Sleeping on safari is one of the best parts of the day – and no, we’re not being lazy! Drifting off in an impeccably-styled safari bedroom is all part of the bush experience and being cocooned in the softest of sheets, listening to the sounds of the wildlife is magical. But just imagine if that bedroom was high up in the trees, alongside the birds? Or if your bed was inside a shipwreck, strewn along a remote beach in northern Namibia? Welcome to our list of unusual places to stay in Africa, where there’s not a canvas wall in sight…
Sleep on a sandbar in the ocean at Pelican Point
Walvis Bay, Namibia
The first thing that will strike you about Pelican Point is the setting, an impossibly remote sandbar in the Atlantic Ocean, crashing waves on the right and the shimmering waters of the Walvis Bay Lagoon on the left. The second thing that will make you sit up and take notice is the accommodation itself – an old harbour control station in the shadow of the iconic, candy-striped Pelican Point lighthouse. All nine of the ocean-inspired suites inside are beautiful, but for a real treat book in to the Captain’s Cove Suite. An open-plan conversion of the control tower, the 360-degree views allow for seal and dolphin-spotting straight from your bed.
Get closer to the stars at the Skybeds
Okavango Delta, Botswana
One of the best ways to see the African bush is from above, particularly if it happens to be from one of the beautiful Skybeds in the Khwai Private Reserve in Botswana. Each ingenious platform is three storeys high, providing an ideal vantage point to watch the comings and goings at the waterhole below, keeping you perfectly safe and secure at the same time. When darkness falls, the open-air bedrooms on the top floor make the perfect theatre from which to view the sparkling celestial show above – but remember to keep an eye out for any late-night visitors below too…
Cosy up in a cave at Kagga Kamma
Cederberg, South Africa
At Kagga Kamma Lodge, tucked into the Cederberg Mountains just a few hours north of Cape Town, rocks play the starring role. Each of the suites is chiselled into the glittering sandstone, blending into the arid landscape with only a hint of window giving away their astonishing location. Book a Cave Suite and live like Fred Flintstone for the night (with a few more luxurious extras!) or choose the romantic Star or Outcrop Suites complete with open-air bedrooms and bathtubs under the stars for a true wilderness experience.
Sleep in a shipwreck (sort of!) at Shipwreck Lodge
Skeleton Coast, Namibia
A strong contender for the most unusual place to stay in Africa, the brand-new Shipwreck Lodge is a feast for the eyes. Inspired by the ancient shipwrecks scattered on the mist-enshrouded Skeleton Coast, the 10 cabins are as unique and distinctive as the landscape yet look entirely at home amongst the rolling dunes. It’s not just the accommodation that should put this remote slice of wilderness on your travel list either; activities include dune hiking and excursions to the geographically-remarkable Clay Castles, as well as all-day adventures in search of desert-adapted wildlife, all topped off with a hot toddy in front of the fire back at base.
Discover your inner wild-child at Planet Baobab
Makgadikgadi Pans, Botswana
Not only is Planet Baobab one of the coolest, funkiest lodges we’ve ever come across, it’s also located in one of the most bizarre parts of Botswana, the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans. A lunar-like landscape where the average age of each tree is more than 4000 years, it’s a surreal and mysterious sort of place where anything seems possible. Continue the magic by staying in one of the Bakalanga Huts at Planet Baobab: each is designed in the same style as the traditional houses of the Batswana people and inside you’ll find vibrant murals, sunny patchwork quilts and a variety of eccentric trinkets that won’t fail to make you smile.
Spend a night in the trees at Tarangire Treetops
Tarangire National Park, Tanzania
If your childhood was spent dreaming of sleeping in a treehouse, then book a night at Tarangire Treetops, pronto. Set on the edge of Tarangire National Park, the 20 spacious suites are balanced amongst extravagantly-shaped baobabs and perched in the boughs of marula trees. That’s probably where the similarities to your childhood abode end, however. Each platform is a lesson in sumptuous, safari-chic – think King-sized beds atop polished floors and glam ensuite bathrooms with double showers, all topped off with camera-bending views across the scenic landscape.
Rock yourself to sleep on the Blue Train
Pretoria to Cape Town, South Africa
Everything you thought train travel in 1920s Africa would be like is alive and well on the glamorous Blue Train. Harking back to a time when travel was about the journey itself, a night on the hotel-on-wheels is all about high teas and aperitifs, starched linen and fine wines, white-gloved butlers and impeccable service. Watch the ever-changing countryside flash by from a leather armchair in the sophisticated Club Car or over tea and scones in the Lounge Car and come nightfall, sink into bed and the let the train gently rock you to sleep…
Sleep in the middle of the bush at Chongwe River Camp
Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia
We’ve had treehouses and now it’s time for tree-tents in the new sleep-out experience from Chongwe River Camp in the Lower Zambezi. Your sleeping abode is a mattress strung between the trees, a metre off the ground, with only a fluttering mosquito net and the cosiest of blankets for company. For the faint-hearted it is not, but if you’re looking for an unusual place to stay in Africa, it ticks all the boxes. And really, what could be better than falling asleep to the calls of the wildlife and waking to dawn breaking over the rugged Zambezi Escarpment ahead?