Last updated on Mar 9th, 2021 at 11:58 am

Some of my best memories are family holidays – all of us piling into the car early in the morning and heading out on a road trip to explore some of South Africa’s most pristine natural areas…

My family loved camping, but if that’s not your style and you still want to enjoy the best that Southern Africa has to offer, check out our pick of 8 of the most affordable bush breaks around the country.

With a range of accommodation options, you will be sure to find one that won’t break the bank:

1. Gauteng, Mongena Game Lodge, Dinokeng Game Reserve

You’re advised to book early to secure your chalet on the manicured lawns where zebras graze (the indigenous landscaping is a nice touch). There’s a lot to do here, on this reserve north of Pretoria. Mongena’s game drives are excellent and, on more than one occasion, I have seen four of the Big Five.

Elephants often come to drink at the large dam. Sunset boat cruises are also offered, if the water levels on Mongena’s own 28-hectare lake are sufficient, and they’re a must for photographers – look out for fish eagles.

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The camp itself is not large but is ideal if you simply want to relax. There’s a pool for the kids and the Kingfisher à la carte restaurant, which overlooks a small dam, is perfect for long, lazy lunches or afternoon tea. – Fiona Zerbst

2. Gauteng, Tamboti Bush Lodge, Dinokeng Game Reserve

This has long been a favourite of mine. It’s so close to the big cities that I often go there just for Sunday brunch. The menu is extensive and the food always delicious, especially the pancakes. You can eat beneath the tamboti trees and listen to the bird calls – twitchers come here in droves, and a birding club recently counted 140 species at Tamboti in just one weekend. I prefer a homely log cabin to the luxury safari tents in summer (purely because it’s easier to escape the heat), but can recommend both.

There are also suites inside the main house, including honeymoon suites. Tamboti is an intimate camp, offering landscaped gardens and a swimming pool, as well as bushveld and small dams that attract the birds. Owners Derrick and Pixie Cochran are amiable hosts, and Derrick’s stories are legendary. He recently bought a game-drive vehicle and it’s a joy to travel with him because he is knowledgeable about every tree, bird and animal in his neck of the woods. – Fiona Zerbst

Click page 2 below for more affordable bush breaks in KZN…