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Darn Good Digs Budget Safaris in Africa

Darn Good Digs are the world's best independently owned accommodations for budget-minded travelers, all with rooms under US$150. Darn Good Digs stand out for their originality, spectacular locations, scrumptious food, and great vibes.

South AfricaTanzania

  =   Editors' Choice


mosetlha bush camp mosetlha bush camp mosetlha bush camp mosetlha bush camp

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Madikwe Game Reserve, NW, South Africa: Mosetlha Bush Camp
Nominated By: Gerald Draper, Johannesburg, South Africa, June '08

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Price Range: R1795 per person (includes 3 meals & 2 daily safaris) # of Rooms: 9 Kid-Friendly: Over 8

What makes the Mosetlha Bush Camp so Darn Good? The Mosetlha Bush Camp is a family owned and run, unfenced eco-lodge in the heart of the Madikwe Game Reserve. The field guides are exceptionally knowledgeable, the staff is friendly and accommodating, and the service is brilliant. Birdlife at the camp is amazing and you just might get some odd visits from bigger things!

Location: Madikwe, located in North West Province on the border of Botswana, is a 4 hour drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria. This is Big Five country and on your morning or evening safari, you might spot elephants, rhinos, buffalo, lions, and leopards, as well as African wild dogs, cheetahs, giraffes, zebras, antelopes, hyenas, and much more!

Rooms: Mosetlha's nine open wooden cabins are simple, comfortable, and raised on platforms to keep out the crawlies! All cabins have twin beds with good mattresses and proper duvets, and shared bathrooms are just a short walk away. The eco-lodge doesn't have electricity, is lit up at night by paraffin lamps, and has safari showers heated through a donkey boiler - we're talking a true bush camp experience!

Food: Cooking at Mosetlha is done over the open fire. The traditional South African meals are fresh and plentiful, a must because you are always so hungry in this environment! Guests dine together at a huge table under the open sky, and the Bush Camp has a bar and gas fridges to keep your beer cold!

Vibe: Mosetlha is down to earth and REAL! The Lucas family goes out of their way to make you feel at home.

Things to Keep in Mind: Remember your toiletries, torch, binoculars, sunscreen, insect repellant, cash to settle your beer bill, tips, and reserve fees, and a good book - you'll have leisure time between game drives! Also, advise in advance if you are a vegetarian.

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selous river camp selous river camp selous river camp selous river camp

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania: Selous River Camp
Nominated By: John Strain, Chippenham, UK, September '11

Price Range: US$65-$125 (full board, per person) # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: Yes (but wild animals are all around)

What makes the Selous River Camp so Darn Good? I'll never forget the excitement of being awakened at night by a stampeding elephant or a whooping hyena while staying in a mud hut overlooking a river full of hippos! Not only this, but the entire camp is run so efficiently. Meals were punctual (and delicious) and the safaris were well organized, with good vehicles and extremely knowledgeable guides and drivers.

Location: Selous River Camp is surrounded by dense scrub on the banks of the Rufiji River by the Mtemere Gate, just outside the Selous Game Reserve in southern Tanzania. Declared a United Nations World Heritage Site in 1982, the Selous is home to the world's largest population of African wild dogs, the continent's highest concentration of hippos, and more than half of Tanzania's elephants. This fabulous game reserve is both the largest and oldest protected area in Africa, yet during our stay it felt largely undiscovered. From Dar es Salaam, Selous River Camp is a short flight, five hours by 4-wheel drive, or eight plus hours by bus.

Rooms: The camp has three lodging options: mud huts, canvas tents, and a campsite. The mud huts, all with lovely four-poster beds handmade from local tree branches and en-suite bathrooms with showers (some cold), have private terraces overlooking the river. Those opting to stay in the rest camp sleep in canvas tents decked out with local rope beds, safari chairs, and palm leaf mats, while visitors who bring their own tents may camp in the shady campsite.

Food: Meals at Selous River Camp are excellent, and the chefs were happy to cater to our vegetarian diets. For breakfast, we enjoyed fresh fruit, toast with marmalade and peanut butter, and eggs cooked to order. Lunch is served at camp or packed into the Land River for a Safari picnic. You just can't beat eating quiche and salad whilst wildebeests, giraffes, and zebras look on! The camp serves a three course dinner at its lovely restaurant cum bar/lounge alongside the river.

Vibe: Selous River camp was one of the most friendly, personal, and relaxing places I've ever stayed. The owners spent time really getting to know the guests, and the staff was friendly and efficient without being formal. We enjoyed relaxing in the evenings with the other guests sharing stories about the day's safari.

Keep in Mind: Wild animals sometimes enter the camp, particularly at night, but we felt quite safe, especially with the armed guards stationed around camp. The camp is very dark at night, so don't forget your torch!

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