From grasslands to fynbos: SA camping spots for every ecosystem

2018-10-22 10:27 - Gabi Zietsman
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South Africans sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in a country with such a grand biodiversity that's the envy of the world.

We have one of the six floral kingdoms in the world in the Cape and some of the most prestigious national parks that ensure our ecosystems thrive under environmental and human-induced pressures.

SEE: Getting fishy: What you should know about SA's 19 marine protected areas

There are nine terrestrial biomes that make up our provinces, which doesn't even cover our marine eco-regions, all of which are important to providing us with water, healthy soil for agriculture and protecting us from extreme weather. 

And what's the best way to learn more about these eco-systems? Camping in them of course!

Saffas love roughing it out in nature, and luckily there are hundreds of sites to be found across all the ecosystems, whether you're looking for bush, desert, beach or mountain.

ALSO SEE: Marico recognised as SA's 10th UNESCO Biosphere Reserve

Discover these with our pick of the top campsites in each biome.

Albany thicket

Where in SA: Western parts of Eastern Cape.

Best campsite: The best place to camp is in Addo Elephant National Park's main rest camp, perfect for exploring the giants of the land that make their home in the Albany thicket. You can also camp in the middle of the bush at the Spekboom Tented Rest Camp where you can watch out for nocturnal animals at the nearby watering hole.

Desert

Where in SA: Northern parts of Northern Cape.

Best campsite: One of the top camping spots in the country is in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, under thorn trees on sun-soaked sands inhabited by springbok and lions. You can either camp at Twee Rivieren, the largest rest camp in the park, Mata-Mata Rest Camp on the banks of the Auob River or splurge on one of their unfenced camps nestled in the red dunes of the Kalahari.

SEE: A guide to the Kalahari Red Dune Route 

Forests

Where in SA: Along the Garden Route.

Best campsite: Surrounded by lush greenery and easy access to beautiful hiking trails, the Ebb-and-Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness is one of the most popular spots on the Garden Route, where you can explore the rest of Garden Route and check out the Wilderness beach and Touws River.

Fynbos

Where in SA: Western and southern parts of Western Cape and south-western parts of Eastern Cape.

Best campsite: The Cape Floral Kingdom is quite expansive, but one of the best places to check out fynbos is in the Cederberg Wilderness Area. One of the best hikes in Cederberg is to the Wolfberg Cracks, which has the easiest access from the Sanddrif Holiday Resort campsite, which is also a short hike away from a big rock pool to cool off in. 

WATCH: Explore the wonders and secrets of Cederberg 

Grassland

Where in SA: Eastern parts of the country over Eastern Cape, KZN, Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West.

Best campsite: You can embrace your inner Wakandan in Golden Gates Highlands National Park, the best example of grasslands, and camp out at the Glen Reenen Rest Camp for a closer experience to nature. Nearby you can also learn more about local history at the Basotho Cultural Village. 

WATCH: #BlackPanther: You can visit Wakanda IRL at Golden Gate National Park


Atlantic Ocean Coastal

Where in SA: West Coast of SA.

Best campsite: Near Paternoster is the beach campsite of Tietiesbaai within Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, where the sound of crashing waves is your only alarm in the mornings. Another spectacular sight at this campsite is the stunning sunsets disappearing over the Atlantic Ocean.

SEE: 6 Things to love about the West Coast Way 

Indian Ocean Coastal

Where in SA: East Coast of SA.

Best campsite: One of the best diving spots in the country, maybe even the world, is at Cape Vidal in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Here you can camp inside a dune forest with the beach just a stone's throw away.

Nama-Karoo

Where in SA: Northern parts of Western Cape, north-western parts of Eastern Cape and central Northern Cape.

Best campsite: The best camping can be found in the Karoo National Park where the Nama-Karoo plantlife is abundant. Ancient fossilised creatures on display show how the landscape has changed over millions of years and modern endemic wildlife roam around the park living their best lives.

SEE: SA Road Trips Mapped: Highlights of the Karoo Highlands Route 

Savanna

Where in SA: Northern parts of SA and the extreme eastern parts of SA.

Best campsite: For the most savanna experience in the country you have to head to Kruger National Park, and try and get a booking at its wide variety of campsites. You can either camp in one of the main rest camps like Berg-en-Dal or Lower Sabie, or you can opt for fewer crowds at the satellite camps like Balule, Malelane, Maroela and Tamboti. 

Succulent Karoo

Where in SA: North-western parts of Western Cape and western parts of Northern Cape.

Best campsite: Lined up right on the beach, the Namaqua Flowers Beach Camp is luxury, tented accommodation in the heart of some of the most beautiful locations in the Northern Cape. It's also close to the entrance of the Namaqua National Park, where the succulent Karoo explodes with colour in springtime.

SEE: Glamping between the ocean and flowers at this Northern Cape beach camp 

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