Travelling to new countries is one of life’s most exciting experiences. There simply is no better way to learn new things about new places and people than to get out there and explore them for ourselves.
Saint Augustine said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” And who is ever satisfied with only reading one page?
Travel broadens our horizons and enriches our experiences. It can also, however, leave a sizeable dent in our wallets! This is why camping your way around a new country is the ideal solution. Especially if that country is South Africa. Swapping Suburbia for sleeping bags is as easy as pitching a tent. Even easier, in fact, if your tent-pitching skills are a little rusty!
South Africa is extremely camping-friendly. Locals and visitors alike love to make the most of the wonderful camping facilities we have to offer. In 2016, caravan parks and camping sites recorded the highest year-on-year growth in income at 31,4%, followed by lodges, bed-and-breakfast and self-catering establishments, which showed an 18,7% growth rate.
South Africa has, literally, thousands of campsites located all over the country. Many of these are in our national parks, but there are also many others situated in scenic spots in, or close to, towns. It’s advisable to do a little research before choosing your campsites. Some of the sites in smaller, less “touristy” towns are possibly not as well maintained or secure as others. Most municipal sites in coastal areas are usually really good, as these are popular spots with tourists.
Campsites usually take the form of private caravan parks, municipally-run parks, or semi-government parks, such as those run by the South African National Parks. In all but the most remote campsites, you’ll find spots supplied with electricity. Most also have communal ablution facilities with hot and cold running water.
In most of the sites in the national parks, there are shared kitchen facilities for washing up (although some may also have stoves). Some sites may also have laundry amenities. The bigger camping spots also usually have shops selling basic grocery provisions and, of course, charcoal and wood for the mandatory “braai!” That’s a barbeque for all you South Africa newbies!
Virtually every spot in every campsite has its own braai facilities, although you may need to bring your own grid. Sometimes, you can get them from the campsite’s main office, usually for a refundable deposit.
Of course, if you’re looking for more of a “back to the wild” experience, there are also plenty of those to be found! Many camping spots in the more remote parts of South Africa have no electricity or hot water. They also don’t have an on-site store, so you need to bring all your food and drink supplies with you.
South African Camping Know-How
Camping in South Africa is different in some ways to camping in, say, Europe. It may not, for example, occur to you to bring a heavy mallet or hammer with you! Why? Because you’ll need one to bang tent pegs into hard, dry ground! And yes, we know hard, dry ground in Europe isn’t really a thing!
Here are a couple of other useful hints to help make sure your South African camping holiday is enjoyable and hassle-free:
- Camping is much cheaper than other holiday accommodation and many of the more popular sites get booked up early. So, try to reserve your camping spot as far ahead of time as you can. The majority of sites have online booking and paying facilities, and you might even be able to reserve a particular site.
- Find out as much as you can about the facilities available, and pack accordingly. Read the website or phone the campsite directly.
- Many parts of South Africa get extremely hot in the summer months. Try to choose a campsite that has lots of shady trees.
- On the other hand, some parts of South Africa get extremely cold in the winter, and snow is common in certain areas – particularly in the high-lying areas such as the Drakensberg. Make sure you’re properly equipped for below-freezing overnight temperatures.
- If you’re hiring an off-road or 4×4 vehicle, inquire about the possibility of equipping it with a rooftop tent. This is especially useful if you plan to camp in a remote spot where nocturnal animal activity may be a consideration.
- Always remember to properly extinguish your campfire before going to bed. This is especially important in the dry months, as a gust of wind could blow an ember onto parched grass and start a potentially devastating fire.
- If you’re camping in a game reserve, always make sure you pack away all your food and properly dispose of your rubbish before leaving camp for the day. Baboons and other animals are common visitors and will scavenge food that hasn’t been properly stowed.
Benefits of Camping
If you’re still not convinced that camping is for you, here’s a little extra persuasion. Camping is not only fun, but also offers many great health and family benefits. Here are just a few:
We all think our children spend too much time in front of screens, but we adults are equally as guilty! If you find it hard to put down your phone, then camping can definitely help!
Many campsites have little cell phone reception. There may be some initial horror, but it will pass, trust us! After that, you’ll find that surviving without constant Facebook and Instagram updates is actually possible. In fact, it’s pretty amazing! Without constant technological distractions, you can reconnect with your family, and yourself.
Trees, and plants in general are fantastic producers of high-quality oxygen. Most campsites have abundant trees and plants, and passionate campers often talk about “getting drunk” on the air. Take a deep breath of the fresh air of your campsite and you’ll know what they mean. We all need a break from the pollution and rancid air that we breathe every day. Healthy air makes us feel happier and lighter.
You might think there’s no way you’ll sleep better on the ground in a tent than you will at home. But the truth is, camping holidays are usually quite active, so our bodies are tired at the end of the day. Add this to the fresh air and absence of blue light from our tech devices (which interrupts our Circadian rhythms), and you’ve a failsafe recipe for a good night’s sleep!
At SA Car Hire, we know that when you visit South Africa on holiday, it’s impossible to bring everything with you that you need for a fun camping holiday. This is why, in addition to car hire, we also offer a wide range of camping equipment for hire! We’ve got everything you need, from tents and tables to cookers, coolboxes and cups. And pretty much everything in between!
For a fuss-free, fun camping holiday in South Africa, contact us today.