An African safari is a fantastic experience: huge animals roaming free, huge numbers of animals on migration and huge skies overhead. The sounds and scents of the bush are intoxicating and the light possesses a unique quality. Add a good guide and good company and you have the perfect holiday.
But what about the night time?
Lodges and camps in national parks are evocative places, suggestive of a bygone era of white-hunters, game trackers and glorious isolation. But you can go one better and sleep outside, under the African night skies, in your very own ‘star bed’.
A star bed is a proper comfortable bed, with good linen and pillows, draped with a mosquito net (which of course looks romantic) and set in the bush, away from the main lodge or camp. And you’re out there, just you and the stars.
The stars are stunning; the sounds of the bush have to be heard to be believed; and the romance is exquisite.
There are a few places where you can enjoy this wonderful experience, and here are three of my favourites:
Lake of Stars Bed at Nkwichi, Lake Malawi, Mozambique
Surely the best? The sleep-out deck is on a private rock island 10 minutes from the main lodge (by boat). Dinner and sundowners are served privately on the island while sea eagles soar overhead; then the staff retire to the lodge and you have the place to yourself (radio coms provided).
Kaingo Elephant Hide, South Luangwa NP, Zambia
Elephant Hide is a platform nestled between an Ebony tree and a Sausage tree directly above a centuries old elephant highway. If you’re an elephant lover, this is the star bed for you: overlooking the Luangwa River giving a bird’s eye view of the evening and morning and, if the moon is full, you get a private viewing of the night time elephant antics.
Loisaba Star Bed, the Laikipia Plateau, Kenya
In northern Kenya, beyond Mount Kenya, lies a wildlife-rich plateau. Built on a high wooden deck and complete with bathroom and four-poster, is the Loisaba star bed. The actual bed is on wheels and is pushed out each evening when the sky is clear. The view from this high perch is out of this world.