Summer’s here, days are hot – maybe too hot – but the nights are perfect: warm air caressing your skin like silk as the day slides into a spectacular sunset and twinkly pinpricks of light stud the deepening purpleblue sky. It’s the perfect opportunity to sleep under the stars.
Heaven’s ebon vault, studded with stars unutterably bright, through which the moon’s unclouded grandeur rolls, seems like a canopy which love has spread to curtain her sleeping world.’’ Percy Bysshe Shelley.
“For a dedicated open-air experience, Skybeds is an intimate lodge with only three ‘rooms’, and each ‘room’ is a five metre high platform with a bed and mosquito net, overlooking the only waterhole for miles. So you can sleep way out in the bush under the stars but safe from the abundant wildlife (including the mozzies). naturalselection.travel/camp/skybeds
I’ve been a keen hiker since forever, so I don’t remember the first time I slept under the stars, but I do have particularly evocative memories of sleeping out in the open – and I do mean open – in the Namib. I was on a nine-day horse trail from Windhoek to Swakopmund, and we spent quite a few days way out in the desert – no roads, no fences and, in some places, no plants and not even any mountains on the horizon. Once we’d extinguished the campfire there was absolutely zero light pollution, and it was like swimming in an upside-down bowl of stars that reached right down to the horizon 360/360.
There’s probably nowhere on earth that can match the Namib for wide-open spaces and zero light pollution, but we in southern Africa are spoiled. It’s a fact (honestly) that you can see more stars in the southern hemisphere than in the northern – and not just because there’s less light pollution: it’s all to do with the fact that we are closer to the centre of the Milky Way – or something like that.
So, while long-distance trailists of various kinds still get to lay their sleeping bags out in the open quite regularly, sleeping under the stars has became a huge draw card for many upmarket lodges. And you’re not likely to get sand in your sleeping bag on these. In fact – sleeping bag? No way – we’re talking thousand-thread white linen in most sky beds, and almost invariably a romantically draped mosquito net. After all, this is not about roughing it.
The starry vault of heaven is in truth the open book of cosmic projection.’’ Carl Jung
The joy of deserts is that there is very little chance of rain and no risk of malaria, so Little Kulala’s star bed is really minimalist. wilderness-safaris.com/our-camps/camps/little-kulala
“Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.’’ Kahlil Gibran
There is something so romantic about sleeping on the beach, it’s almost a cliché, but only almost. For that very special occasion (like being with your favourite person) Anantara Medjumbe offers a private beach picnic or dinner followed by a whole night of ‘us time’ at the ocean’s edge. You can choose between a supplied gourmet picnic or a delicious private sit-down dinner – and then it’s just you, your loved one, a big four-poster bed and the sound of the sea gently lapping a few metres away. anantara.com/en/medjumbe-island
Star bed staycation
One of the joys of living in a residential estate is the security, so – depending on the size of your garden – you can probably quite safely set up a beautiful bed on the lawn and sleep under the stars in your own back yard. This is a great adventure for kids – especially if you have a campfire, hot chocolate and marshmallows.