Camping in South Africa is as iconic as the braai. Put them together and you have the perfect South African way to relax and ‘kuier’ in nature. It is no secret that there are countless amounts of camping sites in South Africa, and just a quick Google search will bring up numerous spots recommended as the best and most popular places to go and set up camp. But what about the diamond in the rough? The underdog of campsites?
Here are some of the most underrated camping spots in South Africa.
If you are someone who prefers to completely switch off when you go camping and you want to camp in a more sustainable fashion, then these campsites will work for you:
Closest Town: Alexander Bay
This is about as remote and off-grid as you will get. There is no signal and no electricity. So switching off from the world around you is totally possible at this campsite. Things to know: If you are taking a fridge, take a fully charged battery to run it. Bring plenty of water as it is very scarce in the area and although the ablutions offer a flush toilet, basin and shower cubicle – there is no water. Although it is absolutely rustic, it is also an amazing place to just be at one with nature and the wilderness. You will be treated to amazing views and wonderful starlit skies at night.
Closest Town: Underberg
Hermit’s Wood is a good place to go camping in South Africa if you still want a little bit of the luxuries, such as signal for your mobile phone and gas to cook on. There is not much mentioned about this underrated camping spot, but what you can be sure of, when you arrive at this campsite you will be met by a lot of tall trees and glorious natural surroundings. It is a 10-unit campsite and has a backdrop of Rhino Peak. If you are an avid hiker, you will be thrilled by the numerous hiking trails available to you. Do not forget to pack your hiking boots and water bottles or hydration packs.
Things to know: After a sunset picnic here, make your way back to your camp and light a fire. There’s a communal gas freezer in the washing area, two toilets and two gas-powered showers that really work well
Mara’s Camp, Matamba Bush Camp
Closest Town: Vaalwater
Mara’s Camp offers off-grid sophisticated camping at its best. At this bush camp the most striking thing is the fact that the ablution facilities are made from natural materials and blend in beautifully with the surrounding woodlands. You will be happy to know there is some form of signal here as well as gas heated showers and flush loos. One of the other big draw cards – especially in summer – is the splash pool which is located about 30 minutes away from the main campsite. If natural beauty, breathtaking views and plenty of hiking and nature walks are what you are after, this Matamba Bush Camp is perfect for you.
Things to know: There is no power at the site, it comes with all the luxury of two lovely family bathrooms with endless hot water (from gas geysers) and proper flush toilets. Both bathrooms are very spacious, and stunningly designed around huge trees. The shower floors are large rocks surrounded by concrete and pebble detail. Latte benches and hooks allow plenty of space to put belongings.
NOT SO OFF-GRID
Now although camping in South Africa is mostly so that you can get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, you may want to have some access to electricity and signal so that you can stay somewhat in touch with the world around you – while enjoying nature.
Here are the underrated camping spots in South Africa where you can still have a little luxury:
Algeria Campsite, Cederberg
Immerse yourself in the cultural and natural landscape of this wilderness and enjoy the amazing sunshine and blue skies. This is the perfect camping spot especially if you want a little bit of the home comforts but still have the feel of nature. The Cederberg area is always great for family getaways and outdoor enthusiasts and this underrated campsite is no exception. It has rock pools for the older kids to cool off in and lots of space for the younger ones to run off their energy. Algeria campsite is one of those places you do not often hear about but really should be visited and experienced by all.
Things to know: There are power points, ablution facilities and the road to Algeria is one of the easiest ones to navigate. Algeria is a peaceful, grassy area on the Rondegat River. It has 13 self-catering cottages and 48 campsites for tents and caravans. Algeria offers a welcome shady break from the sun, with crystal clear pools to cool off in during the Cederberg’s hot, dry summers.
Kudu Kaya Campsite, Baviaanskloof
The Kudu Kaya Campsite is located on a working citrus farm which makes for a wonderful experience for the whole family. It is located in Cambria. You will definitely not be bored when you visit this facility as there are day trips on offer as well as tours of the actual farm itself. If you are a bird watcher, then this is the place to be. If you prefer to not use tents, you have the option of chalets too. Everything is self catering, so do not forget to bring your camping stoves, portable kitchens and whatever else you need for a good camping experience.
Things to know: There are power points, great ablution facilities and the campsites are situated by a beautiful stream under Yellowwood trees. The chalets and campsites are both located on the working citrus farm “Ysrivier”. Enjoy our hospitality in a safe and rustic environment.
Yellowwood Forest Campsite, Morgan Bay
This campsite is maybe not so underrated but it really should be visited, especially if you have children. It is a perfect place to experience everything nature has to offer and some extras. There is an opportunity to go horse riding, surfing, rock climbing, hiking, nature walks and canoeing. Suited to happy campers in tents, off road trailers, roof top tents, over landers & caravaners seeking the rustic life.
Things to know: There are power points, ablution facilities and if you prefer not to be in a tent but still want the camping feel, there are chalets available. Expect an unpretentious & rustic experience with self-catering accommodation and camping, just 1.5 km from the Morgan Bay beach.
Now that you have been introduced to some of the lesser known and underrated camping sites in South Africa, hopefully you have found a new spot to take a much needed break this December holidays. On that note, remember to be fully kitted out especially if you are looking to try out the off-grid campsites. Thankfully you can get just about everything camping related and more on our website, so whether you are opting for off-grid camping or not, we have you covered.