4X4 vehicles driving along the Nossob Eco Trail, South Africa | Photo credits: Bryan Milne

Must-See Camping Sites You Should Visit in South Africa in 2024

South Africa’s excellent climate, good infrastructure, diversity of wildlife and landscape and great scenic beauty make it an outstanding destination for camping enthusiasts.

From the breathtaking Drakensberg to the spectacular coastlines of the Garden Route, the country offers a kaleidoscope of landscapes that beckon adventurers and nature lovers alike.  

Whether waking up to the sounds of the African bush in a Lowveld game reserve, stargazing in the clear night skies of the Karoo, or exploring the lush forests of the Western Cape, South Africa’s many campsites promise a rewarding and memorable experience.

Here are just some of the must-see camping sites in South Africa that every outdoor enthusiast needs to be aware of:

Mara’s Camp, Matamba Bush Camp, Vaalwater, Waterberg

Wild and unfenced, Mara’s Camp is located in lovely woodland under tall, shady trees in the superlative Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province.

It’s easily accessible and only about a 2.5-hour drive from Johannesburg, so you won’t need a 4×4 to get there. It can accommodate up to 30 guests and can only be reserved and used by one group at a time. 

Rhino in the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg District

Rhino in the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg District

It’s an eco-friendly, sustainably built camp that blends superbly with its environment. It is one of the off-grid campsites in South Africa, so there is no power. However, two spacious, well-appointed bathrooms with gas geysers provide copious amounts of hot water and flush toilets. 

The camp has a large fireplace and braai grid. Ice and braai wood can be bought on-site, and a washing-up area is off to the side. A delightful wooden viewing deck and hide, built into a massive wild syringa tree, overlooks a small waterhole.

There are five walking and cycle routes, and potable tap water is provided. Guests can access a splash pool at the main camp, only 30 minutes away.

Algeria Campsite, Clanwilliam, Cederberg, Western Cape

The Cederberg area in the scenic Western Cape is renowned as an ideal spot for outdoor family getaways. The spacious Algeria campsite is between Citrusdal and Clanwilliam, just under 3 hours from Cape Town on the N7.

It’s in an idyllic, grassy, and well-shaded area on the Rondegat River. There are 13 self-catering cottages and 48 campsites for tents, caravans and campers. Six people and two vehicles are allowed per campsite, and all sites have power-points and braai facilities. Shower and toilet facilities are available, and firewood is for sale on-site.

Kudu Kaya Campsite, Cambria, Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area, Eastern Cape

The Kudu Kaya campsite is scenically located in the valley of the Ys River. It lies about 45 km/28 mi from Patensie on the Willowmore road, about a 2-hour drive from bustling Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

Shaded by yellowwood and other lovely indigenous tree species, 15 peaceful campsites are on offer, four of which have been converted into tented campsites. 

Tunnel near Kouga dam in the Eastern Cape

Tunnel near Kouga Dam in the Eastern Cape

The ablution facilities provide hot water showers and flush toilets. A larger campsite is available for groups and has its ablution block. Each campsite has a tap, a power-point and barbecue facilities, though you need to bring your braai grid.

Activities on offer include hiking, climbing, kloofing, birding and swimming in lovely natural rock pools. Children of all ages are welcome.

Mabibi Beach Camp, Maputaland/Elephant Coast, KwaZulu-Natal

As part of the world-renowned Isimangaliso Wetland Park, this is one of the most unique campsites in South Africa. It’s between Lake Sibaya, Sodwana Bay and Manzengwenya, about 5 hours from Durban and 3.5 hours from Richards Bay.

Its warm, crystal clear bays, breathtaking snorkelling reefs, lakes, grasslands, thickets, coastal dune forests and sandy beaches ensure Mabibi provides an unforgettable camping experience. 

Three well-equipped 2-bedroom self-catering units (with electricity) are provided. Eight private campsites without power are tucked away under the milkwood trees on the coastal dunes. Each has its tap (water is non-potable; it is too high in iron) and a braai area, but you need to bring your braai grid). You also need to get your water for drinking and cooking. 

Aerial view of a beach in Sodwana Bay, South Africa.

Aerial view of a beach in Sodwana Bay, South Africa.

The communal ablution facilities have lights, cold water and gas geysers for hot showers. Firewood can be bought at the gate. Vehicles are not allowed onto the beach; the only access is via the walkway provided.

The closest petrol station is about 60 km/37 mi away at Sodwana Bay. Please familiarise yourself with the regulations as this is a protected wildlife area. 

Sugarloaf Campsite, St Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal

This popular campsite is situated just outside the residential area of the charming holiday town of St Lucia. It’s surrounded by dense dune forests ideal for wildlife like hippos, kudus, monkeys, mongooses, bushbuck, bushbabies, nightjars, owls and duikers – even the odd leopard has been spotted! 

Activities abound in this area: swimming, fishing, snorkelling, birding, turtle tours, boat tours, game fishing, and much, much more. The renowned Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve is less than an hour’s drive away, and the Isimangaliso Wetland Park gate is just minutes away. 

Ninety-two sites, from shady to sunny, are on offer, and the camping area is mainly grassed. The campsites have water and 5-amp electrical points and are big enough for caravans and tents.

The communal ablution facilities have hot and cold water, flush toilets, and washing-up and laundry facilities. The camp has a swimming pool within two kilometres of most of the town’s shopping and other amenities.

