In the same vein of making the most of each day with your family, or as a couple or with your friends, whilst on a safari or holiday then a sleepout or staying in a treehouse brings that elusive “something a bit different”; a half-halt or punctuation point to the safari. Often just one bed set up in an area of amazing beauty, off the ground and very comfortable and totally secure, a treehouse / sleepout ushers in another dimension of appreciating the wilderness and the wildlife.
The essence of the experience is, of course, sensory. Most treehouse / sleepout possibilities are run along the lines of a flycamp where one heads off to the location – which is always stunning – either before or after dinner and then spends the night sleeping elevated on the platform or in the treehouse (some combine both where the bed rolls out onto a platform from the treehouse).
The night then comes alive with the roars, grunts, rustles and tramp of the ever-alive bush whilst one feels very much king of the surroundings as the wildlife moves around, perhaps just below your bedroom! There will be an askari or guard discretely placed not far away, though, to make sure that the wildlife isn’t too close! The great thing about such platforms is that they will usually have a good “en suite” bathroom arrangement, so you are totally at home in your elevated eyrie.
For a long time Treehouses were very much simply a brilliant and evocative addition to a bush experience but in the last few years some camps and properties have made more of the genre. A very small and intimate island property off Tanzania is nearly all treehouse rooms and another island has a treehouse that has fabulous views out over Lake Victoria. There is a private property on the Kenyan coast which, whilst a house, is mostly elevated as a treehouse and has superb views over the canopy in all directions, including to the beach.
We mustn’t forget sleepouts in the desert. Here the exception is that one usually sleeps, simply, al fresco. Cot beds and simple facilities are set up with the emphasis on being out in the open, the primeval splendour of the stars as one’s roof and the sand or rock as one’s floor. Snuggled down under a warm duvet with just the sigh of the desert breeze and the glow of a shooting star to lull one into sleep and then waking to the absolute majesty of an African dawn in the gin clear and often chilly desert air is utterly memorable. These are simple pleasures in this day and age - and ones that leave lasting impressions. Whether a sleepout or a treehouse, the end result is always wonderful.
Where? Zambia, Mozambique, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia.