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Tuesday, 28th May 2019

CAMPING IN THE EASTERN CAPE

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There’s a catchphrase (and a hashtag) for everything these days: slackpacking, global citizen, digital nomad, bike-packer, van life… and, it’s obvious, these folks get around. There’s a global trend towards a wandering lifestyle and, when you can work from anywhere, why wouldn’t you pack your house on your back and head out to sate that incurable wanderlust?

As an icon of South African biodiversity and natural attractions, the Eastern Cape is bursting at the seams with perfect patches of ground that have your name etched in the dirt. Well, for as long as you choose to hang your camera there, anyway… Be it a weekend away, a road trip through the region or a month-long liaison with nature, here’s the best of camping in the Eastern Cape.

THE WILD COAST

Coffee Shack Backpackers

Coffee Bay, on the Wild Coast, is either a perfect start or a perfect end to any Eastern Cape road trip: its attraction lies simply in the natural splendour and laid-back lifestyle. Coffee Shack Backpackers offers sites best-suited for 2-3 man tents with views overlooking the beach. There is no vehicle access to the campsite, so it’s not ideal for vans, however there is safe parking. Enjoy a braai, learn to surf, visit Hole in the Wall and, of course, plan your stay to experience the monthly ‘Full Moon Party’.

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Trennerys Hotel

Camping families take note: Trennerys Hotel is an ideal destination for a week- or two-week long stay. With 10 exclusive campsites offering free use of the hotel facilities: swimming pool, tennis and volleyball courts, and playground included, this is an old-school holiday resort with simply the best location. Enjoy the beach and lagoon, fishing, boat cruises and hiking on the year-round warm Wild Coast.

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Morgan Bay Caravan Park

If you enjoy waking up and walking straight into a lagoon for a swim, then Morgan Bay Caravan Park, also on the Wild Coast, is just about paradise. Located right on the edge of the Inchara Lagoon, you’ll find picnic benches and braais nestled under shady trees, with the beach just a short walk away. Morgan Bay offers a treasure trove of activities (including treasure hunting), a pristine mile-long beach and majestic ocean-side cliffs. Van-lifers can expect to want to stay awhile.

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Find out more about the Wild Coast

AMATHOLE MOUNTAIN ESCAPE

Swallowtail Country Estate

Away from the coast and into the mountains we’ll go… Swallowtail Country Estate in Hogsback has been designed specifically with caravanners in mind. Although within walking distance of town proper, Swallowtail offers a slice of tree-lined heaven for road-weary travellers. The campsite provides a refreshing and tranquil setting from which to enjoy the simply lovely views and indigenous Afromontane forest. Stay awhile and meet the fascinating locals, explore the forest and hike to Instagramable waterfalls.

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Away with the fairies

The perfect name for a special place in Hogsback, a place filled with old-world magic. Choose between a forest or grassy campsite, take full advantage of this special location complete with free yoga, incredible views, free fairy shots, waterfalls, craft beer, smoothies and more – this is a place where you’ll find friends quickly. It’s a refuge and a rejuvenating breakaway.

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Find out more about Amathole Mountain Escape

KOUGA

Innikloof

The Baviaanskloof is known to be one of the wildest places in South Africa, and one of the most biodiverse on the planet! Innikloof is located on the secluded Honey Clough Farm in the Gamtoos River Valley, adjacent to the Baviaanskloof World Heritage Site, a part of the UNESCO Garden Route Biosphere Reserve. An excellent place for active families and nature-lovers, Innikloof provides grass-covered sites in the shade of indigenous trees and, while the farm is a working citrus farm, visitors also have their pick of hikes, walks and mountain bike trails.

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Tia Ghee Tented Camp

Also located along the edge of the Baviaanskloof, Tia Ghee means ‘secluded’ in the Khoi language and is a tented bush camp nestled amongst the indigenous forest and, amidst this natural wildness, is catered and fully equipped to refresh pamper and refresh any weary traveller. The stillness is broken only by calling birds, wind rustling through the trees, a chuckling stream and the occasional bark of a distant baboon. Take along a flora and fauna book on South Africa, as this biodiverse area will teach you a thing or two about the Eastern Cape’s incredible natural heritage.

