10 Best Affordable Luxury Lodges in Africa

By Julian 09 September 2015

Luxury safari lodges certainly come at a cost and one that is worth every penny, yet there are a number of properties offering a sheer authentic experience that does not break the bank. We have handpicked the top properties that does exactly that, without foregoing a measure of luxury and exclusivity! 

#1: Kichaka Expeditions, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

This camp is not the only Ruaha property to make it onto this list! Tanzania’s Ruaha is phenomenal, a very special safari park. Kichaka is a walking-focussed camp run by Andrew Molinaro (aka Moli!), one of the finest guides in Africa. What makes this safari camp such great value for money is that it is private – exclusive, just for you! So, not only do you have access to one of my favourite parks in Africa, you have one of Africa’s best guides, just for yourself! That’s true value for money and the reason Kichaka Expeditions takes my accolade of best-value camp anywhere on the continent!

#2: Selinda Explorers Camp, The Linyanti, Botswana

Selinda Explorers is run by Great Plains Conservation, one of Africa’s most luxurious safari brands. Located in Botswana’s incredibly scenic Linyanti region – in the private Selinda reserve – this camp has one of the most expensive game-viewing real-estate locations anywhere in Africa! Designed in the style of a classic tented camp, Selinda Explorers guarantees a high level of accommodation, the outstanding quality of Great Plains guiding standards and the excellent game viewing of a vast private reserve. At $800pppn, peak season, this camp is very good value for Botswana. It is without doubt one of the finest tented camps anywhere in Africa!

#3: Alex Walker’s Serian, The Serengeti, Tanzania

This camp may seem a somewhat surprising addition due to the fact that Serian costs the best part of $1,000pppn. Can a property this expensive be good value?! The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’ Firstly, throughout much of the year the camp offers four nights for the price of three, taking its high price down to approximately $700 pppn! That’s great value for a top-quality Serengeti camp. If you then consider that Alex Walker (Guide of the Year for 2014 and 2015) runs the place himself and offers some of the best walking safaris in the Serengeti from his camps, the argument gets even stronger. In short, this is one hell of a safari camp for all the right reasons. Guiding, service, location, style and food are absolutely top draw and the camp regularly receives first-rate feedback. Great value for money!

#4: Mdonya Old River, Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Here’s an absolute cracker of an adventurous camp in one of Africa’s wildest and much-loved safari parks! Ruaha itself is half the reason this camp makes it into my Top 11 – it will always be one of my favourite parks for value and truly wild safari. I’d actually go as far as to argue that this park is the best value in the whole of Africa! Mdonya Old River was set up by Malcolm Ryan, a lion researcher and passionate conservationist. It is smack bang in the right game-viewing area, and at $350pppn is unbelievable value for a wilderness experience of such amazing quality.

#5: Chada Katavi Camp, Katavi National Park, Tanzania

By now I expect it’s become pretty clear that I’m a safari purist. I certainly put a huge amount of emphasis on a camp’s location and the authenticity of the experience that a safari there can provide. Nowhere is this more in evidence, than in my selection for my Top 11 of Chada Katavi Camp in Tanzania’s Katavi National Park. Wild, truly remote and pumping with big game, Katavi is genuinely a land of giants! Chada Katavi is Nomad Tanzania’s offering here, a fantastic authentic safari camp. At $700pppn or so, it is great value for an experience of this nature. One of Africa’s wildest camps – a true little gem!

#6: Remote Africa, North and South Luangwa

If walking safari is your thing, then life doesn’t get much better than at Remote Africa’s phenomenal walking camps! Crocodile and Chikoko in the South Luangwa make up Remote’s famously fabulous ‘Chikoko Trails Walking Camps’, whilst Mwaleshi in North Luangwa is simply outstanding. Located in an area thick with lion, walking here takes big game walking to a completely different level – as I experienced a few years ago! However, what sets this company apart is the sheer quality of guiding on offer. This is safari stripped bare, run by some of the best guides in the business.

#7: Flatdogs Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

The South Luangwa is a park held in very high esteem amongst safari guides and the safari industry itself. Famous for its diversity of activities, especially awesome walking and excellent night drives, the Luangwa is one of Africa’s finest safari parks. Flatdogs is the most economical lodge in the park and one of the most economical safari camps in Africa. However, whereas other ‘cheap’ camps have their problems, Flatdogs seems to deliver a great safari experience for every single client! The game-viewing area the camp accesses is truly excellent, significantly better than the majority of other camps in this price bracket. A charming little camp that’s full of energy and value!

#8: Goliath Safaris Tented Camp, Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

I find that much of the authenticity of a safari experience provided by any camp is due to the quality of its guides. So it’s only right that Goliath has a place on this list! Run by Stretch, who has approximately 40 years’ experience guiding in the valley, Goliath is a no-frills but very serious safari camp that is widely regarded as the most authentic property in the industry. If you want to be guided by someone who knows pretty much everything you need to know about anything, this is the camp for you! And Stretch is rather famous for his close encounters with big game, a reason in itself why many clients travel here.

#9: Lake Natron Camp, Lake Natron, Tanzania

This camp might seem a surprising addition to this list, except for those lucky enough to have experienced it themselves! Known previously as Ngare Sero, Lake Natron Camp is located on the very banks of Tanzania’s Lake Natron. Home to some of Africa’s most exceptional scenery as well as the largest breeding colony of flamingo in the world, the region has so much to offer outside of the standard safari activities found at other properties. Lake Natron Camp has been taken over recently by Ake Lindstrom, a guy committed to sustainability and genuine adventure! I’ve travelled everywhere in Tanzania, probably visiting every camp you will consider staying at on safari, and this camp and the region itself are amongst my true favourites.

#10: Summits Africa, walking the Ngorongoro Highlands

Summits Africa is one of the most famous Kilimanjaro operators. Headed up by Ake Lindstrom, this is a very serious company with a real taste for adventure. We absolutely love them! Over the last few seasons, they have started walking from Lake Natron to the Ngorongoro – a walk described by Ake as one of the finest on Earth. Considering he has walked the lost valleys around Mount Everest, this guy knows his stuff! Walking the Ngorongoro highlands with his guides is one of the finest experiences we know. I cannot recommend this adventurous two-day trip highly enough!

#11: (Oops!).... Wilderness Safaris Six Countries Summer Special

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Wilderness Safaris, all you need to know is that this is one of Africa’s most luxurious and very best safari brands. Their camps are located in Southern Africa – Wilderness Safaris basically rules Botswana’s safari industry! – and in peak season prices start at approximately $1,400pppn. However, during the middle of the year Wilderness bring out their special offers for their low-season business. Some of their camps drop to less than 50 per cent of their peak-season prices. This is an absolute bargain for camps of this quality!

If you'd like more information on getting the best value for money on your luxury safari, feel free to call us on +44 (0)20 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected]