5 star beds for the best sleep-outs in Africa


Sleeping out, under the African night sky is the insomniac’s dream. On safari the entertainment never stops and outside, all the channels are switched on at once. Between a heaven that is alive with satellites, stars, planets and planes and the bush that loudly goes about its gossip and business, the miracle of a great night’s sleep actually happens surprisingly often. But if you insist on being the outlier, and lying awake all night, these are definitely the beds you want to do it in:

Sarara Star Camp

In northern Kenya, where the mountains meet the desert there is a camp that is called “meeting place” in Samburu. Both intimate and incredibly remote, Sarara is the only property in the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy that was created to protect the local wildlife. The camp is a collaborative, set up with the local community who play an integral role in its management.

Two and a half hours by camel from the main camp, guests can immerse themselves entirely in the unique nature of the area. Samburu keepers ensure your safety while you observe rare colobus and De Brazza monkeys and prehistoric Cyad palms. The Star Camp nestles on a rocky plateau which juts out from a forested area. Stunning mountain views and a glorious natural rock pool is the native backdrop, complementing the mosquito-net tents, comfortable chairs, hot bucket showers and long drop loos.

Tswalu Kalahari

The largest private game reserve in South Africa protects over 110,000 hectares of spectacular grasslands and mountains in the Kalahari… but allows no more than 30 guests at any one time. An arid savannah which is home to diverse wildlife, it will only survive if conservation is the first priority and the guest experience is tailored to enhance the legacy.

Malori means “dreamer” in Tswana and this is the name of the Tswalu sleep-out deck which allows guests a night under diamond skies. Designed to resemble a weaver’s nest, the raised platforms have a thatched overhang with weather-proof blinds… but you can also roll the bed onto the open deck to get the full effect of the night sky. The king size bed is dressed in Egyptian cotton and an outdoor toilet, shower and bush loo is a short, lamp lit walk away.

The Segera Nay Palad Bird Nest

The unique architecture of the Bird Nest is architect Daniel Pouzet’s striking approach to an undeniably imaginative sleep out. Offering a 360-degree birds-eye- view of Laikipia, Kenya and looking down on a river teeming with wildlife, the nest is lit with lanterns and come fully equipped with champagne, incredible food feasts, luxurious linens and hot-water bottles. Guests can choose to sleep snuggled inside the nest or on the top deck under the mosquito nets for a completely open experience. The structure is entirely built from raw materials such as farmed wood and real tree branches that have been woven into a nest by the local community. The fully-equipped bathroom has solar heated water and a flushing loo.

Tinyeleti Treehouse

There is only one private game reserve with a foot in both the Sabi Sand and the Kruger National Park: Lion Sands Game Reserve in South Africa. This gives the reserve incredible access to The Big Five and critically endangered species. Known for its extraordinary leopard viewing the area is a haven for safari enthusiasts. Tinyeleti translates to “Many Stars” and in the Tinyeleti Treehouse guests can overnight in a wilderness paradise that will leave them with stories they will never tire of telling. The deck has a double safety door, a drawbridge and cell coverage. There is also a loo but no shower. The view is of the famous Sabie River.

Erg Chigaga Private Camp

Tailor made for idyllic desert privacy and comfort, this Moroccan camp has only four private, en-suite tents deep within the dunes. Wall-to- wall plush rugs, hammocks, percale and duck down set the scene. If lounging around on the day beds and cushions becomes too much, there is always camel trekking, guided walks, picnic lunches and sundowners on the dunes to keep you occupied. The bathrooms have a toilet, dressing table and silver pewter washing basins. All meals are served outside.

Leora Rothschild is the Owner at Rothschild Safaris. Rothschild Safaris specializes in bespoke, luxury travel in Africa and select wildlife-based destinations around the world.

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