20 top SA camping spots... according to you

2015-02-06 11:45
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We recently shared a list of 12 rustic escapes around South Africa and noticed that something about the prospect of getting right away from it all really struck a chord.

So, we decided to take things up (or is it maybe down) a notch and compile a list of the coolest camping spots around the country. We asked our readers via social media where their favourites were and got an overwhelming response for campsites in KZN and the Western Cape. From these suggestions and a few favourites of our own, we've compiled a list of spots to pitch your tent around the country.

If you have any to add, tell us in the comment section below, tweet @traveller24_sa or tag traveller24_sa in a pic on Instagram 

KZN


Cobham, South Maloti-Drakensberg Park, KZN - via Vickysimpson7 on Instagram



Situated in the southern part of the Maloti-Drakensberg park, Cobham provides a picturesque and rustic break from the humdrum of daily life. Typical of the berg area, its awash with endless vistas of grasslands, rocky gorges and valleys. The Pholela River can be found close-by.

Sites available: 
The camp is a rustic open area, so you can put your camp up anywhere within the designated area

People per site: There is no set limit, but between 6 and 8 is probably safe

Ground cover: Grass

Ablution & facilities: Small ablution block with hot showers, only four toilets

Things to do: The Pholela River flows close by, so if you're there during summer, hop right in for a swim or do some fly fishing (you can rent a rod and tackle for R55). There are a variety of hiking trails, ranging from quick 45 minute walks, to the more strenuous 15km Pholela River Trail. 

Contact: +27 (0) 33 702 0831. Fax +27 (0) 33 702 0171

Also see: 21 things to do in the Drakensberg

Dolphin Caravan Park, Ballito, KZN - Claire Eksteen via Twitter

Just another thing im definitely going to miss #southafrica #ballito #summer #sun #beach #35days #london #countdown

A photo posted by Christian Bense (@christianbense) on



The resort has a four-star rating, which means it's just about as luxurious as you can get, using your own equipment to camp. It's family run, well-maintained, close to the beach, only 20km away from King Shaka Airport and delightfully tropical, with an abundance of palm trees and lush shrubs. If, however, resort life leaves you feeling somewhat claustrophobic, it's probably not the best option for you. 


Sites available: 
More than 100

People per site: Maximum 6

Ground cover: Mostly grass

Ablution & facilities: 4 modern, well-maintained ablution blocks, laundry and communal sculleries

Things to do: The resort has a wide variety of typical holiday resort activities, such as table tennis, communal swimming pool, foosball, pool tables as well as ample areas to just relax. It's also located close to the beach, making it a convenient location for any saltwater lovers. The resort also boasts loads of good birding. 

Contact: 032 946 2187

Also see: Destination of the month - Durban

MacNicol's, Bazley Beach, KZN - Claire Eksteen via Twitter

#bazely#MacNicols#resort#sea#viewFromRoom#beautiful

A photo posted by Judy Hartin (@judyhartin) on


Located on the banks of the Ifafa Lagoon, almost halfway between Scottsburgh and Hibderdene on the KZN South Coast, MacNicol's is an excellent spot for families with little kids to kick back and relax. Best of all? When you arrive, the resort's staff actually set up your campsite for you! 

Sites available: 128

People per site: 6 people per site

Ground cover: Mostly grass, most sites are also shady

Ablution & facilities: There are eight different ablution blocks as well as other services such as laundry

Things to do: As with Dolphin Holiday Resort, MacNicol's also has a four-star rating and offers a full range of holiday-resort-esque activities - swimming pools, trampolines, jungle gyms, tv rooms etc.

Contact: 039 977 8863 

Mahai, Drakensberg, KZN - Claire Eksteen via Twitter


Located in the Royal Natal section of the Maloti-Drakensberg Park, Mahai can be found in one of the Drakensberg's most beautiful valleys, close to the legendary Mont-Aux-Sources. The campsite itself is rather large and hugely popular with nature lovers and those looking to break away from all the hustle and bustle.

Sites available: 
Mahai caters for 400 campers and caravaners 

People per site: Not stipulated, but probably 6

Ground cover: Grassy

Ablution & facilities: Ablution blocks with hot and cold water, a communal wash area and a number of electrical plug points.

Things to do: Hiking is the main drawcard for this part of the Drakensberg, but you can also get out in nature on horseback or go trout fishing at the nearby Mahai Dam.

