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Africa / Hotels & Resorts / South Africa

Quartermain’s Camp Review: A Unique Place to Stay in Amakhala

Imagine a time when pitching a tent was the usual way to experience being on safari. When your camp was lit by gas-light and your dinner was cooked over an open hole in the ground. When game drives were determined by the animals’ behaviour rather than what time dinner and cocktails were served, imagine staying in Quartermain’s 1920’s Safari Camp and you can re-live this experience and so much more.

The camp is located at the end of the Garden Route in the non-malarial Eastern Cape of South Africa on the Amakhala Game Reserve. Run by a wonderful South African/English couple and their two young sons this is a charming and inviting place to stay.

Two daily game drives are offered, early morning and mid-afternoon which take you into the bush. You won’t be able to contain your emotions when you make eye contact with your first giraffe or hear the roar of a lion; I know I couldn’t. To see wild animals in their natural habitat releases emotions so strong that it changes you in a way I can’t explain.

Being in a non-malarial area was the reason I chose to go on safari in South Africa. I didn’t want to give malarial tablets to my family, and so this was the perfect solution. I then set about searching for a safari experience that didn’t include swimming pools, butler service or overcrowded game drives. Quartermain’s offered non of those but did provide an authentic 1920’s tented camp experience. I was sold on the idea and booked straight away!

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Sign saying Amakhala Game Reserve

Communal Camp Area at Quartermain’s

Arriving into the camp after being met at the perimeter of Amakala Reserve is like stepping onto a film set. True to the description on the website, it feels very African and very colonial. The mix of styling has been sympathetically chosen and does not feel “gimmicky” in any way.

A small bookshelf by a wooden chair offers a quiet place to read and a welcome reprise from the afternoon sun. The tea and coffee area offers basics, no Tassimo or Nespresso makers here, just metal mugs and a kettle, perfect.

A large communal dining table indicates that the camp is all about getting to know one another and sharing stories rather than dining alone. Finding out that Quartermain’s owners, Rhian and Julie, built the camp themselves makes it an even more impressive space.

communal dining table

Tented Accommodation at Quartermain’s

Stop what you are thinking! You are not going to be staying in a tent reminiscent of your old scouting days, far from it! Your secluded tented accommodation is cosy and comes with a rustic ensuite, open bathroom with modern facilities.

Nothing is more exhilarating than showering to the sound of animal calls or having a bird watching you wash. It’s a beautiful experience, but you may also see a few insects, after all, you are in the bush. Don’t be alarmed, nothing dangerous has access to the camp, and the creatures are more scared of you.

On cold nights the staff will put a hot water bottle in your bed and light the oil heater. Once under the thick blankets, you will be as snug as a bug in a rug (please note this is not a reference to your bed companions) If you wake in the night and need the bathroom, then the moonlight will guide you but don’t fear a torch is also at your disposal.

Tents are spread well apart and give you privacy with a natural pathway leading from the main camp. Rest assured no-one will accidentally walk past and get a glimpse of you in your finery. Well, maybe a tortoise, of which there are quite a few in camp and who always seem happy to help.

A tortoise in the bush
No tortoise was harmed in the delivery of this can!

Food and Drink 

Forget silver service, and Michelin starred restaurants and be humbled at the creativity of the local ladies that cook for the camp. Breakfast is taken after your morning game drive and is a welcome reward after your early wake-up call. Hot drinks and a biscuit called a rusk, which can be plain or fruity would be given during the drive. Be sure to dunk it in your coffee; it’s delicious.

Candle-lit dining in the communal area will be waiting for you at the end of your afternoon game drive all prepared in the fire pit or small kitchen. Expect mouthwatering stews, tender meats and perfectly cooked vegetables.

All meals are included in your visit, and alcohol is available at an additional cost should you require it. Your host or guide will eat with you and then sit around the open fire and share some stories of the bush while enjoying the local tipple called “Amarula” similar to Baileys and very addictive (like Baileys!)

