This story was first published on 12 October 2018 and was updated on 26 August 2019.
Glamping combines luxury and style in amongst Mother Nature.
Here are 8 more of our favourite spots.
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1. Woodbury Tented Camp, Amakhala Game Reserve
If you’re not into roughing it but appreciate the romance that camping offers, then glamping is for you. This combination of glamour and camping describes a genteel way of ‘submitting to hardships’. Woodbury Tented Camp, an intimate, family-run camp with heartfelt service, turns adversities into exciting escapades. Game drives through spectacular landscapes had us searching for at least one of the Big Five – and the animal gods delivered. Boating down the Bushman’s River is a popular activity. We, however, chose to explore the reserve on horseback – no Big Five in a certain section. Waking to birdsong and having a full day of outdoor activities meant we were ready for the comfort of our luxury tent with king size bed (we could have chosen twin beds) that night. A scrumptious brunch, high tea and three-course dinner were served with friendly, local hospitality – and the sunset game drive delivered a perfect African evening, as well as tantalising
snacks and drinks. There are eight well-appointed, en suite tents and two large family tents, all on raised bases and discreetly ‘hidden’ in the bush. Just 75 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, this is a place where you can hear the bush breathe.
+27 (0) 42 235 1109, +27 (0)42 235 1141; [email protected]
Words and Photography Olivia Shaffer
2. The Dell Nature Reserve, Parys
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Only ten kilometres north-west of Parys on the banks of the Vaal River, and just an hour’s drive from Joburg, we booked in for a weekend break. There’s a variety of accommodation, from camping to luxury chalets, on offer and we opted for the Swartwildebees tent, a fully equipped, self-catering unit with a thatch roof and canvas and brick sides. A traditional open-fire braai at sunset, with a bottle wine on our private deck looking over the river, was exactly what we needed to regain our senses. A gas braai is also available. Several trails on this 280-hectare reserve, with a number of antelope species and giraffe, allow for close-up viewing, either on foot, cycling or on game drives. A small shop has basic necessities, including fishing gear, and you can rent mountain bikes and kayaks. The Likkewaan Trail, with large sections along the river, also provided us with splendid views from higher ground. We loved the no-noise, no music/TV policy, allowing us to listen to the call of jackal at night and to fall asleep to the sounds of the river below.
+27 (0) 72 486 9491, +27 (0) 82 411 7878, [email protected]
Words and Photography Riaan Hattingh
3. Monzi’s Safaris Tented Camp, St Lucia
Unlike most glamping spots, Monzi’s is in the centre of St Lucia, so the fact that it’s self-catering isn’t a problem if you’re not culinary inclined – there are good restaurant options within easy walking distance. Breakfast is offered at the camp by request. Although Monzi’s doesn’t have the wide-open spaces of a game reserve, it does offer the excitement of camping with the luxury of a warm shower and comfortable beds. The tents are on wooden stilts and the bathrooms have brick walls. Each unit is well insulated against ever-persistent mosquitos and has a raised deck for sundowners, with views over the canopy of trees that camouflage the wooden structures. The stairs may make some of the units less appealing for elderly guests. If you want to be sociable, the open central area has a well-equipped kitchen and communal cooking facilities. There is also a braai area. An essential rule, which I loved, is that no guests are to do any washing up. There are two pools with loungers for those days when you feel like just chilling. They have a strictly no-noise policy, so if you are planning a wild party with a group of friends, then this may not be the place for you. Personally, I enjoyed the peace. Take one of their safaris – groups or private – to Cape Vidal and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park.
+27 (0) 35 590 1697, [email protected]
Words and Photography Ann Gadd
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4. Thanda Safari Tented Camp, Hluhluwe
Just off the N2 between the towns of Hluhluwe and Mkuze, we discovered this Big Five gem. Our field guide welcomed us at the gate of and from that moment until the end of our stay we were treated to five-star luxury in true African-safari style. We loved our tent with its private sundeck, large bathtub and outside shower, and far enough away from other tents to afford complete privacy. The camp is partially fenced to ensure guests’ safety, and walking between the communal area and your tent is not permitted at night unless you are escorted by a staff member. The superb communal area has a swimming pool, boma, bar and lounge where we enjoyed meeting guests from across the world between game drives and meals. Highlights for us were the large numbers of game we saw on the morning and afternoon drives and, with knowledgeable guides tracking them for us, we ticked off four of the Big Five in no time – unfortunately the leopard remained elusive as always.
