Fly camping is the ultimate way to experience Africa. Spend a night under the stars at one of these remarkable camps.

The roar of a lion breaking over the night, the thud of hooves meters from your head, the cackle and chatter of beasts and birds, the endless inky sky studded in lights—a night beneath the gleaming stars of Africa, surrounded by a chorus of wild things, a fly camping safari is barefoot luxury at its most unforgettable.

Being so close to the earth, separated from the night by canvas, there’s a magical connection with nature you just don’t get from any other type of accommodation. It’s exhilarating, a sensory overload that can turn a memorable trip into a life-changing experience. Here is everything you need to know about fly-camping ahead of your next safari adventure.

What Is Fly Camping?

Mwiba Lodge in Tanzania offers the ultimate luxury fly camping experience in the Serengeti. Image courtesy of Mwiba Lodge

Fly camping on an African safari is a simple yet luxurious way to spend a night in the bush. It means swapping the lodge for a tent (a comfortable, premium tent, that is) for a sleepout beneath the stars. You’ll spend the night by the crackle of a campfire, with conversation, the calls of the wild, and a celestial show above your head for entertainment. 
Some of Africa’s best, most luxurious camps and lodges offer this experience, often paired with a walking safari. Walking through the bush on foot in search of game, led by expert guides, is an immersive, heart-pumping way to see wildlife—and it’s the perfect way to prepare for luxury fly-camping. If a walking safari isn’t possible, fly camping can follow an evening game drive.

The term “fly camping” is inspired by the old-school safari, when hunters would go out into the wild for days, sleeping under a simple “fly sheet” that protected them from the sun, rain and insects. Your experience won’t be quite that rustic, with dinner and drinks served around the campfire, but it will be very different from your room at the lodge. Camps are pre-set up before you arrive, and very private, offering a special, memorable experience.

What Are The Tents Like?

A fly camping tent overlooking a dramatic escarpment in Tanzania
For many, a night of flycamping is the highlight of a trip. Image courtesy of Mwiba Lodge

The fly camping tents vary slightly depending on the camp, but generally, they are canvas with a comfortable bedroll and fresh bed linens. Some camps and lodges use only a mosquito net, giving you a spectacular night sky view.

The experience is designed to bring you closer to nature and take you ever so slightly out of your comfort zone. With that comes an element of simplicity, but it’s all part of the fun. Sleeping so close to the earth, separated from the noises of nature by a thin piece of fabric, is the highlight of the trip for many travelers.

Where Can You Go Fly Camping In Africa?

A group of people sitting before a tent on the savannah in Africa.
Chada Katavi offers one of the most exclusive fly camping experiences in East Africa. Image courtesy of Chada Katavi

Located in a remote region of western Tanzania, Chada Katavi is an exceptionally exclusive camp with just six tented rooms surrounded by the vast wilderness of Katavi National Park.

This game park makes up part of Tanzania’s southwest circuit and is extremely remote and remarkably untouched, which makes for incredible game viewing. Zebra, impala, topi, hippo, crocodile, elephant, buffalo, lion, and spotted hyena are just some of the things you’ll see (and hear) during your luxury fly camping experience.

After walking to your camp, the night of fly camping begins with dinner and drinks by a roaring campfire before settling into enjoying the solitude of Katavi.

A couple and their guide enjoy drinks overlooking a body of water.
Sundowners in the bush are a highlight of fly camping no matter where you go in Africa. Image courtesy of Sand Rivers Selous

Sand Rivers is another very remote, very exclusive lodge in Tanzania. Set on the banks of the Rufiji River, the game is plentiful and has African wild dog and giraffe in large numbers.

The lodge is located in Nyerere Game Reserve, which is isolated and untouched, making fly camping here all the more special. The terrain is varied, with rolling plains and woodlands fed by numerous lakes, lagoons, and river tributaries.

The fly camping setup is perhaps one of the most simplistic and authentic available. With a comfortable bedroll and fresh linens laid out beneath a mosquito net, the payoff is that you can really feel the night around you. A expert guide and meal overlooking the river complete an unforgettable evening.

A night sky filled with stars above a tent.
Fly camping gives you access to night skies untouched by light pollution. On clear nights, the stargazing can be spectacular. Image courtesy of Luwi Plains Camp

Luwi Plains Camp in Zambia offers a slice of raw, untamed wilderness at the heart of the South Luangwa National Park.

Depending on the season, your bed for the night can be set up in a dried river bed surrounded by untouched wilderness for miles in every direction. A special dinner is cooked over an open fire, adding to the bush experience. 

The camp itself is rustic and remote, and activities are focused on the unrivaled walking safaris that Zambia is known for. Visitor numbers in the park are heavily regulated, so wildlife encounters are highly personal. The park is home to leopard, lion, elephant, buffalo, hippo, Thornicroft’s giraffe, and much more.

People take a game drive by their fly camp in Kenya
Fly camping is often combined with a game drive or a walking safari. Image courtesy of Simon Pocock

Only a mosquito net separates you from the stars at Sarara Camp in Northern Kenya, where Samburu guides share their intimate knowledge of the land, and a unique community-based conservation program allows nature to flourish uninhibited.

The 850,000-acre conservancy is home to the second-largest elephant population in Kenya, meaning there’s a good chance you’ll hear these massive beasts making their way through the bush during the night.

Due to a private watering hole in front of the lodge, wildlife, particularly elephants and zebras, frequent the camp often. During walking safaris and game drives, you may also see leopard, Grévy’s zebra, wild dog, kudu, and more.

A couple sit with their guides around a fire at a camp in Kenya.
Some camps cook simple, delicious meals over the fire for guests. Image courtesy of Kicheche

This luxury camp hosts just 12 guests in the 120,000-acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy. Private, completely unfenced, and with restricted bed numbers, Kicheche offers excellent game viewing and a highly personalized fly camping experience.

You’ll walk through the Mara wilderness with an expert guide, tracking game, such as giraffe, elephant and zebra, on foot before arriving at your camp, which has already been set up ahead of time.

Spend the night out in the iconic Maasai Mara and enjoy a meal by the campfire, sundowner drinks, and, of course, the sights and sounds of the night.

A trio of tents overlooking the grasslands of the Masaai Mara.
Serian Camp is known for its all-action fly camping experiences, with walking and longer stays in the bush. Image courtesy of Serian Camp

Alex Walker, owner of Serian, grew up in and around the bush, learning its secrets from local trackers. One of the best guides in Kenya, his immense knowledge is built into the camp’s DNA and its extensive list of experiences.Fly-camping here is for the adventurous. Instead of one night, you can spend three out in the wild, walking between camps through the Maasai Mara. A truly unforgettable wildlife experience, you’ll encounter wildlife at its purest—no other humans, no cars, no buildings, just you and the wild.

Mwiba: Serengeti,Tanzania

A refined fly camping set up with bed and dinner table in Tanzania.
Mwiba offers one of the most elevated fly camping experiences in East Africa. Image courtesy of Mwiba Lodge

Sleep out among the ancient coral trees and acacias that make Mwiba so distinctive on a fly camping trip in Tanzania.

The experience in Mwiba is slightly more elevated than your average fly camping evening. The tents include an actual bed, which is set up in the bush for your comfort.

After an unforgettable night, unwind at the main lodge with a dip in the pool or a cocktail in the jacuzzi.

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