Africa offers some of the best places in the world to pitch a tent: whether it’s in the wild, in the middle of a national park, on top of a mountain, in a desert, or steps away from a white sandy beach. Here’s our pick of Africa’s 8 best campsites to add to your to-pitch list!
Namibia has some fantastic (and cheap) campsites in spectacular locations, such as the one at Klein Aus Vista. Drive down a two-kilometre sandy track into a vast, beautiful, wild desert landscape of terracotta sand, pale yellow grass, boulders, hills and the occasional tree to get to this rustic campsite, with only 10 sites (each with a tap, table, benches and a barbecue grill) which are spread apart, so you have lots privacy to enjoy the desert silence.
Situated on the edge of the Ntwetwe Pan, the funky Afro-cool Planet Baobab is a firm favourite for campers in Botswana. There are shaded camping sites with barbecue areas, or you could spend a bit more and stay in a traditional grass or mud hut on a bed made from mopane wood and cow hide. Cool off in the swimming pool or with a cold beer from the fun shebeen (African pub) which features beer bottle chandeliers. Close by is a waterhole for elephants for easy wildlife spotting, and there are quad bikes to ride across the pans. In the evenings join the communal campfire or light your own under a thick blanket of stars.
In a valley of baobabs and sandwiched between icing-sugar sand beaches and the bush is Pemba Dive & Bush Camp in northern Mozambique. You can choose between luxury camping in a shaded campsite, where you get tables, chairs, plug sockets, flasks of hot water, paraffin lamps, drinking water, charcoal and a shade cloth, or exclusive camping, where you supply your own shade and ablution facilities, but you get to camp on a secluded beach, with access to the facilities back at the lodge, where there’s a restaurant, shop, laundry and beach bar. Spend days swimming in the ocean, scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, knee boarding or doing nothing much at all – just enjoying the slow-paced beach life.
While the facilities at this large camp (which is spread out under trees) are great – there’s a big swimming pool, a well-stocked shop where you can get all your supplies, and a restaurant if you don’t feel like cooking – it’s the waterhole in the camp that’s the main draw. At any given time of the day (especially in the dry winter months of June, July and August), there are dozens of animals congregating around the water. Forget about game drives – all you have to do is sit on one of the benches set behind a wall and watch the live nature documentary unfolding in front of you.
Kruger has some great campsites, but many of them are huge, with lots of sites, so you don’t really feel like you’re getting away from it all. If you’re looking for something a bit wilder, head to the north of the park to Tsendze, camping-only rest camp where there’s no electricity, reception or shop – just peace and quiet at the 34 tree-shaded sites surrounded by the bush.
You’ll need to book far in advance – sometimes even a year ahead – to get a spot at this extremely popular campsite in the heart of Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park. The reason why so many people want to stay here is because of the waterhole next to the camp, which draws thousands of elephant and buffalo, as well as predators, in the dry season (July to October). The bonus is that the campsite has a big hide overlooking the waterhole, so you can do wildlife watching for hours.
The long-running Ngepi Camp has somewhat legendary status in southern Africa. On the banks of the Kavango River across from Bwabwata National Park in the Caprivi Strip, eco-friendly Ngepi is fun and quirky, with its famously wacky toilets (such as Poopa Falls, and the Royal Throne, where the loo is set up on a deck overlooking the river) and hilarious signs posted all over the camp. The campsites are right next to the river, so at night you fall asleep to the piggyish sounds of hippos grunting only a few metres away. If you don’t feel like cooking your own food there’s a restaurant, serving up tasty dishes, and a croc-proof pool in the river to cool off in.
8. Croc Valley Camp, South Luangwa National Park, Zambia
Just outside of South Luangwa National Park, Croc Valley Camp is an inviting campsite with a fantastic location on the banks of the Luangwa River. The campsites are set on lush grounds, shaded by mahogany trees. It’s easy to chill out at the camp, which features a hippo-friendly swimming pool in the river and hammocks to while away hot afternoons in, but Croc Valley also offers activities in the national park, from game drives to walking safaris.
Inspired to go on a camping trip in Africa? We offer a number of overlanding tours where you get to camp in some of Africa’s best campsites.