Words and pictures by Ros Grieve
We’re keen bush campers and like to get as far off the beaten track as possible, so your idea of listing places where campers may enjoy this lifestyle appeals to us. In my opinion, bush camping is all about being completely self-suffcient, carrying everything you need with you, from water, wood, gas and batteries if absolutely needed to all foodstuffs.
Our absolute favourite spots are idyllic havens which we’ve discovered ‘out there’ – spots that do not belong to anyone. If there are any local people around we negotiate a camping fee, usually in terms of sharing non-perishables such as sugar, soap, matches etc. We also have some favourite camp destinations, usually community camps, which we reckon offer the best of camping if a regular campsite is your preference. The campsites listed here are ones we’d certainly return to. Most offer running water, but they defnitely do not have electricity. Here follow our top 14 bush campsites.
Situated near Louwsburg in KwaZulu-Natal, Ithala is an Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife camp o ering varying levels of accommodation. e only camping is at Doornkraal which is situated on a river bank some 18 km into the reserve. No caravans are allowed here so a fairly rustic camping experience may be enjoyed in this attractive camp which is unfenced and o ers only cold showers. ere are two toilets. We’ve had memorable experiences here, like gira e and elephant meandering through, and have enjoyed mild to moderate 4×4 drives in the reserve.
GPS S27° 30.737’ E031° 12.235’ Contact 033 845 1000 or www.kznwildlife.com
RICHTERSVELD, DE HOOP
It seems you either love or hate the Richtersveld – we’ve highly recommended this reserve to friends who have returned unimpressed! But in my view this has to be one of the best destinations in southern Africa; I feel a huge sense of awe every time I experience its mystic blue mountains, ancient landscapes and the loveliness of the Orange River as it tows through this desert wilderness. Situated in a SANPark on the north-western border with Namibia, it’s a bit of a journey to get there. ere are ve camps in this park, spread out from the Orange River into the hard landscape of the interior. We prefer the riverside camps, particularly De Hoop. E orts have been made to erect ablutions at the camps but occasionally nature throws its all at these structures so it is advisable when you book (and you must book in advance) to check the state of the river. Water, showers and ush loos are available.
GPS S28° 15.27’ E17° 13.26’ Contact 027 931 1526 or www.sanparks.org
MOLEMA COMMUNITY CAMP
This one’s easily accessible for South Africans as Molema is just a few kilometres from the Platjan border post. A regular destination for us, this community camp was started by Tuli Lodge to train and assist folk from three villages in the Tuli area. Set on the banks of the Limpopo the camp consists of four huge sites sheltered under massive, ancient nyala berry trees. Water has been piped from the Limpopo to serve rustic ablutions but beware – elephants o en decide to take part in some sport and rip out the pipes. Tere’s heaps of game and an awesome bird list. to take part in some sport and rip
GPS S22° 16.747’ E28° 57.370’ Contact email@example.com
LIMPOPO RIVER LODGE
This lodge has an attractive bush camp on the Limpopo, consisting of six sites attractively and privately spaced along the river bank. Close to the Platjan border post, this camp is not too far for South Africans. In this land of elephants and baobabs this is a wonderful spot to enjoy the bush and spend hours watching the many species which live here. We love this camp as you can explore the property and enjoy the diversity of landscape. It’s a smart camp as there are ushing loos and a donkey-heated shower, but best of all, the sights and sounds of the bush o er a memorable experience.
GPS S22° 29.966’ E28° 46.318’ Contact www.limpoporiverlodge.co.za
LITTLE HUNTERS REST
We stumbled on this little camp, part of the Namtib River Lodge, on the way to Sesfontein from Lüderitz o the D707. Called Little Hunters a er the San people who used to hunt here, the camp is set in a valley a few kilometres before the lodge. e lovely desert country here o ers exciting photographic possibilities. A small, pristine ablution block o ers donkey-heated water, a real luxury out here.
