14 budget bush breaks in South Africa

Posted on 25 May 2021

Looking for an affordable bush break this winter? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We scoured all of the venues we reviewed in Getaway magazine over the last year to bring you the best budget bush breaks in South Africa – whether you prefer camping, tented camps, or lodges. Anywhere we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments!

Please note: All prices were correct at the time of publication, but are subject to change at each establishment’s discretion. Please confirm with them before travelling.

Bush-breaks in KwaZulu-Natal

1. Shayamoyo, Lake Jozini

campfire, campsite, lake jozini

Photo by Tabby Mittins.

This rustic and secluded self-catering bush camp is built around the biggest tamboti tree you’ll ever see, with a sociable braai area, an open-plan kitchen and four comfortably furnished two-sleeper dome tents. Everything is gas or solar-powered, the water is hot and the loos flush. A 4×4 isn’t necessary, but you’ll need a high-clearance vehicle. Keep an eye on and an ear out for Nandi, the resident spotted owl, who might stop by your room for a visit.

(They also have a lodge: if you don’t stay in their comfortable wood, wicker and white four-star rooms, at least pop in to sample their five-star food, or have a drink and enjoy an incredible view from the bar and deck.)

Cost: From R950 a person a night (min four people, max eight).
Contact: Tel 0344351110, shayamoya.co.za

2. Inyati Lodge, Lake Jozini

lake jozini

Photo by Tabby Mittins.

Inyati is an up-market self-catering bush lodge with superb views, a swimming pool and a fully equipped kitchen. Kick back and relax on the private balcony and look for nyala, buffalo and elephant along Pongola below. Arrange a meal or two at the neighbouring Mvubu River Lodge (which has an equally superb view and is only five minutes away) or beauty treatment at Mvubu Spa. The camp sleeps a maximum of nine people in four wooden cabins.

Cost: From R475 an adult, with a minimum daily rate of R2700.
Contact: Tel 0344351123, inyatilodge.co.za

3. Weenen Game Reserve

Weenen Game Reserve. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Weenen Game Reserve. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

This lesser-known reserve lies 25 kilometres northeast of Estcourt in an undulating thornveld that stretches to the blue-hilled horizon. Much of this 5000-hectare reserve was once badly degraded farmland and considerable rehabilitation by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has seen erosion halted and vegetation restored to original valley bushveld, characterised by acacia karoo, Acacia tortilis and Acacia nilotica woodlands and thickets.

Although it’s not in the same league as a Hluhluwe or Mkuze, Weenen provides some of the best game viewings of the smaller KZN parks. The gravel roads inside the park can be a bit rough for sedans, especially after heavy rains (ask at reception about road conditions).

Cost: Camping costs R170 for two people per night without electrical hook-up and R190 for two people per night with hook up. The five-sleeper self-catering cottage “Umkhombe” has its own private waterhole and costs R480 for two people per night, and R240 per adult and R120 per child thereafter.
Contact: Tel 0363547013, 0338451000, kznwildlife.com

4. Inanda Dam campsite and tented camp

Inanda Dam

Inanda Dam is famed for its excellent bass fishing. Cradled in the folds of the Valley of a Thousand Hills just beyond Hillcrest, the dam has also become legendary as an overnight stop on the Dusi Canoe Marathon. Activities are mostly of the aquatic variety and include kayaking, water-skiing, power-boating, and there is even a demarcated area for jet-skiing. There is a 2.5-kilometre walking trail in the Mahlabathini Reserve that takes you through forest and grassland where there’s a good chance of spotting duiker and zebra.

Cost: Camping from R158 per person.
Contact: Tel 0317657724, msinsi.co.za/inanda

Bush breaks in the Eastern Cape

5. Lakeview Tented Camp, Camdeboo National Park

tented camp, cambedoo

Photo by Scott Ramsay.

One of South Africa’s smallest national parks, Camdeboo is no wilderness. Instead, historical buildings lie within sight of herds of plains game, harking back to a time when the Karoo’s wild animals would walk through town. They still sometimes do. Camdeboo National Park surrounds Graaf-Reinet and is home to the gorgeous Valley of Desolation. Lakeview Tented Camp consists of four rustic, furnished tents. Each two-sleeper has a braai unit, fridge, table and chairs; bedding and towels are also provided. There are communal showers and toilets, and a shared kitchen is equipped with stove plates, cooking and eating utensils, and a microwave.

