The ‘Game Lodge Index’ is a ground-breaking, database driven website showcasing safari experiences and destinations in Africa. Users of the site pay an annual subscription which gives them access to an incredibly detailed search function which enables the user to find their perfect safari destination based on certain selected criteria. For example, people looking for the best places to see a certain type of animal, looking for lodges catering for Halal and Kosher dietary requirements, or for a family looking for the best children orientated safari experiences will all be able to source a list of lodges matching their specific requirements. These matching lodges are ranked according to their overall Sun Ray rating and can then be re-sorted according to a variety of other ratings such as lodging, cultural experience, photography potential, birding, big five, culinary experience, value for money and so forth. This index aims to be an impartial encyclopaedic database of what each lodge has to offer so as the potential guest can completely customise their visit.
Furthermore all lodges, camps and safari operations have been intensively reviewed by professional consultants from guiding or lodge management backgrounds. This allows the Game Lodge Index to provide its clients with an accurate unbiased and objective assessment of different safari destinations. The assessment is based on the innovative ‘Sun & Sun Ray Rating System©’ which rates the holistic safari experience. The unique rating model takes into account not only the available accommodation and facilities, but also the unique aspects, quality of service and most importantly the safari and wildlife experience on offer. In addition we provide bonus scorings to lodges that are actively involved in conservation projects and social initiatives in their local communities. The Sun & Sun Ray Rating System aims to stimulate increased environmental and social involvement in the safari industry helping to make ecotourism a viable yet sustainable product for Africa, its wildlife and people.
The majority of other safari websites merely post marketing pages of each lodge and reserve and this often paints an untrue or over exaggerated perception of the safari experience on offer.Furthermore there are thousands of safari operations in Sub-Saharan Africa, each being unique in some way and offering guests the chance of seeing certain animals. Finding your ideal safari destination is often a game of swing and miss. There are also many safari practises that are not of an acceptable standard and we wish to provide users with a collection of acceptable operations.
The website is targeted at travel agencies, tour operators and regular safari travellers looking at helping find the perfect safari destinations for their clients and themselves. Users will have access to the most detailed database of different safari options that can be searched to match each user’s specific criteria. Incredibly detailed rating breakdowns, lodge information, photos, direct contacts and overviews are provided for each lodge on the database. Tour operators, travel agencies and other users will pay either an annual or a daily subscription amount to have access via a log in portal on the website to the database and search tool. The charges are as follows:Daily Subscription: US $ 5 for a 12 hour access period. Annual Subscription: US $ 129 for a 365 day period.Opening Special: US $ 69 for a 365 day period.
African Array has developed a unique and intricate rating system to assess the quality of safari experiences in Africa. The Sun & Sun Ray Rating System is a positive based rating system (not a typical grading) that provides an overall rating as well as various category ratings summarising all facets of a safari operation which includes lodging, facilities, quality of service, wildlife experience, and the unique aspects of an operation. Furthermore bonus scores are achieved by lodges actively involved in conservation work and social projects within their local communities.
There are a number of different gradings and accreditations currently in the industry such as the Fair Trade in Tourism accreditation, various ‘Green’ or ‘Eco’ certifications and the common hotel based ‘Star’ gradings. The Sun and Sun Ray Rating system will not replace the need for or dilute the relevance of any of these, but rather incorporates any certifications and accreditations a lodge has achieved into its rating and review. Review consultants do a full assessment of a lodge’s operation and lodges will still be accurately rated even if they have not been Star graded or Green certified. Thus, for instance, a lodge that takes part in energy conserving practises, recycling and water saving measures will still rate highly when it comes to human impact even if it doesn’t have a ‘green’ rating as such.
