Under African Skies
There is something magical about sleeping under the stars.
A cool gentle breeze stirs, making you snuggle tighter into your blanket or a significant other. The soft glow of the moon. The sounds of the nocturnal animals brings a a feeling of closeness to nature. Some places, such as the African savannah, are probably not the safest locations to do this though as a host of dangerous animals are often lurking just beyond the light given off by the camp fire.
A number of resorts on the dark continent have found a way around this dilemma combining safety with serenity. Customers can experience the vast openness with the comforts that western travellers have come to expect (minus the WiFi). We have a look at some of the best options for those that are looking for something a little unique on their African safari.
Lion Sands – Chalkley Treehouse
Perched on a platform atop a 100 year old jackalberry, in the middle of the Sabi Sands private game reserve, the Chalkley Treehouse offers guests at the Lion Sands resort the perfect blend of seclusion and luxury. Available as a weather permitting optional extra for guests that have booked at least one night at the resort Ivory or River lodges the experience starts at sunset where you are driven about 15 minutes away from the hotel to the treehouse, where dinner and drinks await.
After receiving a radio to contact the lodge and instructions not to leave the treehouse, guests are left to absorb the vastness of the South African bush and watch as the animals of the Kruger National Park come out to hunt and play. The ranger will pick you up again in the morning and can take you on a safari or straight to the hotel’s onsite spa.
Kalamu Star Bed Camp
Normally done as a one night stay as part of a 4 day/3 night walking safari in southern Zambia, the Kalamu Star Bed camp located on the banks of the Luangwa river is not as luxurious as the Chalkley Tree house but still comes with a comfortable bed and private bathroom with hot and cold running water. The star bed camp is the perfect place to observe hippos and other wildlife in the the dry season as the lack of rain forces the animals to congregate around the river. The area is home to the Thornicroft giraffe and Cookson’s Wildebeest which are not found anywhere else as well as the elusive leopard.
Meals are prepared over a campfire by the river and extra nights can be arranged if you don’t like the idea of a walking safari. Those on the walking safari will also spend a night at the Chinengwe Riverbed Camp and the Kalamu Lagoon Camp. The lagoon camp is situated on a permanent lagoon, and has a pool and bar shaded by bony trees. The Star Bed camp is only open for a few months of the year from June to October or November.
The camp doesn’t appear to have an easy to find website, so if you want to book check with your local African travel specialist, but you can find more details via Expert Africa here or Sun Safaris here
Loisaba Star Bed
Located in the heart of Maasai territory in Kenya, Loisaba has given its Star Beds an interesting twist. It has put them on wheels. Now this may seem a little tacky, but for those people, like myself, who want a bit of a sleep in and don’t want to wake up with bright lights in their eyes or sunburn, the beds can be wheeled under a thatched roof so you have both the stars at at night and those precious extras minutes (or hours?) of sleep in the morning. Assurances are given that the bed will not roll off the platform during the night.
Loisaba has two sets of Star Beds, one set overlooks a waterhole and the other is situated on the banks of a river about 8kms away. The platforms have ensuite bathrooms with large camp style showers. Guests are guided and hosted by a team of traditional Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai warriors. Food is prepared in traditional camp kitchen, barbeque style.
Loisaba also has a range of activities available for guest including fishing and rafting, horseback or camel back safaris as well as the traditional 4WD safaris. The area is a big five destination and guest can visit the near by Rhino sanctuary. The local Maasai tribes offer a unique cutral experience with guest able to visit their traditional villages and watch the famous jumping dance as well as seeing how their ancient culture is surviving and adapting to the modern world.
Check out the details at their website here