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Unique Places to Stay

Your bedroom can be boring. Well, maybe not yours specifically, we mean bedrooms in general. Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up one morning somewhere truly unique?

Unique Places to Stay

Here is a list of sleeping options to make your good mornings into great mornings.

In a treehouse

Rooftop view of a treehouse in Africa with bed and waterhole

Add some magic to your next Botswana trip with a night at the Skybeds, three unique treehouses in the middle of the African bush. And to answer your next question, yes there is a toilet in there.

Each platform has a bathroom, a dressing area, a flushing loo and a shower on the first floor. And on the second floor, an enormous comfy bed and mosquito net, completely open to the stars. To use an old cliche, it isn’t 5-star accommodation but instead 5,000-star. If you don’t want to look up, the platforms also overlook a busy waterhole that is the only source of water in 20,000 hectares. This means it is frequented by bull elephants, lion, leopard, eland, zebra and more, making for outstanding game viewing, straight from your platform.

In a nest

Two nest like rooms on the African plains

Sometimes the best designs are those that mimic nature. Walking through the wild Busanga Plains in Kafue, Zambia, the owners realised that the best way to showcase the environment was to take inspiration from it. It was on this walk that they came across the iconic nest of the weaver bird, and the design was chosen.

And here they stand now, an open design mimicking the natural nest and providing views across the plains. Safaris are taken on foot, on e-bikes and in electric land cruisers, all run off solar farms (as is the lodge). Everything has been thought of, with one nest even having a lift to provide access to those with low mobility. At the end of the day though, it is utterly unique to retire to your nest and watch the world go past underneath your feet. Egg laying is optional.


Aerial view of a floating room with woman lying on day bed

If the world is getting you down, then sometimes the best answer is to go further down. And we mean down beneath the surface of the water, where you can relax and rest as the ocean’s inhabitants languidly swim past. Welcome to the Underwater Room at the Manta Resort in Pemba, Tanzania. There is a sundeck on the top deck, a lounge area in the middle and a bedroom below the water level. Securely anchored to the ocean floor both you and your meals are taken here by boat, with the world kept at arm's length. At night, spotlights illuminate the tropical fish swimming past, all with the gentle sound of lapping waves to help you drift away (metaphorically).

On an Antarctic island

Antarctic landscape

Seeing Antarctica is one thing. Stepping foot on Antarctica is another. Staying overnight on Antarctica, that’s a different thing entirely. Well, considering the sun doesn’t really set, ‘overnight’ might not be accurate. But off you go, bedding and plenty of layers in tow, to set up camp on the snow. You’ll be treated to one of the most stunning backdrops on earth as you dig in, set up your sleep ‘burrito’ under the open sky, and try to get a few hours of sleep. That’s assuming a passing whale blow or a snuffling seal doesn’t interrupt your dozing.

On a moving train

Luxury interior of a train with bed and landscape passing by

Step aboard the vintage wood-panelled coaches of the Rovos Rail and relax as the varied scenery of Southern Africa unfolds beyond the windows. This is luxury rail travel at its finest, with discreet and friendly service, top cuisine and a selection of South Africa’s finest wines. More than just the journey, Rovos is a step back into the elegant eras of travel, where travel is wrapped in a sense of high romance. And there is something to be said about being rocked to sleep by the gentle rhythm of a train, cocooned in luxury linen.

On a stationary train

A train made into a lodge on bridge

Kruger Shalati is a train that doesn’t move, on a route that doesn’t run, on a bridge over a river with no water. It’s not the first time this bridge has seen a train stop here. From 1923 the earliest explorers of the Kruger Park would stop here, in this exact spot, whilst they stayed overnight. When the train traffic moved elsewhere, the rail line went quiet. And now, 100 years later, the bridge again has visitors. The only difference is, they are here to stay this time.

The train offers 31 rooms, each with a great view over the Sabie River. Aligned with the floor level of the train lies a deck with a pool, offering guests the unique experience of taking a dip while watching crocodiles, hippos and elephants just metres below.

In a second (outside) bedroom

An aerial view of a villa with outside bedroom

To fully appreciate the beauty of some places, sometimes you need to venture outside the comfort of your room. And in Namibia, good lodges like Kwessi Dunes have built that into their design.

When you have the desert sky on offer, why would you cover it with a roof? Why not build a second bedroom outside, with uninterrupted views and a great sense of space (no pun intended)? There is nothing like waking up like our ancestors must have, with the gentle sounds of nature and the soft glow of the sun.

On a salt pan

Couple seated in front of fire on large salt pan with bed and small hand basins behind them

There is something unique about sleeping out in the wild. Whether it be fly camping in Tanzania, on a river bed in Zambia, or on a salt pan in Botswana, just spending time in the elements changes your perspective on a few things. And despite its simplicity, you are not going without the creature comforts. It’s almost as comfortable as many other offerings but with none of the artifice surrounding it. You can take a quad bike in as part of a multi-day adventure, or even better take a helicopter out and see your journey from the air the next day. Like this fly camp near Laroo Le Tau on the Makgadikgadi Pans in Botswana, the journey into the wild and away from the ‘known’ is the attraction.