In addition there will be detailed ratings for each category rated on the basis of 1- 10 ‘Sun Rays’ - 10 Sun Rays being the highest and 1 being the lowest. These ratings will only be displayed on the website and in the annual review publication. The core categories are Lodge and Camp, Facilities, Service, Safari Experience, Unique Features, Social Involvement and Conservation Initiatives. In addition ratings will be assigned to other categories such as Value for Money, Children Friendly, Safety and Security, Culinary Experience, Romantic, Wedding Venue, and Photography Potential. Detailed wildlife ratings for Big 5, mammals, birds, trees and reptiles are also calculated based on diversity of species, animal densities, habituation, specialist species and so forth.
The overall rating can be summarised as a ‘Sun Rating’. Lodges, Camps and Reserves will be able to market themselves as a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 ‘Sun’ safari experience. This can be used in conjunction with a lodge’s Star grading. For instance an upmarket lodge with an excellent safari operation in place will be able to market itself as ‘5 Star, 5 Sun’, ‘5 Star, 4 Sun’ or ‘4 Star, 5 Sun’ operation. Exquisite lodges and operations that rate highly in all areas are awarded a ‘Premier’ or ‘Apex’ status.
A very basic lodge or safari operation that offers guests a very limited nature experience. Lodges with overall Sun Ray ratings of less than 4.5 are awarded a 1 Sun status.
A basic or comfortable lodge or safari operation that offers guests a limited nature or safari experience. Lodges with overall Sun Ray ratings of 4.5 to 5.5 are awarded a 2 Sun status.
A basic, comfortable or luxurious lodge or safari operation that offers guests a reasonable safari or nature experience. Lodges in this bracket often offer a reasonable safari experience at affordable rates. Lodges with overall Sun Ray ratings of 5.5 to 6.5 are awarded a 3 Sun status.
A comfortable, luxury or ultra luxury lodge or safari operation that offers guests a good general safari or wilderness experience. The operation is of a high standard and the lodges are often contributing in some way to social upliftment and conservation initiatives in the local area. Lodges with overall Sun Ray ratings of 6.5 to 7.5 are awarded a 4 Sun status.
An exceptional lodge or safari operation that provides guests with a great safari or wilderness experience. The lodge is usually situated on a well developed and managed reserve and game viewing is excellent. Lodges are often actively involved in conservation initiatives or social upliftment programmes within their local communities. Lodges with overall Sun Ray ratings of 7.5 to 8.5 are awarded a 5 Sun status.
5 Sun ‘Premier’
Exceptional lodges, camps and safari experiences that provide superior levels of service and accommodation, whilst simultaneously offering a top end safari or nature experience. These lodges are usually particularly unique and most are positively involved in some way or other with conserving their local environment and improving the lives of local communities within the catchment area that the respective operation is based. In addition to a 5 Sun status lodges achieving an overall Sun Ray rating of 8.5 Sun Rays and above are awarded the illustrious ‘Premier’ distinction.
5 Sun ‘Apex’
Extraordinary lodges, camps and safari experiences that provide the highest levels of service and accommodation, whilst simultaneously offering the ultimate safari experience. In addition these lodges are notably unique and are actively involved in conserving their local environment and improving the lives of local communities within the catchment area that the respective operation is based. In addition to a 5 Sun status lodges achieving an overall Sun Ray rating of 9.0 Sun Rays and above are awarded the exclusive ‘Apex’ distinction.
We are often asked why a lodge, camp or safari operator should sign up to yet another safari website. The Game Lodge Index is something completely different. This is a website that is actively marketed in the travel trade as that is where we generate our core revenues. We provide unbiased and accurate assessments of safari destinations which people will come to rely upon. The website is essentially a cross over between a Trip Advisor and a Safari Now where the reviews are undertaken by independent professionals.
Importantly we do not retain a commission on bookings. We provide users with the direct contact details where direct bookings can be made or suitable discount rates offered.
The only charge is the joining fee and the review fee which are valid for a 2 year period. In addition lodges joining the Index are expected to host a 2 night review by a team of 2 reviewers. The current fees are as follows:
Index Joining Fee: R 999 (all inclusive)
Review Fee: R 1,499 (all inclusive)
Lodges are compared only to similar lodges based on a user or potential guest’s specific requirements. The index based search function will display only lodges relevant to each user’s selected requirements and so the only competition usually will be amongst a few lodges matching these criteria.
