Glamping, a new phenomenon, or centuries old…

Glamping, a new phenomenon or centuries old…

Glamping (or glamourous camping) describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Glamping has become particularly popular with 21st-century tourists seeking the luxuries of hotel accommodation alongside the escapism and adventure recreation of camping. Source Wikipedia.

And you would be forgiven for thinking that Glamping is new take on traditional camping, and perhaps reserved for the well-heeled adventure traveller. But it is interesting to note that the most glamourous of camps dates to 1520 – Field of the Cloth of Gold.

Glamping in South Africa is somewhat new, or is it? I guess the nomadic bushmen of the Kalahari could argue this point, since they have taken along their worldly comforts on rather long expeditions for the longest time. Hunters, love them or loath them, were amongst the very first ‘glampers’ to wander across the plains of Africa, porters in tow. And this dates back a couple of centuries, although not much by way of photographic evidence exists to support this, for obvious reasons.

Glamping in South Africa

We have noticed a significant increase in interest in glamping and nature based experiences over the past 3 years, and exactly why this is, we can only speculate. The benefit of quizzing guests does help us understand, at least some of the reasons, why folk in South Africa are turning to this form of holiday experience.

We have looked at these interest groups and can loosely group them as follows;

  1. The Seasoned Glamper – these are folk who have camped for many years, and over the years amassed a large amount of kit and equipment, and after each camping trip found themselves adding more luxuries to their collection. The moment came when the time, energy, effort and money required to mobilise themselves no longer outweighed the available time spent under canvas, so to speak.
  2. The Tentative Glamper (pun intended) – folk who are thinking of glamping or even camping, and who would like to test it out before investing and kit and equipment.
  3. The Family Glamper – Often the closest the family will get mom camping, and it’s by convincing her that she will not have to wash dishes or sacrifice too many home comforts.
  4. The Digital Detox Glamper – Either as couples or families, and these are folk that are looking for break from devices of one sort or another – a Wi-Fi free zone, a chance to ‘connect’ with each other.
  5. The Curious Glamper – These are guests who stumble across this rather novel concept and decide to try it out. Perhaps these are also folk who have tried most other forms of accommodation.
  6. The Business Glamper – these are folk who have exchanged their formal business attire and conference room for a tent, the outdoors, and a flipchart. Alternatively, a rather different company incentive.

One thread connects most if not all glampers, and that is their desire to get out of the city and into the wilderness, for whatever reason.

We have also observed that the term glamping is increasingly being associated with permanent establishments, all be they made of canvas or wood for example. And for a moment, we’ll talk to our own book, when we say that you are glamping when the tent or structure in which you are staying is going to be removed before long.

Whatever motivates you to consider glamping is not important, what is, is that you act upon it, and head out into the wilderness, and enjoy some time away with family, friends, or just a little solitude.

Book your break now.

We would like to book our own camp.

We would like to book our own tented camp

tented camp

We would like to book our own tented camp; this is a question we get asked frequently. And our guests have a variety of ideas, for which they would like to consider booking their own tented camp, and these include; birthday celebrations, weddings, company think tanks, amongst others. There are also folk who would like to book the camp for their own commercial use.

It is obvious for most of us to see why the idea of your own pop-up camp would be appealing, since it does offer an exclusive experience, almost anywhere that you please. It is extremely light on the environment, and there is generally little evidence of it being there once we have gone.

Having said all of this, and with an idea like this, which seems to be the perfect idea, there is a downside, and we will take a look at some of the considerations and input costs which are involved in setting up your own tented camp. And for purposes of this illustration, we will will consider a small camp of 10 tents. We say small as it is entirely possible to have your own tented camp of 100 tents.

3 basic input costs that we consider

  1. Distance across which the kit and equipment needs to be transported;

transporting 10 tents, along with all the associated crew tents, kitchen and dining tents, furniture, fittings and equipment will amount to approximately 3,5 – 4 tons. It will take anything from 2 to 5 days to get the equipment to the location that you have in mind, and once complete, this process is repeated to get the kit back to our stores.

     2. How long you would like your camp to be available to you;

Clearly incurring the logistical costs for a one night camp, would make the cost of each tent or bed expensive, and conversely the longer the camp is up, the cheaper the price per tent will become, as the fixed costs are then amortised over a longer period.

      3. Site access, fees, and available services;

We need to consider how accessible the site is to a truck, or perhaps we will need to use 4×4’s to get to the site. We would generally exclude any site fees from our charge, as this would normally already have been taken into account during the process of finding your site. And finally the availability of fresh water, in many cases we need to tank water to the site, whilst in others there is fresh water on-site.

The variable costs of a tented camp that we consider

  1. Catering;

Catering at the camp can vary from really basic, right up to a silver and crystal gourmet experience. Meals can held in dining tents, or at other locations, for example a remote bush dinner. Of course, the option of excluding catering completely is also available, and is the preferred option where clients wish to add accommodation to an existing establishment.

      2. Guest services;

Whilst our basic offering will always include providing showers, generally at a set time each day, and basic housekeeping, for example, we are often required to have crew on standby for guests to shower at anytime during the day or night. Additional requirements could include; pillow drops and turn downs, guest speakers and presentations, ala-carte menu availability during the day/night, full housekeeping services, and the list goes on.

