So, living in Cape Town is probably not the most stressful place to live, with our beautiful beaches, mountain and friendly locals. But I for one like to occasionally get away from the city life over weekends and spend some good quality outdoor time.
Now I know ideally when I think ‘camping’, I would like it to be somewhere far away, secluded, quiet and possibly tricky to get to. But time and budget wise, I can’t afford a 2 week safari through Africa too often. So I have recently been going on short, affordable getaway weekends, closer to home. And I have found some amazing alternatives!
Just last weekend, Cape Town was storming, and it was snowing places in SA that it had never snowed before. But a couple of friends and I decided to go camping in Yzerfontein up the west coast regardless of the weather. Not expecting too much, we arrived there after a short 30min drive from Cape Town. And we were shocked! For a normal camp site, this place was amazing. Thick green grass everywhere, with massive trees dividing and covering each camp site. Clean ablution blocks, right next to the beach and a great lookout deck right on top of a sand dune overlooking the beautiful Yzerfontein beach and Bird Island. We had complete privacy due to the thick trees, never mind the great surfing conditions! I will definitely be back there very soon.
On route to Yzerfontein, there is another west coast gem that I think few people actually know of. Atlantis sand dunes, 25km out of Cape Town. You WILL need a 4×4, a permit and you are not allowed to stay overnight. So it is not exactly a camp site, but it is remarkable that there are sand dunes and off roading like that, only a few minutes out of Cape Town. Ideal if you want to go spend the day braaing (designated areas), go see what your 4×4 can do on the massive dunes or take your motorbike or quads out for a complete thrill. With the massive area of the dunes, you could spend an entire Sunday there, and not see another person. Getting lost is unfortunately a reality since everything looks the same, like I found out once. I go there almost weekly and always have an amazing time.
If you are willing to go a bit further, another brilliant lesser known location I have camped at is the “Waterval” Campsite outside of Porterville. Roughly 140km from Cape Town. It has been a long time since I have been to De Waterval, but every time I discuss going on a camping trip with my friends, ‘Waterval ‘ is always one of our top choices. It’s got amazing camp sites sheltered in a valley, all running parallel to a river/stream. About 200m upstream from the campsite there are 2 beautiful waterfalls and pools to swim in. And if you are into your hiking, there is a really beautiful hike up to the top of the valley, with breathtaking views.
Another of my favourite camping locations that is not too far away, is Algeria in the Cederberg. It’s a bit further than the previous two locations, but it is well worth it. The first time I went to Algeria, it was mid winter and freezing cold! But it was an absolutely amazing get away. Since it being winter, we were the only people there. Only people for kilometers I believe.
The campsite is great, right at the foot of a mountain, right next to a big river with thick green grass covering the entire campsite. There are a couple of hiking trails around for the hiking type. The trail we walked up was very long and steep. It was a good 2 hour hike one way, but it was well worth it. At the top, you look down an extremely high waterfall overlooking the entire valley. Really beautiful views and pools to swim in, and trust me, a cool down swim is needed after that hike. It was really a great weekend away. We even saw some wildlife come right up to our tents!
These are just a few of my favorites around the Western Cape that are affordable, nearby, easily accessible to anyone and maybe most importantly, family friendly. Hot showers and clean bathrooms. I would really recommend any of these locations to anyone for a quick and easy getaway, from first time campers to the veterans.
Just pack your things, get in your car and drive. If you have never been camping before, now might be a great time to start. Have a look at easionline.com or any outdoor shop, get yourself some equipment and get out there!
You will never look back.