With Autumn just around the corner, and the heat of summer almost a thing of the past (there is still March to get through!), I’m hauling out our tent before we lose out completely on the opportunity to camp. We are totally spoilt for choice in the Western Cape when it comes to a selection of campsites. And there are plenty of popular ones – Beaverlac, the Baths, Tweede Tol, Jamaka, Tietiesbaai – to name but a few.
But we’ve put together a selection of 10 campsites that you might not have heard of (so don’t dream about sharing these with all and sundry) that offer something a little less daunting, if you’re not into crowds, and are thus quieter. If you like the noise and hum of a busy campsite, then these may not be for you.
Some of them supply you with tents so that you don’t have to lug yours along, others are the usual routine. Either way, most of them are either on the edge of rivers, or in the heart of the back of beyond, and thus promise a break from it all. Campsites in the Western Cape …
Biesievlak Camp in Citrusdal
Set on the banks of the Oliphants River under trees, with communal flush toilets, hot showers, fridge/freezer and washing up area, this camp on Biesievlak Farm is in the upper river region of Citrusdal surrounded by citrus orchards. Biesievlak gives you a choice. You can take along your own gear, or use their Freeform Villages to camp.
They have a grassy section next to the river under a wild fig and a few oak trees where there is an abundance of birds, flowers, weird rock formations, rock climbing and mountain bike trails. You can hire a canoe, swim or fish in the river, or simply lie and read a book.
Enjo Nature Farm in Biedouw Valley
This is nature at its best. Run by a German couple the farm has 350 Damara sheep and a few olive groves. Aside from a few self-catering cottages, there are also a few couple of camping spots next to the river under the trees on partly sandy ground, with hot showers, toilet and dishwashing facilities, as well as braai places and electricity. It’s pretty basic, but there is nothing other than you and the monkeys here.
Far off the beaten tourist track, this is the heart of the unspoilt Cederberg Mountains. The drive is four hours from Cape Town but you can look forward to rock climbing, hiking (there is a hiking trail to the Enjo Amphittheatre and to a spring which feeds the drinking water), a dam for swimming, and relaxing. They’ll even take you for a spin in their small plane if you’re after an adrenalin rush. They’ll also cook you breakfast or dinner if you arrange ahead.
Wolfkop Camp in Citrusdal
Just 20 km from Citrusdal you will find the 100 hectare citrus-buchu-rooibos Grootfontein farm that has a campsite with a difference. You won’t need a tent. In fact you’ll need very little other than food and clothes. Each camp ‘village’ (there are 6 spread over a 200 metre stretch of grass on the banks of the Olifants River) is a nine by nine metre bedouin freeform marquee.
Under each is pitched one to three (depending on the size of the group) canvas tents with blow-up mattresses, percale bedding, blankets, towels and extra sleeping bags. There’s a fully equipped kitchen area, braai, chairs, tables, electric light, fridge, freezer, cooler box etc. (although these are shared). There are power points, hammocks, hot showers, and flush loos (communal). It’s roughing it in style.
El Yolo One Klaarstroom
Set on Farm Bo Haggas close to Klaarstroom, El Yolo One is the kind of camping I like to do. There are only two camp spots to this campsite, each with its own ablution facility that includes electricity, water and firewood. Better still, the farm runs its own restaurant serving traditional karoo farm meals so you don’t have to take all of your food with you.
There is a swimming pool next to the restaurant, a river in which to fish, hiking trails and star gazing to look forward to (the farm has planetarium facilities) whilst surrounded by the Swartberg Mountains. Ideal for children, there is plenty of access to cattle, sheep, donkeys, turkeys, ducks, geese, peacocks and chicken as well as wild game in the form of various antelope. Look forward to night drives and 4X4 routes.
Matjiesvlei Guest Farm in Calitzdorp
On a farm in the foothills of the Swartberg Mountains that also offers self-catering units, find Die Dam Rivier Kamp (the dam river camp) on the shores of the Gamka River. There is hot water and clean ablutions, trees and grass. But it is the setting that you’re here for. Matjiesvlei is at the bottom of the Huisrivier Pass between Calitzdorp and Ladismith, a largely deserted valley filled with rolling hills, red aloes and farms.
Whilst the campsite is not luxurious there is plenty to do on the river – fishing, swimming, canoeing – and there are good hiking and mountain bike trails (take your own).
Peace of Eden in Knysna
Choose from forest safari tents or an eco campsite at Peace of Eden, set alongside an indigenous forest complete with walks, a magical stream, canoe on a large lily pond and an incredible variety of birds and butterflies, friendly horses and time out. The forest safari tents sleep two people each on timber decks along a lantern lit pathway.Each tent comes complete with double or twin beds, table, chairs and a mozzie netted veranda.
Nearby is a bush kitchen, equipped with electricity and a large fire pit, whilst a solar shower and eco loo is in amongst the shrubs. There are 4 camping spots, that take a maximum of four people each a night, so space is limited, on a lawned area on the forest edge.
Ventersklip in Elands Bay
Set on Bonteheuwel Farm in a beautiful stretch of wilderness, Ventersklip lies right on Verlorenvlei, one of the largest natural wetlands along the West Coast, and the onoly fresh water lake in the country. Aside from a couple of restored historic cottages, Ventersklip offers six large, grassy camping spots that can take up to 40 people.
There are good bathroom facilities with toilets, shower, as well as a kitchen / braai area. Bonus is the Tin Kitchen country restaurant that serves up organic meat and fish dishes in and around a 300 year old barn.
Useful Planning Links
- Western Cape Attractions
- Western Cape Accommodation
- Western Cape Hiking Trails
- Western Cape Camping
- Things to Do in Western Cape
- South Africa Accommodation