There’s nothing but a mosquito net between you and the spill of stars that make up the Milky Way. At your feet, you hear the call of the jackal and the huffing grunt of the lion. As the sun sets over the savanna, you watch animals gather at the watering hole below you over a gourmet picnic.

This is the star bed experience, an outdoor bedroom where you literally sleep out under the stars. The raised platforms protect you from the prowling creatures of the night, but it is thrilling to be so close.

We’ve compiled a list of the best star beds in South Africa for you to tick off your list as you travel.

Lion Sands Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

Tinyeleti Treehouse, Lion Sands Tinga Lodge

lions sands tinleyeti treehouse

Lion Sands is a premium private reserve in the Greater Kruger and the only one with access to the Sabie River.

At Tinga Lodge, you’ll find the luxurious Tinyeleti Treehouse. Tinyeleti means ‘many stars’ and is a very appropriate name given the quality of star-gazing that you’ll be doing.

As the sun sinks over the horizon, you’ll enjoy a cold drink while watching as the animals come to drink from the Sabie River just below your deck. Savour a private dinner for two before turning in for the night, a canopy of stars above and the sounds of the bush emerging below.

Kingston Treehouse, Lion Sands Ivory Lodge

lions sands kingston treehouse sunset

If you’re staying at Ivory Lodge, you’ll have the opportunity to spend a night in Kingston Treehouse. To get there you’ll cross a drawbridge between big white boulders lit by hanging lanterns.

Arrive at a breathtaking sunset and enjoy a gourmet picnic for dinner as you watch animals wander past. The treehouse has sweeping views across the unspoilt untouched wilderness and, as dark falls, you can lie back and count shooting stars.

Good to know: a field guide will always remain on call via radio, so you can get in touch if you need assistance or simply some reassurance!

Timbavati Private Game Reserve, Kruger National Park

Giraffe’s Nest Hide at Motswari Geiger’s Camp

Timbavati Game Reserve Giraffe’s Nest Hide, Motswari Geiger’s Camp

Timbavati Private Game Reserve is primarily known for its intriguing prides of white lions, but they have another safari ace up their sleeve in the form of Giraffe’s Nest.

Based at Geiger’s Camp, the luxurious Nest is in a private location but within easy reach of both the camp and Motswari Game Lodge. Relax on the open-air star bed on a platform 3m above the ground with views over the Xanatsi Dam. A retractable canvas roof keeps out any sneaky elements while an eco-bathroom ensures the surrounding bush remains undisturbed.

Ngala Game Reserve, Kruger Private Reserves

Ngala Treehouse, Ngala Tented Camp

ngala treehouse sunrise andbeyond

andBeyond’s 5-star Ngala Treehouse is located in the Ngala Game Reserve in Kruger. It is a sight you have to see to believe, as this opulent dwelling is spread across four-level and features two sleeping areas: one covered and weatherproof and the other a sleep-out platform under the stars with a retractable awning.

The treehouse is remote, smack bang in the middle of the reserve with no wi-fi. As one of the most premium outdoor stays in an exceptionally pristine nature reserve, Ngala is hard to top.

Madikwe Game Reserve, North West Province

Star Bed Suites, Jaci’s Safari Lodge 

jaci's lodge star bed suite

Madikwe Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s hidden gems and the best place bar none to see the endangered wild dog. Jaci’s Lodge is an institution here and guests can add a little extra magic by booking one of the Star Bed Suites.

Each suite has two levels, allowing you to either sleep under the Milky Way or in a covered room if the weather won’t cooperate. They all have outdoor showers, a safari bar and premium viewing decks.

Each of the suites boasts king-size beds, outdoor showers and indoor bathrooms, lounge areas, a safari bar and viewing decks. You are guaranteed a luxurious experience under the African skies with the excellent service that Jaci’s is known for.

Samara Private Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Milky Way Star Bed, Samara Karoo Lodge

samara milky way star bed

If you’re headed to the Eastern Cape for an elephant safari experience at Addo, make sure to stop in at Samara and stay a night in the Milky Way Star Bed.

Samara is in the middle-of-nowhere Karoo, providing an extremely remote and dramatic location for this romantic stay. The platform overlooks the river so you can watch as animals come to drink at dusk.

While Samara is a Big 5 reserve, leopards are rarely spotted. There is, however, an abundance of cheetahs – in fact, you can enjoy a cheetah walking experience during your stay.

Useful info: the Star Bed is closed during winter (May to September) because of the extreme cold at night.

See the stars with Portfolio Journeys

At Portfolio Journeys, we have seen all the best star beds and slept on a few of them, so you can be sure we recommend only the most incredible options for your trip.

Let us help you plan a safari that includes a night under the Milky Way. Get in touch and let’s chat through your options for a one-of-a-kind starry night.