Sleep in a luxury tipi in a private game reserve only 15km away from the Addo Elephant National Park Main Gate.  It’s a wonderful bush experience, with plenty of wildlife and birdlife, making it as good, if not better, than being in Addo and at a fraction of the price.

Where is it? 
Just outside Paterson (8km away) in the Eastern Cape and only 15km from Addo Elephant National Park Main Gate.  

Why stay there? 
It’s one of the few places in South Africa where you get to sleep in a tipi! It’s also in its own private game reserve with giraffe, ostriches, impala, warthog and more. Plus, it’s ridiculously affordable in comparison with accommodation options in Addo Elephant National Park.  

How much does it cost? 
R750 a night and sleeps four. That equates to R187 per person a night if there are four of you.  

Can I take the kids and my dogs? 
Kids are welcome and will love it! Dogs are not allowed as the bush camp is in a private game reserve.  

Contact details 
Telephone 082 821 9944 (Rob) / 083 951 0008 (Belinda),

While the entrance fee to Addo Elephant National Park is very affordable (R62 per day for South Africans), the accommodation in the park is fairly pricey, with the cheaper options being booked out months in advance. There are camping spots, but if you go in winter or hate camping, then you could be out of luck if you are on a budget. But don’t panic, I’ve found the perfect solution! One that’s right in the bush, overlooks a section of Addo (you can see game through binoculars), has a swimming pool with a view and set in its own private game reserve. Plus, you get to sleep in a luxury tipi, based on American Indian design. 

TiPi Bush Camp in the Addo Afrique Estate game reserve was started by Rob and Belinda Tapson in 2010 when they built their first tipi as a getaway spot for themselves and their son. Then their friends pressured them to build another one, so they did. After that, they advertised the tipis as an accommodation option in the area and after a booking from the Czech Republic, they erected the third and final tipi in 2012.  The entire process took three years and they built everything themselves. The result is a unique, extremely comfortable and eco-friendly accommodation option right in the bush, complete with giraffe, kudu, impala, springbok, warthogs, monkeys and more on your doorstep. The birdlife is also excellent with much birdsong in the mornings, so twitchers will be in their element here too.

The tipis themselves are extremely comfortable, with a double bed and a couch that can be separated into two single beds.  There’s a central table with four chairs, a small gas fridge, a gas two-plate stove, a kettle and enough pots, pans, cutlery and crockery for four people.  There are plenty of kerosene lamps and solar lamps for ambient evenings under the stars and for lighting indoors. Bedding and towels are also provided, so all you need to do is pitch up with your clothes, toiletries, food, drinks and wood for the braai. Note: They have a lovely big pot that’s perfect for a potjie! 

Each tipi has its own bathroom with a solar-powered shower, toilet and basin, housed in a wooden cabin a short walk from your tipi. It’s very well lit up at night with solar lamps, so don’t worry about tripping up on your way to the toilet in the middle of the night! Plus there’s an outdoor shower for the more adventurous (or exhibitionist in you).  We didn’t try the swimming pool / jacuzzi as it was too cold for those kind of activities (along with the outdoor shower, even though we had the camp to ourselves so it would’ve been the perfect opportunity!) but I can imagine it’s the perfect way to spend an idle summer’s afternoon! 

In addition, each tipi also has its own braai area with a rather uniquely designed braai grid. There’s nothing like the smell of chops sizzling on the coals while you enjoy a cold beer (or a glass of wine) under the stars after a day’s game viewing, along  with what we called “The Jackal Jol” in the distance, adding to the African ambience!

As TiPi Bush Camp is within a 152 hectare private game reserve, you can do your own private game viewing, by car or on foot. The reserve has a fair amount of wildlife, including giraffe (that we sadly never saw), ostrich, eland, kudu, reedbuck, blesbok, Red Hartebeest, impala, springbok, waterbuck, nyala, bushbuck, duiker, warthog, caracal, jackal, porcupine, mongoose, vervet monkeys and baboons. The vervet monkeys are notorious for visiting the camp in search of scraps, so you need to be aware and keep your tent closed when not in it. Also no feeding of the monkeys! There’s a monkey-proof tin chest in each tipi and you are advised to store your food in there when going out for the day as they are crafty little buggers and will find a way to get into your tipi if there’s any temptation to do so!   As previously mentioned, the birdlife is prolific and you can expect to hear and see Glossy Starling, Southern BruBru, Mouse Birds, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Pied Wagtail, Black Eagle, Tawny Eagle, Grey and Black Headed Herons, Egrets, Sacred and Hadeda Ibis, Cape turtle Doves, Red-Eyed Doves, Laughing Doves and Green-Spotted Doves to name a few.   

We also loved sitting on the bench near the bottom tipi (perfect for for your morning cuppa or evening sundowner) and peering through binoculars in search of game in the new Nguni section of Addo Elephant National Park. We saw kudu, zebra, ostriches and warthogs, but lion, buffalo and elephant have also been spotted. You are also very likely to hear the lion at night!  

With all that on offer, along with jackals and lions serenading you to sleep at night, I think the TiPi Bush Camp is actually better than staying in Addo. Plus, being at a fraction of the price of staying in the national park, you’ll have more money to spend on firewood… you’ll need it as sublime evenings under the stars next to a fire with friends or family tend to stretch on!  

Inside information
We had the whole camp to ourselves so got to snoop about. We came to a unanimous decision that the Bottom Tipi is the best one for views over the new section of Addo. It also has the closest access to the bench with a view.

See my Addo Elephant National Park Photoblog here

Read my Cape Town to Addo Elephant National Park on a budget post here

Published August 2017 | Own cost