Claire and her family recently had the pleasure of staying at Africamps at Stanford Hills.
As a family we are not ‘campers’. That’s not to say that I don’t love the idea of camping – but somehow we have failed to accumulate all the necessary camping ‘stuff’ that makes camping an enjoyable experience. Drum roll please and ... introducing Africamps!! A ‘glamping’ experience that allows you to simply arrive and enjoy a camping-style getaway with all of the fun (and a fair amount of luxury!), and none of the fuss.
Our family of four arrived at AfriCamps at Stanford Hills on the most beautiful winter’s day. We patted ourselves on the back for getting our timing so right as the previous week had seen torrential rain, freezing temperatures and plenty of snow throughout the Western Cape. Settling down for a lovely lunch at The Tasting Room at Stanford Hills Estate, we enjoyed soaking up the sunshine and a lovely glass of the Stanford Hills Sauvignon Blanc while our girls ran around on the grassy lawn, exploring the dam and the pretty-as-a-picture surroundings.
Lunch over we drove further along the farm track and headed eagerly to our home for the night, one of five permanent tents at AfriCamps Stanford Hills. The tents are in a pretty setting around a small dam with a majestic mountain backdrop and surrounded by the pincushions and proteas that are grown and ‘farmed’ at Stanford Hills estate. In the distance the green farmlands of Stanford spread out like a patchwork quilt.
We immediately noticed that the five tents were cleverly spaced far enough apart for plenty of privacy, while at the same time being just close enough to allow for group stays.
Our girls were super excited to head inside and we were all thrilled with our tent home! Clearly a lot of thought has gone into the AfriCamps set-up. The end result is that you get a fun camping experience with enough modern conveniences to make you feel extremely comfortable. Most important for me, in the middle of winter, was to be warm! I needn’t have worried because each tent has an indoor wood-burning stove (the glass-fronted ones that close for safety) and the beds all have electric blankets.
The front half of the tent makes up the kitchen and living area – leading onto a wooden outdoor deck with braai and outdoor seating. A spacious dining room table provides enough space for everyone to sit down and enjoy a meal together and the mini-kitchen has a gas hob, microwave, bar fridge and sink as well as enough crockery and cutlery to go around, a coffee plunger, toaster and braai utensils. The big canvas flaps at the front of the tent can be rolled up in warm weather, or rolled down and zipped up. During our stay we had them open all afternoon, and then closed up as evening approached. Our little fireplace quickly warmed up the entire tent and we were all exceptionally comfy and cosy.
The back half of the tent is divided into two bedrooms, each with a door into the bathroom with toilet, basin and shower (enormous & amazing!). Both bedrooms have a queen size bed – with one of them having an additional bunk bed. Great news for families of five – as three children can be comfortably accommodated. Lovely crisp white linen, fleecy blankets and plenty of towels are all provided.
After a cup of tea, we set out to explore. Walking around the dam we admired the scenery and revelled in the peace and quiet. A father and son were fishing in one of the dams and water gurgled down a little stream off the mountainside. Blissful! We spent ages amongst the pincushions where bright green sunbirds were crazily darting from flower to flower. I’m always amazed that such tiny birds can make such a noise – a lovely noise. We even managed to capture a few action shots.
As the day began to cool we built a big fire both indoors and outdoors and settled down on our deck to catch the sunset. Fireside, with our beanies on and a glass of red wine in hand we felt the stresses of the week slip away. When it got too chilly we headed indoors and enjoyed our dinner followed by card games, reading and marshmallow roasting – the perfect end to the day. Just before jumping into bed, we all dashed outside again to spend a few minutes stargazing. The Milky Way was clearly visible in the ink black sky and thousands of stars twinkled back at us. Yet another reason to make the time to get away from it all and go camping.
At some stage in the middle of the night the wind picked up – it whipped around outside our tent making the sides ripple and flap – but besides the noise we were absolutely cosy and warm in our beds. It was only when we first got up in the early morning that we felt a little chilly, but by the time the coffee was brewed and we had stoked our indoor fire we were toasty once again.
The tents are obviously fully self-catering, but you are able to order a braai basket or a breakfast basket to be delivered to your tent. We decided to try out the breakfast basket option and I’m so glad we did! Besides the fact that it was super fun receiving our little basket filled with goodies – it was also delicious and plentiful. Our basket arrived with Consol glass jars filled with muesli, yogurt and honey; mini muffins, some fruit, a couple of ciabatta loaves, bacon rashers, sausages, eggs, butter, jam, orange juice and milk. It was up to us to cook and prepare our breakfast for ourselves which we did before setting up our outdoor table and tucking in just as the sun came over the ridge behind us. It could not have been a more perfect way to start the day. The Tasting Room restaurant is also open from 8:30 daily– we noticed some delicious options on the chalkboard the day before- and it could also be fun to walk the 10-minutes to the restaurant for breakfast. Next time!
It was really sad to have to pack up and leave our little tent-home –but we will definitely be planning another visit soon. It would be perfect with a few other families – plus, there are five other AfriCamps locations to visit and explore, and a sixth opening soon.
You can book your stay online at all of the locations on www.roomsforafrica.com
Visit the pages below to find out more.