By A.B. Gondwe
For those who shy away from getting their hands dirty in the bush while game viewing on safari because their idea of roughing it is a 5-star hotel room, there is an excellent solution: luxury tented safari camps.
Now you can do it all: enjoy the African bush, see all the game you want, sip sundowners and have your meals around an open fire, enjoy all the luxuries of a top-class hotel room in your own safari tent…and never get your hands dirty. And you can do it right here in South Africa. The word camping has not for nothing acquired a new cousin…glamping. We have selected a few of the best tented safari camps for you to sample, that we think are absolutely worth a visit.
Nkomazi Private Game Reserve, Mpumalanga
Situated southwest of the Kruger National Park near Tjakastad, Mpumalanga, and a stone’s throw from the border of Swaziland, recently renamed to Eswatini, you’ll discover the untamed African experience that awaits you at Nkomazi Private Game Reserve. The reserve is surrounded by towering mountains, broad river valleys and impressive grasslands. The reserve stretches out over 15,000 hectares that is home to a diverse ecosystem that supports both Highveld and Lowveld game species, as well as an abundance of birdlife. This makes for spectacular game viewing and a unique safari experience.
At the Komati Tented Lodge, true tranquillity, an African bush experience and a delightful stay in luxury tents is found. The lodge is is close to the Komati River which continuously emits a gentle rumble. This reminder of one’s proximity to nature complements the tranquil atmosphere that is felt throughout Nkomazi Private Game Reserve. Steeped in history, the reserve is home to some of the oldest rock formations on earth, embellished by ancient San rock art.
The Komati Tented Lodge is situated on the banks of the river, providing guests with a true African glamping experience. The camp comprises ten state-of-the-art tents, each furnished in an “Out of Africa” style with all the comforts of luxury accommodation. The tents blend into the natural landscape and are linked by walkways and paths through the bush.
You can choose between the Noble Tents and the Royal Tent. There are nine Noble Tents surrounded by peaceful nature, sleeping two adults each, and offering every comfort you may desire. Average tent sizes are 40m2, have kingsize beds with Egyptian cotton bedding, air-cooling, heaters, en-suite bathroom with indoor shower, minibar fridge, bathrobes, slippers, hairdryers and more.
The Royal Tent, also surrounded by nature’s beauty, is ultra-spacious and luxurious. It sleeps two adults and one child older than 12. The tent size is 80m2. It has all the same amenities as the Noble Tents. Both tent types also come with a private sundeck and plunge pool.
There are many activities to partake in, ranging from birding safaris, guided nature walks, mountain bike rides, fly fishing, stargazing and much more. Guests are invited to experience elevated bush dining with beautifully crafted meals, plated with a special touch. Meals are included in the rates and are enjoyed in the dining tent or in the boma, as the weather allows. Bush dinners can be pre-arranged for special occasions, upon request.
Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa, Mpumalanga
This is African barefoot luxury at its best! Summerfields Rose Retreat offers discerning guests 5-star luxury on the banks of the Sabie Rivier, just 10 minutes away from the Kruger National Park’s Phabeni Gate, close to Hazyview and Sabie, and a stone’s throw from Mpumalanga’s awesome Panorama Route, which includes God’s Window, Bourke’s Luck Potholes and the Blyde River Canyon.
The retreat offers 11 secluded Tented Suites, a new Luxury Suited Tent and a Forest Suite, plus two award-winning restaurants and a sumptuous spa. At Summerfields the emphasis is on comfort, relaxation and romance, and the owners and staff will do anything they can to make your stay special. Your privacy is tops, while staff are at the same time always available to attend to your needs.
Andre and Ilse, owners of Summerfields Rose Retreat and Spa had a vision to create an environment where active farming and warm hospitality co-exist in a wonderfully unique way. Since 2002 they have been working towards this vision; creating a beautiful lodge with exquisite dining at the River Cafe and Summerfields Kitchen, the Tented Suites and the award-winning Rose Spa. Today Summerfields is an enchanting destination that has become popular with guests visiting the Kruger National Park and Panorama Route or seeking a romantic getaway from urban life. Good news for non-smokers: Summerfields is a smoke-free environment, with designated smoking area.
