The true beauty of South Africa is the mystery of its long, winding roads and ever-changing landscapes. You’re almost always guaranteed mountains, beach, or forest views, wherever the road takes you. These are ten unique places throughout the country that make for some of the best areas to find your ideal camping spots… Together, we will take a journey along the coast, starting from Cape Town and ending in the Kruger National Park. Cape to Kruger – let’s go!
The Western Cape camping spots
1. Kommetjie, Cape Town:
First up is a quaint, little beach town situated on the Cape Peninsula called Kommetjie. Directly translating to the ‘little basin’, Kommetjie is known for its serene lifestyle and calming oceans. Its beaches are vastly untouched and a real, rustic vibe blesses this beautiful place.
Your camping spot: Imhoff Caravan Park
Situated on “Long Beach” (a whole 7km of unspoiled beach), this sweet haven is a sure place to call home for a few days. Take some time out to get in the ocean, bask in the vibrant, African sun and relax. Peace is a word that definitely comes to mind at this camping spot. This is by far one of the best camping spots on the list, so don’t miss it!
2. Wilderness, Garden Route
Leaving Cape Town, you’ll find yourself along a rather scenic route known as the N2. You can opt for the mountainous Route 62 for a more authentic off-roading experience, but for the sake of this article, we will be cruising the coastline. Wilderness is just as it sounds: wild, rural and green. It’s basically a coastal town in the heart of a forest, and the energy of the place is enough to back it up. There are many wonderful places to stay here, but what’s better than in a National Park?
Your camping spot: SANParks’ Ebb and Flow Rest Camp
Along the banks of the Touws River, lies this peaceful, little campsite. You can go for a swim, paddle in a canoe along the river or take a leisurely walk around the town for some delicious local cuisine. There’s also a variety of hiking routes and bird-sightings, so you really are spoilt with a naturist’s dream.
3. The Crags, Nature’s Valley
Driving further along the N2, you’ll leave the Garden Route and discover another picturesque area called Nature’s Valley. To the left of you, you’ll witness never-ending mountains, and to your right exist the vast forests of the Tsitsikamma. Here lies a very special place to park up for the night.
Your camping spot: Wild Spirit Backpackers and Lodge
There are just too many ways to describe what makes this place so special and unique, so you’ll just have to visit! All jokes aside, they’re a family run business that has literally built this sacred space from the ground up and truth be told, staying at Wild Spirit will change you forever. Aside from the indigenous forests and mountains featuring as the backdrop to their hand-built wooden deck, they cook the most amazing food in African “Potjie” and host spiritual evenings around a fire using traditional drums under the night’s sky. There are many hikes through the rainforest on the property, too – go searching for the waterfall, it’s the best!
The Eastern Cape camping spots
4. Addo Elephant Park, Addo
A couple of 100km out of the Western Cape border, you’ll find yourself in the heart and soul of the Eastern Cape. Addo Elephant Park is far more than its humble name suggests. Obviously, you’ll find elephants in abundance, but you’ll also witness many zebra, buffalo, birds, and snakes along your drive. You may even be lucky enough to sight a lion in the veld or a hippo bathing in a lake! The park stems over 630 square miles, so there’s a whole lot of land to explore, and staying in any of the camping spots is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in the bush life of South Africa.
Your camping spot: Homestead BnB
The surroundings of Homestead are that of a luscious, paradise-like garden, with an array of beautiful plants and tall trees. They’ve been running for over 15 years and offer breakfast included in their camping rates. Their location is less 2km drive into the park, and well worth the visit. You’ll also find a couple of bars in the area that are perfect for mingling with the locals after a long day’s sight-seeing!
5. Hogsback, Amathole Mountains
It’s time to take a little trip inland to discover one of the best-kept secrets of South Africa (perhaps not a secret anymore!). Hogsback and its forests have been known to inspire many famous artists, including Picasso and more recently, J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing of the Lord of the Rings. This is no wonder as the scenery is almost overwhelming in its beauty, and is ideal for the outdoor adventurist who loves a decent hike or two!
Your camping spot: Away With The Fairies
Away With The Fairies is a refreshing bundle of joy. They are a laid-back, little community of nature-lovers, who have created something really amazing. In homage to their name, they’ve added a touch of the mythical to its surroundings, and a very special bath feature you have to try out! Think outdoor bath in the mountains and expect better than you can imagine! Pure serenity. They are also situated right at the entrance of the village, meaning easy enough access to your everyday needs.
6. Coffee Bay & Hole In The Wall, Wild Coast
Leaving Hogsback, we make our way back to the coast… Be warned: Making a trip to Coffee Bay is not for the light-hearted. With easily a 2-hour drive along a road that has barely had any attention in a very long time, you need patience and a little humor to get you through. However, once you’re in the heart of it, there’s no place else quite like Coffee Bay. This is about as rural as you can get in South Africa, and it is incredibly special. Think Xhosa rondavels (huts), sloping hills, and an ocean that’s warm all year round. The Wild Coast (formerly known as the Transkei) is one of the most undiscovered parts of South Africa, and perfect for equal doses of culture and relaxation.