Cost: R785 a night for two people.
Contact: Contact SANParks central reservation on 0124289111 or sanparks.org.za

Bush breaks in the Western Cape

6. Buffalo Valley Bush Lodges, Sedgefield

river, cabin, sedgefield

Buffalo Valley Bush Lodges comprise three self-catering chalets: all three are similar in design, made from pine, and feel light and airy inside despite not being very large. Lots of windows let in the light, and each has a deck overlooking a scenic section of Goukamma Nature Reserve, which has some of the most stunning coastal scenery in the country. There are canoes for rent to explore the tranquil Goukamma River and Groenvlei Lake, and walks along 18 kilometres of untouched beach where dolphin sightings are pretty much guaranteed. On land you may encounter monkeys, honey badgers, buck and bushpigs.

Cost: Self-catering from R900 for a four-sleeper cabin
Contact: Tel 0214830190, capenature.co.za

7. Lemoenfontein Game Lodge, Beaufort West

Photo by Nikki Werner.

Photo by Nikki Werner.

This converted 19th-century hunting lodge is now a game farm and dates back to 1850. Built slowly and soundly to the exacting standards and architectural style of the time, the building remains unchanged with characteristic high ceilings, original wooden floors and wide verandahs which offer guests a sweeping panoramic view of the Karoo landscape. The homestead is a haven for the world weary traveller, and for those who want to escape city life and experience the beauty, silence and unassuming simplicity of the vast open spaces.

Cost: From R895 a person a night sharing.
Contact: Tel 0234152847, lemoenfontein.co.za

Bush breaks in Limpopo

8. Village D’Afrique, Modimolle


Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Experience swanky safari tent living less than two hours from Johannesburg. Based on the 330-hectare Shakila Game Farm, Village d’Afrique is one of several tented camps on the property and sleeps eight in four beautifully appointed tents complete with inside baths, king-size beds and outdoor showers. Rhodesian teak decks connect the tents to the main area: an open-plan kitchen, lounge and dining area overlooking a rim- flow pool and fire pit. It’s suitable for sedans (4x4s are preferable), groceries are available in nearby Modimolle, and it’s ideal for families (each unit has a sleeper couch for kids). Spot kudu, blue wildebeest and zebra on game drives or swim in the Nyl River.

Cost: From R1300 per tent (sleeps two), minimum of three tents need to be booked.
Contact: Tel 0836535158, villagedafrique.co.za

9. Hamasha Bushcamp, Soutpansberg

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Melanie van Zyl’s grandparents were among the first visitors to Leshiba Wilderness and their stories of mountain biking past rhino, bonding with friends over the braai and birding up in the clouds on the 2600-hectare reserve have tickled her travel taste buds for years. Her own visit to off-the-grid Hamasha Bushcamp did not disappoint and the owners still remember her granny and grandpa. The self-catering eight-sleeper camp is perched on the edge of the world in an amphitheatre of cliffs and mountains with breathtaking views of the Hamasha Gorge. The camp consists of two cottages sleeping four each, a central kitchen and lounge area with a fireplace. There’s no cell reception or electricity and the camp runs on gas, just like it did 20 years ago.

Cost: From R1200 for six people.
Contact: Tel 0114831841, leshiba.co.za

10. Blouberg Camp, Limpopo

Photo by Jacques Marais.

Photo by Jacques Marais.

Huge boulders surround this tranquil rock pool, a couple of kilometres by foot from Blouberg Camp. The accommodation options include five thatched, self-catering chalets, each of which sleeps two people on comfortable beds. Ablutions are en suite, and feature easy-to-use bucket showers. Getting to Blouberg Camp necessitates getting off the beaten track and a 4×4 ‒ or at the very least a high-clearance vehicle ‒ is advisable. Nothing is catered at the camp itself, so pack all provisions (Indermark has a good shop). The water is fine to drink, but you may find the taste off-putting. Remember to pack sleeping bags and towels. The hiking routes are unmarked, but camp staff will take you on short walks free of charge.

Being located in proper Limpopo bushveld, you should expect the summers to be cooking, with thunderstorms on a near-daily basis. Visiting during autumn, spring and winter should ensure clear skies and cooler days. Winter nights are cold, so make sure to pack some warm clothing.

Cost: Self-catering costs R460 per person a night sharing.
Contact: africanivoryroute.co.za

11. Lindani, Waterberg

Lindani - Melanie van Zyl

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

An effortless 275-kilometre drive north from Johannesburg, after turning right at the only four-way stop in Vaalwater, you’ll arrive at Lindani. There you’ll find eight serene, carefully thought out private cottage collections each with their own piece of bushveld back garden, self-catering kitchen, a gorgeous rockery pool and an almost guaranteed squadron of warthog mowing the lawn.