The River Lodge comprises 12 luxury tented suites, surrounded by the sounds of cascading water, amplified by a choir of bird calls and the occasional snort of a hippo. Attention to detail is evident in every rose-variety suite, with specially designed furniture, percale linen and the tantalizing fragrance of fresh cut roses from the farm. All units are air-conditioned with additional roof fans, have double vanities, an outdoor shower and luxury bath, are stocked with quality toiletries and have a private fridge for the comfort of our guests. Enjoy a relaxing rose-scented bath with optional sparkling wine and homemade treats
Each suite has air-conditioning, roof fan, large bath sheets, bath gowns, tea and coffee making facilities, fridge, hairdryer, electronic safe, a range of quality toiletries and a selection of current magazines
The Forest Room, a timber suite, is substantially bigger than the tented suites. It comprises air-conditioning and heating, full complementary mini-bar, a full opening front door, a covered and open patio with loungers, a desk for working and reading emails, a coffee station with a Nespresso machine, a reading area, a beautiful mosquito net over the bed, double-walled timber construction with a timber roof (shingles), luxurious linen sheets, and a beautiful interior by Weylands of Cape Town.
The Jackalberry Suite is the retreat’s new luxury tented suite. This lovely tented suite overlooks the Sabie River and is fully equipped to make your stay the ultimate experience. The suite is normally let out on an all-in basis, being Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, complimentary drinks and spa treatments. The suite comprises all of the above facilities and amenities.
The management will arrange guests’ tours to the Kruger National Park, whether in the morning, afternoon, sunset or a full-day safari tour, including 3-hour walking safaris with guides. Game viewing
is done with skilled and knowledgably guides in open vehicles, and guests will be entertained by 147 mammal, 500 bird and 100 reptile species, plus a chance to see the Big Five.
Once you are done with the game viewing, excursions to be the breath-taking Panorama Route can be arranged and are done in air-conditioned vehicles with qualified tour guides. These tours include God’s Window, Blyde River Canyon, Three Rondavels, Bourkes Luck Potholes, Sabie, Graskop and more. In addition guests can enjoy farm tours, orchard walks, rose tours, spa treatments or just relaxing in the boma. Summerfields is located 5km from Perry’s Bridge and approximately 30km from Sabie. The Phabeni Gate of the Kruger National Park is 10km from Summerfields Rose Retreat & Spa.
With AfriCamps you are spoilt for choice – you can choose from among luxuriously comfortable tented camps in locations all around the country: Wellington in the Cape Winelands, Stanford just outside Hermanus, Robertson just before the start of Route 62, Swellendam between mountains and river, Oudtshoorn in the Klein Karoo, Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, and Hazyview on Mpumalanga’s Panorama Route. You can either stay in on of these camps or explore the entire country by going from one camp to the next.
While these are not strictly safari camps, a number of them are located on the doorstep of some of South Africa’s most beautiful game and nature reserves. Staying at the camps, allows you to visit the reserves at your leisure. And the camp in Hazyview is close to the Kruger National Park. Discover the most beautiful parts of the country, experience authentic farm life and feel the serenity of being in nature.
AfriCamps is all about boutique camping (or glamping as it is called these days) at the most beautiful working farms and estates in South Africa. At their eight camps guests are welcomed by the landowners and their teams to experience warm hospitality, the uniqueness of their property and a range of outdoor activities – all while staying in custom-built luxury canvas tents.
Each spacious tent consists of a fully-equipped kitchen, dining and lounge area, two comfortable bedrooms, a spacious bathroom and large deck with excellent braai facilities. Extras like electric blankets, an indoor fireplace and air conditioning adds that extra touch of comfort. Selected camps offer private outdoor wood-fired hot tubs for ultimate relaxation.
AfriCamps strives to make guests aware of their impact on the world around them by educating guests about the animals and fresh produce on the farms and surrounding areas, promoting a sensitivity towards the environment and nature. Their business philosophy is strongly based on sustainability. AfriCamps produces their own tents, employing staff from areas with a high unemployment rate. They train the teams in sewing, woodwork, welding, painting and electrical skills – skills they can use throughout their lives.
AfriCamps tents consist of a spacious open plan lounge area with a comfortable couch and a fully equipped kitchen. The dining room area has a solid wooden table with enough seating for 5 people. For winter months the fireplace will be the perfect way to warm up the tent, bringing in an intimate setting for you and your love ones. Both bedrooms are furnished with a queen size bed and have their own private entrance which allows maximum privacy. One of the bedrooms also contains an extra single bunk bed, so the tent will comfortably sleep a family of 5. The tents are equipped with an air conditioning unit to keep you cool during those hot summer nights and a private bathroom with a hot shower cabin, washbasin and flushing toilet, as well as private wooden decks.