Furthermore the unique characteristics of each individual lodge are promoted which further helps to distinguish between different safari destinations in the index.
Unlike other safari websites which simply post a marketing page of each lodge on their website, African Array will be actively marketing the Game Lodge Index to tour operators, travel agents and the like around the globe. This is a great marketing platform and will be a useful stepping stone to get in to new markets as it opens a lodge up to a larger client base.
As an additional marketing medium, lodges can sign up to be included in the Safari Index, an annual style publication showcasing quality game lodges and camps in Africa.
Lodges will also be able to use their Sun rating to market their lodges as premier safari destinations.
Following the review, each lodge will be sent its overall rating and if a lodge requests it, basic recommendations will be offered on areas where the general operation that can be improved upon. In addition lodges already on the Index can request a full operational improvement plan through African Array at a reduced rate.
Another positive aspect for lodges taking part in the index is that unlike other websites that display customer reviews, we will not be doing so. If there is a bad experience or complaint the Game Lodge Index will not simply change the rating but rather act as a mediator between the lodge and the respective client. If it appears that the case is a once off issue (and these things happen) the rating will not be affected. However if there is a recurrent problem a Game Lodge Index review consultant will request to re-review the lodge and following this adjust the rating accordingly.
Lodges are to be re-reviewed every 2 years or earlier at the lodge’s request (for instance if new facilities, activities, services and wildlife acquisitions have been added to the Lodges’ portfolio)
The Game Lodge Index is aimed at tour operators, travel agents and regular safari goers looking for a web based database and search function that enables them to find their or their client’s perfect safari destination.
No commission is payable to the Game Lodge Index as bookings are linked directly to each lodge where discount rates can be negotiated.
There are thousands of safari destinations in Africa, some well known and some less well known. It is impossible for a safari travel specialist to have visited them all. The Game Lodge Index provides the platform to find the most suitable destination for your client or yourself. Imagine discovering an absolute gem of a game lodge that is relatively unknown but perfectly suited to a particular traveller.
The Game Lodge Index will enable you to find the perfect safari destination in minutes. Searches are based on fundamental criteria such as the traveller’s budget, areas to be visited, whether travelling with children or not, type of safari activity etc. to very specific criteria such as kosher or halal dietary requirements, particular animal species, large groups, wedding or conference venues and so forth.
The Game Lodge Index contains a vast amount of information on each lodge or camp as well as encyclopaedic styled information on National Parks and major reserves. All pertinent information is displayed such as common animal species likely to be seen, directions, unique aspects, quality of the safari experience, optional activities and so on.
Every lodge has been personally reviewed by an African Array review and rating consultant and guests can be assured of the quality of a safari operation based on its Sun & Sun Ray rating.
There are currently many different grading systems. These include a lodge’s Star grading, its ‘green’ or eco-friendly certifications and fair trade accreditations. Current grading methods do not take in to account the quality of the wildlife and safari experience on offer. The Sun & Sun Ray rating system takes all factors into account in providing a reliable holistic rating of a guest’s safari experience.
An extensive Sun & Sun Ray rating breakdown is provided for each lodge. Specific ratings are displayed for core ratings such as lodge and camp, wildlife experience, service, facilities and unique aspects of each lodge. Bonus ratings are displayed for conservational and social involvement by a lodge in its local area. Further detailed ratings will be displayed for a variety of categories such as a Value for Money rating, a Children Friendly rating, a Culinary Experience rating, a Romantic rating, a Wedding Venue rating, and a Photography Potential rating. Wildlife ratings for Big 5, mammals, birds, trees and reptiles will also be displayed.
Once you have registered, The Game Lodge Index site allows you to search for a lodge or safari destination that meets your exact requirements based on your detailed search. You can now search for a lodge based on criteria such as
A list of lodges and camps that fit your specific criteria is then displayed.
