Fellow backpackers - Camping vs. Lodges?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 3, 2012 5:22 AM Last Post By: itchyfeet38
Oct 20, 2012 9:39 PM
Fellow backpackers - Camping vs. Lodges?Now I know there are posts about this and I've read them all but I thought I'd ask from a backpackers' experience - from someone who understands what's it's like to try to make your budget last as long as possible when traveling for a few months rather than just splurging on a quick trip.
So...On a safari everyone says if you can afford the lodges go for it, they say they're amazing and a once in a lifetime thing to stay in these luxury lodges amongst the wildlife.....now....really??? Are they? They're pretty expensive from what I see and we don't have a limitless budget.
So the deal is, for a 5 day(4 nights) safari (serengeti, ngor, etc), we can either camp (really basic camping) or stay in the lodges (but lowest price of the lodges - "wildlife lodges"). Yes we can afford the lodges but we don't want to (unless it's worth it) because we'll be saving around $2000 total by camping. Then we can use that money to have better experiences on the rest of our trip. However, i do want to spend the money if it truely is worth it. So what do you think?
I would think camping would be amazing there since you'll feel more "amongst it" right? But then again, don't really want to sponge bath for 5 days either and would be nice to relax with a drink on a veranda of a lodge after a long day in the car game driving...so for those of you on budgets where do you suggest spending your money if you do have the choice? on a lower level lodge safari or save your money and do the camping as it's just a good of an experience? Are the lodges maybe only that amazing if you get the real high price ones rather than the "wildlife" lodges that are the most budget of them?
Oct 21, 2012 1:43 AM
1I recommend do the camping trip, there you have the really African feeling, you sometimes can hear the animals around and very close (no, this is usual), and feel the original Africa dream, stars above, noise of wildlife, you can get drunken from this, its like a drug.. Lowcost lodges are not much differnent from hotels, only they are in a NP Do camping and save the money. But listen to others, I'm a camping fan. Maybe you find the Africa of Ernest Hemingway in your blood.
Oct 21, 2012 6:11 AM
2I've done both 5 star luxury and camping safaris, and I completely agree with johannestz.
When you're inside your hotel room you could be anywhere in the world, but when you're outside under the African stars you'll know you're on safari.
You can still visit the smart lodges for lunch or a drink, but you don't need to stay in them.
(Should mention I'm also a keen camper at home.)
Edited by: kaz
Oct 21, 2012 7:34 AM
3In my experience luxury lodges in places like National Parks aren't great value for money. They have to pay big concession fees which are obviously reflected in their prices. There is also relatively limited competition. In my view until you get into the really high-end stuff you will get less for your $ than in comparable locations.
For me without a doubt my most precious memories of traveling in Africa are of campsites in the middle of the bush with zero facilities. For me the "inconveniences" are far outweighed by the experience.
But you yourselves will know whether the whole camping thing appeals or not. And if you (or your partner) are filled with dread at the idea of a cold bucket shower or a slightly smelly long-drop (or not so smelly bush) then it may not be worth it - it would be a shame to ruin your safari experience. If you think you can embrace it as an adventure go for it. If not pay for the convenience of a room, but I wouldn't expect mind-blowing luxury.
Oct 22, 2012 12:26 AM
4wow you guys are great....that's exactly what i was wondering and thinking would be the case....i was thinking "we are going to pay all this money and actually will end up feeling like we are anywhere in the world, not in Africa where we want to feel and i'm thinking these lower cost lodges are actually going to be pretty crappy and if you really want this incredible lodge experience then you really have to shell out the big dollars and only then will it be amazing"....so yep you confirmed it. I think for our budget, camping is our best option and we'll just to put up with the cold showers and smelly toilets..which is fine because like you said we will get a true Africa experience and the safari will be way more authentic - which is really what you want in the end afterall. I do think you're right, it's probably only the top luxury lodges that must be that amazing.
If there was one lodge we decided to splurge a bit on in serengeti or ngorongoro then which would you recommend? (nothing like $2000/night (can't quite justify that) but something very luxury but still slightly affordable? any ideas???
Thanks so much for your help!
Oct 22, 2012 2:43 AM
5In Ngorongoro I recommend Sopa on the crater rim. But as you name it, I think it is 235USD pppd. I will check out. Also ask your tour operator, they have special rates, maybe you get this, also the rates for residents are cheaper.
Nov 2, 2012 3:26 PM
6Thanks guys again. That sounds perfect. Yep Ngor Sopa lodge does look decent for the money and the reviews are pretty good (although it seems all those Ngor lodges on the rim look pretty crowded) but that's okay. It's good to know it has good views which is basically why you are going there in the first place.
And there's really no other campsites besides Simba in the crater rim it seems? And Simba is way too crowded it seems as well? Any thoughts?
Thanks so much for yoru tips!
Nov 3, 2012 5:22 AM
7Simba A wasn't crowded when we were there. I guess it depends on the time of year (this was April).
But if that bothers you you could see if Simba B is free. Simba B is a "special" campsite ie private. You book it exclusively for your party and you pay $50pppn rather than $30pppn. There are other campsites in the area but none as close to the crater descent road and what you really want is the earliest possible start to get down into the crater so it is a good idea to stay on the rim. Note though that Simba B will have no facilities at all - it will just be a patch of ground. Personally I much prefer the private ones - you can sit round the fire and listen to the sounds of the bush rather than your fellow campers!
NB The authorities aren't used to private individuals booking campsites so if you are doing it yourselves it takes a bit of effort - be persitent. Or get a local operator to book it for you if you're using one.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$78.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$134.14 per night
(1 star Hotel)
From US$9.63 per night