Welcome to Camp!
What can you expect from your safari accommodation in Africa? In some areas, hotels are rated just as they would be at home. Broadly speaking a five star hotel in Cape Town is similar to a five star hotel in any other city.
However safari accommodation cannot be so easily compared so we give some tips on what to expect below. The images show examples of different sizes of lodges or camps at varying standards and budget levels.
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Caveat: The descriptions below are generalisations. There are always exceptions that prove the rule. Read each camp’s accommodation description for greater insight.
Traditional lodge accommodation
This does not need much explanation and it cannot be given any as the style and level of luxury varies to such a degree. You might sleep in individual chalets or cottages with an en suite bathroom and similar appointments as in a hotel room, though the safari ambience gives it a remarkably different feel. However other elements will be different. Usually meal times are set and everyone eats together, sometimes communally, sometimes at separate tables.
Safari tented accommodation
As you can imagine, these are far from the type of tents you camped in as a child. They evoke just the right sort of safari ambience yet have all the conveniences you would need such as an en suite bathroom, spacious accommodation, usually writing desks, proper beds, hanging space, wooden floors etc.
However, in more remote areas some modern conveniences are not always possible, despite the luxury of the camp. Power may be solar-sourced giving you just enough power for reading lights, but not to enough to charge camera batteries or use a hairdryer. Bathrooms are usually shower only to conserve water and the shower may be alfresco. Air-conditioning is common in South Africa in tented accommodation but extremely rare elsewhere. Check our descriptions carefully for details of a specific camp’s safari accommodation.
Bush camps are usually seasonal camps which are rebuilt at the start of each dry season. They may aim for a low human footprint on the land, meaning that everything is taken away at the end of each season. This therefore entails a simpler way of living. The main areas usually take the form of mess tents for living/dining rather than the traditional thatch and stone main ‘lodge’. The tents are usually a little less luxurious and smaller. You still have en suite facilities but these may be semi-open.
Mobile tented accommodation
On a mobile safari, the tents are put up in one location, possibly for 2 or 3 nights only. The tents are smaller still, starting to resemble your camping tents of childhood, but a notch or two upwards. You have a proper bed (or a good quality stretcher bed) but there’s not much room for anything else. You may have en suite facilities but it may be shared, depending on which mobile safari you choose. Now you are really following in the footprints of the safari pioneers of the early 20th century with dining alfresco around a campfire in complete harmony with the surrounding bush. A mobile tented safari can be an utterly magical experience but it doesn’t suit everyone.
Safari House or Private Bush Home
These are similar to a traditional lodge except you take it on an exclusive use basis so that it feels more like your own home in the bush rather than staying at a lodge. Usually the bush home has several rooms under the same roof so its ideal for families who don’t want their children to be in a separate chalet away from them. In addition, some have a couple of chalets outside to accommodate a larger group.
Cedarberg Accommodation Ratings
Our Cedarberg ratings are designed to cover the full range of our safari accommodation offering including the safari lodge accommodation described above.
This is our lowest rating and indicates a simple (sometimes rustic) standard of safari accommodation. Typically we use this category for rest camps in the National Parks, moderate B&Bs and country inns in South Africa and some of the guestfarms in Namibia. Some of the bush camps are rated ‘comfortable’ even though their standard of guiding, their location and their price tag are much higher.
Luxury and Premier make up the bulk of our hotels and safari lodges. Premier indicates a good standard of accommodation which would cover a typical four star hotel, boutique hotel or guest lodge with an excellent standard of accommodation. Similarly many of our more affordable private game lodges and camps fall into this category.
In cities and non-safari areas, this would broadly indicate a five star hotel, an upmarket boutique lodge or country house hotel as well as the more luxurious safari lodges. Please note that these luxury lodges, especially in more remote areas, will not have all the facilities of a hotel.
Top of the Range/Ultra-luxurious
As we all know, there are more ‘moderate’ five star options, and then those top-notch options which stand apart from the rest. We reserve this category for those hotels and lodges which offer the best in class in terms of ambience, refinement, food and wine. And in the case of safari lodges, the best in guiding and game-viewing opportunities.
Note on Star ratings in South Africa
South Africa has a slightly peculiar rating system. We rate all accommodation on a 1 to 5 star rating under different categories such as Hotel, Guest House, B&B. In many ways this is a great idea but it can lead to some confusion. You may see that a B&B has a five star rating for example. This does not mean that it has all the facilities of a 5 star hotel. It just means that it’s considered the highest standard for a B&B. For simplicity we only mention the star rating for hotels. We may however mention that a guest lodge is a TBCSA 4 star Guest House in our description. TBCSA stands for the Tourism Business Council of South Africa which is responsible for vetting all accommodation.