Your camping spot: White Clay Resort
The White Clay Resort is located between Coffee Bay and nature’s wonder of the Hole In The Wall, nestled in the cliffs overlooking their private beach. All of their accommodation is ocean-facing including their restaurant and they have a fully stocked shop for all your needs. Be sure to get up for sunrise and capture the essence of this spectacular place.
KwaZulu-Natal camping spots
7. Umzumbe, South Coast
As you enter the sub-tropical climate of the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa, the weather’s not the only thing you’ll notice. The drive itself is something of a wonder, and the beaches clean up pretty nicely, too. Many people are only aware of Durban (the city of KZN) and know little else about the province, yet there is so much to see! In the little town of Umzumbe, lies an awesome surfing community and even better waves! If you’re looking for a holistic beach retreat, this is your place.
Your camping spot: Umzumbe Surf Camp
At this uniquely rebuilt space, Umzumbe Surf Camp offers so much. Beautiful scenes, yoga at sunrise, and a whole lot of surfing! You can choose to do one of their best-selling surf and stay packages, or go your own way. Either way, be sure to spend some time with the owners, Ali & Rich. They are a couple of Durbanites dedicated to the stoked life of surfing, and make for really insightful conversation – and of course, a good beer or two!
8. Cathedral Peak, North Drakensberg
Somewhere nestled in-land from Umzumbe is another unique piece of nature. The Amphitheatre is a naturally-formed mountain bowl in the Northern Drakensberg (translating to Dragon Mountains). Here are some of the best hikes you can experience in South Africa (after Table Mountain of course!), and the location itself is utterly mind-blowing. Driving here can also be quite a challenge… But do-able nonetheless!
Your camping spot: Amphitheatre Backpackers
It’s hard to know where to start with this place as it most certainly leaves an impression! Their whole vibe is entirely South African and really pays homage to its roots with its thatched buildings and the re-use of natural materials. They cook authentic food every evening, accompanied by live music, and there’s an opportunity to ‘sing for your supper’ if you fancy it. They have recently introduced solar power to heat their water and you are wholesomely encircled in this natural discovery. If there was ever a place to park up and watch the stars fly by, Amphitheatre is it. Breathe in all that good air, and embrace your surroundings. They’re truly wonderful to behold.
Gauteng camping spot
9. Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, Bronkhorstspruit
As we make our way to the final stop of our trip in the Kruger, we are blessed with a unique opportunity to see some more wildlife, up close in the flesh. Less than an hour’s drive from OR Tambo Airport, on the border of Mpumalanga and set deep in the midst of nature, lives Ezemvelo Nature Reserve. They’ve actually named their accommodation after the reserve, so don’t worry if you get the two mixed up – they are the same place!
Your camping spot: Ezemvelo Nature Reserve
Aside from game-driving, you can head up to the river to go fishing or grab a couple of mountain bikes to cruise around on. Ezemvelo is a big supporter of sustainable eco-tourism, youth education, and conservation awareness, so rest assured, you’d be supporting a great cause. A little tip: if you’d like to get away from their main campsite, there’s a little secluded river camp for that extra bit of privacy we all need from time to time!
Mpumalanga camping spot
10. Kruger, Kruger National Park
Ah, the piece de resistance! The final piece of the puzzle! The almighty, world-renowned Kruger National Park. This natural habitat is home to more than 147 animal species – spanning over 7,523 square miles! As you can imagine, it’s near impossible to recommend only one campsite in the whole entirety of the Kruger… There are so many camping spots here you will have no trouble finding a place to stay overnight. However, there is one absolutely worth mentioning.
Your camping spot: Tsendze Rustic Camp Site
Derived from the Tsonga word, “Tsendzeleka”, its name literally means to ‘roam around like you’re lost in the bush’… This seems totally accurate for this place! It is rustic, authentic, and deep in the bush. Though it’s the newest addition of accommodation options in the park, it definitely stands out from the rest. Tsendze hosts all of your camping needs including water, shade, bins, braai (bbq), and… outdoor showers! They don’t currently have any power points though – so be sure to get your electrics charged if needed! Word has it there’s a slightly over-zealous elephant named Alexander – be on the lookout for him as he’s often seen roaming the area!
At last, you’ve made it. It’s time to light a fire, sit back and enjoy! This is your once-in-a-lifetime experience, and there truly is no better place to experience it than in the heart of the African bush at Tsendze.
So, here’s to your Cape to Kruger trip and all you are due to discover along the way… You are guaranteed to be blown away! There are so many other camping spots that you will discover and of course, it’s handy to have a read of our guide to overnight parking too.
Have you been living the Buslife in South Africa? What other places would you recommend? Let us know in the comments!