Why book an African Safari (Especially Now)? Read More

Back to basics: Safari Sleep-outs & Fly Camping

Sleep under a canopy of stars and wake up to simplicity: a basin of hot water and fresh coffee. The rising African sun floods the landscape with golden light, and your guide and vehicle are ready for the new day’s adventure.

Safari sleep-outs and fly camping are ways to experience the simpler side of a safari. You can enjoy them as part of your stay at a lodge or spend the entire safari under canvas. And despite their basic appearance, there’s very little sacrifice of comfort or cuisine. You’ll toast the sunset with chilled drinks, eat a three-course dinner and sleep on camp beds or plush bed rolls; bathroom facilities are available and a hosting team and guide stay with you all the time.

There are three kinds of experiences:

Starbed sleepout experience in Sossusvlei Namibia

With all the comforts of your suite on hand, star beds are an easy way to experience a safari sleep out.

Star beds are the easiest way to sleep out. These are an additional feature to your lodge accommodation: perhaps your double bed is designed to be taken outside onto your private deck or maybe your suite has an extra floor – uncovered and under the stars – with a bed already there. Read more about star beds here.

Now we move away from the lodge:

Sleepout on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan

Safari sleep outs are all about keeping it basic but with everything you need for an unforgettable night.

Safari sleep-outs are what they say they are. Offered as part of your lodge accommodation (usually on a 3-night booking), it is a chance for you to de-clutter for a night. A temporary camp is set up away from the main lodge – perhaps on a small island or a dry river bed – and you arrive there after your afternoon activity, sitting down to sundowners and a campfire.

Safari sleep-outs are a dry season activity but you’ll still have a tent or mosquito net. In some places, however, conditions are such that you can simply go to sleep under the stars.

Dinner set up on a camping safari

Fly-camping safaris in Africa are often a lot more comfortable than people expect.

Fly camping is the same concept as a sleep-out – simpler accommodation in wilder setting – but implies that a tent is always used. The experience ranges from a single night offered at a lodge (like a sleep-out) to spending the entire safari under canvas, moving every day or two to a new location.

Generally using a more robust camp that a sleep-out, fly camping safaris are able to operate throughout the year and have an additional advantage: the multi-day versions are excellent ways to explore Africa’s top safari destinations at a greatly reduced price compared to lodge accommodation. Add to that the flexibility of fly camping safaris to access remote and exciting destinations and you have the ingredients for a memorable under-canvas experience.

Here’s where to go:

OKAVANGO DELTA – BOTSWANA

The famous Khwai region of the Okavango provides the backdrop to an overnight fly camping experience; it’s a beautiful, wildlife-rich landscape of forest and floodplain, and your camp – complete with starched linen tablecloths and silverware – is set up on an island overlooking it all. Available as part of your stay at selected lodges.

REMOTE ZAMBIA

Explore some of Africa’s last wilderness areas on a multi-day fly-camping adventure. From the vantage of a built-for-purpose 4X4, you’ll visit Liuwa Plains, home to the continent’s second biggest wildebeest migration, plus Kasanka and the Bangweulu wetlands. Amazing wildlife and birds, top guiding and authentic safari camping with plenty of comfort. Recommended for photographers.

MAKGADIKGADI PANS – BOTSWANA

Sleep out on the Makgadikgadi Salt Pan

Pure, elemental exclusivity in Botswana’s big-sky Makgadikgadi Pans.

Book three nights or more at certain Kalahari lodges and you’ll be offered to opportunity to sleep-out under the stars. And they really mean under the stars! Your destination is the middle of a vast dry salt pan where dinner and a luxurious bed roll awaits. There is no tent – you don’t need one out here and you certainly won’t want one once the stars come out. It’s an awe-inspiring night under the silent, mighty cosmos.

SOUTH LUANGWA – ZAMBIA

Fly camping in Zambia

Leaving behind just the faintest footprint on a South Luangwa sleep out.

Available during the dry season from one of our favourite Zambian lodges, this safari sleep-out uses just a mosquito net as your accommodation for the night. The camp is set up in a dry river bed and your guide, an armed ranger and chef make up your experienced hosting team. It’ll be a night of lion roars and hyena whoops but you have the advantage of being able to return to your suite back at camp if you feel like it.

LOWER ZAMBEZI – ZAMBIA

Fly camping safari in the Lower Zambezi

Riverside views at a Lower Zambezi fly camp in Zambia.

Three fly camps in different locations within the Lower Zambezi National Park means a highly diverse experience for the traveller. The camps come with a well-stocked bar and your accommodation has a double bed under canvas with solar lights and bathroom. They are perfect for an extended stay and can also be booked as a private camp – great for groups – and come with guides, vehicles, motor boats and canoes.

ZAMBEZI RIVER – ZIMBABWE

Mobile tents for a sleepout experience on a canoe-trip on the Zambezi River

Multi-day canoe safaris combine with fly camping for a classic Zambezi River adventure.

