You might have noticed that you can filter all the properties on our website by “Accommodation Type” and “Travel Style”. (If you haven’t tried it yet, do. It’s fun!) Some of the categories are pretty self-explanatory, (like “beach” and “train”) but some might not be if you have never been on safari. For example, what is the difference between a safari camp and safari lodge? Below are properties that we think are the epitome of each of the different kind of places you could stay while game-viewing. Hopefully it will give you an idea of the range of accommodation that is possible when you are on safari and help you find what appeals to you.
Safari camps often (but not always) have tents, but that doesn’t mean you are camping. The level of luxury in a safari camp can range from rustic to barefoot luxury to ultra luxury.
Chikoko Tree Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia. Rustic camps can provide great value for money but rustic doesn’t always mean cheap. It does often mean that these simple camps provide access to stunning remote areas.
Barefoot luxury camps are often characterized by solar power, and sometimes bucket showers and they are the perfect way to get that authentic safari feel. The Serian Camps in Kenya and Tanzania are some of our favorite camps and are the epitome of barefoot luxury. Other properties that capture this style are Kicheche Laikipia and Elephant Watch Camp in Kenya. In general, we think East Africa, particularly Kenya, does barefoot luxury best but Meno a Kwena and Selinda Explorers Camp in Botswana are also great examples of the style.
Ngala Tented Camp, Kruger Area, South Africa. More polished safari camps are a great way to get that feeling of adventure on safari while feeling a bit more enclosed and enjoying little luxuries like 24 hour electricity and running hot water. You can find a wide range of polished luxury camps in South Africa, Botswana and Tanzania.
Singita Explore, Serengeti, Tanzania. Luxury safari camps are the ultimate in glamping. They capture the spirit of another era with all the modern luxuries. Botswana offers the greatest variety of ultra luxury safari camps (with the prices to match); Zarafa and Little Mombo to name a few.
The primary differences between a safari camp and a safari lodge tend to be size (lodges, in general, are bigger), the presence of amenities (like electricity, air-conditioning and hair dryers) and of course, four solid walls around you. Because of these characteristics and amenities we tend to label all the safari lodges on our website as polished or ultra luxury. The more relevant distinction is that in some cases a safari lodge is a way to save money and in other cases they are your big, luxurious, splurge.
Value for Money
The Ngorongoro Serena, Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania is the perfect example of a safari lodge providing great value for money. It is set in an incredible location with some of the best views over the Ngorongoro Crater of any property. At the same time the price is absolutely reasonable because of its relatively large number of rooms (75). These larger properties will definitely feel less personal and intimate but still offer good service in excellent locations, allowing you to splurge elsewhere on your trip. The Serena and Sopa lodges throughout East Africa are great examples, as is Chobe Game Lodge in Botswana.
Motswari Game Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa. Sometimes 4 walls, AC and a hair dryer just sounds more appealing than a tent but that doesn’t mean you want a 75 room lodge. If you are looking for those amenities, but want a smaller, more intimate property, then South Africa may be for you. There are dozens of smaller, polished luxury options with amazing game-viewing in the private conservancies bordering Kruger National Park, including Motswari (pictured below) and Simbambili. There is also great value to be found in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Madikwe.
Singita Sweni, Kruger National Park, South Africa. If you want the ultimate in style, service, food, amenities AND game-viewing, these are the safari lodges for you. Some of our favorite include the Singitas in South Africa and Zimbabwe, the Lion Sands properties outside Kruger and the &Beyond properties in Phinda Private Game Reserve.
There is a safari property to fit every travel style and budget and you can even mix and match throughout your trip to give yourself some variety in style and price.