Bushcamps close to Johannesburg

I’m a keen bush camper and like to get as far o­ff the beaten track as possible but living in Johannesburg means the Richtersveld isn’t exactly on my doorstep though… As much as I like to camp over weekends, I don’t want to be subjected to the traditional, bustling campsite or caravan
park and can’t exactly drive for hundreds of kilometres either.

No-win situation you might think? Fortunately not! Surprisingly, there are still a few bushcamps (and a few good traditional ones) within around a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg, here’s my list;


1h30 from Joburg

The Dinokeng Game Reserve is the first free-roaming Big 5 game reserve in Gauteng. It is quite unique in that it’s next to an urbanized area; hour and a half’s drive from Johannesburg and 45 min from Pretoria. It is a private/public initiative for which development started in the early 2000’s.
Within the reserve are some of my favourite close-by camping spots;

Kyleu’s open bush camp consists of 4 exclusive campsites (4 additional planned). Each stand is spacious and is surrounded by bushveld where the big 5 and other animals are free to roam. This area of Kyleu Bush Camp is not fenced – what better way to experience the bushveld. Each stand has a neat private ablution. Kyleu also has a 2 informal stands next to the river with no facilities
(ablutions, water or electricity).

MooiPlasie has 3 large unfenced campsites (not advertised) right next to the river. There
are no facilities (including water) so you have to be entirely self-sufficient.

This tranquil bushveld destination offers 25 spacious, semi- shaded campsites suited for 4x4s, campers, tents and bush trailers. Electricity, water and braais (BBQs) are available at all sites. Campsites are spacious. Full review here.

1h45 from Joburg

For adventurers with 4×4 vehicles who like to be as close to nature as possible, try Sondela’s Tambuki campsite. This remote camp (5 campsites) set around the base of a koppie (small rocky outcrop), is strictly for the 4×4 camper.

1h30 from Joburg

Somabula has 400 hectares of indigenous trees, pristine bush and excellent birding. The reserve boasts a wide variety of antelope as well as giraffe, zebra and wildebeest. The shaded camping areas each have their own braai (BBQ) area and share open air ablution facilities (hot and cold water).

45m from Joburg

Camp Shabanga is a true bush experience with no electricity but with hot showers and flushing toilets.

Then ideal for long weekends, here are a few more great bush
campsites if you’re willing drive a little further;

Matamba  3h from Joburg
One of my favourite campsites. Matamba offers a unique camping experience. Inspired by a lifetime of travelling in Africa, Sue and Alan Jarman have built two exclusive upmarket bush campsites, for the discerning bush lover. The camps have rustic, but with superb facilities. They are unfenced allowing the game to wander through freely.

Waterberg Wilderness 3h from Joburg
The Waterberg wilderness camp is situated on a plateau between two picturesque gorges with excellent views over the surrounding hills and valleys. A choice of 3 campsites with shared ablutions and 5 exclusive unfenced campsites with own private ablutions are available. I can recommend the Hoepoe or Bee-eater campsites. There are safari tents available for those looking for a bit of luxury as well. See full review here.

Botsalano Game Reserve 3h45 from Joburg
Albeit almost a 4h drive, this is another of my favourite campsites. The unfenced campsites are rustic with water, flushing toilets (with views) and hot water supplied via donkeys (fire-driven water heaters).

Bontle campsite, Marakele National Park
3h35 from Joburg

The Marakele National Park in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains is home to an impressive variety of wildlife. Bontle means “beautiful” in Setswana. This pleasant rest camp consists of 36 camp sites with power points, arranged into three clusters with one communal ablution block per cluster.


Honnorable mentions;

1h45 from Joburg
Ezemvelo has 50 camp sites of various sizes which operate on a first-come-first-served basis. A basic kitchen is available as well as two ablution blocks for the use of campers. In addition, each site has its own braai (BBQ) facility as well as power points. Vervet monkeys are an absolute menace though so take care not to leave vehicles, tents or campers open and don’t leave any food outside!


1h45 from Joburg
Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned nature reserve, nestled in the Magaliesberg Mountains. Campsites come equipped with braai and grid (BBQ) and some of the sites have access to power points. The reserve also offers a freezer facility for campers. The ablution facility is well kept and
offers hot water showers, private toilets and a basic kitchen.

Bass lake
1h30 from Joburg
Bass lake camping includes large camping stands with braais (BBQ), recreation areas and neat ablution facilities.

resort (Dinokeng)
(ask for sites C1 – C4)
1h30 from Joburg
A traditional resort, Dinokeng Resort is still a beautiful facility situated next to the Boekenhoutspruit River. They offer a range of accommodation from Lodge rooms to Self catering units to the more
rugged Caravan and tent camp site.

De Rust (Dinokeng) 1h30 from Joburg
De Rust is more of a traditional campsite but they don’t permit noise so there shouldn’t be any intrusion on an otherwise great bushveld stay.

Doorndraai 3h from Joburg

Pilanesberg National Park 3h30 from Joburg

Have more local bush campsites to add? Give me shout on Instagram or Facebook