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Safari Accommodation - Lodges

Sun floods the airy lounge at Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa.
© Julian Asher larger image
Safari lodges encompass a wide variety of architectural styles, ranging from classic safari to vibrant Afro-chic to cutting-edge contemporary design - South African lodges in particular are known for pushing the architectural envelope. Most lodges have thatched roofs, but walls can be stone, concrete, wood, or glass. The majority are unfenced, and wildlife wanders through them at leisure.

Most lodges have mains power, with outlets in guest rooms for charging digital cameras and other devices. A selection of adaptors is normally on hand if your plug doesn't match the socket, but it's always a good idea to bring your own if you have a large number of electronic devices that may need to be plugged in at the same time.

The comfortable lounge and bar of Luangwa River Lodge in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
© Sharon Loudon larger image
Living Each lodge is centred around a large central lounge and dining area which often serves as an design highlight as well as a focus for life at the lodge. Some main lounges have soaring double-height ceilings and multiple levels, whereas others opt for a simpler bush style or a minimalist contemporary look.

The lounge at Singita Lebombo Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa, seems suspended in the clouds.
© Singita larger image
The main lounge usually has open sides to admit cooling breezes and the sounds of the bush, and is often elevated for sweeping views. A spotting scope on the expansive wooden deck enables you to take a closer look at the local wildlife.

Comfortable sitting areas make a great place to relax, and there is normally a fireplace for pre-dinner drinks and early-morning coffee - a great way to meet fellow guests. Many lodges feature artwork or artefacts; some of the older lodges may also include some items from the lodge's history.

The cozy library at Rattray's on Mala Mala Game Reserve, Sabi Sands, South Africa, is a relaxing place to do a bit of reading.
© Julian Asher larger image
Most lodges have well-stocked libraries in or near the main lounge, with field guides, wildlife books, and books on local culture and history. Books have been written about some of the most well-known lodges, such as Londolozi and Mala Mala, and there's something special about reading about the place you're staying at. Some lodges also have a VCR or DVD player for watching wildlife videos (some of which may feature the lodge itself).

An increasing number of safari lodges have a computer with Internet access (though the speed of the connection tends to be on the slow side). Some of the more luxurious lodges also plan to install wireless networks throughout the public areas and rooms.

Alfresco dining with a view at Wolwdans Dunes Lodge, Namibia.
© Wolwedans Dunes Lodge larger image
Dining There are often both indoor and outdoor dining areas located adjacent to the main lounge, in addition to a boma (an outdoor space enclosed with wood or reed walls). Dinners under the stars in the boma, lit by a crackling bonfire and paraffin lanterns, are a wonderful way to end a day on safari.

Tables are usually set for each couple or group, and your guide may join you for some of your meals. Private dinners on your private deck or in your suite can also be arranged.

The wine cellar at Singita, Sabi Sands, South Africa, is one of the largest in South Africa.
© Julian Asher larger image
The lodge bar is invariably well-stocked with both local and imported beer, wine, and liquor. Some lodges (notably Singita) have wine cellars rivalling those of gourmet restaurants, with tutored wine-tasting on offer.

The food at safari lodges is usually of a very high standard, and at some places may reach extraordinary culinary heights. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients are emphasised to give your meals a distinctive African flavour, and in many cases the vegetables are grown through a local community initiative. The kitchen is happy to cater for special dietary requests, though advance notice is needed for kosher or halal dining.

Light floods an airy bedroom at Singita Sweni Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa.
© Singita larger image
Sleeping Spacious en-suite guest cottages spread out from the main lounge, usually connected by stone or wooden walkways. They are almost always air-conditioned, and often feature art, antiques, and artefacts as well as more standard features such as tea and coffee making facilities and a mini-bar stocked with drinks and snacks (usually included in the cost of your stay, so you can indulge without worry!)

The default bed configuration is usually two twin beds, though they can be converted to a double on request. There is ample storage space for luggage and clothing, and there may be a separate dressing room.

A palatial suite at Rattray's on Mala Mala, Sabi Sands, South Africa, features a four-poster bed draped with mosquito netting and a comfortable loveseat for game-viewing from your living room.
© Julian Asher larger image
Spacious bathrooms with flush toilets and hot and cold running water are standard. The cottages often include indoor and outdoor showers in addition to a deep bathtub for post-game-drive soaks, and may feature private plunge pools and fireplaces as well as private game-viewing decks. Some of the more luxurious properties have DVD players, flat-screen televisions, and even in-room Internet access.

Most rooms include comfortable chairs and a writing desk. Suites, with separate sitting and sleeping areas, are becoming increasingly common, particularly in South Africa.

A palatial suite at Rattray's on Mala Mala, Sabi Sands, South Africa, features a four-poster bed draped with mosquito netting and a comfortable loveseat for game-viewing from your living room.
© CC Africa larger image
Most lodges have a honeymoon cottage or suite, located to ensure maximum privacy. This room often has some special features, and may involve a price supplement. Please let us know if you're interested in learning more about honeymoon cottages and suites.

Relaxing Workout rooms with state-of-the-art equipment are provided at many top-end lodges, some of which also offer other activities such as archery, horseback riding, or clay pigeon shooting. For those who prefer relaxing to working out, the lodge will have a spacious pool with plentiful deck chairs to while away the afternoon siesta.

Private infinity plunge pools are a feature of the suites at Singita Boulders Lodge, Sabi Sands, South Africa.
© Julian Asher larger image
Most lodges offer massages, and an increasing number now offer a full range of spa services equal to those of any five-star city hotel. The treatments are often inspired by the healing traditions of local people and utilise indigenous plants. Your treatment can take place either in the spa or on your private deck.

The spa at Singita, Sabi Sands, South Africa features the latest treatments.
© Julian Asher larger image

One of the most unusual options for relaxing between game drives is unique to Singita's lodges, which provide watercolour paints and supplies for guests who feel inspired by the beauty of the environment around them. Some of the results can be seen on display at the lodges. Alternatively, you may decide to just enjoy sitting on your private deck and watching the local wildlife.

The shop at Rattrays on Mala Mala, Sabi Sands, South Africa carries a wide range of clothing and other souvenirs.
© Julian Asher larger image
Shopping Virtually all lodges will have a curio shop carrying clothing, crafts, books, and postcards. AA batteries and normal film are often available, but specialist film is hard to come by - in general, it's best to bring your own. Blank CDs are often stocked for digital photographers, particularly if the lodge offers computer access. If you forgot your field guide or would like to buy a coffee-table book or a DVD to take home, you can usually find one in the shop - many of the more well-known lodges, such as Mala Mala and Londolozi in South Africa, have featured in numerous books and films. If you buy DVDs or videos, make sure that they will play on your machine at home.

Sculpture by Zimbabwean silversmith Patrick Mavros is featured in the shop at Singita, Sabi Sands, South Africa.
© Julian Asher larger image
Shops at the more luxurious lodges will often carry fine art and high-end safari gear, such as Swarovski binoculars and indestructible leather luggage, in addition to a wide range of fleeces, scarves, T-shirts, caps, and other wearable souvenirs. If you fall in love with your lodge's design, it may be possible to buy some of the items used in the decor. Some shops feature the work of local craftsmen, which may include some of the camp staff.