For those who love wildlife and adventure, Africa has always been a preferred port of call. This vast continent is home extraordinary adventures – truly, a walk on the wild side. South Africa in specific has gained tremendous popularity thanks to its beautiful geography and diverse wildlife. From lush tropical landscapes to forested mountains and sparkling blue seas, this country has plenty to offer.
Gone are the days when experiencing nature meant roughing it out in the most unglamorous locales possible. Visitors to South Africa can experience amazing flora and fauna amid the most luxurious settings possible. This has given rise to the unique concept of ‘glamping,’ As the name suggests, this is all about camping glamorously and luxuriously.
South Africa’s marvelous glamping sites have everything on offer, right from highly exclusive luxury suites to private viewing decks, personal chefs and every other luxury facility imaginable. Now you can relax by the pool on your private deck with a sweeping view of the sanctuary. Sip on sparkling wine as you watch herds of giraffes graze just outside your deck. Or wake up to a spectacular view of zebras crossing the Africa plains for their morning drink, while you enjoy a gourmet breakfast in bed.
From luxury tent accommodations nestled in sanctuaries to private lodges and more offbeat (but equally luxurious) options such as tree houses and five star trailer parks, here’s to camping in style!
Into the wild
Ever wanted to go camping in the wild, but balked at the idea of the questionable amenities available at most camping sites? Well, your prayers have been answered. Scattered across South Africa are highly exclusive resorts which let you go camping in the lap of luxury.
Royal Melwane at the Greater Kruger National Park is often looked on as the most iconic glamping experience . This beautiful property exudes the romance and beauty of a bygone age while offering every modern luxury. Visitors have the opportunity to come thrillingly close to the Big Five; unwind afterwards in the resort’s marvelous spa facility.
The Gorah Elephant Camp, the only private safari camp within the Addo Elephant National Park boasts of 11 tented suits with a stunning view of the African Plains and a personal chef to go. The elite Marataba Safari Lodge offers a luxury camping experience thanks to its enviable location at the foot of the dramatic Waterberg Mountains. The Garonga Safari Camp in the Makalali Conservancy promises an intimate wildlife encounter. Each luxury tent has a private deck (complete with a hammock) offering a spectacular view of a riverbed.
The Malana Camp at located on the outskirts of the Kruger National Park is perfect for those who want equal doses of adventure and luxury. Travelers can enjoy a range of experiences, from dining in the bush under the stars to a chasing sunrises in a thrilling hot air balloon ride and visiting the local community. Alternately, you could just settle down by the river and let wildlife come to you.
The Singita Boulders Lodge in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is well regarded for its expanse and privacy, with an enviable location along the wild-life rich Sand River. Singita translates as ‘place of miracles’ in the local Shangaan language, and it’s easy to see why. Each private suite has its own heated swimming pool – where you can lounge about, gazing on at elephants and giraffes going to drink from the Sand River. If you’re lucky, you may even get to spot a leopard.
Those looking to taste the glory of South Africa a little differently can opt for one of the country’s famed treetop lodges. But worry not, these aren’t anything as humble as the treehouses we grew up playing in. Luxurious resorts redefine living in the great outdoors – while offering a novel experience all the same.
The Tsala Treetop Lodge at Harkerville is set amidst the treetops of an age-old indigenous forest – it looks straight of out a fairytale! Encircled by lush forests extending across rolling valleys, towards the distant hills, Tsala is located in the heart of the famed Garden Route. Living is as luxurious as it gets, as the treetop suites boast of enclosed walls, a private pool and deck. Another great option is the Lion Sands Game Reserve, where lies the magnificent Chalkley Treehouse. This beautiful location, decorated with twinkling fairly lights is very romantic. You can enjoy a lavish dinner under the stars and toast to the magic of the moment. Other similarly stunning picks within the Sabi Sand Reserve include The Tinyeleti Treehouse and Kingston Treehouse.
If you’re one of those travelers who have an insatiable need to do things differently and the regular safari camps don’t quite cut it for you, here are some interesting options. The fascinating Airstream Roof Trailer Park at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Capetown provides a one-of-a-kind urban camping experience. The property boasts of a collection of remodeled trailers set on the rooftop of the hotel building with a fabulous view of the city around. Quirky, over the top and full of fun, these trailers are a must-have experience.
If you love train journeys, living aboard the charming blue Santos Express in Mossel Bay is a must. Simply known as “the Train” by locals, the hotel offers visitors to spend a few nights in a real-life train carriage. As a bonus, the hotel is located just off the inviting waters of the Indian Ocean.
This piece was originally published by in the Forbes India: Sensational South Africa edition