There’s nothing quite like sitting around an open fire under the stars listening to the night sounds in the African bush. For those who don’t mind roughing it, there are many beautiful places to set up a tent in South Africa. It's easier than it looks and well worth the effort.

Did you know?

Although the Kruger's bushveld camps are in very remote areas, day and night guided game drives are usually available.

Some of the best campsites in the country are to be found inside its many national parks and nature reserves, where visitors are well provided for in the form of clean ablutions, barbecue (or braai, as it's known locally) facilities and even, in many instances, power points.

The best campsites will offer level, shaded sites and often a swimming pool, natural rock pool or river to swim in. And the best part of all is that the cost is a fraction of what it would cost you to sleep indoors.

In the Kruger National Park, the larger camps also provide coin-operated washing machines (a great boon for travellers) as well as outdoor kitchens equipped with hot plates and water boilers for convenience.

Among the best of the Kruger’s larger campsites are Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Pretoriuskop and Letaba, while the smaller camping-only sites at Maroela, Balule and Tsendze offer a more rustic, wild experience without too many additional conveniences.

Airline luggage limitations may mean you have to buy some basic gear only after you arrive in South Africa. Fortunately many shops specialise in outdoor gear, such as Game, Mr Price Outdoors and Cape Union Mart, which can be found at any of the major shopping centres in the country.

If you are able to bring your own tent and sleeping bag, it’s easy enough to pick up the kitchenware you might need, along with a couple of cheap fold-out chairs and inflatable mattresses.

It’s also sensible to travel with a cooler box to keep your food chilled (you can top this up with ice at most bottle stores or in many convenience stores).

For those who wish to sleep under cover, there are also several companies that hire out camper vans (such as Britz or CamperHire), although this will drive the price of your holiday up a bit.

Large resorts with self-catering facilities, as well as many backpacker establishments, also offer camping facilities, as do many farms. Many municipalities have campsites but these are not all of a consistent standard.

Some campsites to consider:

  • The Cederberg in the Western Cape, where you’ll find mountain campsites close to rivers with natural swimming pools. Consider Driehoek Farm or Algeria next to the Rondegat River.
  • Along the Garden Route there are several great places to camp. Consider staying over at Storms River on the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. It’s as close to the sea as you could possibly imagine. Or Forever Resorts near Plettenberg Bay, which lies on the Keurbooms River, where you can paddle in a canoe.
  • The Wild Coast is also renowned for its beautiful camping sites next to the sea. Spots like Double Mouth, Morgan’s Bay and Coffee Bay are all popular.
  • In the Magaliesberg, to the west of Gauteng, there are also good campsites, among them Mountain Sanctuary Park, which has a great swimming pool and many hiking trails.
  • The spectacular Drakensberg region in KwaZulu-Natal is another hikers’ paradise, with many campsites run by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife authority. Among these, both Mahai, in the Royal Natal National Park, and Cobham are popular.
  • For bush camping, the Kruger is always a good option, as are the Addo, Mapungubwe, Marekele, Golden Gate and the Karoo national parks.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

SANParks Reservations
Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

CapeNature
Tel: +27 (0)861 227 362 or +27 (0)21 483 0190

Best time to visit

The winter months (May to August) are popular for camping in the bush, while coastal locations are more popular in summer (November to February).

Get around

Self-drive

What will it cost

A campsite usually costs between R100 to R200 a stand per day, accommodating around six people. Prices vary according to facilities.

Length of stay

As long as you choose.

What to pack

Tent, sleeping bag, inflatable mattress, camp chair, kitchen utensils, mosquito repellent.

Where to stay

There are campsites throughout the country, many located in exceptionally scenic areas.

What to eat

Some campsites have restaurants but prepare to self-cater.