Spekboom Tented Rest Camp, Addo Elephant National Park
When you park your car at Spekboom and close the gate behind you, it feels a little like Christmas: You’re deep inside Addo and only 10 people are allowed to stay in the camp at any one time. Best of all, you don’t even have to pitch a tent! Carry your things to your tent along the footpath, pop into the communal kitchen to turn on the kettle and go and have a look to see if anything is happening at the Spekboom Hide. ( We didn’t see anything during our brief stay, but other guests reported sightings of elephants, hyenas and rhinos.) Or sit on the deck in front of your tent with something cold to drink, enjoy the quiet and say hello to a curious red-necked spurfowl. The five tents are far apart from each other and surrounded by spekboom thicket typical of the park. You won’t see your neighbours. Each tent has two beds, a solar-powered lamp on the bedside table, a wardrobe, two camp chairs, a camp table and a braai. Bedding and towels are supplied. The communal ablution facilities have two hot showers and two flush toilets, and the kitchen has a stove, a fridge and a freezer, which all run on gas. It’s functional, not luxurious. But the best thing about staying at Spekboom has nothing to do with the facilities. Late in the afternoon, when all the other people at Hapoor Dam (2 km from Spekboom) have left to make sure they get to the gate before closing time, you can stay a little while longer and watch the elephants drink. In the morning, fill a flask with coffee, pack some rusks and take a slow drive to Jack’s Picnic Site only 1,5 km from Spekboom, where you can sit at one of the 20 picnic tables, each with its own braai. Late afternoon, watch the sunset from the Kadouw Lookout. Niggles? You’ll find all the basic utensils in your tent, but it’s wise to bring your own bottle opener and can opener, chopping board, sharp kitchen knife and tea towels. And braai wood! A headlamp will come in handy for walking to the bathroom in the dark. Rates: R1 019 per night for two people. Daily conservation fee R69 per adult; R35 per child; free with a Wild card. Contact: 042 233 8600; sanparks.org What else? Tent 5 is the furthest from the parking area but closest to the hide. You’ll have to lug your cool box an extra distance when you unpack, but it’s easier to check if there’s any action at the waterhole.