Finding well-kept campsites with outdoor activities can sometimes feel overwhelming. Michael and Acacia have been traveling South Africa full time for over a year in their self-converted tiny home on wheels known as Yeti the Van and they have made it their mission to find and review campsites across the country. A highlight for the couple is mountain biking and these are their top 5 campsites + a bonus bike park that should definitely be added to your travel list especially for mountain biking. These campsites are well maintained and all offer a different experience when it comes to the location, the views, and the surrounding terrain.
ORANGE VILLA GUEST HOUSE
STELLENBOSCH | WESTERN CAPE
With only 4 sites this is a small but very well maintained campsite. You can expect grassy sites, treat yourself to the swimming pool, laze in the wood fired hot tub or enjoy a hot shower after a busy day. Situated just outside of the town Stellenbosch this campsite is in the perfect location when it comes to wine tasting, food dining and, most importantly, mountain biking. Bethlehem Plaas is 1km from the campsite and has various multi-use trail networks for all skill leveled mountain bikers, hikers and trail runners. These routes are well pathed single-track trails that make use of berms and jumps as you descend. This trail park sits at the top of our list with its scenic mountain views and well maintained trails. A day permit for Bethlehem Plaas MTB is R80, received from the Banhoek Chilli conservancy which is also a great restaurant to eat at. Nearby you can visit Boschendal Wine Estate which has access to multiple mountain biking trails as well as a small pump track. Trails are well marked with large berms on the descents. Some trails were under maintenance to improve the berms and jump sections.
MERRY PEBBLES RESORT
SABIE | MPUMALANGA
Merry Pebbles campsite is located along the Sabie River, just outside the town of Sabie in Mpumalanga. A very large campsite with all the amenities one could think of including a top up shop, liquor store, restaurant, cold pool, heated pool, outdoor activities, communal ablutions and most importantly, multiple mountain biking trails. 6 routes start at Merry Pebbles and riding options range from flat and easy to gravel roads or single-track that span the full range from technical to family-friendly. These scenic trails lead you through tunnels of indigenous forest along the Sabie river, through pine plantations and past mighty waterfalls. Their common blue route requires moderate fitness and bike skill levels. The 25km breath-taking loop route includes two large waterfall attractions, the Lisbon Falls and later Bridal Veil Waterfall. R30 day permits are purchased at Merry Pebbles reception.
CEDERBERG | WESTERN CAPE
Algeria campsite is located among the majestic Cederberg Mountains. This campsite is very remote, only accessible via gravel roads which are manageable with a 2×4 vehicle, however this does mean you need to go prepared. We recommend a full tank of fuel and enough food/ water supplies. Algeria Campsite also has cabins run by Cape Nature which, on check-in, give you automatic hiking and mountain biking permits for the trails that all start within the campsite. Algeria is a large campsite with scenic views, large trees for shade, electrical points, and communal ablutions with wash up stations. Various trails lead from the campsite and its best to use a tracking app as the trails aren’t all clearly marked. These trails are slightly more challenging as you traverse the rocky Cederberg terrain enjoying stunning mountain views – highly recommended. A bucket list hiking trail is the Algeria waterfall, a 5km 350meter elevation is a great workout with rewarding views from the top!
FRANSCHHOEK | WESTERN CAPE
The Franschhoek campsite, surrounded by vineyards and with resident springbok, lies just outside of the main town overlooking the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve mountains. It is a very well maintained campsite with semi-private grass sites and personal ablutions rebuilt from old reservoirs. Access to a communal swimming pool and wood fired hot tub are great for ending off a busy day. The Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is a beautiful natural oasis with multiple trails for hiking, mountain biking and trail running. These trails include jeep tracks and single-track trail sections, however the routes are not marked out clearly so it’s best to use a device with maps to track your cycle. One can enjoy a scenic contour around a large dam or scale the mountains for a birds eye view over Franschhoek. Alternatively, a cycle from the campsite to the town is roughly 5km along a tarmac sidewalk – there are many great restaurants, local wine tasting and other attractions such as the painting pig, Pigcasso.
ROUTE 62 | WESTERN CAPE
Oaks Rest campsite is a hidden gem on Route 62, with only 4 private grassy sites perched along a freshwater dam with vineyards and mountain views. A communal kitchenette with fridges/ freezers and ablutions along with a washing machine make staying at this campsite as a long term stop viable. 2 cycle trails lead you around Oaks Rest farm through vineyards along single-track trails, including slightly rocky sections with intermediate level berms and jumps available. One can also cycle the surrounding jeep trails to explore the farmlands. This pristine campsite is the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy the peaceful nature around.
BONUS – GARDEN ROUTE TRAIL PARK
GARDEN ROUTE | WESTERN CAPE
A slight detour off the main road near Sedgefield and you’ll find the Garden Route Trail Park. There is no campsite but alternative accommodation options are available. But, here the best part is the trail park itself! With a restaurant, swimming pool, hydration station, bike wash, ablutions with lockers and hot water as well as a large pump track and multiple trails what more could you ask for in one spot. The pump track has many routes with many berms and jumps of all sizes. Endless single-track trails snake their way through ancient forests and fly through freshwater streams, shady fern glades and forest tunnels. Downhill pumps, berms and jumps are common, sending your adrenaline pumping. You may even spot the world famous tracks ridden in “Dawn of the Dirt”. Day or annual permits are needed – no cash, you pay via the mySoS App or EFT with your name and cell number as reference. This trail park is a must ride!