An African camping trip is one of the most adventurous travel experiences. Many African countries have the unique opportunity to go camping in deserts, in national parks or on remote destinations. We teamed up with other travel bloggers to create a bucket list of the 8 best destinations to go camping in Africa.
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Camping in Africa: 8 best camping experiences for your bucketlist
#1 Camping in Namibia – 4×4 adventure with a rooftop tent
Camping in Namibia was a dream vacation. We traveled around this vast desert country for over three weeks with a 4×4 and rooftop tent, camping on the most beautiful locations around Namibia. Two of our bucket list experiences were safari camping in Etosha National Park and off the beaten patch camping on the lesser-known Brukkaros volcano.
Etosha National Park is one of the most popular destinations in Namibia or perhaps entire Africa because of its self-drive safaris and game drives. The enormous park has several park camps with lodges and camping spots. Camping in Etosha is one of the best ways to fully experience the national park, pitching your (rooftop) tent next to waterholes with rhinos and elephants.
The Brukkaros volcano is not that popular, as it’s not well-known among travelers. You can drive almost all the way up the volcano with a 4×4 to a deserted old campsite. There are no facilities like showers or electricity, making it all the more adventurous. It’s about 30 to 40 minutes walking to the edge of the crater, though it doesn’t look like a volcanic area and more like a vast Namibian landscape. Hike all the way to the top for a stunning view over Namibia – it’s where once old observatories stood – and go stargazing at night at this unique spot in Africa.
#2 Camping in Morocco: magical nights in the Sahara Desert
by Inessa and Natalie of Through a Travel Lens
When it comes to camping in Africa, Morocco is definitely a recommended stop on the travel bucket list. Moroccans know how to turn an overnight stay in the Sahara Desert into an unforgettable experience.
For those who prefer a more comfortable travel style, there is glamping near Merzouga. The adventure starts in the village facing the dunes. Normally, travelers are offered to leave their cars on parking lots of the local kasbahs and to reach camps in the desert either by 4x4s or by camels.
Glamping includes an overnight stay in a luxurious tent with a big bedroom and a private bathroom, as well as wi-fi in the tent, electrical outlets, and many other things that make a stay in the desert highly comfortable. There are usually from 7 to 9 tents per camp. The program covers sumptuous dinners and breakfast, activities by the campfire, as well as desert safari, sandboarding, and camel riding at sunrise or sunset.
One of the best camps in Merzouga is Desert Indigo. It is a relatively new company in the area, and it quickly grows its list of positive feedback from travelers.
For a more authentic camping experience in Morocco, there is Zagora, another small village in the Sahara Desert. It is less touristy and definitely less glamorous. Erg Chigaga in the dunes is harder to reach and the help of the locals will be required. Camping in Zagora means staying in simpler tents and having simpler meals, but it also means witnessing the real tribal life in the desert.
#3 Camping in Botswana: self-drive safari off the beaten track
by Paula from Paula Pins The Planet
One of the best ways to travel and experience Botswana’s landscape and wildlife is by driving and wild camping in the remote safaris.
The beauty, scale, and diversity of Botswana will take your breath away, and while you will be exploring the savannah, swamps, and woodlands with countless birds and wild animals, you won’t ever feel crowded. Botswana’s tourism policies manage visitor numbers for minimum ecosystem impact, and their model is ‘less people, paying a higher price’.
If this adventure is on your bucket list you will need to be prepared before you go wild camping in Botswana. You’ll probably be very isolated during your self-drive and camping safari, and feel like you are completely alone with nature. To be fully prepared, you will need to have a 4×4 vehicle with a rooftop tent. Driving in Botswana is very challenging, with a mix of sandy and muddy roads, and even some points where you will need to cross rivers (during the rainy season).
Wild camping is not allowed in Botswana, so you are only allowed to camp in designed areas in the campsites. Because of the limited campsites and spots available it is wise to plan and book your accommodation well in advance. Travelling around Botswana independently can be affordable, though the country also offers luxury lodges on the main National Parks. While this is a great option of accommodation, be prepared to be presented with a large bill.
#4 Camping in Malawi: pitching your tent at Lake Malawi
by Ed from SafarisAfricana
Malawi is a landlocked country tucked in between Tanzania, Zambia, and Mozambique with its very own ‘inland sea’. Lake Malawi runs north to south along almost the full length of the country and offers some wonderful camping opportunities with jaw-dropping views aplenty.
Whilst there are no traditional campsites in Malawi, the entire length of the lake is with dotted sporadic accommodation options – everything from hostels to luxury safari lodges – and many of these places have camping spaces available. The same is true of the area around popular hiking and climbing spot Mount Mulanje, with all accommodations allowing you to pitch up a ground tent for the night.
The vibe in Malawi is very much independent travel, though unlike most of East and Southern Africa car hire is very expensive, and vehicles fitted with rooftop tent are almost unheard of. But basic public transport in the form of minibusses and tuk-tuks is ubiquitous and cheap, and allows you to explore much of the country with a pop-up tent.