Kleinrivier Mountain Escapes, Uitenhage, Eastern Cape

This delightful site is on a 3,000-hectare mountain fynbos wilderness area adjoining the Groendal Nature Reserve. It lies north of Kariega/Uitenhage and is 70 km/43 mi from Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).

Guests can stay in the well-equipped Dassiekrans self-catering cabins that can house 2 – 8 people or at a campsite accommodating up to 10 people. The campsite has ablution facilities, including a wood-fired donkey water heater, shower, and flush toilet. There is a covered braai area with seating.

Various wildlife frequents the area, including klipspringer, dassies (rock hyrax) and kudu, as well as numerous bird species. There are several walking and cycling trails and refreshing mountain pools to cool off in. ​A farm cottage, luxury tented camp and lodge are also available.

Oewerzicht Farm, Greyton, Overberg, Western Cape

With stunning panoramic mountain views, Oewerzicht is close to Greyton and less than a 2-hour drive from Cape Town. This working farm offers 25 well-grassed campsites on the bank of the Sonderend River. Reeded shade ports and power-points are provided, as well as modern ablution facilities and braai areas (you’ll need to provide your braai grid). 

Scenic view of landscape at Overberg district, South Africa

Scenic view of the landscape at Overberg district, South Africa

Safe tractor tubing and swimming are available in the river. Guests can bring their own canoes and fishing tackle, and bluegill or bass can be angled catch-and-release. There are hiking trails and a taxing 20 km mountain biking trail.

Guests can even arrange to have two portable wood-fired hot tubs on site! Activities in the area include wine-tasting and dining at Greyton’s fine restaurants. Farm-style cottages and tented accommodation are also available.

Hermit’s Wood, Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal

Hermit’s Wood is a remote rustic campsite in the Garden Castle Nature Reserve, the southernmost part of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park. It is about 234 km/145 mi from Durban, and its nearest town is Underberg.

Should your visit fall from 28 March to 1 April 2024, you can attend South Africa’s longest-running music festival, the four-day ‘Splashy Fen’ held on a farm near Underberg! 

Hermit’s Wood is reasonably priced and consists of a 10-unit campsite beside a grove of gum trees close to the Mlambonja River. The camp has a communal gas freezer, a washing-up area, two toilets and two gas-heated showers.

Despite its remoteness, you don’t need a 4×4 to get there. The area has numerous hiking trails of varying duration and degrees of difficulty.

Zwakala River Retreat Campsite, Magoebaskloof, Haenertsburg, Limpopo

Located 370 km/230 mi from Johannesburg, Zwakala lies on a farm in the spectacular Magoebaskloof. The owners are restoring the land’s indigenous grasslands and bush. The camp is located on the bank of the Broederstroom River next to a refreshing little waterfall. 

Debengeni waterfall in Magoebaskloof

Debengeni waterfall in Magoebaskloof

The camp has a covered, solar-powered kitchen, a flush ‘loo with a view’, an indoor gas-heated shower and an outdoor donkey-boiler-heated shower. Generous braai areas, an indoor table and benches, a fire pit, and even a pizza oven are provided. This camp offers a wonderfully tranquil experience, and birders will be delighted by the varied birdlife. 

Kruistementvlei, Piketberg, Western Cape

Situated just 150 km/93 mi from Cape Town at the top of the Versfeld Pass on the Piket-Bo-Berg, this working farm embraces eco-practices like composting, earthworm farming and recycling. It offers both camping and self-catering cottage accommodation. 

It’s advisable to book the camp for your exclusive use as there are just two toilets and one communal kitchen area. A dry-toilet system is in use. A donkey boiler heats the water for an outdoor shower. Gas is powered by solar lighting for cooking in the outdoor kitchen. A standout feature of the camp is a naturally sheltered rock firepit. 

Bushmen Rock Painting in a Cave

Bushmen Rock Painting in a Cave

Hiking, cycling, rock climbing, bouldering, swimming and ‘satellite spotting’ are all available. The farm has caves with ancient San Bushmen paintings and numerous apple, pear, persimmon, plum and peach orchards.

Due to its high altitude and chilly nights, you must also bring warm clothes.

Bokmakierie, Kareedouw, Eastern Cape

Situated 164 km/101 mi from Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), Bokmakierie on Ragels Rivier Guest Farm offers an authentic wilderness camping experience. It sits in a secluded valley in the Kouga Mountains adjoining the renowned Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area.

Positioned on the bank of a dry river bed, it’s assuredly one of the best 4×4 campsites in South Africa

Farm scene in the Baviaanskloof Area

Farm scene in the Baviaanskloof Area

The beautifully built stone kitchen area has a large counter constructed around a white stinkwood tree and is equipped with solar lighting, a gas stove and a gas fridge. The camp has three flush toilets, and a donkey boiler provides hot water for the shower.

The stunning braai pit overlooks the mountains and the riverbed, and the camp also has ample shelter should it rain. The farm has a picnic site, lots of walking, and 4×4 trails. 

In Closing

We know that with the hundreds of superb camping options in South Africa, it’s not always easy to decide where to go! We hope our article has given you a few great camping destinations.

And remember, wherever your adventures take you, Drive South Africa has the perfect car, 4×4, or campervan rental option!

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