There are so many game lodges out there and it becomes very difficult to differentiate between them. Here are some guidelines to help you to select the right one :
Fenced vs unfenced
Some lodges are completely open to the bush which means you need to be escorted between the main lodge and your room as lions/elephants etc could walk through camp. You will not be allowed to leave your room at night, un-escorted.
Others have a small electric fence around the camp which would keep the elephants out
while others have a permanent fence around the perimeter of the lodge, which would keep all animals at bay.
If you are travelling with young children, it is probably more suitable to select a camp that is fenced.
Is it important for you to have an outside shower?
There is something very special about having a shower under the African sky, surrounded by nature’s calls.
Private plunge pools vs communal lodge pool
Having a private plunge pool enables you to relax around a pool without needing to go to the main lodge area. Also if there are a lot of children in and around the main pool area, you may prefer something quieter.
Electricity vs paraffin lanterns
Some lodges do not have electricity and use solar for lighting, cooking and plug points. This lends a special charm to the camp with its paraffin lanterns at night.
Some of the camps have a communal charging point where cameras, phones, etc can be charged whilst others have individual solar plug points in the rooms.
If you can’t do without your electricity , then you may want to avoid camps that only has solar energy
Dining – are you a real foodie , or does bush buffet work for you?
Many of the lodges have now employed top chefs who come up with the most incredible dining experience in the bush, along with significant wine cellars, which is quite often reflected in the price.
The more basic lodges do a great buffet for all meals with at least one boma dinner (barbecue bush dinner) included.
Do you need a spa or gym?
Many lodges now have a gym and a spa for your use.
Accessibility – Remember you are going into the bush!!
Most of the reserves have got bush airstrips within approximately one hour’s drive from the lodge. This does not mean there is a massive airport terminal and tar runway. Most often it will be a clearing in the bush which the rangers monitor before the plane lands to ensure it is clear of game. Only small planes can land on these runways (mostly 4 – 12 seaters).
If you are not using the small charter flights to fly directly into the reserve, you can fly into the closest commercial airport and then do a road transfer to the lodge. These can take anything from 30 minutes to 3 hours.
Transfers are either done in open 4x 4 vehicles if you have landed somewhere in the reserve or in a closed vehicle if you have a distance to drive outside the reserve. Remember that sometimes the transfer is actually a game drive because you are driving through the reserve itself.
Malaria needs to be considered
Some of the reserves in Southern Africa lie within the malaria belt and others in malaria free zones. This is something to consider if you would prefer not to take malaria prophylactics or are travelling with young children.
Family travel is on the rise and many people are now choosing to spend their holidays with their children. Multi-generational travel is also becoming more popular.
When your lodge stay involves young children, it is important to select a lodge that is truly child friendly. In most reserves children under 8 are not allowed on a game vehicle unless you have sole use of the vehicle (for which you pay an extra amount).
However, many of the lodges have a separate kiddie’s activity schedule which involves education around the bush as well as fun activities for them. They may even do a separate “Bush Bumble”, which takes place in areas that are out of danger of the game, where they are taught bush skills by the rangers.
Some of the lodges have big distances between the rooms allowing for complete privacy and quiet. This is great for people wanting quiet time on their own and who don’t mind walking a short distance to their room.
Other lodges have more of a cluster of rooms often in a horse shoe formation which is ideal for families and people wanting to be close to the main lodge.
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African Spiral specialises in showing you all the highlights of Southern Africa with its many unique features, both the well-known tourist attractions as well as the lesser-known secrets. We are proud of our heritage, the magnificent natural beauty in which we live and the eclectic mix of cultures.