Combine a visit to Victoria Falls with an overnight canoe adventure on the enigmatic Zambezi River. The day will be spent drifting downstream, watching wildlife at the water’s edge, and then you’ll pull over onto the river bank and fly camp for the night. You’ll be in the safe hands of some of the best trained guides in the business and your tent has everything you need for comfort.

TANZANIA MOBILE FLY-CAMPING

Tour Tanzania the traditional way on a mobile camping safari. With a range of itineraries taking in classic destinations from the Serengeti to the Ngorongoro Crater, this also is your chance to see Tanzania’s highlights – including the wildebeest migration – in an affordable way. You’ll sleep on comfortable camp beds and have a bathroom with bush shower and toilet; private campsites means exclusivity too.

NORTH LUANGWA – ZAMBIA

Fly camping in North Luangwa

Watching moonrise during an overnight sleep out in Zambia’s North Luangwa.

A mosquito net is all that lies between you and the Luangwa wilderness on this sleep-out experience. Available from one of the few lodges in the area, the setting is the sandy bank above a dry-season river where elephants and hippo wallow. An armed ranger stands guard all night and the night sky glows with stars. It’s a great way to augment your lodge experience.

Hands-on Expertise

  • We’re based in Africa
  • Consultants Travel in Africa
  • Knowledgeable team
  • Expect great customer service

Accredited & Bonded

  • SATSA – Bonded Membership (2061)
  • Travel Save Compliant Certificate
  • Fully Independent & Owner Run
  • Travel Support from Start to Finish

Reviews

Safari Online were extremely efficient and absolutely charming to work with.

Our 28-day itinerary took us to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana. A magnificent and unforgettable adventure. Everything ran smoothly and efficiently from the flights, transfers, rides, connections, etc. Absolutely wonderful! Can’t thank them enough!

Ann and Mario (Canada)
Safari Online made our fantastic family holiday dream come true!!

Safari Online have been nothing but professional and incredible from the time we made our first enquiry to the last day of our stunning holiday. Nothing was too much trouble for Walter. We are now starting to plan our next family Safari for 2019. Guess who we will be booking with??? Safari Online we hope you are ready!!!!!

Penni (AU)
Professional, quick and top of the edge service!!!

From the very first contact we’re very happy about the respond time and quality of information from safari-online.com. Based on the received first tailor-made quote, which is a weblink with all the details about the flights, photos of the lodges etc. we knew that this is “our” partner for this trip. Our expectations were excelled!!!

Lukas (Germany)
Professional, patient, efficient and responsive. Met all our travel needs and requirements spot on

Communication was excellent – I asked A LOT of questions and did a ton of research myself and Walter was extremely patient with me and very responsive. he was straight forward and extremely professional. Tour itself was excellent – an incredible experience and one never to be forgotten. Everything was spot on.

Neena
Walter has always been an excellent communicator and has supported us fully

We have been to Africa for 24 of the last 27 years so know a bit about what is involved. Walter has arranged the details for the last couple of years, and has done a superb job. He is always quick to respond and comes up with answers immediately……..no evasive tactics, always head-on!

Roger (UK)
Best trip I have ever been on. Highly recommend.

Would highly recommend. Safari online asked questions when booking and were efficient and knew exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodation and animals were wanted to see. Gave advice on a few little extras with no pressure, which we did and am very grateful which make trip even more exciting. Would definitely recommend booking with them.

It was a safari of a lifetime and exceeded all of our expectations!

Our mom grew up in Central and South Africa so we had visited the continent many times. My sister and I wanted to take our teens and husbands to Africa to experience the magic. We had a limited budget but big and specific expectations and by some miracle Walter was able to manage both.

Heather (USA)
An incredibly well organised tour with no hassles whatsoever.

Safari Online understood our needs and was able to present us with sensible options to choose from. It was evident that this tour operator has knowledgable and experienced agents who can arrange a seemless tour. We were provided with a professional online itinary which was comprehensive and easy to use, knew exactely what to expect, and encountered no stumble blocks along the way.

Gwen (AU)
Karina was absolutely instrumental to our safari success.

Our experience with Safari Online was excellent. After becoming very frustrated trying to search for a safari destination on our own, we turned to Karina for help and she was a lifesaver.  We had an amazing safari adventure at the lodge–the experience of a lifetime–and are so grateful for her help. We literally couldn’t have done it without her!

Chris (USA)
Very helpful good suggestions for holiday ideas always available for questions good organising

Excellent service and they supplied good suggestions for our holiday they also organised all internal flights and arranged check in for us so we had no worries while on holiday. We have had a most memorable holiday staying at wonderful places thanks to Sabrina and Safari Online. Would recommend Safari Online to organise your holiday.

Lorraine (UK)