10 of the Best-Value Safari Lodges in Africa

Kruger National Park South Africa - MHGALLERY/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images
Photo by MHGALLERY/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Telegraph Travel and Pippa de Bruyn, The Telegraph, December 6, 2019

Safari. Just say the word, and watch your savings implode. Not that it isn’t worth it. Conservation – an expensive business – is largely financed by tourism. But who needs private butlers and plunge pools when the real luxury is tracking wild animals in a vast and primal landscape. The following safaris – from South Africa to Tanzania – offer exceptional value for money.

Flatdogs Camp

7Telegraph expert rating

Originally a backpackers’ camp, Flatdogs is something of an institution. Accommodation now ranges from simple Meru tents to a treehouse and luxury villa. Even though you're not in the park, you're very much in the bush, with elephants and hippos wandering around camp. Activities include morning and afternoon game drives or walks. The camp has a swimming pool, a book exchange and a curio shop.

From £37per night

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Ol Pejeta Bush Camp

8Telegraph expert rating

A perfect base from which to explore Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a Big Five reserve perhaps best known for protecting the world's last two northern white rhinos. Go lion tracking, play hide-and-seek with the anti-poaching dogs, run with the rangers and horse-ride with rhinos. Six spacious, raised tents are set on the tranquil banks of Ewaso Nyiro River, with large decks, pink armchairs and comfy beds.

From £348per night

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Gondwana Game Reserve

8Telegraph expert rating

Luxury meets the safari wilds within easy distance of the Garden Route. The game – among which the Big Five is counted – are not fenced off but free to roam up to the accommodation, so there’s every chance a giraffe will wander up to the pool for a drink while you’re having an al fresco meal (there are also twice-daily drives). The 14 stand-alone huts are striking.

From £532per night

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Rhino River Lodge

7Telegraph expert rating

All lodges in the Manyoni enjoy access to the entire reserve, so your game viewing from Rhino River is as good as at thrice-price lodges. No facilities beyond the pool but who needs it when you can explore the bush in an open-topped vehicle driven by an experienced guide – vehicles here are also allowed off-road for cat sightings. Activities include night drives, rhino dehorning and elephant interactions. If you want real privacy book one of the safari homes with a private plunge pool.

From £145per night

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Umlani Bushcamp

7Telegraph expert rating

This rustic bush-camp offers one of the most authentic safari experiences in Greater Kruger. With no cultivated gardens and a minimal building footprint (eight thatched huts connected via riversand paths; a dining-bar and deck overlooking the riverbed and productive waterhole) this is glamping without the tents. Guests love the fact that there is no electricity, limited connectivity, and staff that have been here so long it’s like coming home to family. Twice-daily game drives and guided bush walks available.

From £213per night

The Hide

8Telegraph expert rating

A grand African bush lodge. The canvas tent-rooms all stand under their own thatched roofs, which extend out front to create a lovely shaded veranda where you can sit and watch the nearby waterhole where wildlife is almost a constant feature. There’s also a cottage and the Dove’s Nest treehouse. There are game drives, night drives, birding trips and bush walks.

From £306per night

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Onguma Tented Camp

9Telegraph expert rating

This Swiss Family Robinson-style oasis in the arid north Namibian landscape has big game on its doorstep. Keep an eye on the neighbouring watering hole: watching kudus, impalas and springboks sup from the murky water, as you sip cold beers in the nearby swimming pool, is delightful. In fact, the animals are sometimes so close that guests need to request a chaperone between their bedrooms and the restaurant after dark – black mambas, leopards and lions are never too far away.

From £346per night

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Magashi

9Telegraph expert rating

The only camp in Rwanda inside a national park. The Big Five are all present with great sightings of lions and leopards, as well as antelopes, bison, hippos, crocs, elephants and rhino. Guides are walking encyclopaedias. You get around in a six-seater, open safari vehicle, or by flat-bottomed boat – the latter recommended in the late afternoon to watch the sun set behind the hills. Six gorgeous tents each have a deck overlooking the Lake Rwanyakazinga.

From £382per night

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Kwihala Camp

7Telegraph expert rating

Kwihala is one of only a handful of accommodation options within the game-rich and ecologically varied Ruaha National Park (which is the size of Wales). There's no pool, spa, gym, room service or activities outside of game viewing, but in addition to drives, Kwihala offers game walks and night drives. It’s simple and rustic, with sandy pathways leading to the six en-suite tents.

From £463per night

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Motswari Private Game Reserve

8Telegraph expert rating

Motswari is within the Timbavati private reserve, part of the 48 million-acre unfenced Greater Kruger National Park. Main Camp (with 15 thatched bungalows) is frequented by an ever-changing parade of wild animals, while the more intimate Geiger’s Private Camp (four rooms), is elevated above the bushveld plains. Guides are excellent.

From £562per night

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Contributions by Pippa de Bruyn, Teresa Levonian Cole, Narina Exelby, Hugh Morris, Simon Parker and Sue Watt

All prices cited are subject to change during popular holidays and events

Contributions by Pippa de Bruyn, Teresa Levonian Cole, Narina Exelby, Hugh Morris, Simon Parker and Sue Watt

All prices cited are subject to change during popular holidays and events

• Is this £64 a night safari lodge the best in Botswana?

Contributions by Pippa de Bruyn, Teresa Levonian Cole, Narina Exelby, Hugh Morris, Simon Parker and Sue Watt

All prices cited are subject to change during popular holidays and events

 

This article was written by Telegraph Travel and Pippa de Bruyn from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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