Being mesmerised by the flames of the campfire under a star-filled sky is indeed special. But the night becomes magical when you add the trickling sound of a river or the reflection of the moon on a still dam.

Because of the tranquillity of water and the many sporting opportunities it provides, many campsite are situated near a dam, along a river or on the coast. Here are our top sites at the water’s edge that Wild Card members can enjoy:

Msinsi Dams: Inanda Dam, Hazelmere Dam and Albert Falls

If you enjoy water sports, then camping at one of Msinsi’s dams is where you should be. Fishing, skiing, canoeing, and boating are favourite activities along with game viewing, birding and hiking. These popular reserves are close to Durban and Pietermaritzburg, and easily accessible for a weekend camping trip. Views are incredible, and the nights peaceful.

A zebra taking a stroll next the Albert Falls Dam. Photo by Kate Collins.

Albert Falls Dam by Kate Collins

Algeria Campsite, Cederberg Nature Reserve

With the mighty Cederberg as a backdrop, and the Rondegat River singing sweet stream songs, camping along the water’s edge doesn’t get better than this. The campsites have grass and are shady, a welcome contrast to what lies beyond the site. This campsite is a good base for hiking, but if you prefer to keep cool then there are enough crystal clear rock pools for an entire week’s worth of relaxing.

De Hoop and Richtersburg Campsites, |Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

In the Richtersveld section of the park you can camp at the edge of the mighty Orange River and look across the water at Namibia. The harsh but magical landscape of the Richtersveld mountains glows a golden burnt-orange at sunset, best enjoyed from one of these secluded campsites. There are 12 sites at each camp, with newly renovated ablutions. Visitors must be self-sufficient as there are no other facilities in the park.

De Hoop Nature Reserve

De Hoop Nature Reserve by Scott Ramsay

Chelmsford Nature Reserve

Surrounding the Ntshingwayo Dam, this reserve offers great outdoor activities and camping at the water’s edge. The dam is the third largest in KwaZulu-Natal, situated on the iNgagane River which runs through the reserve. Chelmsford also hosts the largest population of oribi in South Africa.

CampingKZNChelmsford-AhmedChothia-Oct2012

Chelmsford Nature Reserve is a peaceful place where herds of springbok, blesbok and red hartebeest thrive. Picture by Ahmed Chothia

Midmar Dam

The popular Midmar Dam, just outside Howick, is great for water enthusiasts. Bicycles, windsurfers, canoes and yachts can be hired if you don’t feel like dragging your equipment along. This large expanse of fresh water and extensive meandering shoreline is great for a weekend camping trip with the whole family.

CampingMidmarDam-PeterDeGroot-Oct2012

As the sun sets over Midmar Dam, a feeling of tranquillity descends. Picture by Peter de Groot