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Pabala Private Nature Reserve

Located in the lovely Loerie district near the Baviaanskloof Mega Reserve, Pabala offers visitors both permanent furnished tents and camping facilities. The camp is modelled on an earlier time, when explorers explored, and adventure lay around every corner! The on-site restaurant caters breakfast, lunch and dinner, and activities include game drives, kayaking, hiking and a photo safari.

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De Mist Cottage

Your digital detox awaits at De Mist Cottage’s River Camp, set on a working citrus and vegetable farm. Offering a farm-stay camping experience with no electricity, great fishing, fresh air and a braai lapa – this is the perfect place to stay when you need to reconnect with nature, take long, contemplative walks, connect with family on a blanket under the trees.

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Find out more about the Baviaanskloof

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: HOOKED ON THE EASTERN CAPE - 10 FAVOURITE FISHING SPOTS

ADDO

Gorah Elephant Camp

There’s no need to carry your house on your back when you visit Gorah Elephant Camp in the Addo National Park. This is glamping at its best in one of South Africa’s largest national parks. Each elegant tent has its own private deck with sublime views across the savannah, with solar power, en-suite bathroom and a comfy couch on which to unwind. Fall asleep to the sounds of the bush and wake up refreshed to another day of exploring the Eastern Cape. 

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Sitrusoewer River Camp

Settle in comfortably at Sitrusroewer River Camp, on the banks of the delightful Sundays River. Families are well catered-for with canoes, paddleskis, trampoline and a playground, while everyone can enjoy swimming, fishing and birdwatching in this unique valley settling. This is an authentic Eastern Cape holiday destination.

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Pearson Park

You’ll find the best of both worlds at Pearson Park Resort: located a mere 3km from the Mathyholweni/South Entrance to the Addo National Park and on the banks of the Sundays River, which skirts the edge of the coastal section of the national park. There’s no need to choose between a beach and bush holiday and you’ll find that there is something wonderful about the simplicity of camping next to the dunes, watching time and tide,  the sun rise and set, with the nearby option of enjoying some of the best game viewing in South Africa. Van-lifers, bikepackers and digital nomads – take note. This is a superb base from which to explore both up and down the coast.

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Addo National Park Rest Camp

Inside South Africa’s second largest national park, Addo, visitors can choose from a selection of accommodation options including on-site safari tents, camping and caravanning grounds. Spend a weekend, a weekend or a month, you won’t tire of the incredible wildlife sightings. A unique feature is the waterhole lookout point – floodlit at night – and the underground hide which allows for close encounters with wildlife at night. Facilities include a swimming pool, restaurant and shop.

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Find out more about Addo

NELSON MANDELA BAY

The Willows

On the wildside of Port Elizabeth (Nelson Mandela Bay) lies the expansive Willows Holiday Resort and Conference Centre. Small, secluded coves share space with fisherman’s gullies and dream-like rock pools for endless exploring. Nature-lovers will be enthralled by the coastal walks, including the incomparable Sacramento Trail through endemic Fynbos and coastal bush, with excellent birdlife and sightings of whales and dolphins common. This is a little slice of paradise in the heart of the Eastern Cape - you may even choose to stay indefinitely 😉

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TSITSIKAMMA

Tsitsikamma Backpackers

The Tsitsikamma region of the Eastern Cape is known as the Garden of the Garden Route and Tsitsikamma Backpackers lies in the heart of this natural splendour: the charming hamlet of Storms River. The village is located amongst the enormous Yellowwood trees of the Afromontane forest and there is surrounded on all sides by green foliage. The backpackers offers a glamping experience with tented accommodation, some with queen-sized beds, others with a private patio and chairs. As Tsitsikamma is known for its attractive adventure activities: tubing, bungy jumping and ziplining in addition to numerous forest and coastal hikes and mountain bike trails, you’ll definitely want to plan to stay for a while. 

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Bloukrantz Caravan Park

The views don’t get much better than this…the caravan park is located alongside the Tsitsikamma Khoisan Village and the world’s highest bridge bungy, Face Adrenalin. With views of the Tsitsikamma Mountains, forest and Bloukrans gorge, this campsite borders the Western Province and is an ideal location for travellers wanting to explore both Tsitsikamma and other regions of the Garden Route.

