Glamping really is on the up in terms of travel – not just in South Africa but all around the world.

It exists, it's trending and it’s an exciting way to connect with nature – without having to shower in slip slops.

Africa, we know, is not for sissies – it’s hot and harsh and full of goggas, and while we all want to experience the kaleidoscopic colour of an African sunrise, the unique smell of the grasslands and the thrill of coming up close and personal with beasts that could potentially eat you, we’re not prepared to sacrifice a down duvet, a ball and claw bath and room service. Welcome to glamping, where no sacrifices need to be made – because ‘roughing it’ just got fancy.

At Black Leopard Camp, a luxury tented camp situated in the malaria-free Thaba Tholo Wilderness Reserve just outside Lydenburg (only three-and-a-half hours from Johannesburg), the safari experience differs greatly from the traditional eat-sleep-game drive lodge experience, because Black Leopard immerses you completely into the bush – without cutting the frills.

If you think there is absolutely nothing glamorous about camping, you have obviously not yet been exposed to ‘glamping’ – aka glamorous camping.

The tented ‘suites’ all boast large, plush beds – the type you never want to leave; mini-bars, complete with chocolate bars and wine; large decks on which to sip your G&Ts; and en-suite bathrooms. Each suite also boasts an outdoor bush bathroom – some with outdoor showers and others with baths – from where you can soak in the memories of a fantastic day, with the cliffs and the blue sky as your roof.

In fact, relaxation is one of Black Leopard’s greatest offerings. You don’t have to do a single thing while you visit, which is perfect if you just need some down time. You can sit on your own deck with binoculars by your side, in case a winged predator makes an appearance over the 500 metre high cliffs, or you can lie next to the splash pool at the main lodge with a book and a great view… whatever you choose – it’s your break.

But for those who want to embrace bush life, there are amazing bush walks (for novices and advanced walkers) that can lead you to waterfalls, rivers, protea-dotted mountaintops and even ruins, from early pioneers (the Voortrekkers) to ancient indigenous tribes. You can mountain bike these trails, too.

But if walking and biking seems like too much hard work, then join the daily game drives with wonderfully experienced guides who will introduce you to all the creatures, great and small. The area is home to the legendary black leopard, which can be elusive, but it’s the fun of the search that will captivate you. And with such a large number of game and bird species that don’t mind being spotted, you will be able to spend many hours traversing the scenic mountain tracks to find mountain reedbuck; black eagle; oryx; many, many kudu bulls; giraffe; and the newly introduced buffalo herd.

And, in the evening, the unbelievable display of stars will illuminate your dinner, whether served in the lapa or self-catered in your own suite. Even with the naked eye, the night sky in this area is something spectacular to behold. For anyone with a passion for the celestial, this will be the highlight of your visit.

It is under these same stars that Black Leopard Camp also offers its Fireside Learning experience – where, with well-deserved drink in hand, you can recap what you learnt that day in the bush with the guides and camp owner, Alan Watson, ask the questions you forgot to ask or delve deeper into a subject in which you are interested. At the end of your stay, you will leave more knowledgeable about the bush and the wonderful animals you have experienced.

Of course, after the day’s excitement, it’s back to your canvas lap of luxury, where you can snuggle up warmly in your bed and drift off to sleep to the cacophony of bush sounds that surround you.

Put this way, ‘glamping’ is not just an alternative option to its rougher sister ‘camping’ – it’s the only option!

What’s the deal?

Black Leopard Camp offers both full catering and self-catering options:

Full catering availability: 18 March 2016 to 5 April 2016; 20 July 2016 to 31 September 2016

Self-catering availability: 1 November 2016 to 17 March 2016; 6 April 2016 to 19 July 2016; 1 October 2016 to 15 January 2017

Package includes:

·      Both options include accommodation in luxury, en-suite tents that are fully serviced.

·      Transfers to and from the camp from the pick-up point.

·      Full catering also includes: all meals; 1 x game drive per day; unlimited teas and coffees.

·      Self-catering also includes: 1 x chef to assist with food preparation and cooking if needed, and firewood.


Full catering:

·      R1 250 per adult sharing per night in the Valley View units or R1 500 per adult sharing per night in the River View units.

·      Single supplement is an additional 25%.

·      Children under 12, sharing with parents, will be charged at 50%. No charge for children under two.


·      R675 per adult sharing per night over weekends (Fri and Sat) and R500 per adult sharing per night midweek (Sun to Thurs).

·      Single supplement is an additional 25%.

·      Children under 12, sharing with parents, will be charged at 50%. No charge for children under two.

Please note: Activities are charged separately.


Black Leopard Camp

Tel: 082 692 9665

Join Black Leopard Camp on Facebook.

Glamping around the world

Glamping really is on the up in terms of travel – not just in South Africa but all around the world. It’s big in Asia, Europe, Australia, the Americas and even the United Kingdom. In Africa, the glamping experience is safari-orientated, with game drives during the day and dinner under the stars by night. In Asia, they cheat a little by offering a ‘rougher’ luxury experience adjoined to some five-star hotels (although in Mongolia, guests can stay in a traditional yurt). Australia’s glamping focuses on the Outback, where people can enjoy stunning skies and solitude in the desert environment. And in North America, which has only recently jumped on this experience bandwagon, you can find five-star accommodation in tipis, tents and yurts. South America offers very exciting glamping experiences at some eco-lodges, which are set in the extreme jungles – hope you like poisonous frogs! And then there is the UK, which has offered glamping for many years now – but we are not sure cottages in the British countryside really count. If you move slightly south, you will find some exciting treehouses in France.