[This was written by Fran Siebrits and published online by Wild Magazine http://www.wildcard.co.za, 2012] 

Few things in life come close to watching a breathtaking sunset over endless hills while your potjie bubbles away happily at your side. Or enjoying a panorama of silence and eye-candy from the comfort of your fold-out chair. It’s not impossible to find camping destinations with such magnificent views, you just have to know where to find them.

South Africa offers fantastic scenery and some beautifully positioned camping areas. Here are our top sites with the best views that Wild Card members can enjoy:

Storms River Mouth campsite, Garden Route National Park

If these campsites were any closer to the sea, they would be in it! This place really is the spot where you fall asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the rocks and wake up to salty sea air. This particular campsite, alongside the magnificent Storms River Mouth, is a great ambassador for the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park. It boasts indigenous forest, endemic vegetation and wildlife, craggy shores and dramatic seas.

The campsites have well-maintained communal ablution, laundry and washing up facilities. A shop and restaurant are available, otherwise there is a full range of amenities in the nearby Storms River Village. Enquiries: Tel 042 281 1607, gardenroute@sanparks.org, Storms River Mouth home page

Mahai campsite, Royal Natal National Park

This beautiful campsite rests along the Mahai River. It is set at the foot of the Drakensberg and is an adventurer’s paradise. Ablutions are clean and well-maintained; that perfectly soothing hot shower awaits you after a day on these soul-feeding hiking trails. If you would prefer to view the mountain in a more luxurious manner, then a horseback safari is just as tranquil. Fishing is another popular activity, but you might find it hard to leave the comforts of camp.

For a more rustic camping experience within the park, Rugged Glen is another option with exceptional mountain scenery. Enquiries: Tel 036 438 6422, Royal Natal home page

Oukraal campsite, Gamkaberg Nature Reserve

This remote campsite is only available for a single group at a time and takes no more than eight people. The campsite is situated at the top of a mountain plateau, only accessible by 4×4, with fantastic views over the Outeniqua and Swartberg mountains. The remoteness and privacy of this campsite add to the awesomeness of the incredible arid scenery. Although there is a limited amount of water and wood, it is advisable to take all supplies and be completely self-sufficient.

The site is without a shower or flush toilet, so this is real rustic camping where bathing out of a basin and making use of the long drop toilet are required. Enquiries: Tel 044 203 6325, Gamkaberg home page

Kokerboomkloof campsite, Ai-Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

The drive to this campsite is breathtaking, good preparation for what awaits. Lying in the heart of a giant’s boulder playground, the eight campsites are scattered amongst the huge rocks overlooking a spacious arid valley. There are no ablution facilities at the campsite except for dry toilets. Because of the arid nature of the park, there is no water available; visitors must be self-sufficient.

Camping in the park is a rustic affair and not advisable for the novice. But visitors are rewarded with a special serenity that only the semi-desert landscapes can offer. This harsh environment is not for everyone, but those who enjoy a dry climate with stark open space will argue that it is a piece of heaven. The views are well worth every bit of preparation and schlep to get there! Enquiries: Tel 027 831 1506, richtersveld@sanparks.org, Richtersveld home page

Flower season splash
For a great view with no effort at all, treat yourself to a bit of luxurious camping at the Namaqua Flowers Beach Camp in the Namaqua National Park. Tents are already set up, meals are prepared and everything you need is included. This tented camp has gorgeous ocean views, but is only open during the flower season from 15 August to 15 September. Bookings: Tel 012 428 9111, reservations@sanparks.org