I will be the first to admit I hated camping when I was younger. I wanted five-star service minus the bugs and dirt, please. But since growing up and fostering an appreciation for the great outdoors and music festivals, camping has become a go-to on weekends, holidays and impromptu adventures away. Nothing beats hiking the nearby wilderness and being bundled up by campfire staring at the stars!
Whether you prefer disconnecting on the beach, frolicking in the forest or losing signal in the mountains, campsites in South Africa have something for everyone.
Here are some of the best campsites in South Africa!
- Mahai River Campsite, Drakensberg -
In a valley surrounded by the majestic Drakensberg Mountains, lies the Mahai River Campsite inside the Royal Natal National Park. It boasts numerous hiking trails from the camp varying in length, or you can take a drive and spend a day conquering Tugela Falls - the highest waterfall in Africa. The baboons are sneaky here so be sure to keep your food and belongings locked up when you are not around.
- Communal ablution and washing up facilities.
- 44 electric and 40 non-electric campsites.
- Tietiesbaai Beach Camp, West Coast -
Tietiesbaai is one of the most popular camping sites in the Western Cape. Experience campers flock here to enjoy a more basic camping experience, while spending their days hiking around the coastline, watching incredible sunsets and visiting the small town of Paternoster.
- Shared ablutions facilities with warm showers.
- No dogs or motorcycles.
- 60 camping sites, no electricity.
- Fiddlers Creek Campsite, Orange River -
Bushwhacked Adventurers' Fiddler Creek Campsite offers travellers an enviable spot along the banks of the Orange River. It is a beautiful wilderness escape with the perfect balance between glamping and roughing it. If you are feeling adventurous and have the time, book a 3 to 4-day river rafting trip that will take you into Namibia and back.
- Electricity and a built in braai area.
- 14 grassed campsites 200 m from the water.
- Hot showers with flush toilets.
- Storms River Mouth Rest Camp, Garden Route -
Camping in the Storms River Mouth Campsite inside the Garden Route doesn't get any better. You are surrounded by some of the region's most breathtaking views with plenty of opportunities to scuba dive, look out for the southern right whale coming inshore to breed or exploring the beginning of South Africa's renowned Otter Trail.
- Communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities.
- No electricity.
- Mabibi Beach Camp, Elephant Coast -
Looking for a secluded camping getaway in South Africa? Head to Mabibi Beach Camp. There's no electricity or drinking water, and you will need a 4x4 to get there, but you will be rewarded with incredible views of the coastal forest. Make your way down 130 wooden steps to the beach, and you might even spot loggerhead and leatherback turtles nesting!
- Eight sites but number 3 is closest to the beach.
- Braai area and hot showers.
- Nature's Valley Rest Camp, Garden Route -
Nature's Valley is perfect for campers who are avid hikers and bird lovers. Situated on the banks of the beautiful Groot River, explore the area with a canoe or choose one of the many day trails inside the lush forests.
- Communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities.
- No electricity.
- Kwass se Baai campsite, Namaqualand -
If you want to camp right next to the ocean and experience the West Coast raw and unfiltered - Kwass se Baai campsite in Namaqua National Park offers all that and more. Charge your camera and prepare yourself for epic sunsets and wildlife spottings like the smallest tortoise on Earth, antelope and the Namaqua speckled padloper.
- Four camping spots with windbreak walls and a braai area.
- No water or electricity, environmental toilets.
- 4x4 is required to reach the camp.
- Bontebok National Park, Swellendam -
Located along the banks of the Breede River, Elsie's Kraal offers campers stunning views of the Langeberg Mountains. Explore the nearby area by going on a self-drive game safari, kayak along the river or conquer one of the beautiful hiking trails.
- Communal picnic and braai sites and ablution facilities.
- Six campsites with electrical outlets
- Karoo National Park, Western Cape -
The Great Karoo offers travellers a vast landscape that is home to the largest ecosystem in South Africa. Its award-winning campsites can be found in a green oasis, and the park itself offers plenty of opportunities for game viewing as well as the famous Fossil Trail that depicts the geology and palaeontology of the area.
- Communal ablutions with kitchen facilities
- Washing machine and tumble drier
- All caravan sites are equipped with 220v power points.
- Umlalazi Campsite, Kwa-Zulu Natal -
Umlalazi Nature Reserve is nestled amongst beautiful sand dunes and coastal forests. It is home to one of the rarest birds of prey in South Africa as well as plenty of duiker and zebra.
- 14 campsites with electricity.
- Shared ablution areas.
- Bakgatla Resort, Pilanesberg -
If camping inside Pilanesberg National Park sounds like your idea of heaven, add Bakgatla to your bucket list. Located at the foot of the Garamoga Hill, it puts you right in epicentre to experience some of the area's best activities such as game drives, balloon safaris and hiking and spotting 35 species of large mammals and over 300 different kinds of birds.
- 40 campsites with electricity, 60 campsites without.
- Shared ablution facilities.
- The Baths Resort, Citrusdal -
Just 18 km from the small town of Citrusdal, campers will find the rustic The Baths Resort. It is home to mineral rich hot springs and hiking trails with beautiful views over the Olifants River Valley that make for a relaxing weekend away.
- 25 caravan and camping sites
- Shared ablution and electrical points
- Braai areas
- Platbos Forest, Gansbaai -
Camp in the southernmost forest in Africa, beneath Milkwood and yellowwood trees - some over 1000 years old! Platbos Forest is one of the best camping sites in the Western Cape to get off the grid and spend your days hiking through the forest, horseback riding or exploring the nearby beach.
- Open-air hot shower, fully equipped kitchen, no electricity but gas is available for cooking
- Two already pitched tents included in the price and all linen, towels and bedding are provided
- Tweede Tol, Western Cape -
Located roughly one hour from Cape Town, is one of the most beautiful camping places in the Western Cape. Tweede Tol forms part of the Limietberg Nature Reserve and is teething with wildlife, fynbos and numerous hiking trails.
- 20 standard campsites and 7 fenced off private sites.
- Designated braai areas, hot showers, and communal ablution facilities.
- No electricity
- Monk’s Cowl Campsite, Drakensberg -
Named after the peak between Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak in the Northern Drakensberg, Monk's Cowl rest camp is a gateway to some of the most scenic mountain views in Africa. It is one of the most scenic camping sites in the Drakensberg and is a haven for avid hikers with routes varying from a few hours to several days.
- 12 electrical 26 non-electrical campsites
- Braai facilities
- Communal ablution blocks with hot showers and flush toilets.
- Letaba Rest Camp, Mpumalanga -
Situated in a thriving green oasis inside the Kruger National Park, Letaba Camp is one of the oldest and largest camp sites. The best part? You don't even need to leave the camp to view the wildlife with bushbuck wandering freely and plenty of opportunities to spot the varied bird population - especially owls.
- 66 tent or caravan camping sites with electricity
- Communal ablution and cooking facilities
What are your top campsites in South Africa?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hey, I'm Lauren! I'm passionate about inspiring young South Africans to travel for less and sharing my experiences and how to navigate the endless visa paperwork along the way. When I'm not busy preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse, I'm having a travel fail somewhere and geeking out in countries all over the world. Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!