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3 Types of Safari Accommodations and How to Choose

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Tented suite at Marataba Safari Lodge in South Africa

Tented suite at Marataba Safari Lodge in South Africa. Photo courtesy of MORE Family Collection

An African safari is defined by the properties you select. Most travelers have an idea of what they hope to see on a game drive, but few anticipate the quality and variety of safari accommodation available. Across the continent, African safari accommodations tend to exceed expectations. Lodges and camps are not just a place to sleep, but “art galleries in the bush,” boutique spaces that inspire and enchant with African influences and touches that cannot go unnoticed. There are three options for the luxury safari traveler, and good reasons to try them all.

What to Expect

Lemala Nanukie Tented Lodge in Eastern Serengeti, Tanzania

Lemala Nanukie Tented Lodge in Eastern Serengeti, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Lemala

Definitions blur, names are often used interchangeably, but African safari accommodation can be broadly split into three categories for the luxury traveler: lodges, luxury tented camps, and mobile camps. Some countries are dominated by one of these, while in others, a safari itinerary could feature a mix of accommodation styles. One thing that weaves a common thread is that no matter where you stay, outstanding service levels and unique experiences are par for the course each day.

Large or small, your experience begins from the moment you arrive at the entrance, where a traditional African greeting awaits. You may find some comforts that remind you of home, and for some, the properties are a complete escape to another world. There is a rugged indelible charm, epitomized by the sundry of nearby wildlife and the unbroken panoramas across Africa's wilderness. Rarely flashy or ostentatious, they deliver at the highest level.

Like the mammals that grace the abundant landscapes, there is always something memorable and distinctive about each place you stay. While you're staying in majestic Africa, the accommodation is of a quality that makes safari accessible to even the most discerning of visitors. Pampering comes in various styles, where you choose to rest on safari will offer a unique perspective every time. You could say that the accommodation is the great unexpected treat of African safari tours.

With such monumental landscapes, always expect space, both with individual rooms and the layout of a camp or lodge. Space and seclusion come naturally here as lodges are carefully situated a secluded distance away from each other. Also, expect inimitability. Working with the natural environment, each accommodation looks to offer something unique in both style and design. Safari accommodation is both the compliment and the antidote to a day of exploring, gently pulling you down from the high of the day's adventure.

1. Safari Game Lodges

Guest fire pit at Lions Sands River Lodge in South Africa

Guest fire pit at Lions Sands River Lodge in South Africa. Photo courtesy MORE Family Collection

Safari lodges are classic places to stay, elevating the landscapes' beauty with eternal panoramas and high levels of comfort. They're permanent structures, carefully situated in a prime location, complimented by their environment, and often in lofty positions with commanding views. Being permanent, this is where you encounter many traditionally sumptuous extras, like infinity pools with a view or elegant bar areas and expansive restaurant terraces. As a very broad summary, lodges are a localized version of a hotel or guesthouse, with private bathrooms, spacious restaurants, and extras like swimming pools.

Why Stay at a Safari Game Lodge

  • Amenities that most closely resemble a Western-style hotel, particularly with well-appointed bathrooms with standard features and amenities.
  • The option for larger groups to stay as lodge sizes range with regards to the number of rooms.
  • Much like a hotel, visitors often have the choice of a variety of rooms, with deluxe or honeymoon options.
  • Lodges are found all over Africa, in national parks, wilderness areas and private reserves. They are the most ubiquitous of the continent's accommodation options.

2. Luxury Tented Camps

Duba Plains Suite guest tent in Okavango Delta, Botswana

Duba Plains Suite guest tent in Okavango Delta, Botswana. Photo courtesy of Great Plains Conservation

Luxury tented camps are situated in areas rich with wildlife, permanent or semi-permanent operations catering for an intimate number of guests. They use canvas tents on solid bases with large beds and private bathrooms, some extending out to a private wooden deck with an outdoor shower. Tents are high enough to stand comfortably in and are equipped with all the finishings you would expect from a luxury accommodation.

Why Stay at a Luxury Tented Camp

  • Intimate accommodation that caters for a small number of guests, usually situated in prime wildlife areas.
  • Continued immersion in the wild, exemplified by regular wildlife encounters and an evocative soundtrack.
  • Space and seclusion that's favored by couples and those seeking a more exclusive experience.
  • Spacious canvas tents are furnished like a hotel room, with private bathrooms, large beds, and luxury touches.
  • Found throughout Africa’s safari circuit in national and private parks and reserves.

3. Mobile Tented Camp

Mobile tented camp dining in Botswana.

Mobile tented camp dining in Botswana. Photo courtesy of andBeyond Savute Under Canvas

Mobile Tented Camp

Mobile tented camps provide the ultimate immersion in the wild, temporary structures catering to just a single group of guests. There's a seductive intimacy, just a couple of large tents amongst miles of abundant landscape. Some move with the seasons, pitching up in new locations dependent on the rains. Others move every few days, providing extremely exclusive experiences and incumbent thrills. Like luxury tented camps, this is not camping in its traditional sense. Space, comfortable beds, great food, and warm showers are provided deep in the wilderness.

Why Stay at a Mobile Tented Camp

  • Ultimate immersion in the wild landscapes of Africa, including intimate encounters with a whole sundry of wildlife.
  • Exclusive and secluded, they usually cater to just one group of guests, making them idolized by friends and families seeking adventure
  • This could be the only available accommodation on multi-day wilderness safaris, particularly walking and horse riding safaris.
  • Surprisingly high levels of comfort considering the remote location, complemented by a sense of adventure.
  • Unique locations far from the regular tourist trail, offering a very personal version of the African landscape.

We Can Help You Decide

Game viewing from viranda at Sirkoi House in Kenya

Game viewing from viranda at Sirkoi House in Kenya. Photo courtesy of Sirikoi

Africa delights in its inimitability, from buffalo herds fighting at dawn to millions of wildebeest rampaging across grass plains. Just like the wildlife that graces the continent, accommodation can be wonderfully distinctive. Luxury tents hidden deep in nature, a treehouse nestled beneath the stars, or a lodge-style resort inside or outside a game reserve. An assortment of unique and wonderful options provide indelible highlights and continual memoirs to the beauty of African Safari. Learn more by filling out a Trip Request, or call our team at 1-888-265-9707 or find more information in our African Safari Guide.

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