Fly camping in Africa

posted 29th September 2020 by katie branson in Accommodation

Fly camping in Africa

‘Fly Camping’ is a term that originates from the early days of safaris. Hunters wishing to travel light would pack just the outer sheet of a tent – called a fly sheet – and string it up between trees for their shelter. The minimalist camping set up was meant to protect the safari-goers from sun and rain while they slept, rested, and ate and could be easily moved to their next stop on their safari.

Today the fly camping experience on safaris is a bit different. Your shelter might be an actual tent and bucket showers or just a mosquito net strung up over a bedroll, but it is every bit as adventurous as those early days of safaris, with the vast African night sky overhead and the sounds of animals in the distance to lull you to sleep.

Sand River Selous

The Selous Nature Reserve of southern Tanzania is vast. In the northern sector of the reserve, set on the banks of the Rufiji River lies Sand Rivers Lodge, which acts as the base for some of the most exciting and ‘raw’ walking experiences on the continent.

Sleeping out under the stars in glorified mosquito nets, adjacent to a river groaning with hippo and crocodile, may not seem like an obvious way to enjoy your holiday, but the Selous fly camp adventures have proved hugely successful. If you’re looking for adventure with a twist, then look no further.

Typically, fly-camping in the Selous will begin with a walk from Sand Rivers to your fixed private fly-camp, where you will have dinner and sleep under the stars, returning to your lodge the next day, after a guided walk. If camping for more than one night, and depending on choice, you will spend the day exploring the park before returning to camp for a second night under the stars, before then returning to the comfort of your rooms at the lodge. There is an option, should you want it, for having a private vehicle, and exploring more of the park than you would on foot.

Image courtesy of Nomad Tanzania

Kubu Island

Botswana is a beauty when it comes to safari experiences, remote wilderness and abundant wildlife. Many of our guests seek that raw adventure and one of the most popular experiences is taking an epic quad bike journey across the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans, and sleeping out under the stars for a night or two on Kubu Island.

Combine it with a few nights at luxury camps Jack’s or San or more affordable Camp Kalahari.

Kubu is one of the most beautiful spots in Botswana, and is full of intriguing detail and history, such as stone walls, trade and Bushman beads. It is also close to what is probably the biggest greater and lesser flamingo breeding site in the world.

Image courtesy of Natural Selection

Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge

Madagascar is a country shrouded in mystery, relatively unfamiliar even for experienced travellers.

Madagascar has some of the most pristine beaches to be found anywhere in the world and what makes the country special is the remoteness, exotic wildlife and diverse wilderness areas.

One of our all time favourite experiences is sleeping out in a ‘tree tent’. This is fly camping on a whole new level – literally! Using Manafiafy Beach and Rainforest Lodge as your base, you venture out with a guide by boat to a remote private island a few kilometres away. On arrival, you’ll see the tree tent set up, swaying gently in the breeze as the sounds of Madagascar’s nightlight lulls you to sleep.

Image courtesy of Madagascar Classic Collection

Norman Carr Safaris

Norman Carr was a legend in Zambia’s South Luangwa Valley and to this day, Time + Tide’s Norman Carr Safaris has led the way in responsible tourism and exciting adventure! This is wild Africa at its best – sleeping out under the stars in the spectacular and extremely remote Luwi dry river bed with just a bedroll, a pillow, and a mosquito net, not even a tent! Follow in the footsteps of the first safari pioneers, including Norman Carr himself, as they discovered the wonders of the South Luangwa.

This overnight adventure is only for the most courageous of spirit. Led by one of the top guide and scout teams at Norman Carr Safaris, a maximum of six guests venture out from the remotest bush camp on foot in the mid-afternoon. 

“It’s a private activity where you find a spot to camp, make a campfire for a game ranger’s dinner and then relax with a cool drink,” explains Mindy Roberts from Time + Tide Africa. “Then, having shared adventure stories around the fire, sleep out under the magnificent African sky whilst the guide and scout keep a watch until morning.”

Image courtesy of Time + Tide

Ol Malo Nomad

Ol Malo Nomad is an adventure safari taking you places far away from others in Kenya’s remote northern Laikipia on the family-owned Ol Malo Ranch. Your base camp is Ol Malo Lodge and then it’s time to get out wild camping for a few nights – you’ll reap the reward the longer you stay.

Head into the bush with expert guides and nomadic Samburu tribesmen on foot, horseback, or camel to explore the rugged river valleys, tumbling escarpments, and dense forests of Ol Malo Ranch. Nature walks with the nomadic Samburu tribesmen give you an insight into their ancient and colourful culture, rounding off your all-round African adventure.

Take a helicopter trip to Lake Turkana, the most saline of Africa’s large lakes. You’re in the Kenyan Rift Valley here, so the scenery is astonishingly diverse, from lava fields to dunes, with flamingo-filled lakes and a gallery of other wildlife.

Fly camping life is easy because your amazing team take care of every requirement from tent set up, cooking, and cleaning. You can participate as much or as little as you like… now that’s the ideal holiday!

Image courtesy of Ol Malo