Top 5+ Campsites in Southern & Eastern Africa

Lilli Africa, Camping, Everything Else, On the road, Places, Responsible Tourism 2 Comments

Before we set off to our trip the thought of living in a car for almost 9 months scared me a bit, to be honest. Probably because the one and only time that I’ve been camping before was a three week camping trip through New Zealand in winter. But after the first couple of nights in our cozy car I realized how much I love camping and now, back in Hamburg, i miss the beautiful campsites, wild nature around us and being outside 24/7.

I thought this post might be a great opportunity to take a stroll down memory lane and give you some ideas, tipps and inspiration if you are planning your next trip through Africa or if you are already there, looking for a great place to stay. So here they are – our Top 5 Campsites in Southern and Eastern Africa plus an additional list of campsites that we can recommend.

Wildlife Camp – Zambia

Only separated from the National Park through a riverbed lies this little gem. We’ve stayed here during the dry season which means that the riverbed was the only source of water for the wildlife. Therefore we had elephants, hippos, giraffes and even a pack of lions walking only a few steps away from us looking for water and yummy fresh grass. What I enjoyed the most was fleeing from the crazy heat into the pool which is overlooking the riverbed and parts of the national park, watching the wildlife stroll past us. If you are planning on visiting this beautiful place, here are two tips for you: First, there’s a dirt road which goes from the little town ‘Petauke’ almost directly to the South Luangwa National Park. It’s a great route and if you’ve got the time and the nerves for some rough roads you should give it a try. Tip numero two is: stock up on food before you go there. There is a small town nearby (20 minutes by car) where you can buy fresh fruits and veggies but you should take everything else that you might need with you. If you are too lazy to drive all the way to town, there’s a guy visiting the camp site almost every day that sells his home grown veggies to you – a winwin!

We already wrote a whole article about this place which you can find here.

Old Bridge Backpackers – Botswana

Out of all the places we stayed we spent the most nights at the Old Bridge Backpackers. Its located in Maun, the city which is known as the gate to the famous Okavango Delta.
We stayed here more than 3 weeks in total, reading in the sun, going on different tours and drinking beers at night at the bar, meeting locals and travellers alike. The campsite itself is not really spectacular or fancy but it’s the general vibe that makes this place so awesome. The food (especially the burgers) are delicious, drinks aren’t really expensive and at night tourists and locals are meeting up around the pooltable, sharing stories and having fun.

Coffee Shack – South Africa

It’s not too difficult to find a beautiful campsite in South Africa as there is probably no other country that has a camping culture that huge and developed. Amongst all the campsites and backpackers that we visited in our three months in South Africa one that really stood out to us was the Coffee Shack at the Wild Coast. Mostly the beautiful location, the vibe and the cheap rates are what made it so great.
Especially awesome is that they care a lot about ‘Responsible Tourism‘. They hire mostly local people, collect money for social projects, offer tours where you can visit the private households of the locals (in a responsible way) and they recycle trash and water – whoop!
The property is separated into two areas by a small river, one with the main building, dorms, the campsite (for tents), a kitchen and the restaurant. The second area holds a few little huts, another kitchen and a ablution block as well as an area where you can park if you sleep in an overland-vehicle.
Like I already said are the prices for accommodation, daytrips and meals great for every traveller with a tight budged. If you stay for 4 nights you’ll get the 5th night for free and there’s a free potjie (stew) night once every week.

The last thing that made this place so unique is that due to the fact that they include the community into the business and that therefore everyone makes a profit, it is really safe to walk around, even at night (which is a thing that I wouldn’t recommend doing anywhere else in africa!).

Casa Rossa – Malawi

We love this place. We already wrote a whole article about it here and you can read more about the beautiful Zomba Plateau here or visit Mark and Silvia’s website here.

Mushroom Farm – Malawi

I’d say the Mushroom Farm is definitely under the Top 3 accommodations of out trip, maybe even number one.
During the time we visited Malawi it was extremely hot and every night in the car was exhausting. Many people recommended the Mushroom Farm to us and it was clear to us that we would stop there on our way to Tanzania. Driving up the serpentine road which is in a really, really bad condition you reach the Mushroom Farm after an hour. The first thing you’ll notice is that the temperature dropped to a pleasant level due to the higher altitude – a real treat!
The parking area is quite unspectacular but as soon as you get closer to the main area you see why so many people talk about this place – it is where the magic happens. Everywhere are little works of art, pennant chains and fairy lights. Between the trees are hammocks and cozy seating areas are almost everywhere.
But the view (!!) that you have from there is just stunning. You can see the lake and even parts of Mozambique/Tanzania from up there. At night the fisherman light up little lights on their boats underneath you and the african night sky towers above.
Like at the Coffee Shack, Responsible Tourism is a big thing here and the Mushroom Farm considers itself as an Eco-Lodge. They are completely solar powered, recycle water and serve mostly homegrown organic (vegan/vegetarian) food. Superyummy – try the burgers!.

Other Campsites that we really liked:

While sitting in the car for hours and hours, leaving kilometer after kilometer behind us I spend a lot of time searching for campsites along our route that are not only cheap but as pretty as possible as well. I really missed a website with a list of good places that I could trust. Often times the only reviews I could find online where a few years old and, in the end, never really accurate. I always tried to find places that are not too far from each other to avoid driving for too long, that are cheap, clean and safe.

