BY ALISON FOX
Imagine falling asleep with the sound of a lion roaring off in the distance. What seems like something that could only happen in a dream is actually reality at one safari in Zambia, offering guests the chance to get as close to nature as humanly possible.
The Sleepout Under the Stars experience, offered as an add on to a safari with Time + Tide at several different camps throughout Zambia, is what nature dreams are made of: stay the night on a bedroll under a net or a two-person hammock hoisted up in the air, surrounded by nothing but unspoiled views of the African landscape around you.
Mindy Roberts, Time + Tide’s chief marketing officer, told Travel + Leisure that for one night, guests are offered the chance to redefine what luxury means. (Not to mention Zambia was named one of Travel + Leisure’s 50 best places to travel in 2018).
Photo: COURTESY OF TIME AND TIDE AFRICA
Guests head out for the sleepout after a spot of afternoon tea at one of Time + Tide’s high-end camps, walking to their sleeping spot for the night. And while you may be giving up some of the comforts of the camp itself, you’re not totally roughing it: a private chef goes with you.
“It’s an exclusive experience where you are hearing hyenas, you are hearing lions. We like to say you've taken out of your world and put into theirs. This is the animals’ home... and we're the visitor,” Roberts said, adding: “Isn't luxury just being able to appreciate the simple things in life and having a moment of peace and calm?”
Sleepout Under the Stars was first launched 10 years ago at the company’s campus in South Luangwa National Park. Now, they’ve expanded.
In the last couple months, Time + Tide started offering the experience at their other camps in Liuwa Plain National Park and Lower Zambezi National Park. And in the next year, Roberts said they plan to launch the experience by their camp in Madagascar (their resort Miavana was named of Travel + Leisure’ editors’ picks of the best new hotels in the world for 2018).
Many people, however, are nervous about the idea of putting nothing but a net between them and the wild animals — and only about 10 per cent of the camps’ guests take advantage of the program. But Roberts said that all tend to change when people get to the camp (the sleepout, however, has to be booked in advance).
“This is really a moment, a reconnection in a way, you don't get in many other places,” Roberts said. “There’s a magic that’s almost indescribable.”
The Sleepout Under the Stars is an add-on to a stay at one of Time + Tide’s camps and is an extra charge of $275 per person with a minimum of two people. You must be at least eight years old to participate.