Contact: +27 33 845 1000

Western Cape

Beaverlac, Porterville, Western Cape  – ishotimagesza via Instagram

??#thisissouthafrica #nature #love #camping #beaverlac #naturepools #lovemylife ??

A photo posted by @agi.gastinger on


Probably the most popular campsite among Capetonians under the age of 50, Beaverlac is a mere 2 and a half hour drive from the city. One of its biggest selling points is the network of pools just waiting for you to hop right in! Pet owners will also be happy to know that dogs are more than welcome to join in on the fun. Due to the popularity of the spot, booking is required. You need to apply for a spot online at least 7 days in advance of your ideal dates. 

Sites available: 
No demarcated sites

People per site: Doesn't matter

Ground cover: Grass

Ablution & facilities: There are ablution blocks, but no electricity points at the campsites

Things to do: Hike, swim, chill... repeat!

Contact:  022 931 2945

Also see: Winelands Unwound

Ebb & Flow, Wilderness, Western Cape – ishotimagesza via Instagram


A little bit of forest, a little bit of mountain, a lot of river and just a few km away miles and miles of untouched beach, that's what the Ebb & Flow campsite in Wilderness is all about. It belongs to SANParks, is incredibly well maintained, offers both spots for camping and caravans and is probably one of the prettiest campsites in the whole of South Africa.

Sites available: Lots

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass and lots of shade

Ablution & facilities: Various well maintained blocks with flushing toilets, hot water showers and a bath here or there. Braai facilities available at each site.

Things to do: there are various hiking trails in the area, row, visit Wilderness town, take a loooong walk from the campsite, all along the beach through town and back again.

Contact: +27 (0)44 877-0046

Tietiesbaai, West Coast, Western Cape – Joe Pietersen via Twitter


This pristine, protected and pretty seaside campsite is located in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve on the West Coast and has both camping and caravan spots available.

If you're one for extreme travel, you will be pleased to know that Tietiesbaai is in fact the furthest westerly destination in the Western Cape. Big shiny boulders, bright blue sea, white sand, fresh seafood... perfect for a relaxing break.

Sites available: 60

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass and ground

Ablution & facilities: Two blocks with flush toilets and solar-heated showers, braai facilities

Things to do: Fish, hike, swim if you're brave enough to take on the icy waters, explore picturesque Paternoster close by.

Contact: +27 (0)22 752-2718

Also see: Destination of the month - Romantic West Coast

Grootvadersbosch, Heidelberg, Western Cape – Sleeping Beauty via Twitter

Fire in the rain

A photo posted by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on


Hidden among the flat farmlands of the inland region of the southern Cape, is a 250ha patch of lush indigenous forest, known as Grootvadersbosch. Run by Cape Nature, the reserve is nothing short of magical and gives visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves fully in one of South Africa's rarer natural environments. The campsite itself is located just outside of the forest, is well-maintained and surrounded by beautiful views. Just take note, that this area has an average annual rainfall of 1 050mm, with drier periods between May and July; and December and January, so book accordingly. 

Sites available:
10

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass, also plenty of shade

Ablution & facilities: Well-maintained ablution block with hot water showers. No toilet paper provided, though!

Things to do: Explore the amazing forest surrounding the campsite and take your binoculars along for birding and see how many of the 196 regularly spotted species you can find. If you feel like a day outing, see what the towns in the area - known as the Explorer's Garden Route - have to offer.

Contact: 021 483 0190

Also see: 8 things to love about the Explorer's Garden Route

Free State

Glen Reenen Campsite, Golden Gate National Park, Free State - via ishotimagesza on Instagram


Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.

Although there are rondavels a-plenty, get in touch with the honest soil of the Free State by pitching your tent in the stunning, shady Glen Reenen Campsite. There are braaing facilities, well maintained bathrooms and a variety of activities to indulge in.

Sites available: 45

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass, also plenty of shade.

Ablution & facilities: Ablution facilities were recently upgraded and have flushing toilets, hot water and power points for hair dryers. Braaiing facilities and laundry services are available to all campers. 30 of the campsites have powerpoints.

Things to do: Take a drive through the 11 600 ha park and keep your eyes peeled for Black Wildebeest, Eland, Oribi and bearded vultures. Visit the Van Reenen family graveyard, check out the Brandwag buttress rock formation, the vulture restaurant and the Catherdral Cave. If you're lucky enough to have some warm weather, get your cozzie on and take a dip in the "swemgat" close to the campsite.

