Camp Fig Tree: Our full report
Camp Fig Tree is a luxurious lodge within a 10km2 private concession just outside Addo Elephant Park in South ...... Africa’s Eastern Cape. With a spectacular outlook over the densely vegetated Zuurberg mountain ranges, it is well situated for visits to Addo Elephant National Park. Alternatively, there are activities on the private property itself on offer. The atmosphere is very homely and relaxed, with staff who make delightful hosts.
Camp Fig Tree has been designed to resemble the original 1920s farmhouse as much as possible. This finds its expression in the furnishings of the wide terraces, a corrugated iron roof, and antique, dark wooden furnishings.
Camp Fig Tree has seven suites, including one designed for a family. The three rooms on the top of the hill, beneath vast spreading fig trees, would certainly be the best for hot weather:
- Suite 1 is a family unit. It has a big lounge with a small selection of books, a large bedroom and an en-suite bathroom fitted with a washbasin, a toilet and a big shower. Next to the lounge there is a separate small room with a pair of bunk beds, designed for children. The suite is tastefully furnished with white sofas and some dark wooden furniture that combine well with the light mint green walls and olive curtains.
- Like the family unit, Suites 2 & 3 are also on the top of the mountain and are joined to each other, semi-detached. Each features a large bed with mosquito netting, a separate living area, an en-suite bathroom and a private veranda beautifully overlooking the lodge’s gardens and surrounding mountains.
- Camp Fig Tree’s Suites 4 & 5 are not as vast as 6 an 7, but still a good size. From the boardwalk, you walk around each suite to its front, then enter via its private veranda, through large French doors. Facing these doors, with beautiful views of the wooded mountains, is the double bed. The bathroom is tiled with a bold black-and-white checker-board pattern and fitted with a big shower, a bath, a toilet and one wash basin. Behind the bedroom is a small dressing room with another toilet and a wash basin beside it. Outside, there is a private veranda with a little seating area.
- Although massive, Suites 6 & 7 at Camp Fig Tree are probably best suited for just two people travelling together. One enters into a really large central lounge area, which is completely open-plan with no doors in it. This room leads to the huge bathroom featuring a big bath, two wash basins, a massive shower with a water drop head above, a bench with towels and a toilet in a separate little cabin. A set of doors opens out onto a veranda with stupendous views. Back inside, the bedroom is on the opposite side of the lounge. There you will find a big canopy bed with mosquito netting all around it, a dressing table and tea kit on brand new, orange sisal flooring.
From all three rooms, French doors open out onto a big veranda, where you can enjoy lovely views of mountainous fig trees land and beyond it the park. The whole chalet has a completely walk-around veranda with 270° views.
- We felt that the tiled floors of the stunning showers were seriously slippery when wet.
- During the cooler months, including May, the hilltop rooms were very cool – and heating was only possible with portable calor-gas heaters. Although new and in good condition, we were still very mindful of the safety issues associated with these heaters, and this meant that we didn’t want to leave them on when we were not in the rooms.
- Finally, we felt that it would be sensible to install more handrails on the walkways in the common areas at Camp Fig Tree, since there are some relatively steep drops and stairs. There were some handrails, but they were all put at an adult height, and so were not much help to a child.
The service was very natural and friendly, although a little inconsistent, as just occasionally things were missed. That said, when we mentioned them, the team worked hard to put these small issues right.
In terms of activities, visitors can choose between exploring the area by themselves or booking additional guided activities. Camp Fig Tree itself operates daily, guided tours in open-topped land rovers to Addo Elephant National Park as well as "Tooth and Claw" safaris in Schotia Private Game Reserve, where they end with a relaxed barbecue. In Addo National Park you can also self-drive through the main wildlife area. For more information about the flora and fauna there, see our general Addo Elephant National Park page.
