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Posted on: Tuesday, 3 April 2012
I Wanna Go Camping!

I Wanna Go Camping! 6 Great Campsites in Mpumalanga

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I Wanna Go Camping!

I Wanna Go Camping!

With the Kruger National Park on your doorstep how can anything possibly compete, when it comes to camping? Popular campsites like Berg-en-Dal, Maroela, Satara, Balule and Letaba tend to place other camping experiences in the shade, when it comes to bush camping holidays.

But Mpumalanga is not the Kruger alone. Mpumalanga also embraces forests, mountains, gushing rivers and waterfalls, mountain passes that make you gasp and some of the most magnificent scenery in the country.

The province is not dubbed ‘paradise country’ for nothing and big game is not the only draw card, albeit a major one. Towns like Dullstroom, Barberton, Sabie, Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest, and landmarks like Blyde River Canyon, God’s Window and Bourke’s Luck Potholes provide plenty of other opportunities for experiencing the outdoor lifestyle.

And not everyone wants to brave Kruger’s large and family-oriented campsites during the school holidays and festive season. For this reason we’ve come up with a list of other campsites worth at least one visit. Some of them are a stone’s throw from Kruger, others centre around flyfishing or the Panorama Route. Some are small and tranquil, others are family affairs. There is something here for everyone.

I Wanna Go Camping! 6 Great Campsites in Mpumalanga

Kruger Adventure Lodge, Hazyview

Kruger Adventure Lodge

Kruger Adventure Lodge

As it’s name suggests this lodge is situated in the town literally on the doorstep of the Kruger National Park. You’re only 12 minutes from the gate. The lodge is upmarket, but priced for locals, it’s also eco-friendly and contributes to the indigenous tree fund, keeping their impact on the environment to a minimum. Aside from a series of bush huts and self-catering units, the lodge provides tented accommodation that they claim is basic, but still promise en suite bathrooms and electricity, so your creature comforts will be more than catered for. And if roughing it in your own tent is more up your alley, they have camping and overlanding facilities too. Expect a restaurant, fitness centre, children’s playground, braai facilities, an outdoor swimming pool, nature walks with guides, and snake demos.

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Kruger Adventure Lodge Rates and Specials

La Luna Guest Farm, Malelane

La Luna Guest Farm

La Luna Guest Farm

Malelane is a rather nondescript little town that, despite this, retains its right to belong to a part of the world known as the ‘Wild Frontier‘. It too is a stepping stone to the Kruger, if you’re on the other side of the park. La Luna guest farm is in Low’s Creek, roughly 20 km from the Malelane tollgate and a great place to base yourself if the Kruger is your destination. It’s quiet here on the working farm with none of the resort-type distractions that come with the Kruger. Aside from a real ‘backpacker’ army tent for school groups, La Luna also provides a low-key safari tent experience, with furnished tents that come complete with a bar fridge, two plate stove and wash basin. The tents are on individual decks, and aside from your own towels, you won’t have to bring anything (they’ll even provide dinner and breakfast if you would like it). There are only two tents, with a communal ablution area, and the rates are reasonable. Expect a swimming pool, dam, bird watching, hiking, and quiet.

Machado Flyfishing Club, Machadodorp

Machado Flyfishing Club

Machado Flyfishing Club

Interestingly the flyfishing club at Machadodorp is a not-for-profit organisation that has run for the last 60 years. If you belong to the club then you’re an avid fly fisherman. And to keep up their stores of rainbow and golden trout, the club runs a hatchery nearby with which the dam is stocked with trout roughly once a week. They even supply the local river for the annual flyfishing ‘River Bash’ competition. Aside from a couple of dams, the club house, and the tackle shop, the club also runs a campsite. It’s real ‘old fashioned’ camping that one reaches along a dirt road with cattle grids, so phone ahead if you’re in an ordinary vehicle incase they’ve had rain. Expect basic ablution blocks, hot and cold showers, braai drums (wood is available at the shop) and dish washing basins. But the views are gentle, the dam beautiful, particularly first thing in the morning and last thing at night, and if you love fishing, then this is your spot. Off season you’ll probably have the place to yourself (just make sure that none of the four annual fishing competitions is planned for that weekend).

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Machado Flyfishing Club Rates and Specials

Merry Pebbles Resort, Sabie

Merry Pebbles Resort

Merry Pebbles Resort

Just about everyone who used to holiday in Mpumalanga during the eighties remembers Merry Pebbles. It was popular back then, and remains so today, mostly because of its perfect position on the banks of the Sabie River, just outside the small forestry town of Sabie. Camp stands are shady, grassed and have electricity. There are four large ablution blocks, a number of kitchen sculleries and a laundromat. You can’t book your favourite spot, however, as the campsite operates on a first come first served basis. And things can get busy during peak season and holidays. But everything’s catered for – there is a restaurant, a small shop, an ATM and swimming pool. Expect trout fishing, canoeing, hiking, mountain biking and river tubing. You are in the heart of waterfall country and close to the Panorama Route.

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Merry Pebbles Resort Rates and Specials

Olifants River Lodge, Middelburg

Olifants River Lodge

Olifants River Lodge

Set in the heart of the Olifants River Valley, only an hour and a half from Pretoria Accommodation, Olifants River Lodge is a great stopover to the Kruger, or weekend getaway from Gauteng. As far as family weekends away go, Olifants River Lodge is hard to beat. The camp sites and caravan park trail along the Olifants River bank, stands are well grassed and shady and the lodge provides a number of ablution blocks. It caters to families in a big way and children can ride pedal-powered boats on the river, swim in the pool, play table tennis, volleyball, spend time on the jungle gym in the kids playground and go on horse rides. Over and above this expect hiking trails, bird watching, fishing and, at an extra cost, rock climbing, mountain bikes, as well as the restaurant and the bushveld bar.

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Olifants River Lodge Rates and Specials

Panorama Chalets, Graskop

Panorama Chalets

Panorama Chalets

The secret to Panorama View is, the view. Set right on the escarpment the vistas out over Graskop gorge and the lowveld are pretty spectacular and as far as settings go this one is difficult to beat. The swimming pool overlooks the valley and the surrounding mountains in a way that makes one feel one has escaped from it all. The bonus is that the campsite has only 21 grassed stands, some of them also overlooking the gorge, each with an electrical outlet. Not every stand is shaded but that doesn’t stop its being popular, and if you want to stay there during holidays you’ll probably have to book ahead. There’s a no noise policy after 9pm. Expect hiking trails, a big swing and foefie slide, quad bikes, 4X4 trails, abseiling, river rafting and horse riding. There is also a little coffee shop for light meals and breakfasts.

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Panorama Chalets Rates and Specials

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Wanda Coustas

About 

Wanda Coustas has written in one form or another for 10 years, seven of them as a copyblogger. She has travelled the Western Cape extensively and the rest of the country in protracted road trips that have given her both joy and an ongoing relish for experiencing what she writes about first-hand. She is a trained opera singer, poet, eurythmy dancer, philosopher, and bee whisperer.