THE GREAT AMERICAN VACATION
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Accommodations range from fairly basic huts to the ultimate in luxury at most of the private camps. The advantage of a private lodge (apart from superb game-viewing) is that often everything is included: lodging, meals, beverages including excellent house wines, game drives, and other activities. You'll also be treated like royalty. (Indeed, you may well brush shoulders with royals and celebs of
all kinds.) Note that there are no elevators in any safari lodging facility in Kruger.
At most establishments, prices include a three- to five-course dinner plus a full breakfast. Most places now have at least one vegetarian course on the menu. Many lodges and hotels offer special midweek or winter low-season rates. If you're opting for a private game lodge, find out whether it accepts children (many specify kids only over 12), and plan to stay a minimum of two nights, three if you can.
Most national parks have self-catering accommodations (you buy and prepare your own food): budget huts from R250 per couple per night and much more expensive (but worth it) cottages in the more remote and exclusive bush camps that range from R600 to R1,100. Visit the South African National Parks Web site (www.sanparks.org) to get information and book accommodations. Bookings open every September 1 for the following year. Make sure you book well in advance and, if possible, avoid July, August, and December, which are South African school vacations. If you can, book by phone. It's quicker and your booking will be confirmed (and paid for if you wish) on the spot.