However, spanning three different biomes, that is valley bushveld, montane forests and Cape fynbos, the private concession around Camp Fig Tree is worth some exploring itself. The camp offers some activities like guided walks to a picnic spot. Please note that extra charges apply to most activities offered by Camp Fig Tree.
On our most recent visit to Camp Fig Tree in May 2013 we found the lodge very atmospheric, the welcome warm and the views stupendous – it felt like being welcomed into the home of old, colonial friends. Our room was fantastic, and the new ones are even more spectacular. Despite a few hiccups Fig Tree is a place that we loved and would come back to.
South Africa expert
- Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa
- Camp Fig Tree is 75km from Port Elizabeth, which normally takes an hour’s drive. Take the N2 north through Addo Town towards Addo National Park, continue through the park, then after 12km follow the signposts to Camp Fig Tree.
From the Addo Main Camp turnoff it’s a 30-minute drive to the camp – including a mountain pass which twists and turns a little; it’s quite spectacular in parts.
- Accessible by
Food & drink
- Usual board basis
- Full Board
- Food quality
- The lodge itself describes its cuisine as ‘hearty, unpretentious fare focused on quality, flavor and wholesome goodness’.
Food at Camp Fig Tree is generally first-class, as cooking and the chefs are excellent. However, during our most recent visit there were also some points we had hiccups with.
For breakfast there was a selection of cereals with fruit salad and yoghurt, some very freshly squeezed orange juice and a nice small cheese board which included a few cooked meats. This was followed by a hot breakfast cooked to order with freshly fried mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, sausages and egg to order. All in all the choice was not vast, but what had been done, had been done very nicely.
On the other hand, breakfast seemed quite variable to us. The number of cereals on offer varied from day to day and the warm Scotch pancakes, which were actually really delicious, weren’t available every day.
However, these negative points are definitely not to be blamed on the cooking and the chefs - those were great, but on the organizational side.
For dinner we once had a very nice, spicy lentil and bean soup as starter; main course was an ostrich fillet cooked to order with polenta and some julienne vegetables, on this occasion carrot and courgette; and desert was malva pudding with a toffee sauce and a tiny little bit of cream. The children’s menu was basically the same, except that the ostrich had been cut up and it was served with rice.
On another occasion starter came as a lovely homemade, slightly spicy tomato soup with crème fraîche and homemade bread; main course was a substantial chicken fillet stuffed with vegetable risotto, then rolled in bacon and served with herbed butternut mash and a caper sauce. Desert that evening was pear poached in red wine, with a red wine coulis and vanilla ice cream.
The childrens’ menu consisted of strips of chicken fillets and homemade French fries in a sweet (and very mild) chili sauce, carrots and some broccoli as main course; and vanilla ice cream with some strawberries and a dusting of icing sugar as desert. Again, both were excellent.
Once a week there is a South African evening with traditional, local meals served in the boma to let guests taste the local cuisine.
- Wildlife safaris
- At Camp Fig Tree in South Africa, choose between self-driving into Addo, guided 4WD wildlife safaris to the park, or walks on the camp’s private concession. The wildlife on the concession is limited, but the vegetation is lovely.
- See ideas for Wildlife safaris
- Attitude towards children
- The camp is very happy to host children – and the team’s general attitude towards children is very positive and accommodating.
- Property’s age restrictions
- Special activities & services
- Baby-sitters are available on request.
- A cot is available and two of the suites have separate bedrooms with bunk beds to accommodate children.
- Generally recommended for children
- Parents should note that there are some hazards for unwary children, like unmarked swimming pools, walkways without proper handrails or railings, and the like. However, we don’t think that these issues should deter vigilant parents with sensible, careful children from visiting.
- There is a discount of 50% for children under six.
Health & safety
- Malarial protection recommended
- Dangerous animals
- Moderate Risk
- Fire safety
- Disabled access
- Not Possible
- Laundry facilities
- A laundry service is available on request.
Other lodges in Addo Elephant National Park
Alternative places to stay in this same area.