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Great Expectations: Safari Lodging 101

Undertaking an African safari isn’t quite like visiting Walt Disney World for the weekend. Going to Africa requires planning and organization. Nothing should be left to chance, and that includes where you stay.

It almost goes without saying that lodging styles in Africa aren’t what they used to be. The days are long gone since 19th-century explorer Dr. David Livingstone pitched his tent under a tree. But whether you decide to go simple with a basic safari tent with a bucket shower or go all out with a glass-walled aerie-cum-penthouse, you’ll still feel very much part of the bush.

Below are four types of safari accommodations. To help make sense of it all, we’ve included trip reports posted by members of Fodor’s Travel Talk Forums. These fine, experienced travelers can help you make the right choice for your safari lodgings.

Which one suits your style?

Luxury Lodges

Some of the best accommodations in the world are in this category. Options range from stone- and thatch-roofed chalets to suites that wouldn’t seem out of place in Manhattan. No matter which you choose, you’ll find air conditioning, a small library, a spa, and Internet service. Best of all, you’re likely to have your own private plunge pool.

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Recommended Fodor’s Video

Chobe Chilwero River Lodge, Botswana as experienced by richardfh
Tongabezi, Botswana as experienced by jasher
Sands River, Tanzania as experienced by margieco
Phinda Forest Lodge, South Africa as experienced by atravelynn
Saruni Camp, Kenya as experienced by TravlinFool

National Parks

What you’ll get in this category depends on which park you’re in and what type of lodgings you’re looking for. Accommodations can vary from camp sites to simple one-room rondavels (round huts) with en-suite bathroom. Or you can try your luck in a safari tent or a two-to-four-bed cottage. The best option might be a top-of-the-line guest house that sleeps eight. With the exception of some camping sites, all national park accommodations are fully serviced with a staff to look after you.

Satara Camp, Kruger National Park in South Africa, as experienced by Fabio
Serengeti Serena Lodge, Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, as experienced by rsnyder
Planet Baobab, Makgadikgadi Pans National Par in Botswana, as experienced by fsmdn

Permanent Tented Camps

Think luxurious, comfortable, and spacious — but in a tent. This is no ordinary tent, however. Each has its own separate bathroom, usually with an outdoor shower, a wooden deck with a table and chairs that overlook the bush, carpet or wooden floors, big “windows,” and an inviting four-poster bed with puffy pillows and fluffy blankets (for those cold winter months). Public areas typically include a bar, lounge, dining areas, viewing decks, usually a pool, and a curio shop. Some will have Internet, a/c, and a private plunge pool.

Makoa Camp, Tanzania as experienced by YvonneM
Somalisa Camp, Zimbabwe as experienced by matnikstym
Chitabe Camp, Botswana as experienced by slsmith
Il Moran, Kenya as experienced by rizzuto
Erongo Wilderness Lodge, Namibia as experienced by Patty

Mobile Tented Camps

This option varies enormously. You could have a roomy, walk-in dome tent complete with canvas bedrolls, crisp cotton bedding, open-air flush toilets, and a bucket shower. Or you could have a luxury tent (with crystal chandeliers, antique rugs, and shining silver) that stays in one place for a few months during peak seasons. They tents are fully serviced (the staff travels with the tents) and you’ll dine under the starts or sip early morning coffee as the sun rises.

Mobile camping in Botswana as experienced by sundowner
Mobile camping in Namibia as experienced by panecott
Mobile camping in Tanzania as experienced by girlpolo33

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