Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Lodges – What kind of places will I be staying at in the bush?

Belmond Eagle Island Camp

The terms “lodge” and “camp” are used interchangeably in southern Africa. They are privately-owned establishments and no two are alike.  Whichever ones you visit, two things are certain: 1) this not “rugged”; and 2) you won’t starve. Indeed, your accommodation will be first class and you’ll be offered good food and plenty of it! Kitchen and maintenance facilities and staff quarters are located away from the guest area. The entire camp may be surrounded by a fence or open to the surrounding bush.

The camp’s central lounge with couches and chairs is a great place to relax after lunch and after dinner. This is where guests gather for game drives, eating and drinking, and to relax. It usually overlooks a plain or watering hole where animals gather. You’ll find a small library of animal and bird books. Coffee, tea and soft drinks are always available.  The bar is open all day and, if it is not a self-service arrangement, someone from the staff is always available to give you a beer or pour you a drink. Offerings at afternoon tea, served just before the afternoon game drive, will include sweet and savory delicacies.
Discussions at dusk over drinks

Before embarking on a game drive, the ranger will take orders for “sundowners” – drinks that are served from the land rover at a scenic spot in the bush as the sun sets. For morning game drives you'll have a break for coffee, tea and snacks. 

Each lodge is comprised of eight or more individual chalets or tents within a larger compound. This is where you’ll park your luggage and sleep. Each has its own private bathroom with hot and cold running water and toilet. 

Tented accommodation
Tents are large, canvas walk-in, officer-style accommodations built on a cement slab or raised off the ground on a wooden platform. Windows and doors are covered with mosquito netting  and canvas flaps that can be opened or zipped-closed to block light or a breeze. Tents may be placed under a tree and have a shade canopy to keep them cooler during the heat of the day.
A desert chalet
Chalets are similar but built with brick and mortar and normal wooden doors and windows. Thatch roofs are common. Both styles often have a private deck or patio off your room where you can sit outdoors to read or watch activity in the surrounding bush. Some camps have private plunge pools at every chalet.

Interior chalet

Rooms are furnished in the camps’ own unique style with charm and guest comfort in mind. Each will have two twin-size beds, a small table, chairs, a closet and drawers for your clothing, light fixtures, a sink, private shower and toilet. You’ll have clean linens for the beds, pillows, blankets, towels and wash cloths.
Interior tent
Staff members make the beds and clean the rooms daily. Rooms are supplied with basic toiletries, mosquito repellant and bug spray. Each bed is likely to be draped with its own mosquito net. One or two-day laundry service is available, often free-of-charge.  

All camps have electrical power. Most run on
12-volt systems powered by solar panels or a generator that is run only during the day when guests are away from camp on game a drive. The camp will have a centrally located “charging station” where guests recharge cameras, GPS’s and other electronic devices. Room lighting allows guests to read at night.  A few camps have main-line electrical power (240 volts, 50 Hz). Here you can use hairdryers, curling irons and other high-draw appliances that cannot be used at other camps.

The lodges are magical!  Each is different from the last and each is charming in its own way. Service and attention to the guests is paramount. Rangers are enthusiastic and persevering in their efforts to locate elusive game. Cooks take pride in the meals they prepare.  Room maids are courteous and thorough in their work. At some camps the entire staff treats guests to traditional songs and dance performances and invites guests to join in the fun. Bush camps in southern Africa are a delightful experience to be long remembered.

Pamushana Lodge at night

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