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Tube ‘n Axe Backpackers

Conveniently located in Storms River Village, Tube ‘n Axe is an excellent place to call home as you meet the locals, experience the adventure and nature of the region and settle in to the slow, comfortable pace of life in Tsitsikamma: babbling streams, whispering trees and fresh sea air. The 8400m² property at Tube ‘n Axe ensures a sense of space and privacy enjoyed in luxury safari tents. A good place to meet likeminded travellers.

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Tsitsikamma National Park

Tsitsikamma means ‘place of many waters’ and at Storms River Mouth in the Tsitsikamma National Park, you’ll see why…a wild ocean relentlessly crashes against the coastline, while the ancient Storms River Gorge feeds fresh water into the ocean via the mouth, both teeming with marine life, and waterfalls and mountain streams are plentiful. This is the start of the famous Otter Trail and Otter African Trail Run and is one of South Africa’s most popular camping grounds. Sites book up very quickly, so plan ahead and avoid during the peak summer December & January, if you like a bit of solitude.

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Find out more about Tsitsikamma

KAROO

Karoo River Rafting and Cabins

Settle in for a fabulous natural stay in the heart of the Karoo at Karoo River Rafting & Cabins. Established 3x3 tents are available for those travelling on the fly, while the campsite is grass-covered and shaded for casual camping on the banks of the Greak Brak River. Enjoy warm Karoo hospitality, the breathtaking beauty of the veld, river and mountains, big skies and exciting year-round river rafting. Beware…the Karoo gets into your heart and you may never want to leave!

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Owl House Backpackers

You’re in the heart of Big Sky Country, now. Settle in at the charming Owl House Backpackers in the hamlet of Nieu-Bethesda; sip a sundowner and watch the stars light up the night sky. Nieu-Bethesda’s unique attractions include the celebrated Owl House, fossil and medicinal plant walks, fossil museum, restaurants and shops, each with their own fascinating story. The garden is available for a tent with use of the backpackers’ communal areas. If you’re looking for somewhere with spectacular scenery and oodles of personality, Nieu-Bethesda is for you.

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Ganora Guest Farm

Ganora has recently introduced camping facilities on their cosy guest farm. This is a true slice of Karoo farm life coupled with comfortable camping. Ganora is a destination in itself, located just outside Nieu-Bethesda, in the foothills of the Sneeuberg Mountain Range. The surrounding rock formations and rich fossil beds are a testament to the deep history of the region. The farm has a rare and extensive fossil collection, well-preserved rock paintings and engravings, and offers visitors a chance to do a fossil walk, rock-painting walk or medicinal plant walk. With plenty of space to hike and bike, your Karoo farm stay may need to be extended! 

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Mountain Zebra National Park Rest Camp

The national park is located just outside Cradock in the Karoo Heartland and visitors can expect invigorating fresh air, rolling plains and an abundance of wildlife. Campsites are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be reserved, so have a back-up plan. Highlights of this lesser-known park are the cheetah-tracking walk and, its namesake, the vulnerable mountain zebra.

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Camdeboo National Park

Also located in the Karoo Heartland, the Camdeboo National Park is best-known for the unparalleled historic beauty of the Valley of Desolation. The valley formed millions of years ago and is one of the great natural wonders of South Africa. The national park not only provides visitors with excellent game viewing, but also a unique insight into the landscape and ecosystems of this majestic destination. Travellers will love the rustic, furnished tents with braai units and chairs – a place to sit back and appreciate a sunset like no other.

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Find out more about the Karoo Heartland

ROUTE 72

Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort

Route 72 on the Sunshine Coast is known for its small towns, traversed by meandering rivers, and kilometres upon kilometres of unspoiled beaches – you really can find your very own deserted beach on the Sunshine Coast. Cannon Rocks, named for two cannons retrieved from Portuguese sailing ships that sank off the coastline many years ago, is a little hamlet along the western edge of the Sunshine Coast. It’s a place for fishing, watching the waves, surfing, swimming and kitesurfing, a place of serenity and untold adventures. The Cannon Rocks Holiday Resort can be found only a few hundred metres from the beach and offers 76 superb wind-protected stands for a perfectly relaxed Eastern Cape holiday.

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Find out more about Route 72

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