In the 80’s, almost everyone had triangular tents and a caravan. Dads would spend weekends hitching the long, beige car up to the Sprite caravan, Mom would straighten her shoulder pads and off you’d go. At every mountain pass the caravan would swing as the beige car took a bend and everyone would scream and cling onto each other as they anticipated death within the next minute. Two hours later you’d be lost and the car was stopped and the road map was unfolded and flattened out onto the beige bonnet. Careful looking using the finger got you back on track, and everyone then piled back into the car. Finally you’d arrive at your destination and start setting up camp. The plastic tubing lawn chairs would be unfolded, the tent in front of the caravan would be erected with much swearing involved, the dinner table was folded out to create your bed, the ablution blocks would be visited just to ‘check them out’. By the time everything was up and ready it was Sunday afternoon and time to leave the campsite to go home. Everyone loved the 80’s and the memories were brilliant. But it’s 35 years later now and people are making different types of camping memories.
Enter, glamping. It’s like regular camping, but more comfortable. It satisfies your craving for the outdoors but without the inconvenience of actually camping. It’s falling asleep to the sound of crickets, but without having an actual cricket crawling into your ear. It’s waking up to the smell of roosterkoek on the braai, without having to walk 50km’s to wash everything up in the communal kitchen afterwards. It’s waking up to fresh, crisp country air instead of musty condensation inside your tent and someone’s foot in your face due to lack of space. It’s going to the toilet in the comfort of your abode and not having to walk outside in minus 2 degrees with a flashlight and coming face to face with a laughing, screaming, bloodthirsty hyena. Did you know? No-one has ever come across a hyena whilst walking to an ablution block in South Africa, but you know what we mean. Glamping also means not having to walk around in your little make-shift house like a hunchback, you can actually stand up straight in your beautiful, fully-equipped, often eco-friendly and super comfortable outdoor living space. Now that’s camping!
Even though glamping has recently gained incredible popularity, it’s not actually new to Africa. It was around the 1900’s that the activity of camping luxuriously became popular for tourists. In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt published his book named ‘Venture into Yosemite’ which got people interested in the idea. Soon after that wealthy Americans and Brits copied the idea – but they wanted to do it in Africa! They took everything from their homes to Africa and set up camp. This was in fact how safaris came about.
Nowadays the average luxury tent has a bathroom, running water, kitchen with fridge and stove, private deck, heating (and cooling), cozy beds and some have a wood-fired jacuzzi on site too. They’ve thought of everything so you can spend less time hammering in pegs and falling over semi-invisible ropes, and more time with your family and friends. Leave the iPads at home and soak up the feeling of living in the physical world, something we don’t do enough of. While camping in style you’ll be surrounded by soul-soothing views and vistas, aromatic flora, animals, mountains, oceans, silence, rivers and bright sparkly stars at night. Enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, fishing, walks, wildlife and wine farms, and stories around the fire with your best people. Basically, get ready for the experience of a lifetime — all without sacrificing an ounce of comfort.
In South Africa we are spoilt for choice when it comes to glamping options. We’ve outlined just a few below:
AfriCamps Boutique Glamping
offer fully equipped luxury tents on the most beautiful working farms and estates and reserves in the country. At each of these self-catering locations, you can get closer to nature without compromising on the creature comforts of home – like a fully equipped kitchen, luxurious bedrooms and your own private bathroom. You can even soak in an outdoor hot tub at selected locations. Each camp offers various activities unique to the area. From mountain biking in Wellington to guided wine tours in Robertson, you will find a selection of activities or tours to choose from on or close to each property.
Two exciting new locations are yet to open this year, taking AfriCamps to 11 locations in South Africa. AfriCamps at Hoedspruit opens on 1 November and will be perfectly located between the Blyde River Canyon and Kruger National Park in Limpopo. AfriCamps at White Elephant opens in Pongola Game Reserve on 16 December 2019 where guided game drives, boat cruises and bush walks will introduce guests to KwaZulu-Natal’s jaw-dropping wildlife.
Locations: AfriCamps Klein Karoo (Oudtshoorn), AfriCamps at Kam’Bati (Swellendam), AfriCamps at Pat Busch (Robertson), AfriCamps at Stanford Hills (Stanford), AfriCamps at Ingwe (Plettenberg Bay), AfriCamps at Mackers (Hazyview), AfriCamps at Oakhurst (Wilderness), AfriCamps at Doolhof (Wellington), AfriCamps at Gowan Valley (The Midlands), AfriCamps at Hoedspruit and AfriCamps at White Elephant (Pongola Game Reserve).
is situated in the heart of the beautiful Elgin Valley in the Western Cape on Groenrug Estate, only an hour away from Cape Town. Cherry Glamping offers luxury camping with panoramic views of the magical Elgin Valley, for a unique experience in a secluded forest. Anything is possible here, including weddings, retreats, festivals, team-building functions, events, family gatherings or just a weekend away just kicking back and relaxing.
Why not stay in a wigwam in Paternoster on the Cape’s West coast? This twin peak tipi, on the grounds of Farr Out Guesthouse, has an ensuite bathroom, a comfortable octagonal bed fitted with electric blankets, thick duvet and warm water bottle – perfect as a romantic getaway along with all the frills. Check out: www.farrout.co.za!
Or you can feel what it is like to live like a travelling gypsy of a bygone era in an authentic Gypsy Wagon (www.gypsyguesthouse.co.za/wagons) – a one of a kind holiday experience!
The meticulously designed and handcrafted wooden gypsy wagons feature hand-carved and hand-painted detailing, plus all the quirkiness, but with all modern-day necessities. The bathroom is an unexpected surprise with its flushing toilet and unique full-size bath (real glampers don’t walk outside to the loo!). The wagons sit under majestic oak trees in a beautiful garden.
They’re also close enough to walk to town, but far enough away for peace and tranquillity. There is no other glamping experience quite like this! Privacy, nature, authenticity, colour, quirkiness and attention to detail – what more do you need?
There are no TV’s in the gypsy glamper wagons – guests are rather encouraged to sit outside and watch the night skies. Each wagon has its own relaxed outdoor living area, with bean bags, carpets, hammocks and bonfires. Hiking and cycle trails lead straight from the property, enabling travellers to explore the scenic Clarens mountains, dams and waterfall. Clarens is just a 3-hour drive from Jo’burg and Bloem, and 4 hours from Durban.
So pack your bags, leave your troubles and the kitchen sink at home and lets go glamping!