Generally speaking a Lodge will be a permanent structure… thatched, tented or otherwise. Lodges are architecturally designed to compliment the area they reside in, often making use of grand locations such as open savannah or a lagoon, They are mostly unfenced, allowing game to wander freely through camp.
The accommodation will be anything from classic bush camp to a superbly designed 5 star retreat, but will generally all offer high end facilities including private room with bathroom, all designed with comfort in mind. The more luxurious bush lodges will often limit their occupants to keep up exclusivity.
The lodge will usually house a lounge area, again in keeping with its surroundings, offering spectacular views. Separate dinning area is where fine wines and gourmet food are the order of the day. Many will house a swimming pool, perhaps even a wellness center, spa and gym.
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You've got your own accommodation well away from anyone... Individual accommodations are usually quite remote from each other, with their own view. You can therefore relax in private during your down time.
Virtually all lodges in Botswana are in private concessions. This means no other lodges and no other vehicles. This is where the cost truly lays... exclusivity in a massive and private wildlife area.
The private concession the lodge sits in generally allows for off-road driving and night drives in areas with stunning and abundant wildlife. This is best for photographers who want to get to the best sightings with fewer people.
Hot showers... huge beds... often a small lounge or seating area... towels and toiletries provided... etc... Its as close as you can get to staying in a Boutique Hotel... just with elephants outside your door.
On a honeymoon you probably do not want to be on a scheduled tour. With a lodge you can choose when to go and were, for just the two of you. Perhaps taking advantage of private activities, you can also dine in your tent if you want.
I think most people will understand what a National Park is like here... a large track of wilderness dedicated to wildlife watching which are public and open to Lodges, Mobile Tented Safaris and Self Drivers. Some parks like the Moremi Game Reserve, have a few lodges and some like Nxai Pan have just one.
Being public, this is where you will find most of the Mobile Tented Safaris operate and will invariably be where public campsites are situated for the intrepid Self Driver... Indeed, as there is flexibility here, the National Parks are always the busiest depending on the time of year due to the number of people they allow in... This is controlled and there is a fair maximum, so its never too busy.
Private Concessions are different in that they are vast tracks of pristine wilderness which are leased to Lodge owners and where you will often find just one or two lodges and where there are no Mobile Safaris and no Self Drivers... they are totally private and exclusive. These concessions are unfenced and are not fabricated in any way, they are just immense tracks of free land where there is little or no human habitation.
The key differences are in the activities. National Parks have different rules in that you are not allowed to drive off-road to follow game, and you must be back at the lodge before dark, so the lodges are unable to offer night drives. Nor are you allowed to conduct walking safaris, that is except The Salt Pans and the Central Kalahari, where the Lodges are allowed to conduct short bushmen walks, the close vicinity of the Lodge.
In Private Concessions, Lodges have freedom... they are able to pursue lions and wild dogs well off road and are able to stay out late and conduct very good night drives.... walking safaris are often part of their list of activities.
Our advice is to always stay in a Private Concession if possible.. they are generally more expensive yes, but they offer the remoteness in amazing wildlife areas with the full freedom of activities.
Perhaps uniquely, and due to the nature of the landscape in Botswana... there are three types of lodges here. They are not based on anything to do with comfort levels or services, but are related to what activities they offer dictated by their local ecology and topography.
Lets look at them in a little detail.. we will also give you some examples off our favourites below.
Most lodges here offer dry camp activities... meaning that the activities revolve around game drives during the day and night. These lodges will be mostly based in private concessions which allow for the very types of game drives, allowing for off-road driving to follow predators as they hunt their prey.
Night drives are always on offer in these concessions and this opens up a whole new spectrum of wildlife viewing and photography when the rare species like caracal and aardvark are seen.
Dry camps are often based in areas where there is no reliable water source nearby so they do not really offer any water activities. Some of the camps in the Greater Linyanti are best described as dry camps and its here where you may well get the best game viewing.
These are lodges either completely dedicated to, or mostly based around water activities and walking. Essentially they offering no, or extremely little, dry activities in traditional game viewer vehicles.
Water activities are either mokoros (traditional dug out canoes) where you are gently poled through the classic waterways of the Okavango Delta... and motorboats, where wider excursions are taken down the larger permanent channels.
In these camps, and to diversify the activities, excellent walking safaris are taken, getting you quite close, with a guide, to the wildlife on foot.
I think you have guessed it by now.... These are camps and lodges which offer both water and land based activities.
As part of a well routed safari, these camps offer tremendous diversity, especially if you are a little short of time. You will be able to gain the benefit of great game drives in thick wildlife areas as well as experiencing the beautiful serenity of the Okavango waters.
The very best safari you can have is to take your time and relax. Try to give yourself as many days as you can to visit all three types of lodge, in this way you will leave Botswana with the best experiences.
Safari Lifestyles has no affiliation to any lodge. This makes us completely unbiased. We know all the lodges intimately, and are considered experts in our opinions.
Let us guide you to the best choices.
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