6 Places to Sleep Under the Stars in Africa
The sky is big in Africa, bigger than you can grasp sometimes, and at night, in the absence of city lights, the bush comes alive in a symphony of sounds and starlight that is too good to miss. The dark corners of earth are getting harder to find with so much light pollution globally, but we can take you there.
From rustic sleep-out decks where you can be one with nature, as you are lulled to sleep by the calls of the wild, to glass treehouses that spare no luxurious detail, to suites that give you the option on any given night to spend the evening al-fresco, sleeping out under the Milky Way in Africa is an experience you will never forget, and one that can enhance any dream safari. Whether you call it a sleep-out, a tree house, a star bed, or an open-air suite, this is one experience to add to the list for your safari.
Here are some of our favorite bush bedrooms:
1) Lion Sands, The Greater Kruger, South Africa
This is an exceptional collection of four lodges and two exclusive villas, each with access to a unique treehouse to spend a night under the stars. For the more adventurous, the fully open-air Chalkley Tree House is ideal. Our favorite here, though, is the Kingston Treehouse: with an open bedroom and fully enclosed glass bathroom, this unique space offers luxury as you seclude yourself for an evening in the bush. Its drawbridge entryway raises at night to ensure total privacy from the surrounding wildlife, and a sunken deck for dining and lounging offers ample space from which to take it all in.
2) Tswalo Mostse-Malori Sleep-out, Kalahari, South Africa
Malori means ‘dreamer’ in the Tswana language, and there may be no better place to dream than on a plush king size bed in the middle of the vast Kalahari. Perfectly situated to capture epic sunsets over the vivid red earth plains of this incredible landscape, this open air sleep-out will be your home for the night. You will be treated to cocktails and dinner before being left to enjoy a nightcap and an evening of complete privacy under the stars. The bed is mobile and can be placed under a thatched overhang, or out on the deck where the only view is billions of stars above. No luxury is spared for a truly incredible night out.
3) Elewana Loisaba Starbeds, Laikipia Kenya
One of the originals in the sleep-out game, Loisaba Star beds are perched on one of the many rocky kopjes, or outcrops, that famously dot the landscape of East Africa. Each room here offers endless views of the valley below, and sightings of wildlife as they come to drink at the permanent water hole. Each rustic, handcrafted four poster bed has its own set of wheels and can be moved in or out depending on your mood for the evening. Wake up to the delivery of a hot beverage as you watch the sunrise over this expansive private conservancy and anticipate a day of safari ahead. This lodge is perfect to incorporate the sleep-out into every night of your stay.
4) Fly Camping, Sand River Selous Camp, Nyerere National Park Tanzania
The Serengeti may be the most famous park in Tanzania, receiving close to 200,000 visitors a year, but the country also offers some incredible less-known destinations. In the south of the country lies one of the last truly wild places on earth and the largest national park in the country – and, as of 2019, the continent. What was formerly known as the Selous Game Reserve is now Nyerere National Park, named for Tanzania’s first president and visionary leader Julius Nyerere.
If you want a true digital detox and to connect with Africa authentically, there is no better way than to put yourself right in the middle of a spectacularly vast wilderness. Leaving the comfort of your lodge, you head out on foot into the bush with your expert guide. Just when you think you are lost in the expanse, you hear voices up ahead, and happen upon a camp. The fire is lit, dinner is on, and your simple mosquito net bed is set up, inviting you for a night under the stars. This one-night (or more) experience will take you back to basics, and is a once in a lifetime experience.
5) Kwessi Dunes, NamibRand Nature Reserve, Namibia
The NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia is one of the naturally darkest accessible places on earth. While it was started to conserve the exceptional endemic ecology and wildlife of the region, one of its missions now is to preserve the starry night skies as well, and it is classified as a Dark Sky Reserve. Set in a private concession within the reserve is the brand new Kwessi Dunes Camp, which offers simple luxury and a sleep-out you will never forget. Each room here is equipped with an outdoor sleeping deck so you can pick and choose which nights you spend marveling at the sky above. This remote and beautiful landscape is well worth the journey.
6) Ol Donyo Lodge, Chyulu Hills, Kenya
Set on 111,000 hectares of private land in the often-overlooked Chyulu Hills region of Kenya, this lodge is well and truly out there and a great place to get off the beaten path. Each of the seven suites has its own second-story stargazing platform overlooking the wilderness, accessed from your private deck via a winding stone staircase. Having the option right from your room gives you the ultimate flexibility to sleep in, sleep out, or simply gaze at the stars in total privacy before you head inside for bed.