Few places on earth are as wild or dramatic as the Addo Elephant National Park – the third largest national park in South Africa. A one-and-a-half-hour drive north of Gqeberha is Camp Figtree, the most sophisticated outfit in this part of the country. It’s a bit like flying first class – once you’ve tried it, anything else feels slightly second rate. However, the superior accommodations aren’t the only reason to love this lodge. With excellent excursions and unparalleled game viewing, guests don’t have to scrounge for ways to wile away the hours.
In the heart of elephant country, tucked away on the Zuurberg Pass, Camp Figtree is outdoor luxury at its best. The levels of friendly and functional service are hard to find elsewhere in Addo, if not the Eastern Cape. Activities, both on and off-site, are equally impressive – choose from bush walks, bush picnics, giraffe walking safaris as well as game drives into Addo Elephant National Park and Schotia Safaris Private Game Reserve.
The individual residences built into the mountain, ranging from Superior Suites to Luxury Tents and The Outpost (half suit, half tent), are certainly impressive and generously sized. With panoramic views over the Zuurberg Mountains, it all feels elemental and ethereal. Our high-ceilinged Luxury Suite was a staggering 180m2 and filled with enough clever storage to keep a week’s worth of packing out of sight. Cool, creamy and contemporary in aesthetic, with lovely touches such as mint-green walls, plush carpets, a colonial four-poster bed, linen bedding, a sectioned seating area, a vast outdoor area and swathes of heavy curtaining that allow you to sleep in. It’s easy to lose all sense of time in this level of comfort. The bathroom, furnished with greenery, was equipped with a sizable bath and a very good rainfall shower. Locally produced Healing Earth toiletries were a charming touch.
Head chef Marshall Petla oversees the restaurant, the beating heart of Camp Figtree. Pared-back elegance is the name of the game – expect wraparound verandahs overlooking trees and lawns, leading down to a shaded sundeck and an infinity pool. We recommend that you beeline for seats on the patio and ask one of the waitresses to lead you through the extensive gin collection. There’s also an exceptional wine list and Camp Figtree’s own craft beer on tap. In summer, candle-lit suppers are warmed by the breeze from the Algoa Bay coast. The ever-changing three-course menu is short but impeccable, from country-style vegetable soup to roasted lamb rib eye and local cheese to finish. We particularly enjoyed the white wine garlic mussels, spring vegetable fettuccine Alfredo and sublime blueberry panna cotta. Contemporary glassware and cutlery match the lodge’s modernist tilt.
Breakfast – included in the room rate, with lunch and dinner billed separately – is accompanied by frothy cappuccinos and freshly squeezed orange juice. We liked lingering over the poached eggs on a potato rosti with smoked salmon and avocado, along with seasonal fruit, granola with yoghurt and honey, croissants, soft cheeses and cured meats. Needless to say, you will not want for anything during your stay at Camp Figtree. It’s an oasis of luxury in an unforgiving landscape.
R335, Addo, Gqeberha
082 611 3603