Safaris take you to vast tracts of untamed African wilderness. Set off on thrilling early morning game drives, dine al fresco while elephant drink at a nearby waterhole and – for a true sense of being out in the wild – spend a night out under the stars.
Forget the roughly hammered together treehouses of your childhood. These 10 sleep out decks are the ultimate bush bedrooms with a comfortable bed made up with crisp, white linen and a down duvet; a bathroom with a toilet and possibly a shower; and a radio for contacting the lodge should you need it (although each of these star beds is perfectly safe).
Imagine just you and your partner under the brilliant blaze of the Milky Way. Cosied up in bed your ears tune in to the grunts of hippos or distant whoop of a hyena. Your morning alarm call is the twittering of birds, and your day begins by watching the sunrise as the colours bleed into the landscape below you.
1. Chalkley’s Treehouse, Lion Sands (South Africa)
Lion Sands has four luxurious lodges, each offering the option of a night in a treehouse. Our favourite, Chalkey’s Treehouse, is built around an ancient Leadwood tree; the high platform the perfect place to enjoy a sunset picnic dinner before settling down for a night under the stars.
2. Elephant Star Bed, Abu Camp (Botswana)
Abu Camp is best known for its resident herd of African elephants. Staying here you’ll have plenty of chances to interact with the Abu herd, including sleeping out on a deck built over the elephant boma. Imagine being lulled to sleep by the gentle snores of elephants in the enclosure below you.
3. Little Kulala, Sossusvlei (Namibia)
Away from light pollution, the Namib Desert has stars so bright it feels you could reach out and touch them. At Little Kulala you can sleep in your glass-walled suite, or head uptairs to the warm comfort of your private rooftop bed and count shooting stars as they streak across the sky.
4. Loisaba Star Beds, Laikipia (Kenya)
The Loisaba Star Beds have been called the “biggest bedroom in the world”. Just getting there is an adventure in itself, as you set off on a game drive, horseback or camel safari. After dinner, your bed is rolled out onto your private platform and you cuddle down in comfort under the African night sky.
5. Malori Sleep Out Deck, Tswalu Kalahari (South Africa)
South Africa’s largest private game reserve, Tswalu Kalahari has just two luxury lodges – each offering the chance to spend a night at The Malori. This deck faces the sunset, has a thatched overhang with heating (for chilly nights) and a king-size bed made up with the finest Aldona linen.
6. Little Makalolo Camp, Hwange (Zimbabwe)
Little Makalolo, in Hwange National Park, has a sleep out deck overlooking Madison Pan. This is a more casual experience: there’s a pizza oven on site and you sleep on a bedroll draped in mosquito netting. In the morning, laze in bed watching elephant and antelope down at the waterhole.
7. Tanda Tula Safari Camp, Timbavati (South Africa)
Built amongst the branches of a Leadwood tree, Tanda Tula’s beautiful outdoor bedroom looks out across the Timbavati (a private Kruger Reserve). After a picnic dinner in the tree tops, curl up under a feather duvet and relish the feeling of having a small slice of African wilderness all to yourself.
8. Baines’ Camp Sky Bed, Okavango Delta (Botswana)
Honeymoon favourite Baines’ Camp has just five luxurious suites, each with a private deck where your four-poster bed can be wheeled out for a romantic night under the stars. Another fantastic option is their star bath: return from dinner to find his-and-hers bubble baths set up on your candlelit deck.
9. Garonga Sleep Out Deck, Kruger Park (South Africa)
Garonga Safari Camp lies in a private concession bordering the Kruger National Park. It’s a 20-minute drive from main camp to the sleep out deck, where you’ll be dropped off with a well-stocked picnic hamper. You’ll need to book this experience well in advance, as it is understandably popular.
10. Ol Donyo Lodge, Chyulu Hills (Kenya)
A Relais & Chateaux property, Ol Donyo Lodge sits on the lower slopes of Chyulu Hills in Kenya’s Amboseli region. This is an exquisite lodge with 10 private cottages, each with a roof terrace where you can ask the staff to set up your star bed or simply enjoy a candlelit dinner for two.
For advice on finding the best lodge for your African safari, simply get in touch.