Fly Camping, what is it and why should you do it?

Occasionally when you’re trying to organise a safari, someone might ask you whether you want to go to fly-camping. That person, probably hopelessly obsessed with safaris, will likely be very enthusiastic about the whole idea and forget entirely that you have, quite understandably, absolutely no idea what fly-camping is.

I think it’s the ‘fly’ bit that throws people off. There’s no flies involved, well not directly. So just think camping. There are certain camps in Tanzania and beyond where during your stay you can leave behind the comfortable confines of your luxury camp and venture out into the wilds for the night. This might be very exciting for some or nothing short of terrifying for others, but always guaranteed to be an unforgettable experience. For me, there’s nothing quite like sharing stories around the camp fire with friends and family, sleeping under the stars and imagining all the dreadful creatures lurking in the darkness, just out of sight, ready to eat you at any moment.

Depending on where you are, your fly camp might take on different forms. There are quite a lot of camps where the regular set-up could be considered fly-camping. Very light weight operations that might move with the season in the Serengeti for example, that’s a different thing really. Fly-camps are set up just for one night, just for you. You might shower under a bucket, sit atop a long drop but dine at a table with three courses and chilled white wine. You might drive into your fly-camp for a sundowner or you might arrive there after a walk through the bush.

I was fly-camping in the Selous with some good friends from Estonia a few weeks ago. We walked down to the camp site right next to the river and enjoyed a cold beer as the sun went down. Talk soon went to ‘what happens if…’ and who was going to swim to the other side of the river and back. We also found time to dabble in some star photography before the milky way ducked away under the horizon. I slept like a log and kicked the fire back into life the next morning when the honking hippos decided it was time to get up. 

To get to just a couple of examples:

Sand Rivers have been fly-camping for rather a long time in the Selous.

Kichaka offer fly-camping for longer safaris in combination with their main camp. This is serious walking and camping along a remote section of the Ruaha river.

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