Glamping - The New Vacation
As far portmanteaus, glamping is a peculiar one for me. If you don’t already know: glamorous + camping. It isn’t the most attractive word is it? It almost sounds like some process in engineering or chemistry.
That has nothing to do with the fact that you should add a glamping trip to your travel bucket list though. I’ve done it twice now, and at the same glampsite – Crocodile River Safari Lodge – in South Africa. The first time was a group trip and thankfully I didn’t have to drive. Crocodile Lodge sits on the bank of Crocodile River on the border of Kruger National Park. It is so close that you can spot big game and a few crocodiles that look gangsters having secret meeting on the river bank from the verandah. It’s perfect for a Kruger safari as one of the park’s entrance gates is about 80 meters from the lodge.
The second time was a baecation with my better half, and I had to drive. Driving to the Lodge was an adventure and a mesmerizing one at that but if I had $100 for every time I stalled I could have paid for a helicopter back to the city – no joke. It’s a fucking long drive (about 500km) from Johannesburg, and not the most ideal journey for learning standard shift as there are lots of hills, and toll stops en route.
For context, the island of New Providence on which I live is 21 miles long, 7 miles wide with very flat topography and just about everyone drives automatic vehicles. I was totally out of my depth.
That however is not the point of this post. I’m going to try and stay on topic.
The Disconnect is probably one of the most ideal things about a glamping trip. I would highly recommend it for couples, but if you’re travelling as a group it can be just as fun. Similar to the lock-down measures we are all going through (probably a bad comparison to make, but hear me out) being away from the distractions of metropolitan life – the noise of car horns and sirens, trains and trucks – is restorative.
You won’t be completely off the grid, unless you want to be. Most glamping lodges have internet of some description, television and all of the things you need to keep abreast of what’s happening back home. You’d be doing a tremendous disservice to yourself if you over indulge in the modern amenities as the experience of life-before-cell-phones usually result in the best memories.
Meeting new people has always been one of the greatest gifts of traveling. Sometimes you meet some complete assholes, but for the most part you end up developing new friendships. Crocodile Lodge had a communal kitchen and dining area set up for the guest. The Lodge is very intimate with only 7 tents, and it has pool, lounge chairs over-looking the Kruger and a deck opposite the dining area set up for lounging and having a cold Savanna Dry.
On the last trip, we met a really quirky group of Australians who have thoroughly convinced me that walking around anywhere in Australia without shoes on is an extreme sport. There was a Colombian man, and his Catalan girlfriend who proposed much to the delight of the other guests (we drank so much wine that night - Ay Dios Mio!).
If you’re old enough to have watched Gilligan’s Island then you’ll remember “the Billionaire and his wife”; we met them in living colour, a lovely old South African woman completely overcompensating by over explaining her sensitivity to race, and her docile husband who literally sat there and drank, simply nodding his head periodically in response to a question or comment.
The point: Go out and meet some new people. It’s a great way to expand your consciousness, learn something new and make friends for life.
The Adventure isn’t just limited to my perilous standard shift journey. I seriously stalled that car so many times, damn.
Like Crocodile Lodge most glampsites will be linked to some kind of experience or adventure that makes them unique. In our case, we were as close to the Kruger as you can get without booking and exorbitantly priced lodge within the park itself. In the night, Elephants and Wildebeest, the occasional Hippo or Buffalo will stroll right up on to the fence of the lodge and being so near to such massive creatures just outside your door is humbling.
Being so close to the park entrance meant that we got get into the park early without having to travel far, and arranging a safari is easy. I’d recommend Foxy Crocodile if you’re planning a Kruger safari, the heated seats make a tremendous difference because it is cold as a penguins toes in the park in the morning. The guides are also immensely passionate about South African wild life and will make sure you have an exhilarating experience.
Getting out of the hotel and air bnb rabbit hole is another great reason to jump on the glamping wagon. When you think about a tent, you are probably thinking of a 4 man tent with flexible extendible poles that you have to nail into the ground. You know, one of those tents where you feel every crevice of the earth beneath your back and fall asleep to the sound of mosquitoes trying to make you a snack?
It’s not like that at all.
The tents aren’t traditional, they are equipped with every modern comfort amenity you need; a queen sized bed complete with the finest of mosquito nets, the windows all have screen and can be closed if you decide you want to turn on the air conditioning. You can bring all your snacks and drinks and store them in your in-room fridge, the shower produces almost scolding hot water (I’m a lukewarm to cold shower person myself). It’s comfortable.
The only thing that may get a little weird is if you have to take a particularly horrific shit, or decide you want some sexy time with your partner – everyone will probably hear you. The tents aren’t sound proof after all.
It’s a great way to have some fun and stray away from the typical vacation. There are lodges out there to suit every type of traveler from luxury to, even you weird people that believe the earth is flat (#WTF); from luxurious glampsites in Dubai to rustic beach front glampsites in Mozambique.
Go out and try something different.
Can you find The Billionaire and his wife? lol