Whether you crave open landscapes to feed your mind or mountain country to stimulate your emotions, there is a place for you on the South African map. A camping holiday is not about the equipment or the planning; it's about the journey, the destination and the adventure.
What destination features interest you? Is it jaw dropping scenery, stunning seascapes or the mysteries of the forest? Are you following a bucket-list, or wanting to see some of the Earth's last great wilderness areas? For many it's about the activities – how to keep your kids busy and what you can do to forget about day to day worries and live in the moment.
To help you choose, here are 5 of the Best Camping Spots in South Africa:
Situated just 2 hours northwest of Durban, this World Heritage Site is a must see. You will be moved by the stunning mountain scenery and the wealth of outdoor activities available. There are magnificent views around every corner and each of the 4 sections of this huge KwaZulu-Natal national park has something unique to offer. Visitors can enjoy hikes, walks and trails (including overnights in caves), view amazing San rock art (500 sites) and magnificent flora and fauna, or go fly-fishing, boating, biking, swimming and horse riding. There are at least 15 camping sites available.
Addo is a mega reserve, which means it's got the lot. You will be amazed at what you can do and see in this exceptional Eastern Cape national park – one of the biggest in South Africa. For a start you can enjoy malaria-free Big Five safaris (with night drives) and hikes on one of the largest coastal dunefields in the Southern Hemisphere. Addo covers a vast area which includes the semi-arid Karoo, part of the Zuurberg Mountain Range, the Sundays River and a marine-protected reserve. Enjoy guided game drives (or hire a hop-on guide), self-guided game drives, fishing (fly, surf and freshwater), walks, hikes and trails (including guided horse trails and a 4x4 adventure) and bird watching. Camps are located in various areas, with the main camp featuring a flood-lit waterhole. All this can be enjoyed after a short drive from Port Elizabeth (about an hour).
The Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park falls within the Eastern Cape boundaries and you can reach it from Port Elizabeth (3 hour drive) or Plettenberg Bay (45 minute drive) on the N2 highway. There are 2 Tsitsikamma rest camps, Storms River and Natures Valley. Storms River is known for its exciting coastline and adrenalin activities; at camp you can snorkel and scuba dive, enjoy walks, hikes and trails (including the renowned Otter Trail and more) or go boating. Nearby enjoy bungi jumping, tree-top canopy tours, climbing, kloofing and biking. Natures Valley forest camp offers walks, hikes and trails plus canoeing, sailing and boating on the estuary, there is also a pristine beach.
Cederberg Nature Reserve in the Western Cape
This World Heritage Site is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom and a national treasure in itself. You'll find dramatic stone formations and soaring peaks with uncommon sub-alpine habitats. This wilderness area was also favoured by an ancient race that left an incredible legacy of rock art paintings – some sites are open to the public and others can be found on hikes. The Algeria campsite is visually stunning and you can swim in the beautiful clear waters of the Rondegat River. General activities include mountaineering, biking and spectacular walks, hikes and trails (with overnights in caves). The Cederberg is accessed via the West Coast Road and can be reached in about 2 hours when driving from Cape Town.
Shongweni Dam and Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal
See great wildlife at this beautiful game reserve, which is just 30 minutes from Durban by car and ideal for quick getaways into nature. Enjoy stilted tent sites at the edge of the water and other more rustic options. The sun-dappled dam is great for fishing and non-motorised water sports, or you can go on guided game drives and walks. Other activities include rock climbing, birding and exciting bush meals. An alternative option nearby is Cape Vidal