How to Choose an African Safari (That’s Right for You)

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PSA: not all safaris are created equal. If you’ve never been on one, it’s probably hard to imagine how many different types of safaris there are.

In my time exploring the heart of Africa, I have come to realize that there’s a different type of safari for every kind of traveler. To fashion your own dream African adventure, it’s all about pinpointing exactly what kind of explorer you are (and what your safari budget is!).

At the mere mention of a safari, the tented-camp variety is likely the type that pops in your head. A classic option, a bush camp safari is a throwback to the times when explorers used to spend weeks camping in the bush.

Tent camps vary in appeal, from utilitarian to luxury. I’ve stayed in some of the more comfortable spots and had great experiences.

I’ve loved staying at Wolwedons in Namibia; Sable Alley in Botswana; Mahali Mzuri in Kenya; Jack’s Camp in Botswana and Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in Kenya. They each have their own perks and are prime spots for experiencing the natural beauty of Africa.

While bush camps are often built as temporary structures that are relatively low-tech, game lodges tend to be built a bit more like resorts with solid wall construction.

To give you a better idea of what to expect, check out my magical experience at the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge in South Africa; Royal Malewane in South Africa; and Tongabezi Lodge near Victoria Falls.

While both game-lodge safaris and tented-camp safaris have their own charms, I would generally recommend a tented-camp safari if you only have one night. If you have a few days, go for a game lodge.

Typically, when you stay at a game lodge, you’ll travel between lodges. It’s best to have at least one night to explore each of their options (especially if you go somewhere like Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, where you can spend a night in a treehouse).

I’ve had the opportunity to sleep under the stars at a few properties now! While an open air treehouse isn’t for everyone, there really is nothing quite a magical as counting sheep under the constellations.

Most treehouses and skybeds are a single-night option at tented-camps and game-lodge safaris. You’ll usually get dropped off before sunset, and get picked up early morning for a game drive. While staying at Lion Sands Ivory Lodge and Treehouses in South Africa, I watched elephants wandering below us at sunset. Sable Alley in Botswana also has skybeds, but we went during the rainy season and didn’t get a chance to sleep in them.

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