     3. Guests length of stay;

Our clients camp occupation requirements vary considerably, from a series of one-night stays for many guests (back to back) or one group for 2, 3, 4 or more nights, costs related to guests checking in and out each day are obviously greater.

An alternative to booking your own camp

The second best thing to having your own camp, is having your own camp before, during, or after one of our existing camps. Simply contact us at wayne(at)wildernessexplorer.co.za and I will be happy to provide you with some date options where camp exclusivity can be offered to you. The costs of calculating exclusivity is fairly simple, we add only the basic costs any unoccupied tents (if any) to your accommodation total.

Branding your own camp

As with any establishment where you have secured exclusive use, our camps offer almost endless branding opportunities and could include; chair back covers, tent fly sheet printing (you will own the flysheets where we’re done, and they make for awesome shade nets), etc.

The next time you are considering a venue for your special event, give us a call, and we will be happy to chat with around some options, and if you don’t have a location in mind, we will find one for you which is central enough for all your guests. Booking your own camp may be just the right option.

 

How long does it take to set up a camp?

How long does it take to set up a camp?

Without exception, each one of our guests asks the question; so how long does it take to set up a camp? And this question is generally followed, in quick succession by; how many people did it take, where do you get your supplies from, and water and electricity, and so it goes on. Perhaps because it is what we do, we no longer consider the process, but it is always a pleasure to explain to our guests what goes on behind the scenes.

Setting up a camp begins long before we arrive, and as each location is different, a little bit of local knowledge is very helpful, like how far is the nearest; fuel supply, water, fresh produce etc. And yes, when we are looking for or at, a new location, we camp, not in quite the same style and luxury, but camp we do.

listing all the inventory that is needed is where we start; there is no going back because we forgot something, so it must be right first time around. Loading is also a bit of skill, not so much to ensure that it gets on in the order we want to get it off, but also to ensure that the load is correctly distributed and balanced on the truck/s and trailers. A few hours at a weigh bridge, while we repack is not something we can afford to do. Before we actually arrive on site, we have a rough idea of where we’re going to position the staff camp, kitchen and dining tents, and guest tents, and there is always going to be a bit of site preparation before we begin.

First off the truck is everything we need to set up staff camp, we find a spot not too far from the guest areas, but also not immediately obvious to guests. We accommodate staff in our explorer tents, and generally make them as comfortable as we can. This is pretty much what we can achieve on day of arrival, and so without the use of the kitchen just yet, we have a couple of days worth food supplies in ice boxes.

Day two begins with the kitchen and stores tents, and then moving the tables, fridges, freezers and equipment into the tents. We move directly onto the guest tents, and this is to give the housekeeping staff enough time to dress the tents. Placing the guest tents is a critical part of our set-up, and we try to ensure that we limit our impact on the environment, and also provide each tent with maximum possible privacy. Each guest tent comprises two tents, the tent, and the shower and toilet tent, which is positioned immediately behind the tent, and accessible from inside the tent.

camp set upThere is no telling what we will encounter at each camp, recently a rather friendly donkey arrived in camp, and remained in the area for about 2 weeks.

Selecting the ideal sites for the guest tents is always a bit of a challenge, and one that is determined by the amount of flora, and other natural obstacles. The balance between distance, privacy, and ground cover, when placing guest tents, is vitally important to remain within our ‘touch the earth lightly’ approach. In fact we would go as far as saying that very often we improve the environment through the removal of coppicing, and excess moribund ground cover. The process of setting up guest tents can take anything between 2 and 5 days, and largely depends on the amount of site preparation work that is required.

set up a campTypically this image depicts what we may encounter on arrival at a camp location, and this requires a significant amount of trimming.

We took the decision to remove all 220v supply from tents, and now have only 12v within the tents, ensuring that no harm can come to guests from any wiring inside the tent. Once the lighting in guest tents is complete, the job of fitting out the tent takes place, and we use 92cm bed as opposed to the 76cm which has been, thus far, the standard in mobile tented camps. This little change has made a significant improvement in the overall comfort of the tents. Finally beds are made, towels, guest amenities, and toilets are added, the tent is then complete, and will remain as is until the morning of a check-in, and all that remains is a final once over.

camp set upReady for guests.

We then move to the central guest areas, and repeat the process for the lounge and dining tents. Lastly we lay the power supply backbone to all the tents, and test all feeds before burying cables and waterproofing exposed transformers etc.

‘D day’ is always fast approaching, and the day before sees our kitchen folk heading off to buy supplies, which will hopefully last for the first 3 or 4 days of camp. This generally amounts to a little under a ton of stock , with ice boxes and ice. More often than not, this trip will be several hundred kilometers, and will take a day.

The breakdown of the camp is repeating much repeating the process in reverse, and is inevitably quicker, unless we have had rain, in which case the process will be delayed, as we cannot pack wet tents. Superficial cleaning of kit and equipment takes place on site, with a deep clean and repair of everything taking place upon our return to our stores. It generally takes a little over two weeks for set-up and break-down, assuming everything goes to plan. And it has yet to go to plan, with everything from tyre blow-outs, minor crew injuries and rain all playing their part in the process.

We will be asked how long does it take to set up a camp many, more times, and we never grow tired of sharing each camp experience with guests.

There can be no better validation for the job of setting up a camp than a satisfied guest, and this makes it all so worth while.