The 5 Best Sleepouts In Africa



Senior Africa Travel Designer

Sleepouts, sometimes known as fly-camping, are a quintessentially African experience and one that can take even the most extraordinary safari to entirely new levels. A growing number of camps across both Southern and East Africa are taking advantage of their remote and wild locations to offer guests the chance to spend a night sleeping under the stars.

The experience will vary from camp to camp, but generally your sleepout will start at the end of your afternoon safari activity when you will be taken to the campsite for the evening. Sundowner drinks are enjoyed before dinner, either an informal affair around the campfire or a glamorous one with tables and lanterns set up. After dinner there will be the chance to sit by the fire and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bush at night before turning in. Guides and camp staff remain with you, and awake, throughout the night to keep an eye out for any visitors! You wake with the dawn and enjoy coffee by the fire before continuing to explore the bush with your guide.

Sleepouts are a truly magical experience and one not to be missed.

We have picked out some of our favourite sleepout spots around Africa, providing a range of experiences from more traditional and authentic fly-camping to the ultimate luxury star-gazing.

1. Little Kulala, Sossusvlei, Namibia

The clear night skies of the Namib Desert lend themselves perfectly to enjoying a sleepout experience as you can doze off with the stars and constellations of the night sky shining clearly above you.

Little Kulala is the ideal spot to enjoy this experience, with each of the rooms at the lodges equipped with a sleepout deck right above the bedroom area. This means there is no need to pre-book and for those who aren’t so keen on the experience, the comfort of your luxury room is mere steps away.

The decks are festooned with lanterns for those guests who choose to enjoy the sleepout and as you put them out one by one, the night sky becomes increasingly clear and more dramatic. To make the experience extra special, we can arrange a private dinner on the deck of your room before heading up to the sleepout area to enjoy a night beneath the stars.

In one of the most spectacular areas of Namibia this really is a standout way to spend a night and one that we highly recommend.

AF_Sleepouts-Little-Kulala-1030x687 (1)

2. Loisaba Starbeds, Loisaba Conservancy, Kenya

Perhaps the only property in Africa dedicated to sleepout experiences, Loisaba Starbeds, found in the Loisaba Conservancy in the north of Kenya’s Laikipia region is completely unique and a huge draw for visitors looking for that something different from a night or two of their safari.

The open-fronted rooms are set up on a ridge looking down over the treetops and the river in the distance, with large decks at the front where the beds are rolled out at night. Covered with a mosquito net and with brightly-patterned Maasai blankets for comfort, you can drift off to sleep in total comfort as the sounds of the Kenyan bush surround you. This is very much a fully-functioning lodge with its own dining room and lounge area and offers the full suite of activities that its sister camps within the Loisaba Conservancy offer. Indeed, this is a great chance to spend two, three or even more nights sleeping out beneath the stars, although it can also be booked for a single night stay for those looking to dip their toe in to sleepouts before heading back to one of the other permanent lodges.


3. Tswalu The Motse Sleepout, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, South Africa

Sleepout experiences don’t come any more indulgent or well-equipped than Tswalu’s The Motse sleepout deck. Found in the vast Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, a private concession of the iconic Kalahari Desert, this is a wonderful way to spend a night under the stars, without sacrificing any of the luxuries that you would come to enjoy at the main lodge itself.

The deck is a permanent structure, with both covered and uncovered areas where the bed can be set up according to your preference. With high quality linens, pillows and duvets, it is gloriously comfortable and warm during those cold desert nights. A sunken lounge area, as well as a firepit and dining area stretch out in front of the sleeping area, with a private chef on hand to cook over the coals and indulge you to your hearts’ content. Once dinner is finished, sit back and relax on the comfortable sofas with the constellations of the Milky Way shining overhead and the sounds of the night time predators of the desert all around you.

The deck can host up to four people, so is a great choice for families wanting to enjoy a truly special experience together.


4. Chada Katavi, Katavi National Park, Tanzania

A true throwback to safaris of old, a visit to the Katavi National Park will allow you to explore a vast wilderness with just a handful, if any, fellow visitors. For context, Katavi receives fewer visitors a year than the Ngorongoro Crater does in a week, and has just 1% of the Serengeti’s annual visitor numbers. The lack of visitors shouldn’t put you off though, with the park renowned for superb predator sightings and it is one of the last strongholds in Africa of prides of lion who have the ability to hunt buffalo – a truly remarkable sight to behold.

The sleepout experience from Chada Katavi is a simple affair, with bedrolls laid out on the ground and protected with a mosquito net pegged over the top. Dinners are enjoyed al-fresco, cooked over an open fire with guests sitting on an upturned log. This really is a wonderful experience and one that makes you feel at one with nature as the sights and sounds of Africa’s most remote National Park echo all around you.

For those that make the journey out to Katavi fly-camping is a must do and one that will take you back in time to an era when all safaris were enjoyed this wayone – definitely one not to miss.


5. Kakuli, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is home to an extensive river system which dries up completely in the winter months of the safari season, with the river beds being used as the location for Time+Tides’s iconic sleepouts.

In the late afternoon you will set off from camp on foot, enjoying a walking safari through the bush until suddenly, around the bend of one of these rivers you’ll see your camp being set up for the night. Simple mosquito nets with a bedroll beneath them will be very welcoming after a day exploring the bush and your evening meal around the campfire. Your guide will tell stories of safaris of old in the Luangwa, one of the continent’s most historic safari areas. Drift off to sleep safe in the knowledge that the guides will remain awake throughout the night keeping an eye out for any interlopers who may want to investigate the camp. Wake with the rising sun and enjoy breakfast and pastries by the fire before a gentle stroll to camp where a more substantial meal awaits.

Start Planning

Fill out the form below, and we will be in touch shortly.
Travel Plans & Ideas
Travel Details
Contact Information

Find for inspiration

What type of travel group are you?

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Weekly travel inspiration, news and updates from our team of travel specialists

Sign up