I knew not what to expect from the places we had chosen to stay in during three months travelling across the African continent for our honeymoon. Longer than your average holiday – I like to call it a ‘Wandermoon’ – we couldn’t afford to splash out every night but I was amazed at the quality, quirkiness, stunning locations and friendliness of the budget accommodation we stayed in throughout our trip and wouldn’t have changed our nightly dwellings for the world.
We stayed in so many amazing places, but here are some of my best budget places to stay across Africa:
Food: Average on taste, but generous in quantity, breakfast is included in the price. Lunchtime menus have tempting sushi and other exotic delights such as fresh black-pepper squid. A buffet-style barbecue is held occasionally on the beach with fishy delights, try blue marlin accompanied by homemade coconut chutney and fluffy fragrant rice.
Accommodation: Idyllic huts on the beach with ensuite bathrooms, cheaper ones are basic but rustic and fun – prepare yourself for unidentified nightly scuttling sounds!
Quirks: A rasta behind the bar singing his own reggae lyrics, shishas, cocktails, full moon parties and sunsets to send you on your merry way.
Food: In an ironic twist drinks are cooled by the sun, water is filtered from the stream and food on the menu grows in an abundance of colour in the enchanting garden next door. Order dinner in advance and it’s bound to appear oozing organic goodness! Delicious vegetables, salads accompany your main, all lovingly homegrown by locals who have learnt their gardening skills from the lodge owners.
Accommodation: Flashpackery in terms of comfort but not in price. Thatched chalets, Safari tents (also under thatch) with their own decking and views-to-die-for. Poke your head out from clean-composting toilets and hot showers (heated by donkey-boiler) boasting prime-position views of the stunning landscape. Camping is possible too and there’s a self-catering kitchen onsite.
Quirks: A peaceful haven of nature, perched on the edge of the Livingstonia mountain, this is Ecological tourism at its best. The owners describe their retreat as “functional and artistic with an emphasis on outdoor living”. A homespun bar and restaurant woven into the trees, all built by the owner with intricate attention to detail. Solar power and kerosene lanterns provide power and light.
Food: A wood-fired oven serves up pizza once a week otherwise rice, curries and salad are standard fare.
Accommodation: It doesn’t look like much from outside, but once inside the fence cute cobbled pathways weave their way to beautiful cabins and huts right on the lakeside. Stone baths, four-posters draped with linen and super-comfy mattresses. Dorm rooms are available.
Quirks: Win dinner for the night by competing in the dug-out canoe competition!
Food: A well-equipped self-catering kitchen in which you may store and prepare your goods makes the perfect place to bond with other backpackers. Supplement your diet with fallen mangos from outside your door, hunter-gatherer stylee. You can also order from a daily-changing menu at the bar which is convenient if a little bland-tasting.
Accommodation: Camping is possible or if you’d like a bed there’s dorm rooms or rustic A-frame chalets with shared bathrooms.
Quirks:A sumptuous scattered colourful cushion-filled chill-out area for travellers to mong in as a respite from the heat or shelter from the heavy rains (depending on the season). Teeming with travellers, there is always a bit of buzz and plenty of hair-raising activities to book. Staff break out occasionally into song, beating African drums and singing in that cheerful African way.
Namibia, Etosha National Park
Food: Restaurant onsite, pool-side serving three meals a day. Self-catering kitchens are provided for campers. Don’t forget to shut the door to keep out the Jackals!
Accommodation: The budget option here is camping although the double-storey, water-hole side chalets looked pretty epic.
Quirks: The fortress-like lookout tower has far-reaching panoramic views and the waterhole was ever-peaceful, save for the chirrups of various birdlife and hushed human whispers. Jackals scamper through the camp after tasty scraps.
Namibia, Spitzkoppe Restcamp
Food: None, bring your own & plenty of water!
Accommodation: None, bring your own! Or not…we slept outside with only the starry southern hemisphere above our heads. There is a drop toilet hidden behind some bamboo canes.
Quirks: What isn’t a quirk. You’re in the middle of the Namib desert, miles from civilisation, amidst the most stunning rock formations, deadly flora and fauna (when consumed) and ancient san bushmen cave drawings. Climb a large rock -gin & tonic in backpack recommended, settle in for one hell of a sunset.
Namibia, Canyon Roadhouse
Food: The bar serves cold beers, cold glasses of wine, cold soft drinks…when it’s well over 40 degrees outside you too will appreciate this. There’s an A la carte menu serve big portions, but we were self-catering so didn’t try.
Accommodation: Camping available or a quirky ranch-style roadhouse where horses wander freely.
Quirks: Plenty of photo opportunities! Jeremy Clarkson would be impressed – funky vintage cars, jeeps and trucks strategically litter the grounds, and fill the bar. Interesting toilets, but I won’t spoil the surprise, other than to say it involves Pandora’s box… Turquoise sheep-dip pool – essential in the intense heat.
Food: But it’s more about the drink. Drink in the view and a selection of thei finest homemade wines, accompanied by morsels of cheese and crackers at tiny prices.
Accommodation: Tents pitched on a lawn of green, gazing over vines and the Cederburg mountain range.
Quirks: Beat the record for ‘most amount of people naked in the pool‘ – the stats are displayed proudly in the bar. It was 20 when we left…
Food: Shared self-catering kitchen in a barrel-shaped dining area. Mingle with other travellers and share wines collected from the day’s vineyard visits.
Accommodation: We had the ‘honeymoon suite’ – a beautiful family-size wooden cabin with its own secluded dining area, ensuite bathroom, fridge. Twins and doubles available too.
Quirks: Walk back through a vineyard to your door. Chat with other backpackers around the firepit or walk into town and dine in some of the finest restaurants these chops have ever known.
Food: Self-catering kitchen.
Accommodation: more of a boutique self-catering place. Big, heavy beds with lovely linen, epic views to the Swartberg mountains, a boho vibe and a charming, helpful owner. Our room had a door onto the balcony where we sat and finished that day’s wine pickings late into the night.
Quirks: Pop down the road for a go at ostrich riding!
Food: Definitely put your name down for an evening meal here, cheap, buffet style, wholesome goodness. Breakfast is equally delish.
Accommodation: Private en-suites, double and twin rooms, funky dormitories and a camping ground. Exposed brickwork, beautiful hippy-esque surroundings.
Quirks: Tree stumps around a firepit where nightly didgeridoo and djembe drum sessions take place. Join in or sink off to the hot tub on the deck (ask for it to be heated for your return from one of the many extreme activities that abound nearby).