Seeking Serenity Under the Stars in a Hill Country Luxury Safari Tent
Journey just an hour outside of Austin to a peaceful, private glamping getaway with sweeping views
“Pack your bags. We’re going on an adventure!” This was our immediate response upon receiving an invitation to stay in an elevated, private, luxury glamping tent just a short drive from Austin. There is nothing quite like the serenity that comes with a getaway in nature, embracing the lure of local landscapes, the tranquility amongst the trees. So we set off to Marble Falls, an hour from Austin, to beautiful parkland nestled along the north side of Lake Travis in Central Texas’s rolling hillside.
Recently, LCRA Parks introduced several glamping accommodations at a handful of their park locations — beach bungalows at Matagorda Bay, adorable vintage Airstreams at Lake Bastrop North Shore Park, among others. The grand safari-style tent, called AMANI (a Swahili word meaning “peace”) is the first of its kind at Shaffer Bend Recreation Area.
“Our park system offers a variety of diverse accommodations for people wanting to enjoy the outdoors,” shares Margo Richards, Senior VP of Community Resources at LCRA Parks. “This includes Airstreams, cabins, beach bungalows and safari tents, as well as more traditional tent and RV sites.”
Shaffer Bend’s Beauty
We traversed along curvy roads, passing a winery to two on our way out to the park, already feeling the stress in our shoulders start to slink away. We were ready for a quiet weekend far from the daily grind. The Hill Country scenery proved that this was the setting we were hoping for. Not surprisingly, Shaffer Bend Recreation Area is popular among traditional tent campers for it’s proximity to the waters of Lake Travis. With a lovely sandy shoreline, it seems perfect for a swim in warmer weather or a prime spot for fishing enthusiasts.
Upon arrival to the park, you might be surprised by the casual nature of the check-in process. Much like any other park where you pull up to a kiosk at the entrance, pay for day-use fee and collect your park map, the Shaffer Bend experience is similar. Except, here you’ll collect your tent key, and be on your way for an extremely private escapade.
Peaceful privacy in the AMANI safari tent
AMANI is the singular safari tent in this park. It is tucked way off the beaten path atop a beautiful wide overlook of trees. Besides the hum of the generator, which powers all of the glamping necessities, you won’t hear a peep from other humans. A large front porch outfitted with stylish and comfortable furnishings, gives you a perfect perch to sit and enjoy the view. Other outdoor amenities include a gas grill and picnic table, as well as a Breeo fire pit and classic Adirondack chairs. Of course, the personal Cowboy Pool, which can be heated on cooler nights, is an extra special element for relaxation.
Margo Richards notes what she likes most about this particular lodging: “Guests of AMANI can get away to a secluded area of Shaffer Bend Recreation Area that offers unobstructed views of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. Visitors can explore the park’s trails on electric mountain bikes or on foot, then unwind in the Cowboy Pool after an adventurous day and fall asleep on a king-size bed while listening to the relaxing sounds of nature.”
Safari tent with luxe style
The safari-style Bushtec tent structure, built and furnished by GLAT USA, is impressive in its own right, but the interior was even more luxurious than we could have imagined. The tent features a comfortable king-sized bed, a well-equipped mini kitchen, a full bathroom with a shower, robes, lanterns, a writing desk, soft blankets and pillows, etc. It feels as though you’re in a posh hotel while being in the middle of nature.
Private dining with a personal chef
While the room interior makes you feel like you’re in a glamorous hotel, there is, of course, no restaurant or room service within the park. So you can drive 10-minutes into Marble Falls to enjoy one of their many restaurants. Or you can opt for one of the curated dining options offered by the LCRA Parks team. In partnership with local company Bay Kitchens Catering, a selection of meal-prep baskets can be delivered to the tent. With this scenario, you can cook your own meal on the grill, with everything you need for a gourmet dinner. However, if you want something even more extravagant, you can opt for a personal chef to come prep your dinner on site. Bay Kitchens Catering’s Chef Cindy Crowe will grill up your three-course meal for you, letting you sit back, relax and enjoy the gorgeous sunset.
Whether you choose to DIY or invite Chef Crowe to serve you, the menus offer a great selection of fresh campsite delicacies with a gourmet twist. We opted for the “Serengeti Menu” which started with a salad of baby greens, strawberries, oranges, pecans and feta. We grilled up trout along with potatoes and carrots. For dessert, we enjoyed cheesecake topped with berry compote and meringue.
Highlights of staying inside Shaffer Bend Recreation Area‘s 508 acres of parkland include their many trails for hiking, biking or horseback riding. As previously noted, it is also a great area for fishing and swimming in the waters of Lake Travis. We enjoyed cruising around on QuietKat electric mountain bikes. A soak in our private Cowboy Pool was the perfect cure for sore legs after working up a sweat hiking on some steep trails.
Will other luxury safari tents be added to Shaffer Bend? Margo Richards says, “LCRA Parks is always evaluating opportunities to provide unique and innovative accommodations and activities to welcome new and returning guests. Stay tuned!”
Whether or not AMANI remains one-of-a-kind or more posh accommodations pop up soon, we can attest to it always living up to its name. All who enter are sure to have a very peaceful experience.
LCRA Parks has nearly 11,000 acres of parks along the lower Colorado River, from the Texas Hill Country to the Gulf Coast with offerings such as glamping, hiking, camping, paddling, zip lining and more. For more information, visit www.lcra.org/parks. To book your stay at AMANI, visit lcraparks.reserveamerica.com.