How to Choose the Best Campsite
Choosing the best campsite depends largely on your needs. If you’re looking to truly rough it, you might consider little more than location when choosing the perfect spot.
However, if you’re after a glamping expedition, want some convenience, or are traveling with small children, you’ve got some investigating to do before you book a campsite. These are the main things to consider when looking for a good campsite on these occasions.
During peak season, campgrounds can get filled to capacity. This means you could find yourself cramped into a small space with your nearest neighbours within arm’s reach.
You’ll also encounter more noise at these times, and management’s not always available to assist in keeping the noise down. So, it’s important to ask about the size of the campsites before booking during busy times of the year.
The larger or further apart the campsites are, the better.
During quiet times of the year, you won’t have a problem with spaciousness and privacy as most campgrounds should have plenty of space to spare. This doesn’t preclude inconsiderate campers from setting up camp on your doorstep though.
If you’re travelling to a very hot destination, shade is an important factor when choosing a campsite. Some campsites offer shaded gazebo-type structures, while others might only have trees. Remember, some trees lose their leaves in winter, so bear that in mind when choosing a winter campsite in a warm destination.
Bathrooms and Kitchens
In some cases, gathering after dinner to wash the dishes at a communal kitchen is part of the fun of camping and a chance to meet your fellow campers.
For others, sharing bathrooms and kitchens is inconvenient and invasive. Nowadays, more campsites are offering private ablutions and kitchen areas per campsite. So, if you don’t like sharing, rather choose a campsite that offers individual kitchen facilities on each site.
Remember, open bathrooms and kitchens can be attractive to insects and the snakes that like to snack on them, so for safety’s sake find out if the bathroom and kitchen areas are completely sealed before you book.
You might also want to make sure you have a stove to use if you’re going camping during the rainy season where an unexpected shower could interrupt your fireside cooking plans.
Naturally, the more bells and whistles you want, the more you’ll pay for your campsite. So, if you have champagne taste and a beer budget, you’ve got some decisions to make.
You could either plan a shorter stay, travel out of season, or adjust your wish list to suit what you can afford.
Like communal amenities, candlelight and gas lamps are part of the charm of camping out in the great outdoors. Yet, many of us still want or need electricity for some things, like charging cell phones and cameras.
A campsite with a power point is a major convenience and something to consider when booking your campsite.
Most campsites offer a central water point, or taps shared between a few campsites.
At campgrounds that don’t allow you to prebook specific sites in advance, you can get around this by making sure you pitch your tent as close as possible to the tap but having a dedicated water point of your own is a major convenience.
Camping is a family friendly activity, so it’s rare that you’ll come across a campground that doesn’t allow children. It pays to check whether your chosen campsite has any facilities for youngsters though. A jungle gym, kiddies pool, or daily entertainment program are ideal.
You might be looking forward to relaxing with a good book under the trees, but your children will need something more entertaining to keep them out of your hair.
Planning for your pets during your holiday can be an expensive and anxiety-inducing undertaking. The good news is that some campgrounds allow small well-behaved pets.
Ask about this when planning your stay.
Are you keen to spend some time off the beaten track? Remember, remote campsites might require a 4×4 to get there.
In Namibia especially, many roads are impassable with an ordinary sedan car after heavy rains. Always check if you’ll need a 4×4 to reach the camp and remember, not all 4x4s are created equal, so enquire with the campsite if yours makes the grade before you book.
There’s nothing worse than getting within a few kilometres of your destination and having to turn back, or damaging your vehicle trying to negotiate rough terrain.
If you get stuck in one of these out-of-the-way places you could be stranded for hours, especially if the cell phone signal is poor.
Apart from children’s activities you want some onsite amenities to enjoy on a family holiday.
In extremely hot destinations, a pool can be a lifesaver as well as a source of entertainment.
Other top options are games rooms, gyms, and sports like tennis, badminton, or volleyball.
A restaurant’s a great convenience for days when you don’t want to cook and an on-site shop’s always handy when you need to pick up a few essentials without having to drive off to the nearest town.
Usually, you’ll look for campsites near the attraction you want to visit, such as a game reserve, or seaside town.
Some campsites are worth booking for their onsite attractions alone, but you’ll want to ensure there’s plenty to do offsite too. These could be historic sites, nightlife, natural phenomena, or activities like mountain biking or horse riding.
Read Reviews Before You Book
Websites and glossy advertisements can be misleading. Always look for reviews about your chosen campground before you book.
Not only will these word-of-mouth accounts give you an impression of how good the campground is, but you can also gain valuable insights when reading them. Reviewers might mention a few extra things you should bring along for a more comfortable stay or give clues about things to do in the area.
Find the Best Campsites with African Camping Guide
All the campgrounds listed on our site are thoroughly vetted and approved. In most cases we’ve spent time at these places too, so you’ll find valuable information to help you arrange your stay.
Browse our listings to find out more or get in touch if you need any help finding your ideal camping accommodation.