Nature enthusiasts will tell you that the best thing about a safari is the wildlife — and of course, the animal sightings across Africa are sublime. However, a lesser-acclaimed but equally awe-inspiring aspect of heading out into the wild bush is the brilliance of the night sky.
Thanks to the sparsity of developments and lack of light pollution, much of the continent — especially in countries with those great sprawling game reserves — is treated to a blanket of stars, comets and planets once the sun sets.
At Chiawa Camp, which sits on the banks of the meandering Zambezi River, the glittering tapestry of stars that lingers above Zambia is celebrated in abundance with the Star Drift experience.
New for this year, the excursion invites guests to take to the water at dusk, just as the untamed landscape begins to come to life, for a private four-course dinner created by the camp’s skilled chefs. Served aboard a stable floating pontoon, the meal is soundtracked by the surrounding bush — from the roaming herds of elephants to a bloat of hippos.
When night has fully set in, it’s time to retreat to the nearby Star Bed — an open-air, four-poster bed set atop a 13-ft tower, found just downstream of the main Chiawa Camp and overlooking a wildlife-rich inlet. With a freshly drawn bath and a bottle of champagne awaiting guests’ arrival, the experience is equal parts romance and adventure (a two-way radio is left just in case — better to be safe than sorry on safari).
After a night under the stars, guests will be awoken with a fresh breakfast delivery to be enjoyed in the comfort of their Star Bed. The light of day promises the chance to enjoy the tower’s nature-inspired design, complete with locally made furnishings and a soft, earthy color palette. On the tower’s first floor, a purpose-built photographic hide acts as the perfect spot to capture some snaps of the surrounding wildlife before heading back to the main camp for another action-packed day.
Star Drift experience from $400 per couple; Chiawa Lodge from $1,205 per person per night. Contact Grant Cumings, founder, res@chiawa, +260 211 261 588, chiawa.com
This article appears in the 12 Sep 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Fall 2023