The Most Luxurious Glamping Sites to Book in South Africa

Hermanus, South Africa
Hermanus, South Africa | Photo by Grant Durr on Unsplash
Pierre de Villiers

Whether it’s beaches that go on for miles or the Big Five, the Rainbow Nation is well stocked when it comes to natural splendour. These luxurious glamping sites allow you to experience the South African outdoors in style.

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South Africa is one of the sunniest, most beautiful countries in the world, so why would you stay inside? From white-sand beaches with mountainous backdrops to the bush and its Big Five (lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo), the great outdoors calls to anyone who sets foot in South Africa. The glamping scene has shifted into high gear over the last few years, too, offering access to game drives and gorgeous nature trails. Here are some of the most luxurious.

Chapungu Luxury Tented Camp

Tracking down the Big Five can be hot, dusty work. Chapungu in the Thornybush Game Reserve, part of the enormous Kruger National Park, ensures you return to the lap of luxury after each adventure into the bush. The eight tents here are air-conditioned, while you can get pampered at the Amani Spa or sink, hippo-like, into the refreshing rock pool. End the day with a three-course dinner and some South African wine.

Tanda Tula Safari Camp

Tanda Tulu is Zulu for “love the quiet”, and that’s precisely what you’ll be doing at this collection of camps in Timbavati, in the Greater Kruger National Park area. Set out from the safari camp on the Nlharalumi riverbed and meet a pack of rare wild dogs, do a guided sunset walk to learn how to track game on foot at the Tanda Tula field camp or have dinner with views over the plains – home to some lolling lions – at the Nkarhi Homestead.

Luxury Tented Village at Urban Glamping

This chilled glamping spot in Saint Lucia, on the east coast of the KwaZulu-Natal coast, has raised walkways leading to self-catering tents that overlook a canopy of trees. Each tent has an ensuite bathroom, a large shower and mosquito nets to ensure that the insects buzz off. For creatures you’ll be happier to see, check out the nearby iSimangaliso Wetland Park with its elephants, hippos, leopards and white rhinos.

West Coast Luxury Tents

Ever wondered how the super-rich live? West Coast Luxury Tents, between Dwarskersbos and Elands Bay, can give you a little taste. For starters, guests have access to a private secluded beach belonging to the Fork West farm, so you can go for long strolls and a dip with only the local birdlife, including the endangered black oystercatcher, looking on. Rounding off the celebrity feel is a private airstrip, just in case you want to fly in your entourage.

AfriCamps at Stanford Hills Estate

Set on a boutique wine farm in Stanford, two hours from Cape Town, AfriCamps at Stanford Hills Estate provides a handcrafted roof over your head, and also throws a great culinary experience and some top tipples into the mix. Work your way through award-winning wines, drop by the restaurant for meals fresh from the farm or have a braai (a South African barbecue) outside your tent. For a day trip, head down to Hermanus, one of the best whale-watching spots in the world.

Schoemanshoek Glamping and Self-Catering

Chickens, ducks, sheep and the odd tortoise roaming around are all part of the bucolic charm of Schoemanshoek in Oudtshoorn. Must-see sights nearby are the Cango Ostrich Show Farm – whose resident ostriches include the friendly and very huggable Betsie – and the extraordinary Cango Caves, where the Adventure Tour will have you crawling through narrow spaces and up steep rock formations inside a 4km (2.5mi) network of underground chambers.

Ndzhaka Camp

The best place to spot game is at a watering hole, which makes Ndzhaka the perfect lookout point. Hidden in a thick forest on the banks of the seasonal N’waswitsontso riverbed, in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, the camp is close to a big dam where elephants, buffalo and other wildlife swing by for a drink throughout the day. With only five two-sleeper safari tents up for grabs, it’s a sight reserved for only a handful of people.

Magical Teepee Experience, Hogsback

The misty landscape surrounding Hogsback in the Amathole Mountains, Eastern Cape, is said to have inspired the Mirkwood forest in The Lord of the Rings, after JRR Tolkien’s son, who was based in South Africa for RAF training, sent his dad sketches. While it’s not exactly Hobbiton, this cluster of two-person tipis (all on raised wooden decks with private bathrooms) is still a magical place from which to embark on intrepid expeditions through the natural landscape.

This is a rewrite of an article originally by Carina Claassens.

If the outdoors isn’t for you, why not take a trip to one of the three (!!!) South African capitals, Pretoria, and book one of the best hotels for every traveller. Keep yourself busy with the best day trips in and around Pretoria, and visit some of the spectacular bakeries in the city for a coffee and a pastry.

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