Instead of staying in a hotel or B&B, have you ever considered staying in a tipi, cave, gypsy caravan or open-air star suite? These are all real opportunities that exist for intrepid travellers in South Africa.
Treedom Villas & Vardos
If you crave magic and enchantment in your life, Treedom Villas & Vardos is going to be right up your alley. Owners Marc and Debbie Nortjé are passionate makers who have poured their hearts and souls into this beautiful destination in Wilderness, where visitors can stay over in honest-to-goodness gypsy wagons.
Their vibrantly painted self-catering vardos have been designed for a gypsy-inspired experience. Each one has been lovingly curated with romance and magic in mind. As such, you can look forward to relaxing and dining in a private greenhouse, hanging out on a day bed with a book or simply enjoying the night breeze on a moon swing.
Lancewood TiPi Lodge @ Assegai Rest
Why yes, you can, as a fully-fledged grownup, go and stay in an adult-size tipi tent on a beautiful farm at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains, in the picturesque Klaasvoogds Valley (provided you get space – bookings fill up fast!).
Situated 15km from the much-loved town of Robertson on Route 62, this tranquil destination is tailor-made for families with adventurous children, or grownups who have a yen to try something a little different.
Please note that while there is no 220-volt power available at the various sites, solar panels provide power for refrigeration and some inside and outside lighting. There is also hot water from solar and gas geysers. It’s a camping vibe, but without the hassle of actually having to pitch a tent. Plus a tipi is just that much more fun!
Sea Shack is a glamping destination in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, situated between Paternoster and Tietiesbaai on the West Coast.
If the idea of waking up to the sound of waves lapping against the shoreline as you make your way out of your casual, self-catering A-frame chalet straight onto the beach in the morning, you will absolutely adore this place.
Sea Shack offers a variety of beachfront and garden shacks, and tents to choose from, and provides a galley-style communal kitchen and indoor dining and recreation area with an outdoor patio and large communal fire for braai vibes.
If you like to get active on a getaway there are also guided kayaking trails, mountain biking, beach buggy rides, walking and hiking trails and horse riding activity providers in the vicinity.
Tented accommodation in the forest – for real! Beautiful tent suites among actual trees along the Garden Route are a real thing. If you have a smidge of hippy in you, or even just really dig the great outdoors, you absolutely must visit Teniqua Treetops at least once in your life.
This 3-star-rated self-catering resort is situated in 36 hectares of pristine forest, 16 km from the N2, which means it’s convenient to get to, but very much off the beaten track. The treehouse suites are built in a gorge, so access is from ground level and the front of the suites are on stilts, providing glorious views of the forest beyond.
Old Mac Daddy Airstream Trailers
This is about as retro-cool and awesomely vintage as it gets, folks. In the middle of the beautiful Elgin Valley, the Old Mac Daddy is home to 12 themed Airstream trailer suites, each of which has been uniquely designed by top Capetonian artists and designers.
This includes 9 family-friendly trailers with a built-in lounge and deck, one family suite with a small, private garden and two romantic couples-only suites with either a deck or a garden.
Antbear Lodge Luxury Cave
Antbear Lodge is situated in the Drakensberg region of Kwa-Zulu Natal near Giant’s Castle. What makes this lodge particularly special is that they offer accommodation in a luxury cave – an accommodation unit built under a rock. Glass doors open onto a wooden deck with hammock chairs and a spectacular view of the Drakensberg Mountains.
This is a luxury eco experience. The cave is cosy and comfortable with features like a Jacuzzi spa bath and a fireplace, and even has rock art on its walls. The lodge also offers a private dining experience that involves the setup of a table on the deck of your cave, allowing you to dine by candlelight beneath the stars.
Kagga Kamma Open Air Suites
And finally, if all of the above still seems a little mundane, you can choose to sleep in, well, nothing at all! Drift to sleep under the Southern Cross with nothing but Cederberg sky between you and the Milky Way at Kagga Kamma Nature Reserve’s Open Air Suites. There are two different suites to choose from – the Sky Suite and the Star Suite.
The Sky Suite boasts an outdoor shower and en-suite toilet, wood-fired hot tub, private boma braai, and comfortable queen bed overlooking breath-taking views. The Star Suite, on the other hand, has an outdoor shower, slipper bath and en-suite toilet, a natural rock pool overlooking the fynbos plains, as well as a private boma and queen bed.
The Open Air Suites have been designed with ultimate privacy in mind; it will only be you and your significant other, surrounded by Cederberg wilderness and the mesmerising sunrise and sunset. Please note that this accommodation is not child-friendly and also weather-dependent. As such, it’s not available to book during the colder months, but check out their incredible cave suites for a winter getaway.
See? There are plenty of totally out-of-the-box places to stay and play when you take the time to look around. Check back for more insider insights on cool things to see, do and experience throughout this marvellous country of ours.
Title image of Kagga Kamma
Words: Anna-Bet Stemmet @skryfyster
Editor: Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin