Backcountry Airplane Camping in South Africa
When places can be reached one-third of the time by air—your options for a spontaneous camping trip really open up. Places that are usually impossible to see by car can be flown over. Time to load up and explore the inland mountains of South Africa.
Flying and camping around South Africa in 4 days
Take off location
Highway airfield. Located in the heart of the Garden Route in South Africa. This little farm strip is home for a small number of Aircrafts. Our plane ZU-EIF is one of them. The grass strip is approximately 650m long and about 850ft above sea level. This is our start and end location. It's time to lock and load and get out of here.
Louvain: Camp Location No 1
In the middle of the ""Klein Karoo"", a long, narrow dirt road marks our landing location for our first day. This road is part of a guest farm called “Louvain guest farm”. Tonight however we won’t be staying at the lodge but under our airplane wings. There is almost nothing out here. A perfect place for Camp No.1
Landrover Defender mountain top exploring
A flying trip is not only about flying but exploring. A 4x4 road led us to the tops of one of the most beautifully located hills. Views North showed us the Kammanassie mountains, South, and we could see the famous Outeniqua mountains. A perfect place to scope out our next day activities.
Wake up in frozen camp
We planned for the cold, but not for the freezing cold. Somewhat painful to breath in the outside air at night because it was so cold, we were about to find out why. We woke up to our tent almost completely frozen. The plane covered in frost. It was time. Time for an Airplane snowball fight.
Take off to secret camp location no2
Once the planes and ourselves had defrosted, it was time to pack up and make our way to location no 2. On the base of a mountain rage and a landing strip none of us had ever landed at. We were now 3 planes strong. Once we had done a few low approaches to make sure we were safe, it was time to touch down and set up camp.
Evening flight and campfire dinner
Tents now setup, lunch time has passed it was time to take Ant, our defender driver for a flight to see the mountains from above. There is something really special about flying around sunset. Deceasing to end the day on a high note with beautiful light can never be a bad thing. Camp fire dinner time and insane stars. What a day.
Morning flight with friends before packing up
One of the most insane sunrises I have ever seen. The mountains streaming morning light in to warm us up is always an incredible feeling. Its time to pack up, fly the area for a short bit and then head to location no3. 1.6km of INSANE runway. Next Stop Rooiberg.
Land on 1.6km runway
Once we landed on the unnecessary long runway. We were greeted by a friendly staff member of Rooiberg lodge. Rooiberg is a incredibly beautiful olive farm. The driver picked us up in a game drive vehicle and drove us through the plantations to the lodge. The lodge is equiped with a pool, a campsite and individual cabins. A perfect fly away venue.
Night at bush lodge
After sleeping in tents and using most of the food we had packed, we were stoked to have a night in a cabin and eat some well cooked food. The lodge made us a few fresh pizzas, broght us a bottle of wine and lit a fire along side our accommodation. Sharing evenings with close friends in nature is what It's all about.
Valley flying in nearby canyons
Another insane sunrise has us eager to get back to our planes to explore the surrounding area. We spotted a few HUGE canyons and we all had the idea in the back of our minds to hopefully do a few canyon runs. Once we looked for underlying dangers like power lines, we all lined up and routed through the Canyon from North to South. One of the most INSANE experiences iv ever had!
Time to end the trip and route home
Ending this trip on a high note, I took a moment to reflect. How incredibly lucky I am to have the opportunity, this tool (plane), close friends who share similar passions and brands like Tropicfeel that enable me to experience life like this. Time to Route South East, homebound to Highway airfield.
Before you travel
- Pack as light as possible in the plane and the balance in the vehicle as you will need to land short and can't have any additional weight
- Make sure your sleeping bag is able to deal with 0 °C - 3 °C temperatures.
- Pack as light as possible to avoid any additional weight that can get in the way on an adventure trip like this one.