As the colder months slowly begin to settle over South Africa, it’s easy to feel like our moods may begin to match the gloom. Days are shorter, layers are thicker, and grey skies can have the opposite of an uplifting effect on the mood. But what if we told you that we’ve discovered the perfect hidden gem campsite to experience South African summer year round?
And it’s located only 80km from Durban, tucked away in lush forests, skirting a placid lagoon, and beaming with sun and good energy all year round. This is the Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge, a caravan park, campsite and set of self-catering chalets that’s the ideal escape from that pesky seasonal sadness and into beachy paradise. The Camp Master team visited this outdoor adventure destination to take a look.
The best way to reach this lagoon, beach and forest resort is to approach it from the Durban side. Driving north, past Umhlanga and through Ballito, you’ll head out past scenic cane fields until you reach an unassuming off-ramp to the coastline, down which you’ll encounter a shady, winding drive into one of the quaintest little towns you’ve ever seen.
Zinkwazi, a tiny village consisting of only four major through roads, is very well-maintained but incredibly quiet. There is one tiny grocery store, that also doubles as the real estate and security office. It’s like a flashback from a vintage movie. The highlight of the area of course, is the beach. With large, sweeping swimming bays across the town and a lagoon upon which boating and kayaking activities are frequently held, this spot is a swimmers’ paradise.
The area also offers excellent walks and trail runs through coastal forests and sugar cane fields. Located just a few kilometres away is the Harold Johnson Nature Reserve, an Ezemvelo project reserve that boasts incredible small game and insect diversity. 200 species of bird can be spotted in the reserve and 114 species of butterfly are reportedly present, making this spot the budding naturist’s playground.
The Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge is unique in that it can be an entirely self-contained adventure! The resort contains a restaurant with a spacious deck, a fun party bar, a large pool, piers from which boats are frequently departing, and a kids’ entertainment area.
If one doesn’t want to leave the campsite at all during your stay, you don’t have to. Both the restaurant and cocktail bar offer uncapped Wi-Fi access, so staying connected isn’t an issue, though we doubt you’ll want to be on your devices while in an area so idyllic. The chalets are well-appointed and spacious, and the campsites for caravans and tents are huge, shady and offer lots of foliage privacy.
There’s even a movie theatre – with cupholders and everything – to keep the little ones (or older ones) entertained in the rare event that the weather turns for the worse. Rest assured though, in Zinkwazi, bad weather never seems to last long. The ablutions and laundries are clean and placed conveniently throughout the facility, with attentive staff who check in on their condition frequently.
If you’re going to Zinkwazi, you’re going for anything and everything “beach.” With incredible surfing, swimming, and bodyboarding on offer, we recommend paddling out for the day. If you’re into angling, deep-sea fishing charters are venturing out daily, as well as more mellow fly fishing expeditions taking place along the banks of the lagoon.
For a fun social activity, visit the Ski Boat Club; an Old School beach bar sitting on the sand of the main beach. Inside, you’ll find friendly locals, lively conversations and occasionally some live music. One of our favourite finds in Zinkwazi is Proud’s Pizza, a shipping container at the main beach parking lot that’s been converted by an enterprising young local man into a fully functioning pizza restaurant, complete with a wood fire oven! Maybe it was the sunset, sand and sea that swayed us, but we still count those pizzas as among the best we’ve ever had.
We’re also big fans of the trail runs in the Zinkwazi Forest Trails area, that range from beginner distances to challenging and technical explorative routes. If you’re in the mood for sophistication, take a sunset cocktail cruise on the water from the Lagoon Lodge’s very own private jetty.
Zinkwazi may seem like a sleepy town, but don’t let that fool you. The social vibe can be incredibly bustling and lively, especially during peak tourist season. There’s also a wide array of excitement available for those who love the outdoors because nature is endlessly changing and unpredictable.
We’re enamoured with this little tucked-away town that feels like a blast from the idyllic past, and we think it’s the ideal spot for both the hardcore solo adventurer and the laid-back family holiday. Be sure to book your autumn or winter getaway in advance, though! The area’s small size means it reaches visitor capacity quickly, and it would be a shame to miss out on this gem while it still retains its semi-hidden charm.
To make your beach camping expedition even more serene, we suggest taking a trailer full of crucial Camp Master gear. Our wide range of outdoor must-haves covers all your bases, from beachy sun shades to camp kitchen essentials, to comfy reclining chairs to lie back in and read that book you’ve been dying to get to.
All of our outdoor equipment is made with durability in mind and affordability guaranteed, so you can always find what you need, in your budget. To shop our range and set off, just visit a Builder’s Warehouse, Game or Makro near you.