Our Guide to how you can achieve this bucket list experience
Have you ever dreamed of sleeping out under the stars, with nothing between you and the night sky? We are not talking about camping in your back garden, however, we are talking about something more thrilling and romantic and exciting - a night out under the African Milky Way, watching for shooting stars and looking for the Southern Cross amongst the seemingly millions of little pinpricks of lights from stars that are light years away.
Add to this the notion of going to sleep listening to the sounds of the African bush surround you, and does this sound like something you should be adding to your bucket list immediately?
Whatever kind of sleep out experience you are looking for, here’s a handy guide to help you achieve this dream. Hopefully, this will inch you a little closer towards the sleep out experience that you’ve always imagined. For some people, this could still sound a bit over-whelming, but that is why our experienced consultants are on hand to help and advise on the best sleep out option for you. Either contact us via this website, or give us a call on +44 (0) 1932 428380 to discuss your bucket list dream in more detail.
I want a bit of Luxury
If your thoughts are immediately 'yes - I like the sound of a sleep out...but I am not a camping sort of person' - then please continue reading on - as we are not talking about camping out in a small tent on the ground.
We are talking about sleeping in a luxury kingsize bed snuggled up under a heavy, warm duvet, having just enjoyed a delicious dinner accompanied by wine, beer or whatever else your favourite tipple is. Add to this an en-suite bathroom with a flushing toilet, running water and possibly even a shower for the morning - this really does take 'glamping' to another completely different level. Is this starting to sound more appealing?
Many lodges offer luxury sleep outs in treehouses. This is not a basic treehouse either - some have more space and facilities than a one bedroomed apartment flat!
You are normally taken to your treehouse as part of your evening game drive, arriving just before sunset. Once your guide has settled you into your 'home for the night', he will leave you alone - it is a bit of a strange feeling seeing the game vehicle drive away, but your new surroundings take all of your attention.
There will be a comfortable bed, draped in a romantic mosquito net but completely open to the skies. A sitting area will be set up with a table, which will have been laid ready for dinner A bathroom will have all the facilities you require for your night in the bush - even down to dressing gowns, slippers, towels, soap, shampoo and conditioner.
Normally you are left with a coolbox full of drink for your all-important sundowner drink as you watch the sunset over the reserve from your high vantage point. A dinner will also have been left for you - some lodges provide 3 course dinners comprising of a starter, hot dinner and dessert; others will provide a cold buffet - either way, it is a truly unforgettable experience to eat your evening meal totally alone in the middle of the bush, with the only light coming from paraffin lamps.
All you need to do is then settle down and listen as the African night unfolds around you. Listen for the distant roar of a lion; the haunting call of a hyena; or the howling calls of a troop of baboons. You will be left with a spotlight to shine onto the bush should you want to investigate anything you hear closer to the treehouse- the rustle of a giraffe enjoying his nightly feed from the tall treetop branches, or the slow footsteps and rhythmic munching of a passing elephant as he makes his way through the bush.
You are also let with an all important radio - so you can always radio the lodge at any point during the evening or night if you are not totally comfortable and want to return to your room at the lodge. The treehouses are usually only 10-15 minutes away from the lodge - far enough so that you don't get your experience spoilt by light or sounds coming from the lodge, but close enough for your guide to get quickly to you if needed.
In the morning, you wake as the sun rises, and you either enjoy the breakfast the lodge has also packed for you before you are collected during morning game drive, or you are picked up and taken back to the lodge for breakast.
I want a more 'Back to Basics' Sleepout Experience
If you have more of an adventurous spirit, and you like the idea of sleeping out in the middle of nowhere, but without all the frills, then your ideal sleep out experience would be more of the fly-camping style.
The general format for this sleep out option is that you depart from your camp with just a small back pack, and you normally walk for a few hours with your guide through the bush - so an added bucket list challenge too - a walking safari on top of the sleep out!
You arrive at your 'home for the evening' mid-late afternoon - some camps will have sent out a team earlier on to set up the sleeping arrangements; other camps you may be asked to pitch in and help.
The most basic fly-camping will be that a mosquito net 'cube' with 4 poles in each corner is erected; others will set up a small 2 man dome tent for your overnight accommodation. Either way, you will sleep on the ground on a foam mattress under a duvet and with a soft pillow - so still not exactly the 'hard core' camping you may have done as a child!
There is usually a safari toilet (the short drop variety) within easy striking distance from where you will be sleeping, and a sink with jug of water to brush your teeth with or wash off the dust from the walk, and possibly even a basic bucket shower.
Sitting around an open camp fire, you can enjoy a sundowner drink or two while your meal is cooked for you over the open fire in traditional cast iron pots and grills. Whilst this will not be fine dining, it will be hearty, home-cooked food and you will not go to bed hungry at all!
Your guide will be sleeping near to you and he will be armed with a gun for added protection.
As you get ready to turn in for the evening, the knowledge that nothing is really separating you from Africa's wildlife will set your spine tingling with excitement. And as you drift off to sleep, surrounded by the sounds of animals which will sound louder and nearer than you have ever heard before, you realise with a smile on your face that you have now achieved your bucket list dream of sleeping out in the true African wilderness.
Other Lodges offering a Sleep Out Experience
It is not just safari lodges that offer a sleep out experience. You can sleep out in the deserts of Namibia or in the mountains in the Cederberg - where you still get the same sense of adventure, solitude, peace - and not to mention the beautiful African night sky above you.