| Most safari-goers stay in lodges
camps when visiting the park
Africa. The lodges and camps are your base for game drives in the park, and is
where you have your meals and relax between game
drives. Some lodges and camps have a swimming pool, and there is usually some
kind of observation point where you can look for animals or just enjoy the scenery.
Lodges in Kenya
Lodges in Tanzania
Budget safaris may include accommodation in camping
sites or bandas,
offering less comfort than lodges and tented camps.
In short, a lodge is a hotel in the bush. There are lodges of many different kinds,
ranging from cottage lodges with only a few rooms, to big hotel-looking buildings sleeping
150 or more guests.
You stay in a room or a bungalow, usually for two people. Extra beds for children can
usually be arranged, and some lodges have family rooms. Some have suites. The rooms
and bungalows have private bathrooms with toilet, washbasin and shower or bathtub. There
are either mosquito nets for the beds, or netted windows.
Meals, pools and observation points
Meals are served in a restaurant, and most lodges have a lounge, a bar and a shop (for
souvenirs and toiletries). Safe deposit, laundry services, phone and Internet, baby
sitting etc may be available in or arranged from the reception. Some lodges have a swimming
pool, and most have some kind of garden, where you may see birds and some smaller mammals,
such as genets or mongoose.
There may be an observation point overlooking a waterhole or the landscape surrounding
Some lodges arrange special activities, such as balloon
safaris, bush walks or night game drives.
A certain kind of lodge is often called tree lodge. It is not built in a tree (there
are such lodges, too), but is rather built among the trees, to blend into the surrounding
nature. The buildings are mainly wooden, and overlooking a water hole, which is lit
by floodlights at night. The game viewing is mainly done from the lodge. Two well-known
tree lodges are Treetops Lodge and The Ark in Aberdare National
Park in central Kenya.
In a tented camp, your room is not a room, but a tent. It's not camping, though. The
tents are big enough for you to stand in, and have at least room for two normal beds
and your luggage. The tents in some camps are furnished with comfortable chairs, tables,
wardrobes, carpets etc, often in some kind of colonial style. A normal tent size, excluding
the bathroom, is 1220 m2/130320 sq ft, but there are also bigger tents in
The back of the tent opens to a private bathroom with a toilet, a washbasin and a shower.
This means that you can use the bathroom without going out of your tent.
The size and atmosphere of tented camps varies. There are small camps with a few tents
and the savanna beginning right outside the canvas, and larger camps with maybe 50 tents,
paved and lit paths leading to the restaurant and swimming pool, and bars, shops and
lounges. The latter kind of camp is sometimes called a tented lodge. Meals are served
in a restaurant, dining-room or dining-tent.
Most tented camps are permanent, i.e. built to stay where they are. But there are also
mobile camps, which may be moved, for example to follow wildlife that moves between
different areas depending on season.
Standard level and comfort
Considering the fact that you're in the middle of the bush in Africa, the standard and
comfort of most lodges and tented camps is good. The rooms and tents are clean and generally
free of insects. There are mosquito nets and private bathrooms. The tap pressure may
be poor in some lodges/camps, where water supplies are poor. Some lodges and camps use
solar systems for heating water, which means the water is usually hotter in the evenings
than in the mornings.
Most lodges and camps in the parks generate their own electricity. To preserve fuel,
generators are usually switched off in the middle of the days and during the nights.
TV sets are rarely available in the rooms, but you may find a set in the bar or lounge.
There are exclusive lodges and tented camps, priced at USD500 or more per night and
person. In such a lodge or camp, you can expect excellent service and comfort.
Most safari tours in Kenya and Tanzania includes full board, i.e. breakfast, lunch and
dinner. The meals are served in a restaurant, dining-hall or dining-tent, depending
on the lodge or camp where you're staying.
More about eating and drinking
An increasing number of lodges and camps in East Africa take an environmentally friendly
approach when building or re-investing in their premises. Some have an eco-policy and
go a long way, using local materials for building, generating electricity with solar
energy, cleansing wastewater, installing composting toilets, etc. Others may simply
have found that it's cheap using solar energy for heating water.
If you do care about this aspect of your tour, you should read about the camps and lodges
you are considering, to see what they are actually doing. Some seem to have a wide definition
of what being environmentally friendly may include.
Camping is less comfortable than staying in lodges or tented camps, but camping safaris
cost less. You usually pitch your tent in a dedicated camping site, which are found
in most parks. These sites are mostly quite basic: a piece of flat ground, a pit toilet
and cold water. Some camping sites have a storage room for food. You sleep in a sleeping
bag on a mattress in a small tent. The hygiene facilities are simple, if there are any,
and you share them with all other campers.
Packaged camping safaris often include a cook. Otherwise, it's you or your driver who
will handle the cooking. Some safari operators bring a shower tent for you.
Don't confuse camping with staying in tented camps, which are much more comfortable.
Bandas are cottages or bungalows, usually quite simple, available in some parks. You
handle the cooking and other camp chores yourself, and have to bring your own food and
The Kenyan and Tanzanian park authorities, KWS
have their own bandas in some national parks. Contact the park headquarters in the park
where you want to book a banda.
There are also hostels and other similar forms of budget accommodation, but you rarely
stay in these on packaged safari tours (you normally stay in lodges or tented camps).
Information about finding such places can be found in backpacker guidebooks.
Lodges, tented camps, camping sites and bandas are found both inside and outside parks.
Staying within a park means that you are closer to the game driving areas. For example,
if you're staying outside, you may have to leave an animal hotspot an hour before sunrise,
to be back to your accommodation before it's dark and that last hour of daylight
is the best time of the day for game viewing.
Some lodges and camps located outside parks arrange bush
walks and night safaris, which are interesting
ways to experience the African nature. Such walks and night safaris are not allowed
in most national parks, and are usually not offered by lodges and camps inside the parks.
This page in Swedish
Go to www.savannen.com for this page in Swedish.