Contact: +27 (0)58 255 0000 and Fax +27 (0)58 255 0901

Also see: Favourite SA roadtrips

Gariep Nature Reserve, Gariep Dam


#gariepdam #clouds #ThisIsSouthAfrica #roadtrip #campsite

A photo posted by Rob Brent?? (@robbrent54) on


Located almost exactly halfway between Cape Town and Joburg, the Gariep Dam is a great spot to stop over during a cross-country road trip. The Gariep Nature Reserve provides a tranquil diversion from the busy N1 and definitely calls for a stay of more than just one night.

Sites available:
17

People per site: 5

Ground cover: Grass

Ablution & facilities: Well-maintained ablution blocks and scullery, as well as electricity.

Things to do: With the Gariep Dam right there, watersports are a major activity. Guests can also enjoy game and bird viewing 

Contact: 051-754 0026/48

Also see: 21 Unique eats worth travelling for

Gauteng and North West

Buffelspoort, Gauteng – Jacques Venter via Twitter


Less than an hour's drive from both Pretoria and Joburg, Buffelspoort is a great option for a quick weekend family break. It is an ATKV resort, which means it is very much slanted toward an Afrikaans-speaking market. As with many of these kinds of resort, there is a fully-fledged waterpark as well as a full range of facilities including everything from a hair dresser to a bottle store. 

Ground cover: Grass for camping, paving for caravans

Ablution & facilities: Beautifully maintained ablution blocks, an on-site restaurant, ATMs, hair salon... yup, you're pretty sorted while staying there. It is a resort after all.

Things to do: Everything resort-related: swimming pools, supertubes, table tennis, pool tables, horse riding, golf. You can also explore the surrounding towns - Hartbeespoortdam and Groot Marico

Contact: +27 14 572 1000

Also see: Budget-friendly family outings in Gauteng

Pitjane fishing camp in Borakalalo National Park


Welcome to the jungle! Let's do this Monday thing...

A photo posted by John William Chamberlain (@john_sa) on


This rustic camp is located on the northern shoreline of the Klipvoor Dam. The campsites are scattered around the grounds, and each has its own braai area and tap. While it is a favourite of fisherman who come and tap the resources of the fish-rich dam, it is an amazing place for anyone who wants to escape the noise of daily life.

Sites available: 20

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Mostly gravel, but some grass. Located right by the river, the vegetation is nice and lush providing lots of shade.

Ablution and facilities: Hot showers and flushing toilets in the ablution blocks. Each camp site has its own braai facilities and a tap.

Things to do: Picnics, guided walks, fishing and bird watching

Contact: (012) 729 4101/2

Also see: Revisit Gold Reef City

Eastern Cape

Coffee Bay Municipal campsite, Wild Coast

#coffeebay #surfing #southafrica

A photo posted by @bolle180290 on


Coffee Bay is a hugely popular spot on the wild coast for everyone from hardcore hippies to families with kids. And it's easy to see why... a long, lovely beach, warm waves, rolling green hills, an awesome selection of cool, laid-back restaurants and bars and a whole lot of fantastic accommodation.

What's quite nice about Coffee Bay is the fact that almost all of the backpackers offer some sort of camping option, and that most of the campsites have a bungalow or two for those who aren't too keen on tents. If your pockets are a bit flat, opt for the incredibly lush municipal campsite. It will feel like you're camping in a rain forest, and comes really cheap at only about R20 per person per night. Just a tip: lather yourself in insect repellent and keep those citronella candles burning night and day.

Sites available: 40

People per site: 6

Ground cover: grass and ground

Ablution & facilities: Two communal blocks with flush toilets and showers, braai facilities, lots of trees to hang hammocks in.

Contact: (047) 532 2445

What to do & see: Visit the incredible Hole in the Wall rock formation a few kilometers away, swim, surf, explore the rolling green hills, eat pizzas at Jah Drum, visit the hotel on the point, play soccer on the beach with the locals. Then, well, let's just be honest here, if you like indulging in certain herbs and fungi, Coffee Bay has a lot to offer.

Also see: The tropical Wild Coast of KZN

Caravan Park, Jeffreys Bay

I love this place #Kabeljauws #JefferysBay #Jbay #Lagoon

A photo posted by Jen* (@jenstrydom) on


Located on the outskirts of Jeffreys Bay, Kabeljous caravan park and campsite is easy to access and about as close to the beach as you can get. While there is also the Jeffreys Bay campsite and caravan park closer to the center of town, Kabeljous offers a bit more privacy, quiet and rest while not being too far away from shops and other commodities.