GPS S26° 02.226’ E16° 15.709’ Contact +264 63 683 055 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ugab, Save the Rhino camp is a long-time favourite of ours. The turn-off to finnd this unique camp is off the C34 north of Henties Bay, onto the D2303. A steep track leads down to the Ugab riverbed, past the long-disused tin mine which used to operate here. e camp lies in the dry riverbed between granite cli s and has long-drop toilets and bucket showers. Marvellous tracks lend an opportunity to test your vehicle’s strengths and weaknesses plus this area is a veritable encyclopaedia for geology lovers. Elephants regularly trek the riverbed route and lions have been spotted.
GPS S20° 57.788’ E14° 07.943’ Contact email@example.com
Mirabib is in the Namib-Nauklu Park, o the C14 on the way to Walvis Bay. We found it quite by accident having turned o the main road in search of a more interesting track. At that stage there were no signs or gates but we recognised the large granite outcrop rising from the moon landscape and spent a night under this eerie inselberg. If absolute silence and amazing night skies are your thing, you’ll love it here.
GPS S23° 27.067’ E15° 21.352’ Contact www.nwr.com.na
Epupa Falls is a large camp – very rustic but with some well-placed spots along the Kunene River. A visit out of season or midweek is a good idea here!
GPS S17° 00,127 E13° 14,695’ Contact www.nacobta.com.na
Situated o the C43 on the way to Fort Sesfontein, Ongongo is a small camp which o ers something quite unique in this arid area: a natural spring which gurgles out of the ground crystal clear – a weary traveller’s delight. e campsite o ers basic loos and showers.
GPS S19° 08.421’ E13° 49.165 Contact www.nacobta.com.na
The route from Fort Sesfontein to Purros is a perfect example of the awesome beauty of Namibia’s Kaokoland. The 70 km drive is quite spectacular and other hundreds of Kodak moments. No surprise then that the community camp at Purros o ers travellers a peaceful, sublime bush experience. Sites tucked away in the shady sand o er individual loos and showers. Sitting quietly around your camp re at night with a spotlight handy should o er some good elephant sightings.
GPS S18° 44.061’ E12° 56.566’ Contact www.nacobta.com.na
Situated north of Tsumeb in the Nyae Nyae region in Namibia, Tree Sleepers camp is near Tsintsabis. This community camp is run with verve by people from the local community. Large sites with elevated platforms on stilts o er a di erent way to camp closer to the stars, while good ablutions o er ushing loos and showers. More may be learned about the bushmen here as visits to local villages may be arranged.
GPS S18° 46.976 E17° 58.111’ Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The community camp at Popa Falls at the western start of the Caprivi has pleasant shady sites along the Okavango River. Each site has an elevated platform on stilts giving a great view of rapids on the river. Each site also has its own kitchen, shower and loo.
GPS S18° 06.736’ E21° 34.904 Contact www.nacobta.com.na
Ngepi is a huge camp visited by campers from all over the world. It’s situated on the wide owing Okavango River as it heads to the Okavango swamps and there is plenty of water game to be seen. Ngepi is a place where bush campers congregate and exchange tales of adventures. Bgepi also has a sense of humour – something we must not lose!
GPS S18° 06.959’ E21° 40.200’ Contact www.ngepicamp.com
Heaven on Earth! Mamili Game Reserve is tucked in the south-western corner of the eastern Caprivi, across the Kwando River from Botswana. From Kongola take the D3501 and a er some 40 km look for the Mamili sign. Eventually you’ll come to a bridge of logs where a toll is charged to cross into Mamili. Liadura, a small koppie where one may camp, has no facilities but boasts an unadulterated view across the Linyanti swamp, a sight which o ers an ever-changing vista of game, including elephant herds and a large pod of hippo which live in the river next to the camp. Beware of the swamps as many campers have come to grief here – the park is usually ooded between May and August. is is true bush camping!
GPS S18° 24.193’ E23° 44.471’ Contact www.nacobta.com.na