Glamping is when you leave behind the beaten track but not the creature comforts of modern life. Experience this in a Big 5 reserve in South Africa and you’ve found the safari ‘sweet spot’ – the ultimate combination of wild and luxury.
So, what’s the biggest difference between camping and glamping (‘glamorous camping’)? While there definitely is a spectrum covering what constitutes glamping and camping, the main distinction between the two is that glamping includes accessibility to modern entertainment (and possibly wi-fi), private bathroom facilities, air conditioning, fine dining, and so forth. If you’re bedding down in the wilderness on an actual bed, instead of the ground, then you’re glamping.
Regular camping epitomizes the ‘bare necessities’ type outdoor getaway in the basic setup of a canvas fly-tent, sleeping bag and bonfire under the stars. It embraces old-school rustic simplicity and roughing it out in the wild, that will have you reminiscing about your days in the Scouts. It is one of the best ways to completely check out of civilization for a while and recharge your own – not your phone – battery.
To stay true to the camping part of ‘glamourous camping’, a glamping safari experience still has that authentic under canvas aspect, instead of built structures, and by ideally accommodating only a few guests, it keeps the quiet and intimate coziness of regular camping. Ultimately, a stay at a glamping safari camp like Rhino Sands, means that you are still immersed and open to the sensory experience of being in the bush, but not exposed to nature’s harsher elements.
The glamping getaway experience
Every day in the bush is a unique and exciting adventure. Part of the glamping safari experience are the time-honored traditions and modern surprises that take on a local twist. All of these are opportunities creatively curated by your glamping hosts to inspire you to truly appreciate the enchanting beauty and peace that the African bush holds.
Some of the simplest yet special moments on a game drive are the rest stops, in the morning for coffee and tea, and in the evening for chilled drinks and snacks. Imagine bush picnics and riverbed barbeques in the middle of outstanding Big 5 game territory. They encourage you to disconnect from the busy digital world and reconnect with yourself and your travel partners in a tranquil setting.
Even back at camp, nature combines with little luxuries in stylish living areas, like plush lounge areas, bars stocked with premium wines and spirits, and viewing decks from which to do some casual bird watching. Respite from the midday heat is just a dive away, in the privacy of the plunge pool outside your tent and with the possible ‘visitor’ or two stopping for a drink at a nearby watering hole or river below.
Safari dining is an experience all in itself – it’s just not a true glamping getaway without gourmet meals set in locations handpicked for incredible wilderness views. Think three-course dinners showcasing renowned South African flavors and ingredients enjoyed under an equally famous starlit African sky. And then, enjoying night caps around the campfire sharing stories before heading off to your tent to fall asleep in a four-poster bed. It’s a far cry from a sleeping bag on the ground!
Glamping gone wild
The African elephant, lion, leopard, Cape buffalo and rhino (black and white) are the magnificent animals collectively known as the Big 5. They were once revered by big game hunters as the most dangerous and difficult animals in Africa to bring down successfully, without injury (or death!) to the shooter. Now, decades later and after much conservation work, the Big 5 remain respected not for anything hunting-related but instead celebrated as part of the continent’s natural heritage.
South Africa is a stronghold of the Big 5, with national and private wilderness areas, like Manyoni Game Reserve in the heart of Zululand, providing refuge to some of Africa’s most endangered wildlife species. While they may all be similar in some ways, for instance in strength and size, each animal has its own big personality, unique characteristics and is a spectacular sighting to have in the wild.
Whether you see just some or all members of the Big 5, this is an African safari experience that will leave an indelible imprint on your mind. And then pairing these exhilarating animal encounters with tented luxury are what makes a glamping safari experience in South Africa just that much more unforgettable!
Feature photo courtesy of Rhino Sands.