Sleeping out under the African night sky is something else. The experience is quite difficult to put into words and is several fold, but let’s start with the visual side of things, if it’s a clear night the stars will be out in force and the magical milky way will be in full view for all to see. The Southern Cross is easily identified and many other constellations are clearly visible, when there is no light pollution the stars shimmer and shine showcasing what lies beyond our atmosphere. Full moon or a near full moon will shed a different light on things, quite literally, and you will easily be able to make out shadows of trees and bushes, it’s quite remarkable how light it can be at night during this phase of the moon, and if there is some cloud about it can make for magnificent changing shapes in the night sky.
How can you go about it? Well in Botswana there are several options but it is always safety first so you do not need to worry, and again it depends on what you are looking for.
Lodges such as Baines Camp in the Okavango Delta and Kalahari Plains in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve both have star beds in each accommodation unit. At Baines, the romantic four poster bed is on castors and can be wheeled out onto your veranda.
This all happens while you are at dinner and when you arrive back at your room, it’s transformed. The mosquito net adds to the romantic setting while providing a necessary service of keeping those pesky bloodsuckers at bay. At Kalahari Plains each of the tented units has a unique sleep out area above it which is accessed by a stairway. Privacy is ensured by wooden and bamboo partitions to the sides and the front and the top are completely open so you can enjoy the starry vistas.
Kanana camp offers something a little different as their star bed is about 20 minutes from camp. You will be taken here by your guide, as you approach the platform (it’s a safe distance above ground) you will see the lights that have been lit for you and the bed beautifully covered with a draped mosquito net. Your guide will stay nearby and you will have radio access to him, but otherwise you are alone in the wilderness with all the sounds of the night to serenade you to sleep.
Something different again, and some consider it to be the ultimate in sleeping out under the stars, would be a night on the Makgadikgadi Pans. This can be organised by Jack’s Camp, San Camp and Camp Kalahari and promises a night to remember. Usually done as part of a package, it involves a quad biking excursion across the vast salt pans and is only done in the dry season, there are other things that take place but to detail those here would spoil the experience, suffice it to say you will be sleeping under a breath taking canopy of stars in what can only be described as a lunar landscape – it’s a fabulous experience finished off the following morning with a spectacular sunrise before you head back to camp to freshen up and enjoy a hearty breakfast – what’s not to like?