April is peak season when lodges get very busy and you’ll need to book ahead – even to ensure a tent pitch – but the rest of the year it’s usually fine to turn up with your tent and no reservations. It’s worth knowing that supplies at lodges for doing any self-catering while camping in Malawi are limited, so it pays to stock up on food ahead of arrival.
#5 Camping in South Africa: bucket list Garden Route camping
by Alya & Campbell from Stingy Nomads
South Africa is one of the best countries for camping around the world. Great weather, incredible nature, and unique wildlife create a perfect camping environment. Camping is one of the favorite weekend/holiday activities in South Africa, the high demand results in many fantastic camping spots all over the country; from safari parks and beaches to indigenous forests and mountains.
Rooftop tents and RVs are the most popular ways of camping at game reserves and safari parks. It’s easy to rent a fully equipped 4×4 car with a rooftop tent and camping gear. Many campsites offer set tents for rent. It’s the easiest way for those who like camping but prefer to travel light. Braai (BBQ) is an inseparable part of the camping experience in South Africa. Every camping spot at every campsite has a set braai place where campers BBQ meat, vegetables, and toast sandwiches.
Out of many great areas for camping in South Africa, the Garden Route is definitely one of the most beautiful. The combination of the stunning Pacific Coast, endless white-sand beaches, the evergreen indigenous forest, and a variety of outdoor activities makes camping here unforgettable. Camping sites inside the National Parks (SANParks) are some of the best on the Garden Route. Ebb & Flow campsite situated on the river banks near Wilderness and Storms River Mouth rest camp on the coast are the two not to miss on the Garden Route. Both places boast stunning locations, have good facilities, and are very affordable.
#6 Camping in Madagascar: camping boat trip along the Tsiribihina river
by Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Madagascar is famous for its otherworldly landscapes and unique wildlife that you won’t see anywhere else on earth. Taking a boat trip and camping along the remote Tsiribihina River is an experience you’ll never forget and one that gives you an authentic look into the Malagasy way of life.
On your three day boat trip down the Tsiribihina River, you will see incredible sights, like sunsets over baobab trees, small villages with waving kids, lemurs up in trees and huge Nile crocodiles. The scenery is very peaceful as you slowly float down the river. A highlight is taking a refreshing dip under a beautiful waterfall that can only be accessed by boat.
Each night your boat crew will set up a tent for you on the sandbank among other tourists that are traveling by boat. Dinner is served on the boat and is usually finished off with some ginger infused rum and Malagasy music around the campfire. It’s the trip of a lifetime!
Your boat cruise ends in the town of Belo, where you can continue your trip to the famous Tsingy De Bemaraha National Park, a stone forest created by an ancient ocean. Customizable private tours can be booked with Helinirina Raharomanana Tours, a local company with very reasonable prices. It’s not recommended to do this journey on your own, as it would be unsafe without a guide.
#7 Camping in Tanzania: safari camping at the Serengeti
by Joanna from The World in my Pocket
Camping in Tanzania is probably one of the most unique ways to experience the varied wildlife of the country. When you opt for a budget safari in Tanzania, accommodation will be always in a tent, in one of the camping sites around Serengeti National Park. Depending on which company you are going on a guided safari with, the tents can be smaller or bigger, have mattresses or even beds inside. Usually you will share the tent with someone else, unless you pay a single supplement.
See which guided safari’s to the Serengeti are currently offered and what type of tent accommodation they provide.
The campsites in Tanzania are very clean, some of them even with hot water. The kitchen of the camp is usually a concrete building, where cooks are preparing the food before the tourists get back from the safari.
The beauty of camping starts once everyone has finished their meals and have gone to bed. The darkness brings with it first the hyenas, who roam around the camp looking for food, smelling the garbage bins that are locked inside the concrete building. Then, after midnight, the lions start to roar. As it is so quiet, even if they are two kilometers away, it feels like they are just outside the tents. As the sun prepares to rise, in the morning, zebras are roaming freely, grazing around the camp. It’s a true spectacle of nature!
#8 Camping in Kenya: luxury camping between wildlife
by Pamela from The Directionally Challenged Traveler
One of the best things to see on an African safari is the Great Migration. The largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world is home to millions of animals and an incredible ecosystem. The Mara Bush Camp in Kenya is located right in the heart of the Maasai Mara Reserve.
Safaris in Kenya include some of the most diverse wildlife in all of Africa due to the variety of ecosystems. You’ll have the opportunity to spot gazelle, zebras, giraffes, lions, cheetahs, leopards, wildebeest, and more! Near the river, you may also be able to spot hippopotamus’ in the water or crocodiles tanning on the riverbed. While sitting on the patio of the camp, we were actually able to see hippos bathing in the river!
Staff guarded the area to protect from roaming wildlife, and escort guests at night around camp. Mara Bush Camp has all the amenities you’d want in a luxury hotel – so it doesn’t even feel like camping. The canvas tents have wooden floors and even a small patio area. Enjoy the delicious food prepared by a chef, or relax with a drink at the bar, or relax by the fire pit.
The diverse ecosystem and plentiful wildlife make the Maasai Mara one of the best places for safari.
See which guided safari’s in Kenya are currently offered.