Shaun Stanley, Sales Manager at African Bush Camps, discusses his experience of Kanga Under the Stars on a recent trip to Mana Pools.
“Picture this…. spending the night under an African starlit sky, watching millions of sparkles flicker above your head, whilst listening to the sounds of wildlife calling as a backdrop as you slowly drift off into slumber….That is the magical experience we encountered on our night at the unique “Kanga Under the Stars”.
Set on platforms overlooking a dry river bed in the World Heritage Site of Mana Pools, “Kanga Under the Stars” gives guests staying three nights or more at Kanga, the unique opportunity to spend a night out in the open, in this breath-taking region of Africa. Its staggering beauty, together with the wide range of large mammals, and over 350 bird species makes Mana Pools one of Zimbabwe’s most popular parks. Add to this its aquatic wildlife within along the running waters of the majestic Zambezi River and you have a wilderness paradise at your fingertips to explore.
Following a thirst quenching and delicious layout of afternoon tea and snacks at Kanga, we set off for a game drive, exploring the diverse landscape of this private concession set inland of the Zambezi River.. Our Sightings for the afternoon included elephants, kudu, 2 impressive Dagga-boys (old buffalo bulls), a few herds of impala and a troop of baboons as we arrived at our spot for the night on the edge of the dry Chavava riverbed. We were greeted by a team of beaming hosts, who had gone ahead of us to setup lanterns, chairs around a fire and dinner table, all laid out on the dry riverbed ahead of us. What an amazing surprise. After a wonderful dinner under the stars, we sat around the fire chatting about our safari experiences from our adventures around Africa. None of us had done anything like this before and so were a little nervous, especially when we heard the hyenas cackling in the distance. Our guide Richard reassured us that everything would be alright, and that around the lanterns and lights, we were safe.
After our nightcap of Amarula (a famous cream liquer made from the fruit of the African Marula Tree)
we all climbed the wooden ladders to our respective platforms and settled down for the night. Reaching the top of the platform, there is an air of romance upon discoveringa stylishly laid out mattress with a pillow, duvet, blanket and a hot water bottle (yes it does sometimes get chilly inthe Zimbabwean bush at night) and all encased within the protection of a mosquito net. I am not sure if it was the Amarula or the silence of the night, but this was one of the best nights’ sleep I have had for a long time. I did wake up twice with the sounds of lion roaring in the distance and elephants walking through the bushes and across the sands of the dry riverbed – and it made me realise that this is what being on safari in Africa is all about.
Each of the 4 platforms has access to a camp toilet and wash-hand basin a short distance and easily accessible from the platforms. Set in the centre of the dry riverbed, the team have built a canvas protected bucket shower which can be used either on arrival or the following morning for guests wanting to freshen up.
The following morning we woke up early to watch the sun rising in the distance and enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and rusks around the fire, before heading back to Kanga for a fullEnglish breakfast. This was definitely one of the highlights of our safari to Zimbabwe and I would highly recommend it to anyone spending 3 nights at Kanga. If you are really adventurous it is possible to walk to Kanga Under the Stars from Kanga Camp to settle in for the night. With the 4 platforms Kanga Under the Stars can accommodate up to 3 couples + 1 guide. 2 of the platforms are close enough to allow a family to sleep comfortably within ear shot, although Kanga Under the Stars not recommended for children under 12.”