African sleepouts provide a stargazing experience for everyone. There are few sights in the world that can rival the night sky of Africa. Low population densities in the bush and desert means little light pollution to interfere with sky-watching and only the sounds of the animals in the night to lull you to sleep. With luxury tree houses, elevated sleep out decks, and star beds attached to your suite, there’s a stargazing experience for everyone. We’ve gathered up our top 12 favorite African sleepouts for stargazers.
Classically Luxurious Tree Houses
The Tree Houses at Lion Sands | South Africa
You’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive set of tree houses than those at Lion Sands. For starters, each of the three is equipped with full bathroom facilities, boasts some of the best views of the bush Africa has to offer, and doesn’t compromise on creature comforts. All of the treehouses are constructed above ground and include a radio to communicate with the Field Guide.
The chic wood and glass Kingston Tree House at Ivory Lodge in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve is the perfect marriage of secluded safari getaway and modern luxury where a champagne and tapas dinner as the sun sets is the norm. It can sleep two people and is decorated with a four-poster bed and understated hues of greys, white, black, and purple for truly luxurious African sleepouts under the stars.
The Chalkley Treehouse is built in a leadwood tree on the original site Guy Aubrey Chalkley once set up his camp to escape roaming predators. You’ll arrive to the treehouse at sunset for a picnic dinner and drinks with incredible views of the plains and the animals roaming below.
The Tinyeleti Treehouse is located on the banks of the Sabie River and can accommodate four people, including children with an adventurous spirit. The open-air tree house comes to life at night with the sounds of animals stopping for a drink at the river below. There’s no electricity, but we think you’d prefer lights out to better see the millions of stars above you.
Two star beds are available at Loisaba: the Kiboko (20 minutes from the lodge) and the Koija (30 minutes from the lodge). Both are constructed with a raised handcrafted wooden platform with a partially thatched roof to provide protection from the elements should you need it. But we think you’ll prefer rolling your bed out to sleep under the blanket of stars at night. The Kiboko Star Bed is set among a kopje of rocks and overlooks a waterhole, while the Koija Star Bed is located on the banks of the Ewaso N’giro River and is cantilevered over the flowing waters below. A team of Samburu and Laikipia Maasai warriors host you during your stay, preparing meals on site in a traditional camp kitchen. Both star beds include en suite bathroom and shower facilities and can sleep up to four people, making these African sleepouts ideal for families.
Sleep Out Deck
Tswalu Tarkuni | Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
In September 2014, Tswalu relaunched their owner’s house Tarkuni, previously the private residence of the Oppenheimer family, to include five luxurious suites. The best part? Each suite has its own remote star bed set in a garden off of you private terrace so you can sleep out under the stars any night you like. And since it is part of your accommodations at Tswalu Tarkuni, you won’t sacrifice any of the modern conveniences of the lodge.
Malori Sleepout Deck | Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa
With 100,000 hectares surrounding you and the immense Kalahari night sky above you, there’s nothing more spectacular than spending a night at Tswalu’s Malori Sleepout Deck. You’ll be sleeping in the lap of luxury with a king size bed dressed in Aldona linen on a raised platform. There’s a thatched overhang with weather-proof blinds for protection from rain should you need it and full bathroom facilities just a short distance from the deck along a lighted walkway. Enjoy the panoramic views of the vast plains and incredible Kalahari sunset while sipping on sundowners, followed by a delicious bush meal prepared by your guide. If you’ve got your children along for the night, Tswalu can also provide camping beds, making your night under the stars a family affair.
The sleep out deck at Ruckomechi Camp in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe offers some of the most exciting game viewing on this list. The raised deck looks out over Parachute Pan, where a large variety of wildlife have been know to hang about, including elephant, buffalo, zebra, waterbuck, and kudu. Lion, leopard, and wild dog have also been seen at the pan, making what could be one thrilling night under the stars! You’ll drift off to sleep with a symphony of animal sounds and wake to the beautiful sunrise over the pan. And should you need any assistance during your night out, a highly qualified guide will be in a tent nearby.
For a fully immersive elephant experience, head to Abu Camp, famous for its herd of habituated elephants that accompany you through the bush. Their star bed is raised high above ground and overlooks the elephant boma giving you the opportunity to “sleep with the elephants,” letting their low rumblings and snores lull you to sleep. The sleeping deck is also equipped with a bathroom and open shower for complete comfort away from the lodge.
For the Adventurer
Norman Carr Return to the Wild | South Luangwa, Zambia
For those with a truly adventurous spirit, Norman Carr’s Return to the Wild overnight safari will be a night under the stars you’ll never forget. Armed with a bedroll and a mosquito net, you’ll venture out from camp on foot mid afternoon with a guide and scout team to find a spot to make camp for the night in the remote Luwi dry river bed. After a game rangers dinner and sharing stories around the fire, you’ll retreat to your bedroll under your mosquito net and drift to sleep while the millions of stars shine brightly overhead.
African Horseback Safaris | Okavango Delta, Botswana
Exploring the Okavango Delta on horseback provides an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with the wildlife in one of the finest wildlife sanctuaries in Africa. After a day exploring the African bush on horseback, continue your adventure with a night in the African Horseback Safaris Sleep Out deck. It’s perched high in the tree for long unobstructed views of the area below and completely open to the magical African night sky. You won’t have to worry about tying your horses up for the night either. Because it’s close to camp, the grooms will take your horses back to stay the night in the barn.
Attached to Suite
After undergoing a complete refurbishment, Kalahari Plains Camp now offers private star beds on the roof of each of the 10 suites. The five million hectare desert and plains reserve is teeming with wildlife so you never know what you’ll see from your rooftop. And when you’ve have enough game viewing and star gazing for the night, you can always retreat down below to comfort of your room.
Kulala Desert Lodge | Sossusvlei Desert, Namibia
Kulala Desert Lodge is set amidst stunning landscape with the famous red dunes of Sossusvlei and the nearby mountain ranges as its backdrop. Experience one of the clearest night skies in the world atop your “kulala” in the Sossusvlei Desert. Each suite has it’s own private rooftop star bed with a luxury bedroll for a truly unforgettable night in the desert.
Kanana Sleep Out | Okavango Delta, Botswana
The best way to experience the vastness of the night sky and multitude of stars is in the wilderness of the African bush. Kanana’s sleep out deck is located in the remote reaches of the Okavango Delta, not far from camp. It’s completely open to the night sky so a stay under the stars is weather dependent, but if you do stay, you’ll be rewarded with unobstructed views of the sky and the sounds of hippos grunting in the distance. In the morning you’ll be met with a beautiful African sunrise and a nice, warm cup of tea or coffee to round out your African sleepouts experience.
Private Tented Camp | Sahara Desert, Morocco
While the Private Tented Camp near Merzouga isn’t a treehouse or sleep out deck, it is worth mentioning as one of the best African sleepouts. There’s no better place to view the vastness of the starry night sky without any obstruction or light pollution than in the Sahara Desert. Each night you’ll enjoy a traditional Berber dinner and live entertainment and music under the neverending night sky of twinkling lights and in the morning wake to a crimson sun rising over the dunes – a truly unforgettable sight.
Are you ready to see the stars on your next Ker & Downey journey with one of these African sleepouts? Contact your travel professional or visit us online at www.kerdowney.com to start planning today. To stay up to date on all of our online contact, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.