Wild at Heart Journeys Alex Walker Serian Serengeti Fly Camping Twilight

Twilight falls on a Serian Serengeti Adventure Fly Camping tent. Image via Serian Serengeti.

His path was marked by the stars in the Southern Hemisphere, and he walked the length of his days under African skies.This is the story of how we begin to remember. This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein. These are the roots of rhythm. And the roots of rhythm remain.

- Paul Simon, Under African Skies

So goes the beloved song from Paul Simon’s 1986 album, Graceland, and its sweet melodies, rolling rhythms, and deep baritones pulse with the passion we at Wild at Heart Journeys have for providing our clients with life-changing experiences under African skies. And perhaps no experience can quite compare to “fly camping,” falling asleep in wild nature while staring up from the Southern Hemisphere at the streaks and glimmers of the stars overhead.

What is fly camping?

For starters, fly camping has nothing to do with flying and everything to do with experiencing the magic of the bush in the most authentic and exhilarating way imaginable. Away from the comforts of a safari lodge, fly campers walk to their campsite for the night and sleep in some variation of a tent and netting - traditionally called a “fly sheet,” (hence the term).

While fly camping most commonly attracts the intrepid traveler, it is does not necessarily mean “roughing it” or completely sacrificing luxury on your journey through Africa. We most often set up one night of fly camping added on to a lodge stay, typically night 2 of 3, allowing guests to get settled in an area and acquainted with their hosts/guides before setting off on their fly camping adventure. A comfortable camp is prepared ahead of time, with a variety of amenities, ranging from minimal to more extravagant, depending on the lodge partner and location.

Our Favorite Fly Camping Experiences

At all locations, your fly camping experience will include you and your group only. A kitchen crew cooks and prepares sundowners and meals for fly campers in the bush. Camps always include a portable loo, a bush shower (with hot water, of course), and an armed guard as precaution. Fly campers do not do any camp packing or set up and are treated every bit as graciously as during their stay in the lodge environment.

Wild at Heart Journeys Meno A Kwena Bostwana Fly Camping Madgadikgani

Fly campers stargazing under African skies on Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pan. Image via Meno A Kwena.

Botswana

From June through October (the dry season), Botswana’s Meno A Kwena Camp offers the unique and thrilling experience of fly camping on the dry, whitewashed landscape of the Makgadikgadi Pan, one of the largest salt flats on Earth. The one night/two day campout departs from the Meno A Kwena Tented Camp for a 3-4 hour drive to the edge of the flats. Upon arrival, a picnic lunch is followed by setting up bedrolls for a siesta and then sundowners and supper as night falls on the ancient pan. Sleeping under a canvas of stars on the remote Makgadikgadi is an indescribable experience - definitely bucket list worthy for star gazers who are drawn to the breathtakingly stark desert terrain!

Mozambique

The coastal East African country of Mozambique is one of our favorite destinations for “best kept secret” experiences and the Star Bed at Nkwichi Lake Malawi is one of them. On the pristine, unspoiled Mozambican side of the “Lake of Stars,” guests have a chance to explore it as it once was - surrounded by virgin woodland, teeming with life, and dotted with secluded bays by the dozen.

Wild at Heart Journeys Nkwichi Lake Malawi Star Bed Fly Camping2 

Romantic fly camping in the Star Bed on Lake Malawi in Mozambique. Image via Nkwichi Lake Malawi.

Set up on the deserted beach surrounded by baobob trees or on a private island near the shore, fly camping at Nkwichi Lake Malawi is an utterly romantic experience. A beautiful bed draped with netting takes the place a tent and a campfire, lanterns, and fireflies join the arriving stars at twilight. Guests enjoy sundowners and dinner at their camp and have access to a telescope for a closer view of the main attraction.

Kenya

We consider Kenya’s Lewa Wilderness an incomparable destination, with some of the country’s most spectacular scenery and fewer visitors than many other “Big Five” locations. The Maasai are the guardians of the Lewa Wilderness and the Walking Wild fly camping experience here is unlike any other. Guests explore the remote valleys, hills, and plains of Lewa and neighboring conservation areas on foot with Maasai guides while pack camels transport the camp, meeting up to spend an unforgettable night (or more) in the bush. Fly camping in Lewa especially lends itself to a slow, quiet pace with plenty of time to learn about the tribal life, culture, and history of the Maasai.

Wild at Heart Journeys Lewa Wilderness Walking Wild Fly Camping Maasai Camel

Maasai guides pack in fly camping supplies by camel in the Kenya’s Lewa Wilderness. Image via Lewa Wilderness.