As your evening concludes, take a gas-lamp and retire back along your private pathway to your tent. Listen out for the jackals calling to one another or the hoot of the barn owl. Be secure knowing that there are no predators near the camp and so any hidden glistening eyes will be harmless, just curious animals trying to figure out what you are and where you are heading.

Fancy Going on Safari? Read all about My Incredible Lion Encounter in Shamwari Reserve
Pinterest Graphic for South Africa

Game Drives on Amakhala Reserve

Twice a day you will be transported by safari jeep into a scene not dissimilar to a David Attenborough documentary (who also happens to be my son’s idol) Wear layers, as the mornings are chilly however blankets are provided to keep fingers and toes warm. Body temperature will be the last thing on your mind once you get a glimpse of the animals.

We had the pleasure of being taken around by Craig, a character in his own right who made every drive exciting by giving us so much information about the animals and the area.

There is only one jeep at Quartermain’s, which makes you feel as though you have a private viewing. We were the only guests there when we travelled, and even when full, there will only be a few others.

Viewing an elephant on a game drive
A grey elephant facing forward
Viewing a giraffe on a game drive

Final Thoughts About Quartermain’s

Imagine an experience and a place that will touch your heart in a way that you will never forget. Where the hosts have not just set up a business, they have created something unique to share with their guests, to allow them a brief glimpse into life in the bush. A place where the team are like a big family and welcome you in with open arms. A place where you arrive as a guest and leave as a friend. That’s Quartermain’s!

What month did I travel? April – South Africa’s autumn/fall.

How was the weather? It was sunny and pleasantly warm.

How long should I visit? According to my son “forever” was the correct answer, but in reality, three nights/4 days will allow you to have five-game drives and flora and fauna walk through the bush.

Is it a safe environment for children? It is safe and the best environment they could be in – My son was so inspired by his visit to South Africa that he wanted to pursue a career as a ranger. Please note the camp only accommodates children over the age of 12.

What is the nearest airport? Port Elizabeth

If I drive where do I leave my car? You will leave it at the main lodge as you enter Amakhala and be picked up and taken to Quartermain’s camp by jeep.

How did I book my stay? Book your tented stay at Quartermain’s here.

Read Next: An Unexpected Hike to the Top of Table Mountain

 

 

About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

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Nic Peters
Nic Peters
8 months ago

Wow! What a truly unique experience this must have been and what better way to enjoy the marvels of a Safari than from the comfort of this rather glamorous looking tent! Your choice in places to stay is impeccable and I will be definitely putting a savings pot together so I can get myself to Amakhala ASAP! This is right up my street 😁

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nic Peters
8 months ago

Thank you Nic, I am also pleased to tell you that the cost to stay at Amakhala is very reasonable as compared to other Safari Lodges. Hopefully, you will be able to travel there one day and experience it for yourself.

Sinjana Ghosh
Sinjana Ghosh
10 months ago

I have seen elephants, antelopes( of many variety) and even tigers in Indian jungles, but never seen Giraffes in the wild. They look so glorious! Thanks for this virtual safari in African jungles.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sinjana Ghosh
10 months ago

I would love to see tigers in the wild, it must be a magical experience.

Sarah
Sarah
10 months ago

That looks amazing – I’ve been to Africa but not South Africa and you’re right seeing or hearing animals in the wild is so exciting. Will the tortoises bring wine, if you ask them really nicely!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sarah
10 months ago

I think they would, they seemed a helpful bunch

Jan
10 months ago

Looks like a great experience! Love the bathroom set up. South African ‘Amarula’ and Italian ‘Amaretto’ are both similar to Baileys – I love that liqueur! I must do that trip someday. 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jan
10 months ago

It was so great and I did bring a bottle of Amarula home with me to England only to discover they sell it in my local supermarket!

