If you are looking for a pleasant experience in a dedicated camping area or planning on roughing it is South Africa’s bush, there are always several considerations to make when choosing your campsites.
A good camping spot is not always the one closest to the kids play area for your little one or close to the river for your boat. There are plenty of hidden gems off the track and just as many hidden nightmares in the most most appealing spot.
Following some of the tips below will get you a campsite that fits you perfectly.
Check out your campsites the ground
Getting a good flat spot is a must, particularly if you have a five year old on a blow up mattress. They tend to roll onto the floor in the middle of the night. Getting up ten times during the night to pop them back into bed is not a fun camping activity. This I speak of first hand 🙂 Beers also tend to tip over all on their own, no explanation at all.
Even if you are not sleeping on the ground, it may be a good idea to sweep (if possible) the ground before you pitch your tent. We spend a lot of time without shoes on camping holidays and stepping on stones under your tent floor is just as rewarding as Lego foot attacks.
Have a quick look around for insect and animal activity. Ants and bees are of particular annoyance. Try to avoid the campsites that have hives and hills around. Snakes are not the most welcome guests either. They tend to look for warm places to sleep and you may very well end up with an unplanned visit in the middle of the night.
If you are planning on swimming on your holiday you have two choices. The first is a planned swim in a river or swimming pool. The second (unplanned) option is your campsite. If the site is a well and often used, the ground will be heavily compacted leaving little chance of drainage and a big chance of free swimming lessons.
Knowing what may be in store above your head at your campsites is essential if you want to avoid things that go bump in the night.
Having big trees around may be the greatest thing ever for your little monkeys to keep them busy for a few hours, not so much for falling branches in the middle of the night. Many established campsites have big (and old) trees all around and there is always the chance of falling branches. Also be on the lookout for steep rock faces, rock falls are a very real and dangerous threat.
Birds can also ruin your day by not only dropping their fruits onto your tent but can be quite rude by doing their other business without any consideration that you have to scrub your tent when you have to pack up.
Pick your surroundings carefully.
Having a look around your immediate surroundings can help you get the best out of your camping holiday.
Being right next to the water may make for good social media shots, it is important to remember though that water attracts insects and thirsty animals, flooding is also a threat that you may want to consider. Condensation on the inside of your tent is also more likely if you are near the water
There are some areas that have strong winds in South Africa. If you are in one of those regions that is known for strong winds, you may want to shelter yourself behind a tree line or hill. Remember to be far enough away to avoid falling branches and rock slides.
Tents can get very hot and stuffy in direct sunlight so if that is something that you may not enjoy, take into account a campsite that would be shaded in the times that you would like a cooler temperature.
While camping is often seen as a social event to be enjoyed by friends and an extended family, not all of us share the same sentiment.
When picking your campsite, be sure to check who is next to you, if you would prefer to have a quiet time, check if the family next to you fits into your idea of quiet. And on the flip side, try as best as possible to be considerate of your neighbors too. While dealing with your own rowdy crowd may be fine for you, it may not be for others.
Also be aware of your campsites boundaries. Some campers can be as territorial as a bush pig mommy protecting her young. Tripping over your neighbors tent pegs at night is no fun, and them listening to you snore through the night could be exhausting for them too 🙂 please keep the peace by keeping the space.
Check the local rule book
Being a good camper means that your are aware of your campsites rules and regulations.
Knowing exactly what you are or are not allowed to do is just good practice . Many of our campsites are in national parks and have strict no fire policies outside of the designated areas. Some sites have no noise rules after certain times so do not be “that guy” who blasts music until the early hours.
The above are just two examples of some of the rules that may be standard in some sites. They are in place not only for the preservation of our beautiful environment but also for your safety. Some rules are in place also for the comfort of other campers so please be considerate of those around you and take note of the rules.