Most of our route was on the double carriage ways of the N1 which meant that passing the lumbering trucks was a lot less stressful. Cathy was our able navigator and Alec lead us brilliantly through the awful traffic of Johannesburg. But the journey was not too long today and we only made two stops for loo breaks.
How lovely it was to wake up in a lovely warm bedroom this morning. Outside the brave sun shone but it was minus three degrees Celsius at seven o’clock and once again the temperature took its time to rise to 20 before dropping drastically after four o’clock. Breakfast was included in our rate so at eight o’clock we enjoyed lovely bacon and eggs and lots of good coffee and only left Arcadia Guest House at nine o’clock.
Bela-Bela is the Tswana word meaning ‘the pot that boils’ and was named thus when the tribe discovered the hot springs in the 1800s. A Voortrekker named Carl van Heerden had the first farm in the district. He named it “Hartingburg” in honour of a Dutch biologist named Pieter Harting. Later President Burger’s Transvaal government bought the land and they named the area ‘Het Bat’. During the Anglo Boer War the British took over the town and in 1903 named it Warm Baths. In 2002 it was re-named Bela-Bela. The main hot springs holiday resort in the town is still branded Warmbaths.
We are not staying at Warmbaths Resort but at Mbizi Game Lodge which is lush with green grass and trees. There are lots of ancient implements dotted about the grounds and at reception we were amused to see old kettles used as lampshades.
We each have a campsite with private ablutions. The campsites are small and not the best in this caravan park. I would suggest rather getting the ones with communal ablutions which are just as pristine and perhaps even more spacious. There are benches in the shower rooms and hooks for hanging your clothes
Mbizi is not a place I would choose to come to during school holidays. It is a typical holiday camp with wonderful facilities for families and children. At times like these I imagine it would be quite noisy. So unless you love the sound of children indulging in excited play, come when they’re all at school.
The campsite not only attracts holiday makers but birds and beasts too.
The camp restaurant is open all day until 20h00. You have to choose from an illustrated board, order and pay cash at the bar and your meal is served in take-away-containers with plastic cutlery. However, there is seating and you may sit in or outdoors. Music was playing throughout the afternoon and was quite loud. We asked for it to be turned down and they kindly switched the speakers off in the indoor restaurant. The Earl and I had chicken wraps and Cathy and Alec had cheese burgers. We also had a Greek salad to share. We wanted to order a bottle of wine but they only had one off the shelf. However, they allowed us to fetch our own and did not charge corkage. Unless you want fine dining, I can really recommend eating at this place.
Tomorrow we travel to our last destination, Tshipise, before we enter Kruger National Park on Sunday.