You can then sort and re-sort the list of lodges that fit their requirements according to various factors such as:
This may happen when there is no lodge that meets the exact criteria of your search. For example, you may have selected “Big 5, Child Friendly, Halal and Green Certified” and there is most likely no lodge available that meets this combination.
Suggestion: Try searching again but without your least important requirement.
The only way that this is possible is to right click the lodge name on the search results page and select “open in new page” or “open in new tab”. This way you can view the lodge page and still have the search results open.
Once you have read all about the lodge, you have the option of contacting them directly to confirm availability and rates (available under each lodge’s tab). Alternatively, you can contact African Array Travel to assist or set up a full trip itinerary.
If you would like to make a booking, you need to contact the lodge directly or alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to help organize your trip.
This is African Array’s unique rating system that looks at the holistic guest experience. You can find out more about this rating system and what each Sun & Sun Ray means under the tab "Sun & Sun Ray Ratings"
Go to the “When on Safari” section and read the “Safari Glossary” here you will find explanations for various industry terms
If you have a problem with paying for your subscription, please contact us at email@example.com.
You can cancel your subscription to the site but due to the informational nature of the website, no refund payments will be made.
Jake started his working career working as a guide in South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park and Waterberg. Following this Jake moved in to the property investment field in the banking and finance industry in London. After returning to South Africa, Jake worked for a tourism investment consultancy following which he formed African Array and worked on the development of the Sun and Sun Ray Rating System, the Game Lodge Index and the Safari Index. Jake has a Master’s degree in Real Estate and bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Financial Accounting.
Jaime joined African Array at the beginning of 2010 as a Senior Review Consultant. After completing a Diploma in Game Ranging, Lodge and Game Farm Management, Jaime went on to work in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park for three years. Jaime then spent some time travelling throughout South East Asia following which he enrolled at the University of Pietermaritzburg and completed a degree in Law and Sociology. During this time Jaime worked as a freelance guide and made regular trips back up to the Lowveld.
Claudine joined African Array at the beginning of 2010. Her career started at the Protea Hotel Group after completing a National Diploma in Hospitality Management. Claudine spent over 3 years working for Firmdale Hotels, a leading boutique hotel group in London before returning to South Africa to open a game lodge, where she fell in love with the African bush. Since then, Claudine spent some time at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Group in Florida and returned to South Africa to open another game lodge.
Kevin is one of our part time reviewers and he is the one responsible for many of the great photos seen on this site. After completing a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Environmental Science, Kevin worked as a guide in the Sabi Sands Wildtuin. This was followed by a career as an environmental consultant for a national engineering and consulting firm in South Africa. Kevin has subsequently pursued a career in professional photography and has established his own free-lance photography company, focussing on wildlife and game lodge photography
Ryan is another member of the part time review team. He spent his childhood years surrounded by and being exposed to the wonders of the greater Kruger National Park in South Africa. There was a natural progression to an occupation as a guide and finally management within the private game lodge industry. Ryan eventually made a career change into the property market, and now heads up a very successful real estate business that specialises in the marketing and sales of wildlife properties in and around the greater Kruger National Park.
Richard is another African Array part time reviewer and a full time student at the University of Johannesburg. Growing up in the wine lands, Richard travelled in Southern Africa at every opportunity and his favourite destinations are Zambia and Namibia. Richard completed his Game Ranger course at The Bush Academy before working on private game reserves in the Eastern Cape. Currently, Richard is studying towards his National Diploma in Civil Engineering.
Ross attended the University of Cape Town and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Film, Media and Visual Studies. Ross then spent a brief spell in the United Kingdom before returning to South Africa to work as a wildlife filmmaker’s assistant in the Kruger National Park. Ross then went on to manage a Shell station in Cape Town before returning to his childhood passion for Africa by joining African Array in 2010 as the Creative Designer working on the Index websites and the Safari Index publication.