On a salt pan, in an airstream

Two airstream trailers side by side on a salt pan

If the above salt pan idea appeals, but you don’t want to give up on the proper bed, the Airstream trailers in the middle of the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia might suit your needs. Live out your Hollywood trailer dreams in the quietest movie set ever known, where the salt pans change colour according to the hues of the sun.

On an island

Bathroom overlooking river

If you want to visit Victoria Falls and not deal with the crowds that can be found there, you need a unique solution. The answer is simple: You stay on an island.

Sindabezi Island Lodge is a secret gem, a little idyllic camp on a private island in the middle of the Zambezi River. Consisting of only 5 open-sided thatched cottages, it allows guests to soak up the sounds and atmosphere of the African bush in a quiet setting, away from all the hustle and bustle. A short boat ride puts you on the main Zambian bank, from where you have a wide range of activities on offer. Experience as many as you want during the day and then return to a little haven for some quiet time. Or, drift downstream for a breakfast at Livingstone Island, right above the falls themselves.

In Nelson Mandela’s house

Exterior of terracotta roofed house with writting on walls nearby

Set in Nelson Mandela’s primary place of residence in a leafy-green suburb of Johannesburg, Sanctuary Mandela includes elements of the home Mandela lived in after he returned from Robben Island. It’s here where he hosted celebrities and world leaders, and which later became the headquarters of the Nelson Mandela Foundation. After years of neglect, Sanctuary Mandela was purchased, rebuilt and is now a one-of-a-kind boutique hotel with 9 curated rooms, each focused on different aspects of his life. The menu was designed by Mandela’s long-time personal chef and includes twists on his favourite dishes.

In a houseboat in the wild

A houseboat floating in the river with lights on

Staying on a Chobe Princess in Botswana is like having your very own houseboat. The beauty of the houseboat is that it goes in the opposite direction to the crowds at nearby Chobe National Park in Botswana. When they head out on early morning drives through the park, lasting until the heat of lunch, you have a leisurely morning by the water's edge, watching the animals come to drink. Whilst other visitors don’t go too far from their hotel, you can venture deeper into the river ecosystem, taking yours with you. And at sunset, when they rush out to beat the closing time of the park, you stay inside the area. Of course, you also have comfortable tender boats for your own explorations, be it game watching, tiger fishing or just exploring.

In a bubble

Brightly coloured room inside a bubble structure with desert outside

Memories Aicha Luxury Camp is situated on the sands of Wadi Rum and each bubble opens up into an incredible view, only to better itself at night with the amazing star-scapes. With the isolated nature of the desert meaning no one will catch you in a compromising position, the half-bubble domes are sumptuous and comfortable, allowing you to escape the desert heat by retreating into cosy Bedouin-inspired loveliness. Then, as the temperature begins to drop, stay warm and toasty as you gaze into the night sky and ponder your insignificance. Interior design is important, but when competing against an area as beautiful as this, just give half the room over to the view.

We always try to advise our guests to step out of the tourist bubble and experience the real world. This is the exception to that rule.

There are so many unique options to make your next journey a great one. Get in touch with us to make it happen.

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Why travel with us?

Travel isn’t what is used to be. It used to be undertaken with a sense of adventure and discovery. As the world shrunk, so did our imaginations and over time, manufactured experiences, sponsored travel lists and mass tourism have slowly extinguished that magic. Amazing destinations, catering to the crowds, have become overwhelmed shadows of their former selves.

And so, we established The Explorer Society to be a travel company for like‑minded travellers. It’s for those who travel for the destination and the incredible experiences to be found within, not just for the bragging rights. We are passionate about avoiding the crowds and providing real and revelatory experiences.

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We always try to maintain as open and honest a conversation with you as we can throughout the entire process. We are happy to chat about what we recommend, why, and why we do what we do.

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Do good, be good

The destinations we visit should be around for future generations to enjoy. We want the benefits of your visit go to those in the local area you visited, not some big corporation elsewhere.

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Value ≠ Cost

What something costs isn’t the same as what something is worth. We always try to get the best value for your trip, irrespective of how you choose to travel and what budget you have.

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Experience first

The experience always comes first. This might mean five‑star luxury, three‑star simplicity or a camp out under millions of stars, whatever ultimately best suits the experience you’re after.

Don’t just take our word for it

“I would recommend The Explorer Society every time.”

Derelle B

“I would not hesitate to recommend them for your African getaway.  I will certainly use them again.”

Poppy M

“Cannot recommend highly enough!”

Gemma G

“Seamless and perfectly executed, I would recommend The Explorer Society to anyone.”

Angela T

“I would recommend The Explorer Society and will be definitely using them in the future.”

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