Tanzania

There are numerous ways to add fly camping to a lodge stay in Tanzania and it comes as no surprise that Alex Walker’s Serian is a strong advocate for this experience. (You might also remember Serian’s Nest Treehouse accommodations in our blog post about the most romantic experiences in Africa). On the open plains of the Serengeti, the Serian Serengeti Mobile Camp moves throughout the year with the migration and offers a combination of game vehicle exploration, based out of the luxurious base camp, and a minimum of one night but more is recommended of Adventure Fly Camping in the bush with expert guides and trackers.

Serian Serengeti’s mobile base camp is comprised of 6 tents with enormous wrought-iron beds, Moroccan rugs, and all the trimmings - and, for some, this glamping-esque experience might be rustic enough. But for the adventurous at heart, walk-in fly camping puts only the essentials between guests and the stunning, sensual surroundings. After having a chance to settle into the base camp, fly campers track game on foot by day and bed down at night in a makeshift camp that travels along with them: lightweight tents, comfortable mattresses, a kitchen crew and folding table /chairs for meals, and portable loo/shower.

Wild at Heart Journeys Alex Walker Serian Serengeti Fly Camping Collage

Guides provide the essentials when Adventure Fly Camping with Serian Serengeti.. Image via Alex Walker’s Serian.

Lions, elephants, giraffe, gazelle, zebras, and, of course, migrating wildebeest traverse this area along the Mara River in great numbers, making it one of the most spectacular wildlife experiences on the planet, and Adventure Fly Camping here is an unforgettable way to be truly embedded in the unfolding drama of the Serengeti.

In much less visited Southern Tanzania, Sand Rivers Selous is a small, cliffside luxury lodge nestled along the curves the Rufiji River. Woodland hills, grassy plains, and marshes mingle with lakes and dry rivers - all home to a variety of wildlife. Sand Rivers is a top notch destination for birders and, for those looking to avoid crowds, offers a vast tract of wilderness that still feels very wild. Exploring on foot is a specialty here and, for even more solitude, guests can arrange to fly camp in a netting-toppedt Star Tent on the dry riverbed.

In western Tanzania, Chada Katavi is a small camp that has retained the stylishly simple features it was founded with twenty years ago. “Everything you need and nothing you don’t” is the ethos here. (In other words, sundowners - absolutely yes; spa - definitely no.) This unobtrusive presence lends itself to outstanding wildlife viewing, often right outside the tents; elephants visit the camp’s shady fruit trees, buffalo graze the nearby flood plain, and lions, leopards, crocodiles, and hippopotamus all reside in the area. Walking safari and fly camping on the Chada Plains is a very embedded experience and is certain to provides stories that a lodge stay simply cannot.

Wild at Heart Journeys Tanzania Chada Katavi Fly Camping

Waiting for nightfall while fly camping on the vast Chada Plains. Image via Chada Katavi.

Zambia

In Zambia’s grassy, wetlands region of South Luangwa lies some of the most untouched wilderness in southern Africa and successful anti-poaching campaigns have developed it into a world renowned wildlife haven. Walking safaris here allow visitors to view elephants, hippos, and even lions at close range under the supervision of highly experienced guides. Fly camping on the sandy banks of the river in a sheer netting tent and retelling stories of the day’s wildlife experiences over a campfire-cooked meal is simply unforgettable and sublime.

Wild at Heart Journeys Norman Carr South Luangwa Fly Camping

Netting star tents aglow by campfire in South Luangwa, Zambia. Image via Norman Carr Safaris.

South Africa

For those whose are headed to South Africa, we recommend combining the understated elegance and sophistication of the thatched lodge suites on Phinda Private Game Reserve with a night sleeping directly beneath the stars in the heart of the bush. At the end of an afternoon game drive - known for sightings of the elusive cheetah and rare black rhino, as well as the Big Five - fly campers arrive at a beautiful clearing where comfortable beds with warm duvets and billowing nets are already arranged. After a delicious meal, you’ll fall asleep around the fire to Africa’s lullaby of night sounds. Walking safari, Zulu village tours, and even diving in the nearby Indian Ocean are also options at Phinda Vlei Lodge.

Getting Started on Planning

Across the continent, where the vehicle tracks end is where the true wilds of Africa begin. Whether you’ve always dreamed of an African backcountry experience or we’ve simply piqued your curiosity, we’d love to talk with you about a fly camping experience or walking safari that makes a comfortable yet thrilling addition to your journey.

Call us at 1-844-945-7697 or get in touch by emaill to start planning now.

Wild at Heart Journeys South Africa Phinda Vlei Fly Camping

A romantic fly camp at the Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. Image via Phinda Vlei.

 
 

Robin Francis of WAHJ has been providing African travel services for over 10 years and travels frequently to the continent to meet with partners and experience their lodging, amenities, and activities first hand. Partners regard her as one of the most knowledgeable African travel consultants in the US, who has also invested in giving back to the communities she works with. Robin and WAHJ are available for complete travel booking throughout Africa or consulting on bookings made through other providers.