I had scout master Ward’s voice in my head as I blew out of Cape Town one rainy afternoon, pointing my nose through the drizzle of a Cape winter in the direction of the Winelands.
The Simonsberg was wreathed in clouds, but despite the rain, I was going camping. Well, if you can call it that. Rather, I was bedding down for the night at one of the most talked-about new boutique getaways in the Cape.
First, pick your site
Though owned and run independently, Camp Canoe sits on a quiet corner of Boschendal farm, about halfway between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. The seven tents are pitched high on the slopes of the Simonsberg, ensuring superb vineyard views and a welcome lack of passing traffic. Instead, you are likely to hear the shuffle of porcupines at night, and little more than the rustle of fynbos in the wind. Come morning, sunrise is nothing short of superb over the distant Drakenstein Mountains.
Pitch your tent
Camp Canoe may be billed as an under-canvas “glamping” destination, but in truth, it’s more like the country escape of your boutique hotel dreams. The roof may be canvas, but there are no comforts missing here.
Owner Amy Kropman worked with a leading local design studio to create seven playful suites filled with bespoke details. Furniture comes courtesy of Houtlander and Pedersen+Lennard, while quilted walls by furniture designer Casamento frame the sprawling king-size bed. The en suite bathroom is spacious enough for two, with a vast shower featuring beautiful mosaic detailing.
Earn your badges
As you’d expect from any good camp, you won’t be short of a schedule of healthy outdoor activities. With Camp Canoe’s location on Boschendal farm, you have easy access to all of the estate’s fresh-air fun.
Mountain bikers will be especially happy, with the farm’s best single-track trails right on the doorstep. Of course, you can also hike or run the tracks too, but do keep an eye out for bikes. On the main section of Boschendal, there are horse rides and garden tours to tap into, as well as the new art gallery collaboration with the Norval Foundation.
Light the fire
Whether you learn to do it with a single match or throw the complimentary Camp Canoe firelighters at the problem, you’ll soon be embracing your inner Sam Shakusky and getting the campfire going. The only question is, which one?
My advice? Start with the one in the wood-fired hot tub, though the on-the-ball Camp Canoe crew does like to get it started before you arrive. That means the striking outdoor hot tub will be nicely warmed up soon after your arrival. The circular zinc tubs are a neat nod to the picturesque farm setting, with more than enough space for two, and the opportunity to stargaze amid the steam.
While you’re soaking, light the braai. Each tent comes kitted with a top-of-the-range Weber and more than enough charcoal for the night. It’s a high-risk area for wildfires, so keep the complimentary firewood for the indoor fireplace, which will warm up the tent neatly.
What’s for dinner?
Campfire cooking is made easy. The Boschendal Farm Shop is brimming with wonderful fresh fare, from some of the best ciabatta in the Winelands to pasture-reared beef, lamb and pork raised on the estate. This is as about as farm-to-fork as you’re likely to find, so take advantage.
The farm shop also has a selection of fresh salads, preserves and produce from local artisans. Browsing the shop is a joy, but if you’d rather hunker down in your tent you can pre-order picnic, braai and breakfast boxes.
In the morning, saunter downhill to the Boschendal Bistro for a superb coffee, or tuck into the excellent pasteis de nata and menu of breakfast classics.