+27 (0) 32 586 0149, [email protected]
Words and Photography Riaan Hattingh
5. AfriCamps at Ingwe, Plettenberg Bay
To say my last two camping trips were unsuccessful would be an understatement, so the thought of camping without actually having to camp was rather appealing. That’s exactly what AfriCamps at Ingwe offers. Canvas tents in natural surrounds complete with enamel coffee mugs and the traditional campfire, but with all the creature comforts we non-campers battle to live without. This includes a fully equipped kitchen with a fridge and gas stove, spacious bathroom with an enormous shower, and beds to die for, with crisp white linen and puffy duvets. Fluffy blankets, electric blankets and a wood-burning stove put paid to those cold Plett evenings. What I loved most were the rustic touches – the use of corrugated iron and plenty of natural wood throughout ensure that these tents (there are six in total in the camp) don’t feel like you’re cheating too much on your ‘camping’ experience. But if you do want to up the glam you could always order ‘room service’ in the form of a scrumptious breakfast basket or traditional braai pack (sorry, it’s all DIY when it comes to the cooking), both delivered daily to your tent, or hire a private chef to come and do your braaiing for you. To walk it all off, there’s an easy-to-moderate two-kilometre circular forest walk that takes in parts of the indigenous forest, including an original logging trail.
+27 (0) 63 170 4222, [email protected]
Words and Photography Bronwyn Mulrooney
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6. Storytellers, Agter-Pakhuis in the Cederberg
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Lovingly named after the animals that live in the surroundings, Porcupine Place, Dassie Den and Tortoise Terrace provide an opportunity to enjoy the peace of the wild, rugged Rocklands area in comfort. The outdoors is yours to savour in Storytellers’ off-the-grid glamping accommodation. As you drive out of Clanwilliam onto the Pakhuis Pass and beyond, find yourself far away from the busy-ness of the world. Nature is on your doorstep as you soak in a hot tub, watch the rocks turn gold at the tail-end of the day, and celebrate the richness of life under the constellations of the night sky. Rest up in your hammock with a good book, walk to the dam for a refreshing dip, enjoy a wine and olive-oil tasting on the neighbouring farm, join the boulderers to scale the rock faces, and explore the Pakhuis Pass with its rock art and distinctive Cederberg character. Further afield, take a slow drive to the Bidouw Valley in flower season when it transforms into bright and boundless beauty, and to nearby Wuppertal for an interesting off-the-beaten-track excursion. Sitting snuggly between fynbos and rock, the three tented units have private bathrooms (with handmade organic soap), fully-equipped kitchens and outdoor braai areas. Your escape from the rigours of civilisation has never been so easy.
+27 (0) 27 470 0057, +27 (0) 82 862 7372, +27 (0) 71 179 7972
Words and Photography Ron Swilling
7. Sweetthorn Eco Lodge, Gamkaberg Nature Reserve
Treat yourself to a glamping getaway at this refreshingly lovely camp. Surrounded by sweetthorn, spekboom and the rounded hills of the Gamkaberg, this is a country escape to jot down and remember when you feel like being out in nature in your very own private camp. Surprisingly affordable, Sweetthorn is one of four attractive eco-lodges in the Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, easily reached from the R62 between Calitzdorp and Oudtshoorn. Three safari tents, a fully equipped kitchen, a lapa to prepare a lekker braaivleis meal and a gazebo with hammocks and a comfy sofa, make this a luxurious and special camping experience, with everything you need at your fingertips. Living up to Cape Nature’s ‘touching the Earth lightly’ credo, the camps have solar-powered plunge pools – filtered by a tiny wetland of reeds – and waterless loos, built with natural materials, make use of biodegradable cleaning agents and recycle all waste. There is something inspiring about knowing that your accommodation is a healthy addition to the planet – and that enviro-friendly tourism can be so rewarding and enjoyable. Head out on a 4×4 drive up the steep incline for breathtaking views over the Gamkaberg mountains, explore the surroundings on the hiking trails ranging from 0.7km (20 minutes) to 14.4km (6 hours), walk the labyrinth, climb the local crags and discover the variety of Klein Karoo birds. Or, just relax at the camp in your hammock.
+27 (0) 21 483 0190, [email protected]
Words and Photography Ron Swilling
8. Chobe River Camp, Zambezi Region
Set on the riverbank, opposite the Chobe National Park, a few kilometres from the Ngoma border post, this laid-back rustic camp offers superb wildlife viewing when the river is high and the Chobe floodplains fill with water. Buffalo, elephant, water-adapted antelope like sitatunga, and myriad bird species move onto the floodplains. The spectacular wildlife show can be enjoyed on the camp’s daily boat trips, a highlight of the afternoon. The day ends with a ruby sunset, best appreciated with a celebratory drink in hand. When the water is low at the end of the winter before the rainy season, the camp provides peaceful refuge for travellers and is a relaxed and favourite stopover on the way from Namibia to Botswana and Vic Falls. Glamping takes on new meaning on this African adventure, when you return from some of the best wildlife viewing to the comfort of your tented accommodation, and dine outdoors overlooking the floodplains. Quiet and birdsong lull you into grateful reverie at this natural oasis.
+264 (0) 61 427 200, [email protected]
Words and Photography Ron Swilling