10 of Southern Africa’s best bush campsites

2013-08-22 08:27
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South Africa's best luxury bush lodges

South Africa has a variety of wild animals and luxury game lodges. Check out our top ten selection.

Camping in southern Africa’s great national parks and wilderness areas is one of the best things about travel on this continent. Here are 10 of the best campsites to pitch your tent in, from the rustic and wild to the family-friendly.

1. Lower Sabie Rest Camp, Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga

This is one of Kruger’s most popular rest camps and it’s easy to see why: Lower Sabie has a fantastic location on the banks of the Sabie River, great wildlife spotting opportunities, lawns for kids to play on, and a restaurant with a huge deck and wonderful view.

It costs R200 for two people on a site with each additional adult costing R62 (maximum six people per site). Contact tel 013-735-6056, email reservations@sanparks.org.

2. Cape Vidal, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, KwaZulu-Natal North Coast

This is one of South Africa’s best camps for a combination of bush and beach: it’s within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, which teems with wildlife, and a couple of metres away from a beautiful stretch of beach, which offers snorkelling, swimming and surfing. The campsite was revamped recently, and boasts spacious camping pitches, large, clean ablution facilities, and a basic food shop.

Camping costs R420 for four people with additional adults at R85. Contact tel 033 845 1000, email bookings@kznwildlife.com.

3. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Wild camping doesn’t get better than in the magnificent Mana Pools National Park. There’s the 30-site communal campsite, Nyamepi, but if you’re more of a self-sufficient, independent camper, opt for the exclusive campsites under baobabs to really be on your own in the bush (remember to take all of your provisions).

Camping in Nyampei costs R890 per site and the exclusive campsites (for six people) are R1330 per site. Contact tel +263 63 533, email reservations@zimparks.co.zw.

4. Nossob Rest Camp, Kgalgadi Transfrontier Park, Northern Cape

Kgalagadi’s most popular camp is a remote fenced-in camp on the Botswana border. Campers love it for its middle-of-nowhere location, and for its excellent hide next to a waterhole, where lions are regular visitors. While rustic, the camp does offer a large pool (there’s something special about swimming in the middle of a desert), a shop (with only basic supplies – it’s best to go well stocked up with your own food) and fuel facilities, and electricity for most of the day.

A campsite is R195 a night for two people with each additional adult R62 (maximum six people on the site). Contact tel 054 561 2000, email reservations@sanparks.org.

5. Okakeujo Camp, Etosha National Park, Namibia

One of Africa’s most famous waterholes is the centrepiece of this camp. At any given time of the day, there will be scores of animals – zebras, rhinos, elephant and lion – congregating here in an incredible (and noisy) wildlife spectacle. Benches around the waterhole offer a 180-degree view of all the action – plonk yourself down at sunset with a beer or two and you won’t be bored for hours. The campsite is spread out under trees, and while it’s large, it can get very busy in the high season (July and August). The facilities include a well-stocked shop, large swimming pool and restaurant.

It costs R200 for a camping site (maximum eight people) and an additional R100 per person. Contact tel 021-422-3761, email reservations@nwr.com.na

6. Tsendze Rustic Camp Site, Kruger National Park, Limpopo

If you want to go rustic in Kruger, this is the camp for you. At Tsendze, a camping-only rest camp in the northern part of the park, there’s no electricity, reception, restaurant or shop (although there are hot water showers), just peace and quiet in the bush. There are 34 tree-shaded sites, each of which is carved out of the bush, and some of which are alongside the security fence – great for spotting leopard and buffalo, which are often sighted here.

Camping costs R210 for two people with R62 for each additional adult (maximum six people per site). Contact tel 013 735 6535, email reservations@sanparks.org.

7. Third Bridge Campsite, Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana

If you want to get up close and personal with Botswana’s wildlife then stay at the unfenced Third Bridge Campsite, where animals, such as lion, elephant and hyena, frequently roam the camp. While this is wild camping, there are also comforts, such as hot water showers and clean ablution facilities (although you’re advised not to use them after dark).

Camping costs R155 per person. Contact tel +267 688 2221,  email xomaesites@botsnet.bw.

8. Addo Rest Camp, Addo National Park, Eastern Cape

Addo’s largest camp offers 20 spacious electrified sites and great ablution facilities, not to mention fantastic wildlife sightings, from elephants bathing in the river below the camp to nocturnal animals spotted from the floodlit waterhole and underground hide. Facilities at the camp include a restaurant, petrol station, shop and swimming pool (the best place to be during the midday heat).

It costs R190 for two people with R62 for each additional adult (maximum six people per site). Contact tel 042 233 8600, email addoenquiries@sanparks.org.

9. Ngepi Camp, Zambezi Region, Namibia

With its beautiful location on the banks of the Kavango River across from Bwabwata National Park, legendary wacky toilets (Poopa Falls and the Royal Throne are my favourites), hippo- and croc-proof river pool and fun bar, Ngepi Camp is one of the most popular places to stay on the Caprivi Strip. Fall asleep to the sound of lions roaring and hippos grunting from the riverside campsite.

Camping is R95 a person. Contact tel +264 81 202 8200, email bookings@ngepi.com

10. Croc Valley Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Five minutes’ drive from the entrance to Zambia’s flagship park, Croc Valley Camp is set on the banks of the Luangwa River on lush grounds with a campsite lying under shady mahogany trees. Swim in the hippo-friendly pool, while away lazy afternoons in hammocks dotted about the camp, have sundowners in the bar or go on game drives and walking safaris with knowledgeable guides.

Camping rates start at R58 per person. Contact tel +26 216 246 074, email charl.beukes@crocvalley.com.

Sarah Duff is a writer and photographer visit her site sarahduff.com or follow her on twitter.

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