There are few countries on earth you can visit with coastlines stretching along two oceans and boast diverse ecosystems and terrain. South Africa is celebrated for its big five wildlife, dramatic cliffs, winelands, and forests with lots of surprises peppered across its landscape. You can travel across the desert by day and camp along a refreshing river, pick citrus from a working farm, and see elephants all on the same trip.
Sure, hotels are plentiful around South Africa, by why would you want to stay indoors when the entire country is like an advertisement for nature’s playground? The best part is you don’t need a big budget for camping in South Africa.
There’s a campsite for nearly every budget in South Africa, and even game reserves can be found for under $15USD per person. Check the latest currency conversion before you go to determine the latest fluctuations. However, here’s a good rule of thumb to follow:
R50 (or South Africa Rand) = just over $3 USD
R50 (or South Africa Rand) = just under $3 Euro
Whenever possible, call your wish list campsite in advance. Some spots grow increasingly popular during the holiday season and require advance booking. Other campsites offer activities like horseback riding and mountain biking upon request with advance notice. It’s also wise to let them know you’re rolling up in your Happy Camper to ensure they have adequate space for your specific needs.
Ready to load up? From game reserves to the best spots for stargazing, here’s where to go camping in South Africa and come home with your vacation budget intact.
Wild gemsbok, buffalo, and giraffe graze along the Kalahari at Botsalano Game Reserve. Such reserves are usually an expensive spot to camp, however, their rustic bush camps and showers are available at around R250 per stand for 8 people, plus park fees. This is a more expensive option than other affordable options for camping in South Africa, but worth waking up to those singing waxbills.
Pro Tip : Shade consists of thorn trees and a sandy ground. Plan driving activities during the day and explore the grounds when the afternoon heat breaks.
At just R80 per adult and the first two kids free, Cobham Campsite, Southern Drakensberg, offers a basic, roomy camping option for avid hikers. Enjoy exploring the south-facing slopes of the eastern Soutpansberg to find caves and streams. Winter months are chilly and require layering to comfortably hike and play.
Pro Tip : Bring your fly fishing gear to catch fresh dinner along the Pholela River.
Wake up to mountain views at Zvakanaka Farm. Choose from campsites, cabin, or cottage with basic rates starting at R100 per person, and children under four-years-old are free. Take a hike to see birds on top of the Soutpansberg and then cool off at Zvakanaka’s communal pool.
Pro Tip : Want to explore more camping in South Africa and beyond? Mix in a stop at Zvakanaka Farm on your way to Zimbabwe to break up the trip.
Go stargazing at Kambro Accommodation and Farm Stall for grassy campsites complete with a private braai, or barbecue. Fees start at 180 per person, with each stand sleeping four. With no city lights in sight, the real draw to Kambro is the endless, uninterrupted stars.
Pro Tip : Ask about Kambro’s on-site meals with beer and wine. You can also pick-up freshly made lemon syrup, dried fruit, ginger beer, and preserves.
Fulfil your dream of sleeping in a real elephant park at Mvubu for just R160 a night, per person. This small campsite is situated in Addo Elephant National Park along the Sundays River and features quick access to the park, self-drives, hikes, and swimming. It’s not just elephants roaming the park. Keep an eye out for baboons, hippo, ostrich, and red hartebeest, among others. The park also conserves black rhino, lion, leopard, buffalo, and elephant.
Pro Tip : Call in advance to ask about acceptable vehicles. Bring your own drinking water.
Watch the sunrise over the bay from a grassy stall starting at R135 per stand, plus R55 per person. Gariep Dam campsite is ideal for kids who need a little activity beyond hiking and stargazing while camping in South Africa. Spend the day putt-putt golfing, swimming, sailing, trampolines, and guided tours to keep the family busy.
Pro Tip : Gariep Dam campsite makes an ideal stop between Gauteng and the Cape with plenty to see and do.
Greet the dawn at the South African citrus farm at Koningskop. Hop on your bike, swim, or fish before heading into the nearby mountains on the 4×4 trails. End your evening snacking on citrus and gazing at the stars from the stands and self-catering cottages starting at R120 per person.
Want to see Koningskop for yourself?
Pro Tip : Ask about the seasonally open restaurant and the campsite’s four-night stay during the holidays.
Beaverlac is a popular spot for camping in South Africa at just R60 per person and R30 per vehicle. Pets can come too for R50 each. Cool off from the South African heat along the waterfalls and take a stroll to admire the rock paintings. Chat with your new campsite neighbours over a cold beer from the no-frills, on-site shop.
Pro Tip : It’s fun to be spontaneous when camping in South Africa, but not at Beaverlac. Its increasing popularity makes it necessary to book your camping reservations in advance.
Discover a welcome reprieve at Die Mond from unrelenting rock and sand that opens up to this cozy, green campsite. By day, go canoeing, fishing, and cool off in the shade of the river bank. There’s plenty of room to set up camp along the river from the stands or self-catering cottages.
Pro Tip : While you’re camping in South Africa at Die Mond, visit Tankwa Karoo National Park for a day of hiking.
Situated along the banks of the Krom River, the family-friendly Kromrivier Campsite features swimming, mountain streams, and farm animals. For a more adventurous stay, try rock climbing, mountain biking, or horseback riding to see more of the wilderness. Rates start at R100 per person for stands and self-catering chalets.
Pro Tip : There’s no cell phone reception at Kromrivier Campsite, so come expecting to stay fully unplugged. Ask in advance about booking on-site activities.
Known for its winter snow, Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve is also a spectacular place for a summer getaway along the Spek River. Take your pick of activities from hiking, kloofing, and horseback riding, among other all-day adventures. You can also hike up to the rock pools and take a soak to escape the afternoon heat. Rates start at R55, but self-catering cottages are also available.
Pro Tip : Plan to stay a few nights, Matroosberg requires multiple night bookings over weekends.
Stay at a working citrus, potato, and tobacco farm at Kudu Kaya in Baviaanskloof. Hike up to the mountains and rock pools to cool off and enjoy views of the Ysrivier mountain stream. Ideal for agri-tourism lovers who want to see life on the farm, rates at Kudu Kaya start at R80 per person.
Pro Tip : Ask the farm owners to show you around the grounds for your own mini-tour.
Ready to pack up the Happy Camper and head out for camping in South Africa? Load up on all the extras like bike racks, coffee press, braai grid, and border-crossing fees to make the most of your South African adventure.