Types of African Safari Accommodation

As the safari industry has developed, so have the number of options relating to accommodation type.  Accommodation in Africa has a diversity that stretches the imagination. Some of the terms used for accommodation can be a bit confusing, and overlap into different categories. Here, we try to explain the difference between different types of accommodation.

Adventure Camping

Adventure Camping requires guests to assist with general camp duties.  Guides provide assistance, but an essential part of this type of safari is participation – from putting up your tent, packing the vehicle, and meal preparation, such as chopping tomatoes for the salad or stirring a pot.  The group will help do dishes on a rotation basis.  You stay at designated camping sites inside and outside of the national parks. The comforts, fittings and facilities vary form one site to another site. For example, the campsites in the national parks may have only basic sanitation and sometimes no running water (Serengeti) while some private campsites have swimming pools and well- stocked bars. Overnight accommodation will be in 2 man tents in which sleeping mats are provided. 

Fully Assisted Camping (non en-suite)

We have a few tours that are fully serviced camping, but without en-suites.  Being fully assisted means, you will not have to lift a finger as a team prepare your meals, erect your tent etc.  All campsites we use have proper sit down flush toilets and showers. These are fixed campsites and have fixed ablution blocks. Depending on the itinerary there are a couple of exceptions to this where there is either (i) showers and only a long drop toilet or (ii)  We set up bush toilets and bucket showers. 

Fully Assisted Camping (en-suite)

Fully Serviced Camping is the modern-day version of the ‘traditional’ safari – like the gentleman explorers Baker, Stanley and Baines. The ox-wagons and bearers have been replaced with custom-made 4×4 safari vehicles and professional guides, but you still have your private mobile camp, personal staff of chef, waiter and support crew, home cooked meals and en-suite bathrooms inside your spacious tent – your own private wilderness experience. Improvements in modern camp equipment, lighting, refrigeration, hot water allow a quality lifestyle under canvas in the wilds of Africa, whilst maintaining that ‘pioneering’ feel.  You can sit back, relax and take in Africa’s wildlife and scenery. You will not have to lift a finger as your camp staff will prepare your meals, secure your tent, prepare you showers etc.  

2 to 3 Star Accommodation

The accommodation we use for 2 to 3 star is comfortable, clean and friendly and is booked on a twin share basis. The majority of rooms have en-suite bathrooms and very occasionally they will have shared ablutions. All linen and bedding is provided.

3 to 4 Star Accommodation

Our 3 to 4 star accommodated safaris and tours use a variety of  value-for-money accommodation.  Some have a private bathroom (hot shower and a flush toilet), while some have shared bathroom facilities. Accommodation varies from chalets, bungalows, traditional huts, permanent tents and hotels.  All accommodation is twin share basis and varies from permanent tents in a national park to a hotel a few metres from the beach, all of them comfortable, clean and friendly. 

Lodges

Safari Lodges vary dramatically in size and style.  Most lodges, especially in Kenya and Tanzania accommodate large numbers of people, with some properties having 60+ rooms. These lodges usually have complete facilities such as conference rooms, business centre and swimming pools.  Lodges are typically located in or outside national parks and reserves, generally not private wildlife conservancies, however there are some exceptions.

Safari Lodges – options vary greatly, from three to five star plus. Safari lodges are generally a solid structure built out of stone, wood, thatch, bricks, mortar or a combination of all.

Permanent Tented Lodges/Camps – are a mixture of solid structure and canvas. They are usually built on a concrete or wooden base.  Some have swimming pools.

Tented Camps

Tented Camp

Tented Camps are generally considered the best for a true safari experience. Most luxury tented camps are small with between 5 and 20 tents.  All tented safari camps feature, spacious canvas rooms with real beds and private, en-suite bathroom facilities. They often have waiter service, and dining is comparable with fine restaurants, with 3 course meals.  Typically these camps are sold on a fully inclusive meal and activity plan, often with local house beverages included.

Luxury Tented Camps – offer breathtaking vistas of the surroundings in a tranquil and serene environment. They generally offer private decks overlooking the bush, large sleeping areas, separate bathroom and showers with hot and cold running water and electricity.

Bush / Eco-tented Camps – these camps run on environmentally sound principles, specially designed to have minimal impact on the environment. The camps do not comprise any permanent structures and make use of solar power for electricity and eco-friendly charcoal for heating water.

Seasonal Tented Camps – For those that are a little more adventurous, mobile/seasonal tented camps are non-permanent tents are reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway’s adventures, that allow you to be fully immersed in nature. These camps are often erected for three to six month periods following the great wildebeest migration and other wildlife movements, putting you in the best locations for game viewing.