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Glamping has turned traditional camping on its head by providing luxury tented accommodation that often rivals the offerings of some of the world’s most exclusive hotels. From five-star romantic getaways to family holidays with a difference, these glamping destinations offer truly unique experiences.
Sindile Safari Lodge
The flagship luxury tented camp at the Eastern Cape’s renowned Shamwari Private Game Reserve, Sindile takes glamping to the next level – literally. Elevated on platforms above the deep bush, Sindile’s nine free-standing tents, are in fact inspired by leopard’s sanctuaries. Nature doesn’t get much closer than this. Sindile is isiXhosa for “survivor”, in tribute to Shamwari’s heroic leopardess who overcame numerous lion attacks to rear the five litters of cubs that today make up the reserve’s leopard population.
Set atop a ridge offering unspoilt views over the Bushman’s River and the vast plains beyond, the WiFi-enabled and airconditioned tents are like nothing you’ve seen before. Geared for romance, each exclusive tent is designed for two, boasting a toasty fireplace, heated plunge pool on your very own private deck, an outdoor – and indoor – shower and a spacious lounge area. Expertly prepared cuisine served in the stunning dining room and bar which includes breathtaking views, a large harvest table and a fire pit, round off this five-star experience.
Situated just 75km outside of Port Elizabeth, Shamwari boasts seven five-star lodges and is known for its abundant game, birdlife and ecological diversity. But it’s about more than luxury holidays. Home to one of South Africa’s most successful Wildlife Rehabilitation Centres, the Reserve is dedicated to long-term sustainability and any guest who visits automatically benefits from its deeply impactful conservation projects.
Rates: With international demand limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, Shamwari currently offers adjusted rates for domestic visitors. Domestic rates at Sindile are R8 000 per person per night sharing, including meals, game drives and selected beverages.
Offering upfront access to life on a working farm or estate, AfriCamps brings glamping to stunning locations around South Africa. AfriCamps boutique glamping tents sleep up to five guests in two air-conditioned bedrooms, with a shared en-suite bathroom. Open plan living at its best, a fully equipped kitchen and dining area open onto a living area complete with an indoor fireplace. A large elevated outdoor deck features a seating area, lounge chairs, and braai. The piece de le resistance: your own outdoor wood-fired hot tub – either on the deck or alongside the tent – to ease your aching muscles as you take in the spectacular views that surround you.
AfriCamps at Magoebaskloof, Limpopo
Just one of the group’s camps is AfriCamps at Magoebaskloof, Limpopo between Tzaneen and Haenertsburg. Nestled amidst magnificent gardens presenting a kaleidoscope of colour in the lush, green Magoebaskloof valley, the area is surrounded by tree-filled Afromontane forests, the largest in South Africa after the Garden Route. These spectacular views coupled with surrounding streams, waterfalls and dams, not only make for an unforgettable glamping holiday, but also for a beautiful wedding destination.
Aside from a chance to simply commune with nature, Magoebaskloof has something for everyone. There’s birding, hiking, MTB trails and biking, horse riding and ziplining for the outdoorsy set, as well as great beer tasting experiences or an organic dairy tour for those with a thirst for something different.
AfriCamps at White Elephant Safaris, Pongola Game Reserve
Found in Africa’s oldest game reserve with views of the Lebombo Mountains and Lake Jozini in the distance, this KwaZulu-Natal gem is one to add to your bucket list. A stay at AfriCamps at White Elephant Safaris, Pongola Game Reserve brings you face-to-face with abundant game life. Commune with antelope as you enjoy sundowners in your private outdoor wood-fired hot tub or take a guided safari game drive to enjoy the rich wildlife offerings in the area. Your family will also love a water-based safari where elephants, hippo and crocodiles are on full display.
Concerned about the future of endangered wildlife? Explore the Elephant Research Project, Pongola Game Reserve’s conservation project. As part of a special tour, guests can learn more about the re-wilding and re-stocking of animals, nature and conservation issues, and the purpose of the Space for Elephants Foundation and other research drives.
Rates: Current high season rates at these two camps start at R1890 per night for two adults sharing. Extra adults can be booked for R275 per night, children between three and six years old for R175 per night. Kids under the age of two stay for free. Or consider the three-night glamping special from just R4390 for three nights.
Thabamati Luxury Tented Camp
Want to whisk your partner away for an authentic bush experience where old-school charm meets modern elegance? Set in the majestic Timbavati Private Nature Reserve that forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park, Thabamati Luxury Tented Camp offers four ultra-luxurious safari-style tents, each with a private deck boasting magnificent dam, bush and distant Drakensberg Mountain views. Thabamati in fact means “mountain and water”.
Your two-person luxury tent includes a writing desk to document your daily experiences as well as a spacious bedroom. This leads onto an en-suite bathroom with a sleek bathtub and indoor and outdoor shower – take in uninterrupted dam and bush views as you cleanse yourself under African skies. Secluded and quiet, the camp is built on eco-friendly principles, operating on solar power and gas.
Daily game drives provide upfront access to the Big Five and diverse birdlife, and camp facilities include an infinity pool, library, sunken boma, and bar, lounge and dining area. Feast on exclusive chef specialities each day as immersing yourself in the bush holiday of a lifetime.
Rates: From R7 080 per person per night. Rates include accommodation, three meals per day, selected sundowner game-drive drinks, bottled water, tea, coffee, laundry, morning and afternoon game drives, optional morning bushwalk of approximately 1 hour after breakfast, emergency medical assistance and evacuation, VAT, unlimited WiFi, stargazing after dinner and room turndown.
Words | Gillian Klawansky
Editor| Nikki Temkin @NikkiTemkin
Images | Courtesy of the venues