I was lucky enough to visit the recently opened Rhino Sands Safari Camp in the big five Manyoni Private Game reserve in the heart of Zululand, just three hours from Durban. I love the African bush but the thought of staying in a tent would normally put me off. Glamping however, is much more my style and the perfect way to immerse yourself in nature without sacrificing any comfort.
“Glamping” is a relatively new word, added into the Oxford Dictionary in 2016 it is defined as “A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.” While the word may be new the concept is not. In the 1920’s wealthy travelers from Britain and America visiting Africa for an Africa Safari experience, expected and were afforded every domestic luxury.
Today, glamping is a growing trend in bush accommodation, many visitors prefer luxurious safari tents to built structures. Going back to the basics of the safari experience – nature, canvas, romance but with the addition of luxury. Many of these tented camps today also pride themselves on being eco-friendly.
At Rhino Sands, guests can stay in one of four luxurious custom-built private tented suites located in a private patch of forest overlooking a river where the wild animals come to drink.
Each tent opens completely on three sides so that the guests can immerse themselves in the wilderness experience.
In addition to a bedroom each luxurious tent has a private living area, bathroom, outdoor shower and swimming pool.
Blown away by the interiors I got hold of the interior designer Taryn Flanagan from Durban to find out more about her and how she went about the design of the tents and camp.
Anne: Apart from the natural surroundings and luxururious tents, what else inspired your interior design scheme at River Sands?
Taryn: The inspiration was drawn from 1920’s cottars camping. I did want to infuse colour into it and add elements of chic. The camp is designed to be homely and comfortable, but interesting.
What would you call the decor style that has been created at the camp? Did you receive a detailed brief or were you given carte blanche to do the interiors.
The style is glamorous but homely. I don’t know if I could give it a style really, its just what I love! I was given a brief but then allowed to be creative. I think I earned their trust
I loved the pop of colour brought in with the Masai Shuka blankets and the Ardmore Cushions. How did you go about selecting a colour palette for the lodge area and private tents?
It strange, they seemed to have organically developed on their own. It either started off with a rug, or a piece of cloth that I liked and then the scheme grew from there.
What is your favourite colour?
I see too much colour and too many designs to have a favorite. My tastes and loves change all the time with new product and prints. When it comes to my own home, I chop and change all the time. I think this year, I am sticking to plains, just because I get exposed to too much
There is a wonderful use of textures which makes the decor so interesting – can you describe the use of textures and why you chose them.
My designs generally are texture rich. I find it makes a space interesting. I like to be able to see something, and feel its texture without actually touching it. I love natural objets as well.
Rhino Sands prides itself on being eco-friendly – how did you take this into account?
We chose natural fabrics, so not too much polyester in them. Eco-friendly soaps for guests to use, mungo towels which are organically grown threads, and also wash on a much gentler cycle thus using less power and detergents. Also all the lights are low wattage LED’s as to not pull too much power from the solar panel farm
Have you done the interiors of any other Safari Lodges or is this your first one?
No this was my first and I absolutely loved it
What is your personal style and how would you describe your business?
My personal style is more is more. I like pieces that tell stories and I love to layer.