Experience the ultimate in luxury camping in Swellendam
It's a bright starry night. Crickets chirping in the distance add a subtle note to Mother Nature’s soundtrack - a gentle reminder that I’m far from home yet close enough not to miss it.
We had checked into AfriCamps at Kam’Bati a few hours earlier. The three-hour drive from Cape Town to Swellendam left us irritable and testy. If that wasn’t enough, we arrived smack, bang in the middle of Stage 6 load shedding.
But that all seemed inconsequential as I took in the scene before me. Thousands of stars blotted the night sky like a snapshot from Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. All seemed right with the world and my phone had no reception - a blessing in disguise.
Here’s where into go full disclosure mode: I don’t do well with the outdoors. In fact, camping and me are not friends. I discussed the irony of this at length with the hubby when I’d reminisce on my childhood and how we went camping along the coast.
One of my favourite memories included a trip to Palmiet Caravan Park in Kleinmond. Logic dictates that I’d want to pass on these memories to my own children. But alas, this hasn’t been the case.
So when the opportunity came up to go glamping for a few days, I jumped at the chance.
My enthusiasm didn’t rub off on the rest of the family. When asking “are you excited?”, I was met with blank stares and more questions than satisfied answers.
The 10-year-old’s only concern was if there was wi-fi, while my daughter wanted to know how deep the pool is, and if there are snakes in the river.
Yes and no when it comes to the wi-fi - because Kam’Bati is situated in a wi-fi dead zone; the only internet signal is literally at reception. Chances are you won’t even miss the lack of wi-fi, and if you do want to post those Insta-worthy pictures, just take a walk up to reception.
When it comes to kids’ activities, there’s so much for the little ones to do. There are three swimming pools and slides for all ages with sufficient shaded areas when the day gets too hot.
Because the camp is situated where the Sonderend River and Breede River meet, there are hidden rock pools and swimming areas that the older ones can explore.
Kam’Bati appeals to the adventurous at heart with its mountain bike trails, canoeing and fishing.
But it’s the glamping experience that probably draws the crowds to the camping spot.
Yes, it’s a beautiful setting for nature-loving, birth-watching, adventure-seeking tourists. But what’s the one thing people want to do after a long day of adventuring? Soak up a killer view in the comfort of your hot tub. That’s exactly what Africamps offers. It sold us the marketing dream of an outdoor, wood-fired hot tub, and it delivered.
Each of the five luxury boutique tents has its own hot tub. For couples, it’s as romantic as you’re going to get. For families like ours, it was a novelty that the kids soon got into after realising why walk all the way to the pool when you have your own mini pool?
A quick tip: as soon as checking in, fire up the hot tub as it takes hours to heat up. By the time the sun sets, you can settle in with a drink in hand and admire nature in its infinite glory.
The tents are located on the edge of a forest with walking trails that lead to a river. No doubt when winter comes around the sedate body of water becomes a raging torrent, so it’s best to keep your wits about you when exploring this part of the camp.
Glamping is nothing like camping. Forget looking for electrical outlets or sharing your sleeping bag with unwanted guests. Africamps have thought about everything when it comes to making your stay as comfortable as possible.
Each tent is fully stocked with a kitchen, seating area and two bedrooms, which sleep five. No need to bring cutlery; all you need are clothes, food and swimming towels.
The deck has ample enough space to entertain, eat and braai. And if you don’t feel like braaing, take a short drive into Swellendam and visit one of its restaurants.
The bedding is hotel quality, which ensures you’ll have a restful night’s sleep. But beware of the mosquitoes and many flies. We found that if we closed the front entrance to the tent before nightfall, it kept the creepy crawlies out. With that in mind, it is the wild, so be prepared to encounter a few unknown insects.
Because the plot isn’t exclusive to Africamps visitors, it could get crowded in peak season. My advice is to visit once the school holidaymakers leave. That way you can experience all the activities at your leisure.