Join me for a sleep story where we will take a slow and magical night-time journey through Botswana, a magical kingdom within Africa where the wild things roam. I will be your guide as we encounter the wildlife that call Botswana home and sleep under the stars while falling asleep to the crackling of the campfire.
This sleep story is called Under The Botswana Sky inspired by my trip to Africa, a place that has touched and changed me forever.
[You can listen to the sleep story below or alternatively continue reading]
An enchanting and distant land, far far away from the bustle, hustle and stress of modern life. It is a place with starry blue skies and silver moons. It is a place that reunites us with the beauty of the natural world, where animal spirits synchronise with the human heart to create a hushed and magical encounter, giving us a more intimate perspective into our own humanity.
This magical kingdom is Moremi Game Reserve. Located in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta, Moremi is considered to be one of Africa’s most abundant wildlife sanctuaries. A mosaic of grasslands, forests, floodplains and lily lagoons give life to over 500 species of birds PLUS a huge population of animals big and small, including Africa’s big five - the rhino, lion, elephant, buffalo and leopard.
Botswana is a country that still has thousands of kilometres of pristine land, which to this day has never been seen, touched or explored by man. It’s a land that promises a glimpse back in time, into a world that existed long long before we came along.
It is late afternoon and time for a safari and little animal spotting. We cruise the plains in an open top land-cruiser with our African local guide Moses - driving through swampy marshes, past fragrant bursts of wild sage as we bush bash our way across the remote and rugged savannah.
The wet season has just finished so the plains are swelled with water, giving life to this arid and harsh domain.
Rattling through a swampy pasture we spot a flock of birds that are busy pecking at what appears to be a cluster of half-submerged boulders. Gently, one of them moves. It’s a hippo and it yawns widely while flicking its tiny ears towards us.
Along the sandy shore, lazy crocs sun themselves with their ragged mouths open to help shed the afternoons heat, while on a nearby bank a column of golden sunlight beams down on a pair of giraffes gracefully munching on leaves while warthogs trot off into the bushes with their tails pinned high.
Reaching into the horizon as far as the eye can see, the soothing soulful presence of the big wide-open space brings with it the promise of quietude and solitude. An ancient land that has many secrets to tell - a land that whispers its wisdom to those who travel with an open heart.
The warmth and comfort of the afternoon sun can be felt by all - animals, humans, critters – big and small – as they sleepily bask in all her glory. With heavy relaxed bodies the lions, cheetahs, baboons and wild dogs take peaceful naps under the trees while they patiently wait for the darkness of nightfall to blanket the land.
Giraffes hide behind trees peeking out at you through the branches and leaves. It is best to pretend you can’t see them, and play along with their game of hide and seek.
Eventually curiosity will get the better of them and one by one they will come out from behind the trees. With eyes so gentle they invite you into their world. Giving you a long heart-felt glance with their big brown eyes and lush black lashes before they gracefully leap off and dance across the yellow plains.
In the dappled shadow of the only tree lay the king of the savannah - the lion. With his golden fur, soft padded paws that cross before his nose and a great shaggy mane of gold and brown. The lion sleeps as he waits for night to fall.
His body gently expands and falls with the rhythm of his breath - and of one whom is in deep and peaceful slumber.
The gentle afternoon sun belongs to him as much as it does to the grasslands, buffalo and the antelope. It warms his fur to a soothing and steady temperature, bringing a serenity to his thoughts that encourages his dreaming all the more.
Even in his dreams he is alert to the sounds of the wild. Every now and then he will gently raise his head, gaze into the distance with his sleepy eyes and let out a big bed-time yawn before cradling his head back within his giant padded paws.
As the sun begins to fall, hippos waddle out of the water where they have spent the entire day rolling, basking and sleeping. Watching them disappear into the woodland forest, a golden and soothing light awashes the surrounding floodplains and grasslands, infusing a sense of calm and peace across the wide-open space.
As a curtain of dusk gently falls upon this untamed land; Impalas, tender-eyed and gentle, move serenely around the area as they graze under trees that are bathed in gentle colours of pinks, mauves and apricots. Meanwhile, a small herd of elephants line up to drink from the waterhole that is just metres from our campsite. Scooping water up with their trunks, sensitive and aware of our presence, these gentle giants are chilled and relaxed.
