When you go on safari, you have several choices of types of accommodation: camping, lodges and tented camps. And should you stay in national parks or private game reserves? Read on to find out the pros and cons of each.
Camping safaris in Africa - roughing it is cheap
If you go on a camping safari in Africa, you typically sleep in dome tents, on mats and using basic shared facilities – sometimes you even camp in the wild with no facilities. Often you are expected to help with the daily running of the camp such as pitching tents, cooking meals and doing dishes. This is a grassroots experiences at a low cost. On some camping safaris in Africa will have camp staff, which will pitch tents and cook meals. These are called "full-service" camping safaris.
Camping safaris are recommended only for seasoned campers or people who like to rough it. Hotels and lodges safaris in Africa - comfort at a price
Hotels and lodges offer comfort like private bathroom facilities, showers, a pool and air-conditioning. For travellers wanting a comfortable safari while still seeing plenty of game, lodge based trips are the way to go. Some lodges, typically those located within national parks, are large-scale, lower-cost facilities, whereas others, typically the ones located in private game reserves, have only a handful of rooms and therefore cost more. Mobile tented camp safaris in Africa - intimacy & comfort at a cost
Mobile tented camp safaris (a.k.a. "under canvas”) have you sleep in real beds with private facilities attached to your tent. Camp staff delivers a high quality of personal service. Tented camps offer a good mix of the comfort of hotels and the up-close experiences of a camping trip. Tented safaris often set up camp in the wilderness which makes for a very intimate experience. National Parks versus Private Reserves in Africa - cost versus intimacy National parks are accessible to everyone, which means visitor numbers are higher, and there is more choice of lower-cost accommodation. When going on safaris in national parks you will however be subject to the regulations of the park, which most commonly allow you to travel on existing roads during daylight hours only. Walking and night drives are often not permitted.
Private game reserves, which offer very comfortable accommodation in the form of small-scale higher-priced lodges or tented camps, set their own rules and allow vehicles to travel off road, all with the highest degree of respect for the environment. They also allow you to do game walks and night drives. Only a handful of travellers are allowed at any one time within private reserves, which makes for a very intimate experience. Due to the quality of guides employed in private reserves these reserves offer the best chance to see wildlife.