to stay – often the rooms are all individually decorated. Bush homes are often owner-run and managed so you can also expect a high level of hosting.
Tented camps tend to be be smaller than lodges, with just a handful of guest tents and fewer facilities. They stay in their location permanently. They provide a more rustic and closer to nature experience, while still being very comfortable.
Tented camps can be found in many beautiful wild areas and due to their small size, you tend to see fewer other guests and vehicles about. Tented camps are usually reached by flying into a local airstrip.
You’ll find uber-luxurious camps with vast suites and amenities, as well as very simple ‘bush camps’ without the frills.
All tented camps have a fire pit/camp fire – the heart of camp. A bar and ‘mess’ tent or central boma (where you dine) is usually positioned near the fire. Some camps have a pool or spa – some will even offer individual plunge pools.
Guest tents are often arranged on either side of the main area. The walk-in tents themselves come in many different styles/designs – some will be constructed of canvas in a traditional Meru style while others are reed chalet/cabins, or a combination of both. If you are travelling as a family, look out for family tents/units with two bedrooms.
Many tented camps use a thatch or makuti roof for added shade and protection over the top of the tent. Some are raised up on wooden platforms or linked by boardwalks, while others might sit on a riverbank with a deck.
Bathrooms are ensuite – these vary from indoor to outdoor and a mix of both. Tented camps have flush loos. Some offer running hot and cold water, and may even have a bath, while others will have a traditional safari or ‘bucket’ shower – this is where the water is heated up for you on request using the sun or charcoal/fire.
During the winter it can get quite chilly in the night/early morning so may find a hot water bottle in bed!
These kind of camps are usually unfenced and so you will be need to be escorted to/from your tent after sundown as animals can wander freely through camp.
Usually powered by solar energy, you’ll find fans as opposed to air-con, and don’t expect to be able to run a hairdryer or straighteners – you will have to accept being styled by the wind…
Mobile & Semi Mobile Camps
These small low-impact, unfenced tented camps are set up at the beginning of the season and taken down again at the end, leaving no mark on the landscape. This can be in line with the arrival of the rains, or wildlife movements such as the Great Migration in Kenya/Tanzania. Mobile camps allow you to visit wilderness areas, away from the crowds, and to enjoy a truly immersive stripped-back experience.
Mobile camps, sometimes called expedition camps, have very little structure to them. There’s a fire pit, mess tent and a simple bush kitchen. These types of camps tend to cater for 4- 12 guests (2-6 tents).
Mobile camps are usually off-grid or only offer very limited connectivity in the main communal area.
The tents themselves are walk-in tents (so you can stand up) with proper beds and other furnishings such as a luggage rack, bedside tables and lamps/lanterns and somewhere to hang clothes. Bathrooms are ensuite with a flush loo. They’ll have a bucket shower system rigged up for you with a duckboard to stand on – these can be inside the tent, or in an open-air extension accessed through a zipped flap and surrounded by reed panels for privacy. Everything you need for a comfortable stay is provided.
You won’t find hairdryers or air-con but you will find a stand up fan and charging facilities – if there is no charging available in your tent then a communal charging station will be in the bar/mess tent.
Sleep Out Decks and Star Beds
Sleep out decks/experiences are a great experience – this is when a special sleep out platform or treehouse is set up for you for the night, away from camp. You normally sleep out for 1 night, arriving after your afternoon game drive in time for sundown, or after dinner. Sleep out decks are elevated and positioned by waterholes, pans, a lake or on the riverside to give you great views and a chance to see wildlife. You sleep under a mosquito net. A guide/ranger sleeps not too far away and can be contacted if there are any concerns. You will be provided with everything you need for a good night’s sleep, including bathroom facilities, and are met in the morning for your morning activity/game drive.
Star beds are slightly different – these tend to be offered in lodges as part of your room set-up – usually on the deck or terrace. Star beds give you the option to sleep outside under the stars if you would like to for some/all of the night as opposed to in your room.
This is the most stripped back version of them all. Fly camping is a really thrilling experience where a simple overnight camp is set up usually as a night stopover on a walking safari. You stay in a simple dome tent or mosquito net cube on a roll mat, with a view of the night sky. Your guide will have their own tent not too far away. Food is prepared in a bush kitchen and you sit around the camp fire and dine under the stars. A short-drop loo and temporary washing facilties are also set up for you, with water for washing heated on the fire.
The perfect trip is very often a mix of different styles of accommodation – some of my most memorable nights in the bush have been at fly or mobile camps but it is lovely to then return to running hot/cold water, a swimming pool and some lodge luxury so I would really recommend doing a bit of both, if you can!
To speak to us about your safari please email email@example.com or call 01692 218 189.