Sites available: 100

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Mostly grass, some ground

Ablution & facilities: Well-maintained communal ablution blocks, braai facilities, a tuck shop.

Things to do: Surf, swim, take long walks on the beach, visit the Billabong factory shop for cheap(er) branded clothing, explore J-Bay's intriguing shops and restaurants.

Contact: +27 (0)42 293 3300

Limpopo

Olifantspoort Bush Camp, Modimolle


A bushveld break is always a good opportunity to switch off and recharge, which is exactly what Olifantspoort is all about. Bring your bike, walking shoes and a good book or two and just soak up the tranquility of the area. There is a swimming pool on the property, providing refreshing coolness on those sweltering summer days. 


Sites available: 
10

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass

Ablution & facilities: Communal ablution blocks. Each stand has an electricity point as well as water and a braai.

Things to do: Hike, cycle, bird watch, fish, swim...

Contact:  014 717 3969

Tsendze Bush Camp, Kruger National Park



Tsendze is the Tsonga word for 'tsendzeleka' or 'to ramble around like someone lost in the bush' and as the name suggests, this camping-only rest camps is one of the most rustic in the famous park.

Located just 7 km away from Kruger National Park's Mopani rest camp, it falls into the Northern section of the park which offers an abundance of large buffalo herds and elephants. The campsites are laid out in a rough figure of eight under and around stands of ancient and beautiful Leadwood, Mopane and Apple Leaf trees.

Sites available: 30

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Gravel. An abundance of trees provide a good amount of shade.

Ablution & facilities: Ablution with hot water showers and flush toilets, scullery, braai facilities, no plug points available.

Things to do: Look out for 'Alexander', a current big tusker with rather impressive ivory, who is often encountered in the area and along the main tarred route between Tsendze and Mopani Rest Camp. Bird-watching, game drives, relax, go for a guided walk with a ranger from the Mopani.

Contact: Mopani for bookings and details +27 (0)13 735 6535/6

Mpumalanga

Blyde Canyon Forever Resort, Graskop


With breathtaking views of the third largest canyon in the world, it's almost impossible to go wrong with this stunning four-star resort. It also provides the ideal gateway location for explorations of the surrounding attractions, such as the Kruger National Park and the Panorama route.

Sites available: 
30

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass

Ablution & facilities: Two ablution blocks. Each site has electricity, a bin and a braai. There is also a kiddies park.

Things to do: Hiking, swimming, putt putt, horse riding, badminton, tennis, trampolines

Contact:  +27 (0)861 22 69 66 

Pretoriuskop campsite, Kruger National Park

Quite simply... Marvelous. #perimeter #pretoriuskop #krugerpark #christmas2014 #myhappyplace #familyvisits

A photo posted by Yolande Marx (@yolandemarx) on


Fun fact: Pretoriuskop is the Kruger Park's oldest rest camp! It's located in the south-western corner of the park, snuggled among spectacular granite outcrops, with Shabeni Hill being the most noteworthy.     

Sites available: 
45

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Sand or grass

Ablution & facilities: Well-maintained communal ablution blocks and scullery. Every stand has electricity, a bin and a braai. 

Things to do: Go on game drives! Located in the southern region of the Kruger Park, the game viewing around Pretoriuskop is absolutely fantastic. The camp also has its own pool and a cute little curio shop to browse through.  

Contact:  +27 (0)13 735 5128/32

Northern Cape

Steenkampshoek, Tankwa Karoo National Park



If you're looking for a remote campsite, Steenkampshoek is right up your alley. Only accessible with a 4x4, it's so far removed from all civilisation, you will feel like you're going back to your deepest roots. 

Sites available: 
1

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Sand

Ablution & facilities: None... you even have to bring your own water

Things to do: Hike, 4x4, chill

Contact: +27 (0)27 341 1927

Augrabies National Park campsite

Home for the next two nights - Augrabies Falls

A photo posted by tarrynshepherdson (@tarrynshepherdson) on


The National Park is home to the absolutely spectacular Augrabies Falls, where the Orange River spills over into a 56metre drop of water. Imagine going to sleep with the sound of that crashing water in your ears. Spectacular!


Sites available: 
40

People per site: 6

Ground cover: Grass or sand

Ablution & facilities: Communal ablution, scullery and laundry. Each site has electricity, a bin and a braai

Things to do: Check out the amazing Augrabies Falls (this is obvious), go on a game drive through the park, try one of the hiking trails, go on a night drive.

Contact: +27 (0) 54 452 9200


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