Loud howls and cackles begin to fill the airwaves as the nocturnal communities begin to wake.
As the burning orange sun descends behind the grassy plains, a deafening yet peaceful silence falls as the shadows of predators start to lurk.
You take a moment to feel the beauty and presence of this moment. Slowly and calmly breathing in – feeling the warmth of the African air as it gently fills your lungs and expands your heart. You feel her presence – her magic – you feel the heart of Africa.
The land cruiser gently rolls into our campsite where our tents are pitched, the fire is lit, and dinner has been prepared.
We spend the evening unwinding around the camp fire that burns and crackles under a starry blue sky. Slowly and ever so mindfully sipping warm comforting cups of hot sweet tea, while toasting marshmallows until they are roasted to a perfect golden brown - warm and gooey on the inside and toasted caramel on the on the outside.
In a star adorned sky, the silver moon ever so slowly and silently walks the darkness in her silver light. Turning the trunks and leaves of trees a magical and luminous colour of silver. As the animals wake to feed, one by one their silver shadows stalk the woodland for their evening feed.
While the animals roam the woodland, nearby in a silver hollow lazily lays the white tail mongoose lapping up a few extra hours of sleep before he awakes to roam the silver night.
As the nightshift of the savannah comes alive, you make your way to your canvas sanctuary, your newfound home – a simple khaki coloured canvas tent that has been mindfully pitched under an African Sky.
Surrounded by silver trees and a starlight sky. You notice that behind the tent lays a lush green path of short green grass and creeping reeds - a wilderness corridor that has now become a well-loved and well-trodden hippo path.
It is within this simple khaki tent - a cosy nest between two worlds - that your journey to the present moment begins. Approaching the door of your tall standing tent, you pause and take a deep breath in, smelling wild sage, acacia flower and a little smoke from the campfire. With each new breath, you connect deeper and deeper into another world, a world that is so far removed from the busy world you are so use to.
Slowly unzipping the tent door, you await with anticipation as you imagine what greets you inside. What will life be like sleeping under a big starry Botswana sky with just a piece of canvas separating your world from the world of the wild animals who roam the forest at night.
Stepping inside you are first surprised how big and spacious the tent feels, fitted out modestly, contributed to the art of living, containing only the simple things that are necessary for living in oneness with the world that surrounds you.
Inside, next to a big canvas window lays on the floor your bed for the night - a khaki bed roll inserted with a thick comfortable luxurious mattress. Your bed is already made up for you with crisp white sheets, fluffy white pillows and a soft flannel blanket for when the early morning hours bring her evening breeze.
A soft fluffy white towel is folded on the bed and there is a canvas table in the corner set up as wash basin with a big pottery bowl, water jug and several white face towels.
There are a couple of canvas chairs in the tent, perfect for sitting in for a little bedtime reading or journaling.
There is only one big canvas window, which must be kept rolled down while darkness falls upon the camp - for you must remain invisible to the outside world while the animals wander the perimeter of your tent for their evening meal.
There is a kerosene lantern on a small table next to the bed, its gentle flickering flame gives a warm and soothing light within the tent.
You fill the pottery wash basin with warm water from a teapot that was heated atop the campfire. You put on your warm pyjamas, brush your teeth and refresh your face with a warm white face towel that has been wet and warmed by the washbasin water.
Outside the tent, hanging from tree branches are kerosene lanterns that gently burn while the campfire crackles and pops with its flickering flames, bathing the camp in a warm comforting light as it keeps the savannah at bay.
You pull back your sheets, laying down on your perfectly made bed you snuggle up and cosy in for the night ahead. Your pillow gently cradles your head as the bright stars shine through the canvas, embracing your space with a soft silver light.
Breathing deeply and then slowly exhaling - relaxation washes over you. You feel all the tension and stress melt into the mattress below you. From the crown of your head down to the soles of your feet calmness slowly and gently fills your body. Your forehead, eyes and jaw soften as the peaceful solitude opens and expands your heart.
