Feel like the adventurers of old when you stay in a safari tent. These days they come with comfy beds, stylish decor and even en-suite bathrooms. By Magriet Kruger
Gamkaberg Nature Reserve, near Oudtshoorn
Everything at Gamkaberg speaks of the comfort and style you’d associate with a first-class luxury camp, from the earth-toned interiors to the hammocks strung up in the chill zone. But here you can relax on your veranda or take a dip in the plunge pool without paying an arm and a leg. And you can do so in the knowledge that you’re touching the Earth lightly. Each camp’s eco pool is filtered by reeds rather than chemicals. Creature comforts are provided for by solar power, gas appliances and eco toilets. The reserve’s commitment to green technology earned it a place in the top 5o list of Africa’s Finest, a book on the most sustainable tourism lodges on the continent.
Good to know: Gamkaberg also matches luxury lodges when it comes to privacy. The reserve has four eco lodges (tented camps) and each is rented out in its entirety, so you’re guaranteed total seclusion. With its honeymoon suite-style tent and wraparound deck, the new Xami lodge is perfect for couples.
Rates: From R1,130 for the two-sleeper Xami lodge to R2,600 for the eight-sleeper Tierkloof lodge. Contact CapeNature Central Reservations on +27 (0)21 483 0190 or www.capenature.co.za
Camdeboo National Park, near Graaff-Reinet
Camdeboo might be home to the Valley of Desolation, but there’s nothing cheerless about this tented camp. In fact, the communal braai area is ideal for long fireside chats. Choose between four rustic furnished tents, each sleeping two campers and equipped with a braai, fridge and two outdoor chairs, for a night under the Karoo’s bright stars. Known for its sweet solitude and giant dolerite pillars, Camdeboo boasts some 250 bird species. What better way to wake up than to their dawn chorus? Be sure to hike the 1,5km Crag Lizard Trail for the best views of the Valley of Desolation and Karoo landscape.
Rates: R742 for a two-sleeper tent. Contact SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0)12 428 9111 or www.sanparks.org
Inanda Dam and Resort, near Durban
This tented camp offers a bush break within easy reach of the big city and without the need to sacrifice comfort. Each four-bed tent boasts an en-suite bathroom, inviting armchairs and soft white linen. The dining area on the veranda looks out over the dam’s sparkling waters and thanks to your own kitchenette, fridge and braai, there’s no need to budge from the spot. But don’t miss out on what the reserve has to offer. Inanda is a playground for adventurers, with water sports, fishing, picknicking, birding and ravine forest hikes. Read more in the spring 2018 issue of Wild magazine.
Good to know: Leave enough time to enjoy Inanda Dam. You can rent a canoe to explore on your own steam or climb aboard the Spirit of uMngeni and enjoy being ferried around. An hour-long dam cruise costs R140 an adult, R75 students and pensioners, R50 schoolchildren. Departures at 10:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 16:00 in summer.
Rates: R1,200 for a four-sleeper safari tent. Contact Inanda on +27 (0)31 766 9946 or www.msinsi.co.za
Marakele National Park, near Thabazimbi
These lavish tents on the banks of Tlopi Dam are fully furnished, with a kitchen and private bathroom. The main attraction is the private deck, which looks across the water to the iconic outcrops of the Waterberg. With a built-in braai and a dining area, the deck is where you’ll want to spend most of your time, watching for animals that come to drink at the dam and enjoying the spectacular sunsets. Marakele is home to endangered Cape vultures and a drive to the top of the massif, where you can watch them ride the thermals, comes highly recommended.
Good to know: Marakele National Park has two tented camps. Bontle Rest Camp is situated in the woodlands section of the park and includes four family safari tents sleeping four people each.
Rates: From R1,468 for a two-sleeper tent. Contact SANParks Central Reservations on +27 (0)12 428 9111 or www.sanparks.org