South Africa:
SanParks are found in every South African National Park and we never came across one that we didn’t like.
– Vredendal: there’s a campsite right behind Deons Superspar and Slaghuis (Butchery) just outside of town – opposite of Ruanda Guest House (just ask in the shop).
Fiddlers Creek is close to the border crossing in {Vioolsdrift} and directly at the Orange River.
Amphitheater Backpackers: perfect if you want to spend some time in the { northern Drakensberg mountains}.
The Pumpkin House: No camping but run by the lovely Hanli! If you need a place to stay in {Langebaan} to go Kiting – look no further!
– The Buccaneers Backpacker in {Chintsa} has a HUGE and beautiful camp ground & they offer yummy dinner and a good breakfast.
– The Keurbooms Lagoon Caravan Park in {Plettenberg Bay} is the perfect old-people campsite but is still great. Very clean, right next to the lagoon, kitchen and even washing machines are to be found here.

Namiba:
Klein Aus Vista, Gondwana Collection in {Aus}. So so so pretty – as is every campsite Gondwana runs.
Namibian Wildlife Resorts. Sometimes the facilities are a bit old but always clean.
Tirool. Great for a stop-over. They sell braai-wood & the campsites do have a sink. Stunning surroundings and is somewhere situated in {Tirol/Karas/District Lüderitz}
– Campsite in {Betta}. Right next to the gas station. Uses donkey-boiler. Clean. Good for a stopover.
NamibRand Family Hideout in the {NamibRand Nature Reserve}. You can either rent a whole house or camp at two of their campsites. Make sure to book in advance! Be aware of the fees for the Conservation Area. Beautiful location!
Lagoon Chalets in {Walvis Bay}.
Desert Sky Backpackers in {Swakopmund}.
Porcupine Lodge near {Kamanjab}. Clean and interesting ‘outdoor’ facilities. Porcupines running around at night. Listen to them shuffling about.

Botswana:
Pelican Lodge 5 km south of {Nata}. Was always empty but has a good campsite. Free Wifi in the buildings & a big pool.
Old Bridge Backpackers in {Maun}.
Chobe Safari Lodge in {Kasane}. Huge campsite, clean & fancy facilities and a big pool at the Lodge!

Zimbabwe:
– we only stayed at the Shoestrings Backpacker. It was really one of the worst backpacker we had on our trip but it’s one of the cheapest around the {Victoria Falls}. Dirty, expensive, unfriendly staff and to top it all off rundown as well.

Zambia:
Jollyboys BP is situated in {Livingstone} on the zambian side of the Victoria Falls. Great backpacker. Has a good kitchen, free wifi, good food, a pool and a book exchange. They have a separate campsite as well but we prefered to stay at the BP to mingle with the crowds as the campsite is quite far away
Moorings Campsite {Between Lake Kariba and Lusaka}. Great stopover & pretty campsite. Clean.
Eureka Campsite Great when you don’t want to stay directly in {Lusaka}. It’s quiet and you have giraffes and Zebras strolling around. Pool & Bar.
Wanderers belongs to the LusakaBackpackers and is their campsite as they don’t offer camping at the Backpacker. Has a kitchen, wifi and is close to a mall. Not pretty but well situated in {Lusaka}, safe and clean.
Kiambi Lodge lies in the {Lower Zambezi National Park} and offers rooms as well as campsites. Has a pool and a restaurant and you can book safari tours there. Great views!
Bridge Camp {230 km’s east from Lusaka on the Great East Road} and therefore perfect for a stop over. Clean facilities & a pool but expensive food and drink.
Mama Rulas is also a overnight stop for a lot of organised overland tours and therefor crowded with annoying people (tent packing, getting ready and loud buses leaving early in the morning) but other than that its probably the best place in {Chipata} and its safe and clean.

Malawi:
Cool Runnings – Great. The owner Sam does a lot of social work & projects in the town. Located right at the lake in {Senga Bay}. (little minus for charging overlanders extra for electricity – meh)
Chembe Eagles Nest is in {Cape Maclear} which we didn’t really enjoy but the campsite was clean and you can park right at the beach.
{Nkhotakhota} Pottery its wonderful. Hot showers, clean, HUGE mango trees and you can visit and shop at the pottery.
Makuzi Beach Lodge in {Chintheche}. Neither really friendly nor clean (when we’ve been there – that might have changed meanwhile) but a beautilful beach. Expensive as well.
Sunga Moyo also in {Chintheche} Absolutely rude owner but the campsite is really great and the beach is fantastic. Clean facilities, a restaurant, laundry area and it also has mango trees, yay!
Macondo Camp in {Mzuzu}. Very friendly and yummy food! Manager is a funny, knowledgeable guy.


Tanzania

Karibuni Center in {Mbeya}. The city is horrible but if you’re overlanding and drive from Malawi you probably have to spend a night here. At the center it wasn’t clean at all and we left as soon as we woke up the next morning but it’s okay for the night.
Old Farmhouse Kisolanza near {Ifunda} south of Iringa. It’s great for a stopover or for 2-3 nights if you need some rest. They have a bar/restaurant and you can buy fresh veggies and meat. A few campsites have little huts and electricity. Also the probably cleanest longdrop toilets ever and wonderfull hot showers!
Beach Crab in {Tanga} at the coast of Tanzania. Campsite is right at the beach and you can book snorkling tours. Good breakfast. Be aware of falling coconuts! Salty winds will make your car rust in front of your eyes.

Comments 2

  1. Hey how are you doing? Thanks for mentioning Casa Rossa as one of your favourite places. Are you still traveling? Hope to see you guys again somewhere! Mark & Silvia

    1. Post
      Author

      Hey guys! We are fine and back home since march. How are you and the dogs doing? Say hi from us to Mphatso and the rest of the girls! We’ll try to visit you again as soon as possible 🙂 Lilli & Lukas

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