The smell of campfire fills the air as a blanket of quietude gently drapes itself over you. Your tent is surrounded by a vast wilderness where animals big and small roam under a big starry Botswana sky – and in your next deep breath it dawns on you that this is the heart of Africa
Dancing trees in the evening breeze cast soft shadows on the canvas wall. With the trees gently swaying back and forth - you drift off into a quiet rhythm to all that surrounds you – deeply becoming present within this very moment.
It is at this point that life returns to the essential way it was meant to be lived. For in a tent life exists on a basic and natural level. Its life as we naturally know.
Deeply tucked in the recess your luxuriously cushioned and cosy bedroll, you hear the sound of crackling branches and gentle movement in the bushes outside your tent.
The crisp crunching of foliage, each leaf deteriorating into granules as something moves around outside.
With a well-trodden hippo path at the back of the tent, it is as you suspect, a lone hippopotamus munching at the bushes, grasses and trees.
His padded feet absorbing the impact of his pillar like legs and monumental size, thus rendering his foot-steps gentle and somewhat silent, he quietly and effortlessly munches his way around the back of your tent. Moving from the right side of the tent, to then the left side.
Completely oblivious to your presence he lets out the odd snort between mouthfuls of food. You can't help but be in awe, remembering it is just a sheet of canvas that separates your worlds.
He is close, in-fact so close that you can almost taste his slow and heavy breath.
Owls call from the trees above as you snuggle deep into your bed. Listening to the sound of fire crackling as the campfire slowly burns its way into the night
Your ears attuned to the most minute noise of the soft crunching of leaves. And in the distance, you hear the noise, cries and howls of other animals that call Botswana home.
You pull the blanket up over your chin, snuggling into your bed even deeper, feeling as though you are nestled within the clouds.
You close your eyes and focus on the symphony of life that is happening in the world outside the tent. For the world that lives outside the tent can be heard and felt through the canvas walls – even if it can’t always be seen.
It is this very moment that becomes your centring point within a moving universe. You feel a heightened awareness of life happening around u and the longer you stay within this moment the deeper the layers become.
The sheer expanse of the wide-open space of the African Savannah unlocks and expands your heart and mind. New understanding unfolds, and all that was required for this to happen was for you to get quiet enough within to listen.
At first silence can feel uncomfortable – especially when the voices, noises and distractions of our world back home are still slowly falling away.
How do we fill this new stillness that surrounds us? How do we listen to our own voice again? The truth is that the more space we create for ourselves the greater space we have to revel in the beauty of outside world.
More appreciation for the ordinary. More wonder and awe for the natural world. We begin to see beauty in places never before. Be become more present. We start to give thanks for the gift of life itself. And most importantly we start to pay attention to life itself and to everything that is happening around us.
The more in love with our world we fall - the more peace and tranquillity we will feel within.
The snort of the hippo brings you back to the moment. A truly magical encounter to witness , yet for the lone hippo, unaware of your presence, for him it is just another night of feasting on green luscious grass.
Serving as a reminder we are only temporary occupants to this extraordinary frontier, and even though we may stay for a few weeks, the hippo and other animals will all carry on with their lives long after we have gone home.
The truth is that Botswana gets under your skin and you can’t help but feel an abiding love for all of the creatures, both big and small. The link between them and us is undeniable, and it’s as though all our life, each and every one of us has been waiting to know just this exact moment. This is the gift of Sleeping under a Botswana Sky.
In a star-adorned night, a peaceful golden column of light illuminates through the canvas roof, for the moon has risen to sit perfectly atop your tent. A serene retreat- so sacred a spell this luminousness night gifts you. You feel yourself ease into perfect contentment. Being happy with the here and now, and living ever so simply within the open air.
Gazing up towards the roof of your tent to admire the reflection of the moon one final time. It is with this heart-felt thought that u drift off to a deep, relaxing peaceful night’s sleep.
It is here beneath a canvas roof, under a Botswana sky that you are reminded of the true meaning of life – it is a place where inner peace and the dreams of tomorrow come ever so sweetly.