Ann
10 months ago

Oh Angie, what a dream come true / Once in a lifetime kind of trip! Reading your story makes me so jealous, I am kind of turning green with envy!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Ann
10 months ago

Maybe one day you will be able to do this trip. We waited a long time to finally get there but it was so worth the wait

Marilyn
10 months ago

Having experienced the wonders and sights of the African wilderness and wildlife, I can truly appreciate the moments in awe of watching the various animals go about their days. Maybe, if the opportunity presents to return to South Africa I’ll go with the option to walk into a tent with some added luxury.

Sage Scott
10 months ago

What an amazing once-in-a-lifetime trip! I sooooo love animals, and being able to see them peacefully living their lives in a natural setting would be so incredibly cool!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sage Scott
10 months ago

It was a dream trip

Andi
10 months ago

This is absolutely a bucketlist trip for my hubby, he wants it to be more authentic and less like glamping, I think this camp strikes the right balance! I don’t like medications either so I am happy to learn there are options in the non-malaria side!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Andi
10 months ago

If you ever get round to booking it then please mention my name and blog to Julie and Rhiann the camp owners as they may offer you a reduced rate. ps I am not affiliated with them just have kept in contact since our visit.

Georgina
10 months ago

What a beautiful authentic experience, Angie – memories to last a lifetime. Especially liked your tented accommodation with modern bathrooms. would love to visit in the next couple of years.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Georgina
10 months ago

If you can get there I would definitely recommend it.

Jay Artale
10 months ago

What an experience. It all looks so memorable. I love the look of the accommodation and bathroom – it immediately made me think of Out of Africa. We almost went to SA this winter, but chose France instead, but while we were traveling we kept chatting about a potential trip within the next couple of years. This safari experience would be at the top of the to-do list.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jay Artale
10 months ago

I chose this particular accommodation as I wanted a really authentic experience, after all, you can get swimming pools and waiter service at any other hotel around the world can’t you.

Alison
11 months ago

OMG you had me at hello! I would so love to go to this place. Did you see other game apart from the ellies and giraffe? Was it expensive?

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Alison
11 months ago

Hi Alison. Yes we saw every type of game apart from the elusive leopard. Compared to the luxury lodges all around it was relatively inexpensive. With a trip like this you are paying for memories so worth every penny.

Sharon
11 months ago

The camp is so beautiful, sad that they do not admit younger children

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sharon
11 months ago

I think it’s probably a safety aspect as it’s so open. It was a wonderful experience.

Wendy Lee
11 months ago

Your decision to visit a non-malarial part of Africa was wise. During my recent trip to Uganda I experienced an allergic reaction to the anti-malarial medication–not fun! But thank you for writing about Quartermains, this looked like an amazing experience for your family.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Wendy Lee
11 months ago

Sorry to hear of your illness, not nice. So far I have managed to avoid anywhere that requires a malarial tablet ( not bad as I’ve managed 52 countries). I am just petrified of reacting to them and feeling ill. My son took them for the first time on a trip away to Dominican Rep with his girlfriend and was very ill.

Kristina
11 months ago

That looks like such a unique experience and how fortunate you were to be the only guests there at the time!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Kristina
11 months ago

We were very lucky but at full capacity there are only 6 guests !

Maxine
Maxine
1 year ago

Looks amazing Ang, but scares me silly. Would love something like for me and Andy but would need more info before deciding.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Maxine
1 year ago

I would be happy to share more information with you. It is a wonderful experience.

Nic Peters
Nic Peters
1 year ago

The idea of a safari has always excited me but never did I think I could relieve what Allan Quatermain would have actually experienced! Definitely one to be added to the bucket list, it looks amazing and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before (post 1920s of course)

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nic Peters
1 year ago

I would recommend Quartermains 100%. It is an amazing experience.

Jamie
1 year ago

Love this article! So inspiring and has definitely got me thinking about travelling to South Africa to visit Quatermain’s Camp! Love the picture of the turtle and the can 😛

Can’t wait for the next post!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jamie
1 year ago

Glad you enjoyed it! I would definitely recommend and authentic camp experience at Quartermain’s.

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