Although all the private lodges are run independently from each other, each one tends to offer the same sort of structure to your day.
On Arrival on Your First Day
Most guests tend to arrive around lunchtime, as this not only gives you time to settle into your room, but also to enjoy lunch and meet fellow guests. You will then go out for your first afternoon/evening game drive, which tends to depart anytime from 3.30 pm to 4 pm.
At dusk, your guide will normally stop at an open area, and unpack the cooler box and offer to mix you a sundowner. There is something magical about enjoying a cold beer or chilled glass of wine while standing beside your game viewing vehicle, watching the sun setting over the African bush!
After your sundowner stop, you will begin to make your way back to the lodge, with the aid of a spotlight to help you search out the elusive nocturnal animals of the bush - or if you are really lucky, to stumble across a leopard just starting to hunt.
Back at the Lodge for Dinner
Once back at the lodge, you will find dinner awaiting you. Sometimes this is served outside under the stars in a 'boma' around an open fire, with candles or lanterns as the only form of lighting. Chatting about your experiences and adventures during the day with your fellow guests is a perfect way to round off the day, and a great feeling of camaraderie soon begins to exist between everyone.
Some lodges will seat everyone on the same tables for all meals, which gives you the opportunity to really get to know other guests – other lodges will offer you tables for just you and your immediate travelling companions – but of course there is nothing to stop you asking the lodge to make a larger table with other guests if you have all struck up an immediate friendship!
The Next Day
The next day begins with a wake up call at around 5.30 am, and after a refreshing cup of strong coffee and biscuits to help you fully wake up, you leave on your morning game drive around 6 am. If the coffee hasn't woken you up yet, the crisp morning air certainly will! Depending on what there is to see, the game drive is normally 3 to 4 hours long, and most times will involve a brief stop for another cup of coffee and a chance to get out of the vehicle and stretch your legs.
When you return to the lodge, a delicious breakfast will be waiting for you - normally buffet style with fruit and cereal, followed by a cooked offering if you are still hungry!
The next few hours are yours to spend as you wish. Most lodges can arrange a guided walk on foot to explore the African bush with your guide or tracker, which usually lasts for about an hour. Walking in single file, you will be introduced to how to spot tracks in the sand or mud, the uses of many different types of trees, and much more. If you are extremely lucky, will come across wildlife such as impala, giraffe or even rhino.
You then have lunch, and the whole routine begins again!
Full Day Excursions From Your Lodge
In some parts of Africa, if you are staying in one of the camps situated in a private conservancy, then on one of your full days there, you will normally have a whole day drive into the neighbouring National Park or reserve, with a packed breakfast and lunch, so you don’t have to worry about interrupting your game viewing to return to the camp to have your meals.