Ranging in size from a four-bed bush camp to an eight-bed, budget-friendly tented forest camp, to the enormous 18-sleeper, four-house Motseng lodge complex, there’s a perfect solution to any family gathering. Spend time on the easy Green Flag hiking trails, or hire a bicycle and cycle past wildebeest, zebra, eland and giraffe with the kids. Pack a picnic for lunch and stop at any of the five riverside picnic sites and have a splash to cool down (one spot even has tubes for a lazier soak).

The lodges feature quality finishings like gas stoves and braai, dishwashers, good name brand electronics (Samsung microwaves and De Longhi toasters), plus thoughtful details like 50kgs of firewood, a potjie pot, mammal, bird and reptile guides as well as a variety of games for rainy days. The farm kitchen has a variety of freshly prepared meals to order and heats up, such as stews and quiches, or if you’d rather braai, order the milk tart for pudding and fresh farm bread for morning toast. Just trust us.

Cost: Self-catering R405 a person a night in the tented camp and from R380 a person a night in other lodges (kids aged 4 to 12 half price).
Contact: Tel 0836315579, lindani.co.za

Bush breaks in the North West Province

12. Mamagalie Mountain Lodge, Mooinooi

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Roughly 100 kilometres from Joburg the landscape transforms from highveld to bushveld near Buffelspoort Dam. Here, five lodges, cleverly nestled in a secluded valley, make up the Mamagalie self-catering collection. Two are designed for couples – River Lodge and Tranquility Lodge (the latter is the most romantic with a private deck and outdoor shower overlooking a stream) – while Bush and Forest lodges both sleep four (I loved the tented three-storey Bush Lodge on stilts, which commands great Buffelspoort Valley views). Mountain Lodge is the biggest, sleeping 12, and is perfect for kids to explore the active farm, which has an avocado and lemon orchard, pecan nut and newly planted fig trees and raspberry bushes. Expect to find hornbills floating from the trees and hartebeest, wildebeest, zebra and gemsbok roaming the slopes. Walk in the bush and explore the rock pools in the protected Magaliesberg green belt.

Cost: From R400 per person sharing.
Contact: Tel 0845139480, mamagalie.co.za

13. B’Sorah luxury tented camp

View from BSorah

B’sorah is a family-owned 1600-hectare farm, crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails, romping warthogs and families of cows. The four luxury tents offer all the pros of camping with few of the cons. Tents are spacious and have running water, a large and comfy bed and a full outdoor kitchen. Best of all, the tents are already pitched and guests needn’t bring anything but food to eat and the clothes on their backs.

Time moves slowly at B’sorah, and one of the most gratifying things to do is light a fire, sit on the deck and sip a beer while listening to frogs sing in the trickling stream. More ambitious visitors might go for a bike ride or hike, perhaps climb the small hill near the tents and watch the sun go down.

Cost: R1500 for 4 people.
Contact: Tel 0785721062, bsorah.com

14. Mountain Sanctuary Park, Rustenburg

Mountain Sanctuary Park. Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Photo by Melanie van Zyl.

Mountain Sanctuary Park is perched in the mountainous Magaliesberg area, with views of surrounding farmland and the nearby Buffelspoort Dam. The 1000-hectare property is renowned for its hiking trails and is a popular day-visit destination for nature-hungry Gautengers needing fresh air.

The recently opened Cosy Huts are a substitute for camping. The name ‘cosy’ is accurate (if a little euphemistic) as the wooden huts are small, with a set of bunk beds on one end, a kitchen area with basic utensils and a bar fridge next to it, and two single beds on the other end. Own bedding must be brought (they do offer linen at an extra charge). Ask for a hut that faces the bush rather than one that faces the campsite – number one has the best views.

The huts are designed to bridge the gap between camping and the pricier lodging options, so there’s little luxury (they don’t have their own en-suite bathrooms or wash-up area), but there’s electricity and they are comfortable enough. At the end of the day, this spot is geared for spending time outdoors and you couldn’t ask for a more beautiful setting. The closest set of natural pools is just a 20 minute walk and the waters flow generously after summer rains. There’s also a well-kept pool and grassy picnic area with a viewing deck.

Cost: Self-catering in the Cosy Huts R350 per adult sharing. Chalet costs R560 per adult per night and a log cabin from R600 per adult per night.
Contact: Tel 0145340114, mountain-sanctuary.co.za


14 budget bush breaks in South Africa
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14 budget bush breaks in South Africa
We scoured all of the venues we reviewed in Getaway magazine over the last year to bring you the best budget bush breaks in South Africa
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