A sleep out in the bush no longer needs to be a mission. We find some of the best luxury camping sleep outs under the African stars.
Once upon a time, sleeping out under the stars meant you would have to dust off the old tent and hunt around the cupboards for a sleeping bag still able to perform its function. Luckily these days things are different… and thankfully, indulgently and luxuriously so.
A bush sleepout or a ‘starbed’ is your chance to enjoy adventure, romance and all things nature-filled but with those all-important comforts and touch of style thrown in too. Think four poster beds perched at elevated positions with dramatic 360 degree views of the bush or coast. Think of private dining and waking up to the sound of birds at sunrise.
Of course, one thing remains the same…the noises you will hear at night are equally as thrilling as if you were in your rickety old tent!
Here we list our favourite selection of luxury sleep outs and ‘starbeds’ for you to try:
Garonga Safari Camp, South Africa
Garonga Safari Camp and Little Garonga are exclusive camps set in the 22’000 ha (60’000 acres) Greater Makalali Private Nature Reserve west of the Kruger National Park. In addition to an abundance of wildlife (including all of the big five), the lodge offers luxurious accommodation as well as some really unique experiences.
The Sleep Out is a viewing deck with a four-poster bed where guests can also enjoy private dining under the stars and spend the night alone in the bush. Guests can also book out The Bush Bath where you can privately soak away your evening totally immersed in nature yet still located in the safety of the camp. Expect the ultimate ‘tub with a view’ here.
Garonga also offers spa treatments at The Massage Sala for that extra touch of relaxation. A ‘Safari for the Soul’ is their motto and we can certainly see how that would work.
Robin Pope Safaris, Mkulumadzi Lodge, Malawi
Located in the south of Malawi, Majete Wildlife Reserve is an area of 70,000 hectares and part of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. The reserve is made up of mature Miombo woodlands and granite topped hills that contrast with the river valleys and lush riverine forest. In addition to the eight luxury chalets, the lodge has a brand-new sleep out deck which literally gives guests that ‘in the middle of nowhere’ feeling.
Lion Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
Lion Sands Game Reserve is the only private reserve to have a foot in both South Africa’s Sabi Sand Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park. A selection of luxury treehouses are available each with their own charm and which enable guests to enjoy a picnic dinner and night away from it all under The Milky Way.
Loisaba Conservancy, Kenya
Loisaba Conservancy lies just off the equator and therefore benefits from the most beautiful night skies. The Starbeds are handcrafted four-poster beds which sit on wheels and they are rolled out onto raised wooden platforms so that guests can sleep under the African night sky. They boast a cosy dining room, sitting room and a wooden deck. The experience is even guided and hosted by a team of traditional Samburu and Laikipia Maasai Warriors. The beds overlook the Kiboko Waterhole which is home to a resident hippo family, and a main water source for passing game.
Nkwichi, Lake Malawi
Nkwichi sits on the Mozambican shores of Lake Malawi and offers stunning views of the lakeside scenery. The lodge has 8 secluded beaches set on 4 km of Rift Valley coastline. Their star beds are located either on a deserted, virgin beach surrounded by baobabs, or on a private rock island close to the shore.
If these locations don’t make you feel all fuzzy and dreamy whilst simultaneously making you want to put that old sleeping bag and dodgy tent to rest, the we honestly don’t know what will!