Having a simple piece of canvas between you and the night sky makes for an unusual – but often luxurious – night’s sleep. Read about Katie’s top 5 sleep-out spots from her epic 6-month adventure.
- The Elephant Camp, Zimbabwe. This was the fanciest place Evan and I have ever stayed at. We only had to venture about ten minutes by car from the down-town city centre of Victoria Falls. The manager greeted us when we pulled up and made us feel as if we were family. By the time we reached Victoria Falls this was our halfway point in our journey across Africa and we were long overdue for a good scrub down. Thank goodness in our tent there was a giant tub, an indoor and an outdoor shower! In total there are nine tented rooms on site and when we were in our room we didn’t even notice the others. This gave me the privacy to shower on the patio and look out over the beautiful landscape. From our room we could see the mist from the falls and at night we could hear them from our bed. It was so cozy to lie in bed and listen to the thunder of the falls. We loved every minute here. The gigantic breakfast in bed tray we received in the morning was pretty tasty too! Staying here gave us the opportunity to interact with elephants and Sylvester the cheetah but most importantly catch up on some much needed rest and relaxation.
- Sahara Desert, Morocco. On our Marrakech and Beyond tour we spent the night in the Erg Chebbi sand dunes in south eastern Morocco. These dunes vary in height up to 150 metres and their size and shape varies day to day from the strong winds. Our camels glided us gracefully over the sand through the dunes to our camp where we were greeted by our Berber hosts. After we strategically staked claim to the tent closest to the full flushing toilet, we were served a delicious dinner by our hosts and enjoyed tea poured by our guide Brahim. Brahim has practiced precisely making and pouring tea for his family since he was a young boy, it was a real treat to watch him meticulously do all the steps required to make us the perfect pot of tea. Trust me it isn`t as easy as boiling the water and throwing in the tea bag. Brahim has it down to perfection! Before heading to bed we enjoyed music and singing around the campfire from Berber hosts with the stars glowing over us. I know what you are wondering, yes there was actually a flushing toilet in the middle of the desert!
- Mongolian Ger, Mongolia. After four days on the Trans-Siberian train we were very happy travellers to be arriving in Ulaan Baatar, Mongolia. After being met by our guide we drove out to Terelj National Park to our Mongolian Ger. (`Ger` means home in Mongolian.) It was pretty cold outside but to our surprise when we opened the door to our ger the heat was overwhelming! Inside our wooden circular structure were three beds and a small wooden stove. Our ger was even fitted with an electric outlet which allowed us to plug in the laptop and watch a movie after four days without any power on the train. There were various optional activities here you could take part in like horse and camel riding, hiking, and afternoon walks. Although we had never ridden horses before it didn`t hold us back. We hired a guide and two horses for an hour ride to a giant formation of rocks that looked like a turtle. All for only a couple of dollars. Score!
- Wadi Rum, Jordan. Our time in Wadi Rum was unforgettable. We had to take 4×4 jeeps to our camp and luckily we got the craziest driver of the bunch who did not fear driving at top speeds up and over the sand dunes! At one point of our ride we drove up a sand dune at a 90 degree angle! We managed to get back down but another jeep got stuck. We were flying around the inside of the car from his dramatic right and left turns. It was a heart-pounding experience racing all of the other jeeps to camp! When we arrived at our camp we were welcomed by our Bedouin hosts. Unlike traditional Bedouin people they had a permanent camp set up for us to sleep at. Traditional people are nomadic and typically raise camels and sheep. We were treated with the utmost kindness from our hosts. Here we watched a stunning sun set and had a nice meal with our group. Dinner was followed by singing, dancing, and shisha by the fire. Everyone in our group got up and danced. It was a magical night I will never forget!
- Dar es Saleem, Tanzania. The day before we headed out to Zanzibar on the ferry we spent the night in Dar es Saleem. We were arriving after sun down and leaving early in the morning and didn`t have the energy to set up and take down a tent so we opted for a beach hut. When we were bringing our bags from the truck we had to watch our step for crabs that were running around the sand. When we arrived at our hut that was right on the beach, we could hear the waves crashing up against the shore. Our hut was simple, a roof over our head, a bed, mosquito net, fan and light. I found the sounds of the waves very relaxing and the next morning when we opened our door to the beach the sun was rising over the water with a glowing warmth over head. It was neat to go to bed in the dark and wake up to something so magical. I may have been late for breakfast that morning enjoying the sunrise and taking photos.
- Katie Powell