Glamping in South Africa

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A new word has entered the vast world of travel and in keeping with the current vocabulary trend it is a mash-up of two words: glamour and camping. This gives you glamping. Once you know where the word derives from the concept is fairly self-explanatory: glamorous camping, a luxury experience in the great outdoors that gives you the best of both worlds.

A key word in travel is often diversity and choice. As enticing as this new concept sounds, it becomes even more exciting when you discover that there are different options to choose from. It’s not all about luxury tents, but also includes five-star trailer parks and an opportunity to leap back to your childhood with magnificent tree houses.

The History

Although the term may be new, the concept is a little older than you might think, harking back to the Ottoman Empire, which was established in 1299, when the sultan and his entourage were transported in opulent tents filled with rich tapestries and expensive furnishing.

In the 1900s the idea was revived, when wealthy American and European game hunters and safari travellers ambled into Africa, looking for a wildlife adventure but with the same service and style they received back home. Their tents were well-equipped, lavished with king-sized beds and luxurious bedding, and of course, servants at their beck and call at every moment.

It would thus be more accurate to say that glamping is not a new concept, but rather a reawakened concept, similar to the luxury travel of the early 1900s, as opposed to the mobile cultural or military campaigns of the Ottomans. Your experience will be similar to the former, including the standard features of any hotel room such as proper beds and running water, cranking the style up several notches with air-conditioning and private chefs.

You’ll still be surrounded by the rough wilderness, but without having to worry about where you’ll be sleeping or when your next shower will be. Imagine the finest hotel bedroom transplanted to the bush, just like the safaris of yesteryear, making you feel as if you have stepped into the worlds of Karen Blixen and Ernest Hemingway.

The Options

If you want to transport yourself into the bygone era of safari travel look no further than Gorah Elephant Camp. A 1.5 hour drive from Port Elizabeth, here you will settle into the lap of luxury with tents that have king-sized beds, solar power lighting and en-suite bathrooms.

Glamping in South Africa: Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com
Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com
Glamping in South Africa: Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com
Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com
Glamping in South Africa: Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com
Gorah Elephant Camp, Addo National Park. Photo by gorah.hunterhotels.com

Another stylish safari option is the Amakhala Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape. Their glamping option will place you in luxury tents right in the heart of the bush, with a private viewing deck as your doorstep to nature.

Glamping in South Africa: Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za
Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape. Photo by amakhala.co.za

Storybook Safari Tents in the Gamka Natural Reserve is situated in the Klein Karoo and ideal for backpackers. This doesn’t mean they renege on the comfort. Safari tents are equipped with mattresses and there is a swimming pool and restaurant, the perfect place to sample ostrich meat, for which the area is renowned. The Lovable Lodge Tents in Oudtshoorn are true to their name, offering comfort and tranquillity with lodge tents furnished with beds and kitchen supplies, and another opportunity to sample ostrich.

Plettenberg Bay gives you the chance to blend the beach with a glamping trip. Tsala Treetop Lodge offers dining in a forest-set restaurant, as well picnic lunches in the verdant outdoors. You can choose to stay in the treetop suites or the more fully-equipped treetop villas, but you can rest assured that both will provide style and comfort.

Glamping in South Africa: Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay. Photo by tsala.hunterhotels.com
Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay. Photo by tsala.hunterhotels.com

Also a stone’s throw away from the ocean is Teniqua Treetops, located on South’s Africa famous Garden Route, in the midst of a peaceful forest. The fully-serviced, self-catering tree houses and their idyllic setting are perfect for picnics, bird-watching and a plunge into the invigorating water of the Karatara River.

Glamping in South Africa: Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za
Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za
Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za
Teniqua Treetops, Western Cape. Photo by teniquatreetops.co.za

In Cape Town, you can go glamping simply by heading to the centre of the city and staying at the Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park atop the Grand Daddy Hotel on Long Street. There are seven themed trailers to choose from, and you can unwind and relax at their Skybar or the Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema. It literally takes glamping to new heights.

Glamping in South Africa: Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za
Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park, Cape Town. Photo by granddaddy.co.za

The luxury, themed Airstream trailers can also be found in the Elgin Valley at Old Mac Daddy. Set amongst the pines of this pristine valley, the luxury trailer park pays homage to Cape Town’s creatives, with each trailer being designed by local artists and designers. Themes include eccentric and exciting novelties such as the SA-inspired “For Better or for Boerewors”, the endearing “Give Bees a Chance” and even “Mills and Boon”.

Glamping in South Africa: Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Glamping in South Africa: Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za
Old Mac Daddy, Western Cape. Photo by oldmacdaddy.co.za

Further Afield

Glamping is not a trend in South Africa alone, but is gaining popularity across the world. From the Tropical Treehouse in Puerto Rico and Camp Chama in the United States to Kadir’s Top Tree Houses in Turkey and The Willows Abersoch in Wales you can go glamping anywhere in the world.

Featured image by gorah.hunterhotels.com

Glamping in South Africa was last modified: February 9th, 2017 by Claudia Hauter
Author: Claudia Hauter (42 posts)

Lover of literature. Fundi of film. Mad about music. Proudly Mzansi. You can also find her blogging at Dinner and a Movie.