I Dreamed of Africa is one of the most famous books about one woman’s lifelong love affair with this mesmerising continent. Africa gets under your skin and into your soul like no other. It is a spellbinding place to celebrate love affairs of all sorts – your babymoon, honeymoon or even your diamond anniversary.
There is romance to be discovered in spending your days in an untamed wilderness that has been largely untouched for millennia and your nights in the utterly glamorous and impeccably comfortable beds of some of Africa’s top destinations.
Here is our dreamy selection of Africa’s most unapologetically romantic beds…
1. Little Kulala Lodge, Sossusvlei, Namibia
Namibia is Africa’s best-kept secret. Discarded by some as ‘only a desert’, it is embraced by others for its incredibly dramatic landscapes, desert-adapted animals and utter tranquillity and seclusion. With a population of less than two million people in an area larger than France and Germany combined, it is easy to get off the beaten path and carve out ‘alone time’.
Little Kulala highlights another spectacular aspect of Namibia: its clear skies and lack of light pollution make it one of the top stargazing spots in the world. Take advantage of truly sleeping under the stars in one of Little Kulala’s incredible ‘skybeds’: a comfortable, open-air bed on the roof of your private villa. Lit only by lantern, it is the perfect place to snuggle under the goose down and plan the rest of your life together.
2. Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Tanzania
The outside maybe be designed to resemble a traditional manyatta or homested but the inside of Ngorongoro Crater Lodge is a riot of gilt, chandeliers, mirrors, sculptures and sumptuous fittings. Lying as it does on the edge of the world's biggest unbroken volcanic caldera that is home to 27 000 animals - including all the Big 5 - the views from anywhere are majestic.
3. Lion Sands Lodges, Sabie River, South Africa
Lion Sands’ lodges are strung like a row of perfect diamonds along the Sabie River in South Africa’s prime Big 5 country. From luxurious Ivory Lodge and romantic Narina Lodge, guests can also enjoy a family safari at River Lodge and Tinga Lodge.
One of the many highlights are their incomparable ‘tree houses’: open-air bedroom suites (with full bathrooms) built on stilts in the middle of the bush. With fluttering canopies, Persian carpets underfoot and a bottle of champagne on ice, it’s hard to imagine a more beautiful setting to celebrate the love of your life. Twitching couples will especially enjoy being at eye level with the trees to spot Fischer’s, Lillian’s or rosy-faced lovebirds.
5. Sand Rivers Selous, Tanzania
Sand Rivers Selous is set on a rocky peninsula in the Selous Game Reserve with views over the Rufiji River. A remote part of Tanzania and a World Heritage Site, the lodge offers fly-camping, which means your views as you sleep out in the open will be the astounding Milky Way by night and Africa's candy floss-pink sunrises by day.
6. Wolwedans Private Camp, Sossusvlei, Namibia
Privacy is one of life’s greatest luxuries: to have a haven of your own ensures lifelong memories. This is exactly the point of Wolwedans (literally ‘Where wolves dance’ in Afrikaans - a local South African language).
Roll up the canvas sides of your exclusive desert suite and watch the passing of the full moon, seeing how it sets the almost lunar landscape aglow in a beautifully silvery light, and the rising of the burnt orange sun, its rays bringing life and warmth to one of the world’s most ancient environments…
7. Ol Donyo Lodge, Kenya
Lying on the slopes of the Chyulu Hills in 275 000 acres of pristine wilderness, Ol Donyo Lodge lies between Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks, guaranteeing you excellent game watching by day. By night, snuggle down in one of their cosy 'star beds' and listen to the unmistakable sounds of a Kenyan night: far-off roaring of lions, the whinnying of a herd of zebra and the gentle hooting of a passing owl as it hunts by moonlight.
8. Chinzombo, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Dreaming of a safari getaway straight from Out of Africa? Chinzombo combines modern creature comforts with the best of classic Africa: canvas walls that roll out for unparalleled views from the bliss of your enormous bed of the passing herds for which the South Luangwa Nationhal Park is so renowned.
9. Azura @ Quilalea, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique.
From the bush to the beach... Azura @ Quilalea is an exclusive resort on a beautiful private island in Mozambique's Quirimbas Archipelago. Your luxurious suite is a stone's throw from the shimmering Indian Ocean and, if that isn't enough, you have your own private hammock to drift away in, waking in time to see the sun sinking towards the deep turquoise sea, a white-sailed dhow passing silently by.
10. Singita Lebombo Lodge, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Singita is rightfully a household name in ultra-luxurious safaris, where every detail is taken care of by discreet staff who strive to pamper you in every way possible.
Singita Lebombo consists of only 15 individual loft-style suites with unending views of the N’wanetsi River, and enjoys access to a private concession within the borders of the Kruger National Park. On your private balcony, lie back on an open-air bed surrounded by mosquito netting and listen to the chortling of hippo families below and the distant cries of black-backed jackals on the prowl…
11. Ephelia Resort, Mahe Island, Seychelles
With 120 hectares of lush tropical forest all to itself, Ephelia Resort has some of the best views from its hill-top villas on the main island of Mahe in the Seychelles. Your suite looks out over your private deck and plunge pool, down to the aquamarine bay below. It is the kind of vista that is straight out of all your paradise island fantasies.
Considering you’ll spend around one-third of your holiday asleep, it makes sense to maximise the magic and romance of the bed you sleep in and waking up to views of awe-inspiring locations doesn't hurt either. How else are you going to say to your partner (one day when you’re sitting side-by-side in rocking chairs on the porch): ‘Remember that morning we woke up in Africa and 12 giraffes were sauntering past our bed? The sun rose as the full moon slipped away, and the Cape turtle doves serenaded us with a gentle kuk-cooorr-uk chorus.' Naturally, this will give your beloved the opportunity to reply: 'Yes... and we fell asleep again only to be woken up by that crazy hadedah ibis honking as he flew overhead... That bed in Africa was the best we ever slept in!’