There are very few places in the country that can boast such a diversity of natural places of beauty as the Western Cape. The Garden Route follows the coastline of the Indian Ocean on the Eastern Cape Coast, between a belt of mountain ranges, the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountains inland. The Garden Route enjoys one of the mildest and most equable climates, with unspoiled golden beaches, beautiful lagoons and estuaries and boasts in excess of 250 species of birds.
The Cape Peninsula, with Cape Town and the Wine Route, is one of South Africa’s premier tourist destinations with an absolute plethora of attractions. Table Mountain and its Aerial Cableway has become a renowned icon, and is famous throughout the world for its majestic setting.
The whole of Table Mountain is a nature reserve, and there are countless footpaths and nature trails leading up along its slopes. Over the centuries visitors have marvelled, not only at the peninsula’s natural splendour, but also at the cultural diversity of the Mother City.
Take a break from volunteering and head off to these spectacular campsites:
The Beach Camp
The Beach Camp is located on the sandy shores of the Atlantic Ocean in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve near the quaint fishing village of Paternoster (roughly two hours from Cape Town). Unlike your typical campsite, accommodation takes the form of either intimate wooden A-shaped huts or comfortable bedded twin tents (campers are just required to bring sleeping bags). A communal fireplace, licensed bar, well-stocked kitchen tent and ablutions with warm water are also available; although, the relatively rustic site has no electricity. Apart from spending days lazing on hammocks and soaking in the spectacular sea views, guests can also hike, horse ride or mountain bike through the reserve, go on seasonal wild flower walks or partake in guided sea kayak tours.
This scenic camp site is found on the beautiful Bainskloof Pass (roughly one hour from Cape Town) and offers 26 camping spots, all of which have their own designated braai area, and six of which are private with personal ablution blocks. The facility has a picnic site that can hold up to 120 guests and a number of short, fun hikes with breathtaking views are within easy reach. Although the campsite has no electrical points, a generator supplies the communal ablution facilities, ensuring hot water and lighting until 10pm nightly. Making a booking beforehand is a must, especially during peak seasons and school holidays.
Palmiet Caravan Park
This caravan park and campsite in the picturesque coastal village of Kleinmond (roughly 90 minutes from Cape Town) boasts 142 stands in total – 108 of which have electrical outlets – as well as four communal ablution blocks with clean toilets and washing facilities. The scenic seaside region in which it is located is one of Cape Town and surrounds’ top spots for whale watching from August to November, and the area also features a river lagoon ideal for swimming and canoeing and many hiking paths from which wildlife and birds can be observed.
Oatlands Holiday Village
Just south of the centre of Simon’s Town with dramatic views of False Bay, Oatlands (roughly 45 minutes from Cape Town) features a number of different camping levels sporting both tent and caravan sites. On-site facilities include public bathrooms with hot water, a private swimming pool for campers, a designated play area for children, and a recreational room decked with dartboards and a pool table. In addition, the ground’s English pub opens on request for meals and drinks for groups of 10 or more. Apart from this eatery, however, the site is strictly a self-catering spot and no kitchen facilities are available. For those seeking leisure activities, Oatlands is well-situated near to the beach, a golf course and Simon’s Town’s many fascinating historical museums. Booking in advance is essential.
Bontebok National Park Campsite
Nestled below the Langeberg Mountains just three hours from Cape Town in this diverse and colourful conservation reserve, Lang Elsie’s Kraal rest camp is perfectly located for those nature lovers seeking to soak up the sights, sounds, smells and serenity of the breathtaking indigenous surroundings. The three-part campground comprises a number of tent sites (each accommodating up to six people), a selection of which are equipped with electricity and 11 of which boast tranquil river views but no allocated power points. Being comfortable but charmingly rustic, the spot has communal bathrooms and showers with warm water and a small on-site shop that sells a limited variety of basic goods, including firewood, ice and cool drinks. Although there are no kitchen facilities available, and hence campers are advised to bring their own cutlery and cooler boxes, meat can also be stored in the fridge at the reception area. To wring the most out of the scenic setting, a number of adventurous activities are on offer in the area; these include hiking, bird watching, mountain biking and game viewing, as well as canoeing, fishing and swimming in the Breede River, which runs through the park.
Tankwa Karoo National Park Campsites
Eight unique campsites lie interspersed among the striking moonscapes, mountainous cliffs, rich plant life and open arid plains of this unconventional park (which is located at the boundary of the Western and Northern Cape, approximately four hours from Cape Town): two of which are formal and established, and six of which are decidedly more informal and rustic, best suited to those eager to rough it. The limited number of stands at Perdekloof and Langkloof – the two official camps – each come with a private bathroom (equipped with a shower, toilet and basin), braai amenities (without grid) and a personal enclosed kitchen that claims a sink but no cooking equipment. Paraffin lamps at Langkloof and solar power at Perdekloof, as well as gas geysers at both, ensure sufficient lighting and warm water.