Go off the grid on your next trip

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In the days of old being environmentally friendly entailed pitching a tent, lighting the fire and having a cold shower. But, you no longer have to give up on your creature comforts to stay green. We rounded up some off-the-grid stays in South Africa’s National Parks where your impact on Mother Nature is minimal.

Gannakouriep  – /Ai/Ais- Richtersveld Transfrontier Park

These stone and canvas structures are situated far from civilization and you are sure to enjoy the surroundings. There are four units available.

Energy: Gas stove and solar powered fridge and geyser.

Note: Bring your own drinking water and firewood.

Cost: R923 for two people.

Vhembe Wilderness Camp – Mapungubwe National Park

Tucked away on a ridge within a valley and with only four units, Vhembe is a great option for a secluded breakaway. While rustic, each unit comes with beautiful views and private braai areas.

Energy: Solar lights in the units and a gas stove in the kitchen.

Note:  It is an unfenced camp so animals can move through the area freely. There is a communal kitchen and lapa area.

Cost: R858 for two people.

Vhembe Wilderness Camp

Mountain Cottages – Mountain Zebra National Park

Take in the park’s atmosphere by booking one of two secluded and rustic mountain cottages. Tucked away in the rocky surroundings, you are bound to experience tranquillity.

Energy: The kitchen has a gas stove and gas-powered fridge/freezer. Hot water shower is gas-powered.

Note: Access only with 4×4 or 4×2 with diff lock. Ablutions are outside, but the unit is fenced.

Cost: From R979 for two people, but up to 10 people can be accommodated. One room has a double bed, and the other two single beds. There is a room with six bunk beds, and own bedding is required.

Mountain Cottage

Afsaal Cottage – Karoo National Park

This popular former shepherd’s hut guarantees visitors peace, tranquillity and thousands of stars. It is situated 35km from the reception, giving visitors an early start to game viewing because of the location in the park. The unit even has its own private floodlit waterhole for evening game viewing.

Energy:  Solar lights, gas for cooking, gas fridge and shower.

Note: The toilet is separate from the main unit, but within the fenced area.

Cost: R1 045 for two people. Arrangements can be made for two additional stretchers for children.

Narina Bush Camp – Addo Elephant National Park

Spend some time in tented accommodation in a magical forest on the banks of the Wit River with the Zuurberg Mountains as your backdrop.

Energy: Paraffin for hot water, gas stove and fridge, solar lighting and water, paraffin lamps.

Note: High clearance vehicle required to get there.

Cost: From R1 383 for four people. Up to eight can sleep in four tents.

Overseers Cottage – Table Mountain National Park

This cottage high up on the “other side” of Table Mountain is exclusive, but there is a catch – it is only accessible on foot. Arrangements can be made to transport your luggage up to the top, though.

Energy: Gas geyser, stove and paraffin lamps.

Note: No vehicles allowed.

Cost: R 2 981 for six people. The unit can accommodate up to 16 people.

Rhenosterkop – Agulhas National Park

Stay on one of the oldest farms in the Strandveld, established in 1742. Beautifully restored, these units give you the opportunity to experience the farm lifestyle. Unlike the main rest camps, these units do not have ocean views.

Energy: Solar lighting and gas for cooking, hot water and refrigeration.

Note: Rhenosterkop is 31km from the lighthouse, or approximately 45 minutes.

Cost: R868 for two people.

Rhenosterkop

De Zyfer – Tankwa Karoo National Park

Most of the options in the park qualify as off-the-grid, but De Zyfer Cottage is truly special. An old farm house, this unit offers accommodation in the traditional sense.

Energy: Gas stove, lanterns and candles for lighting. Solar power runs the fridge. Make a fire for hot water

Cost: From R737 for two people.

Jo-Annes B Cottage – West Coast National Park

This latest offering is situated next to Jo-Annes Beach Cottage and has recently been revamped to accommodate four people.  It is also the ideal point from which to explore the park’s scenery.

Energy:  The fridge, geyser and stove are gas and electricity is solar.

Note: Water comes from a well and is safe to drink.

Cost: From R1 615 for four people.

Wilderness camps – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

All six wilderness camps in the park fall in this category and offer visitors an exclusive stay in an unfenced area. Urikaruus is our choice.

Energy: Solar fridge/freezer, solar lights and gas-heated water.

Note:  Bring your own drinking water and firewood.

Cost: Riverside Cabins from R1 630 for two people.

Kameeldoring Treetop chalet – Mokala National Park

Kameeldoring Treetop chalet

Spend a night in the branches of an old camel thorn tree while you watch game at the waterhole.

Energy: Gas freezer and burner. A gas geyser heats water.

Note:  The property is unfenced.

Cost: Priced at R1 360 in low season for two people.

Oranjekom Gorge Cottage – Augrabies Falls National Park

Enjoy spectacular views on the edge of the spectacular gorge. The unit is situated underneath the Oranjekom viewing deck and will ensure you get to appreciate the scenery long after the crowds have gone.

Energy: Gas stove and solar power for lights.

Note:  Ablution facilities are not inside unit. Expect extreme heat during the warmer seasons as the units have no fans or air-conditioning. The unit is situated 10km from the main camp, but no driving is allowed after gate closing time.

Cost: R1 826 per night for two people.

Boulders Bush Lodge – Kruger National Park

Most of the bush camps and wilderness trail camps in the Kruger qualify, but for a family or group getaway, pick Boulders Lodge, approximately 25km from Mopani Rest Camp.  The lodge is built on a rocky outcrop overlooking its own waterhole, the ideal home away from home.

Energy:  Solar power and gas geyser.

Note: The unit is unfenced so animals move freely through the camp. Unfortunately there is no swimming pool.

Cost: R6 093 for eight people, up to 12 can be accommodated.

Boulders Bush Lodge

Urikaruus – Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Get an even better experience of this sandy paradise by booking a night in one of the six popular wilderness camps. There will never be more than eight people per camp, which makes it an exclusive experience.

Energy: Solar lights, gas geyser and gas stove.

Note: Supply own drinking water and wood. Camp is unfenced.

Cost: R1 862 for two people.

Eco-conscious accommodation

  • Prices are subject to change and depend on the season.
  • Additional rates charged for extra adults and children differ between parks.
  • Some options might require minimum bookings of two nights.
  • Daily conservation fees are not included in the price.

*Article originally published in the June 2017 edition of the SANParks Times.

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