We were sad to be leaving lovely Bontebok National Park but we certainly will be back.
We had mixed feelings about heading to Cape Town. We’d geared our minds to going home to Struisbaai and after our lovely holiday, the big city with all its busyness did not hold much appeal. But on the other hand, we looked forward to catching up with friends and family.
There is no denying that Cape Town is a beautiful place and seeing the old familiar sights filled us with joy. We would be staying in Noordhoek just around the corner from Sun Valley where we’d lived for most of our lives and a few of our friends are close neighbours of Chapman’s Peak Caravan Park.
We’d never been to the park before but were quite delighted with what we found. Entering the gate we thought reception couldn’t be far away,
We were not required to pay immediately but were given a remote to get in and out of the gate when it was closed and told to choose any site.
We had heard that the park was run-down and had even closed so we were pleasantly surprised to find it quite a lovely place to stay. It is old and does not have the manicured appearance of some caravan parks. But it has a wonderful farm feel about it. The sites are large and there is plenty of shade. Many of the sites are more grassy than ours. The ablutions are not modern but everything works and they are clean and neat.
After we’d settled in and had a nap we went to visit friends just five minutes away.
Today the family gathered at Castle Rock where The Earl’s sister and family live. Their indigenous garden which is just an extension of the mountain attracts many birds and other wildlife. The view of the ocean is amazing and the kids enjoyed a glorious swim in the crystal clear water. This is the bay in which “My Octopus Teacher” was filmed. It is a wonderful documentary that is well worth watching. Look for it on Netflix.
We watched several helicopters flying low over the bay. Some landed at the ski-boat club where their passengers could get refreshments or walk around and admire the area.
This part of the peninsular is spectacularly beautiful and the beaches being a little rocky and not as easy to get to are quieter than the more popular sandy beaches.
It was a really beautiful day and a wonderful visit with our family and the braai was awesome. Thanks, Carol and Vere for hosting us.
The dawn chorus woke me early this morning and on peeking out of my window I saw that the rain had gone. By eight o’clock we were on our way to Swellendam to do some shopping. There is no restaurant in the park and we had not yet provisioned for the next part of our extended holiday.
As we were driving toward the exit gate I checked my phone for messages and found I had a missed call from our friend, Carl. I rang him back. He asked if we were in the park and when I said we were about to leave to have breakfast in Swellendam he was delighted. He was almost there himself having taken a motorbike ride from Napier and was planning to have breakfast at Grace and Merci. So of course we met him there and had a lovely catch-up before he rode back home and we got on with our town chores.
Swellendam has a good Checkers and we managed to get everything we needed, then returned to the park. I was delighted to find that the camp had a laundry with a washer and dryer in good working order. I obtained two tokens at R15 each and put on a load of washing. While this was doing I got stuck into tidying the caravan which was in serious need of a spruce-up. I donned the rubber gloves and gave it a thorough scrub. By the time I was done, the washing was ready to go into the dryer.
Once everything was neat and tidy and the laundry folded and packed away, it was time to explore our surroundings.
The park is situated 6km from Swellendam at the foot of the Langeberg Mountains and it is bordered by the Breede River in the South. This small park was established specially to protect the endangered bontebok which need the type of renosterveld on which this species thrives. They were hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s and when only 22 remained, a park to protect them was established near Bredasdorp but then moved to Swellendam where the vegetation was more suitable. The park now has between 200 and 300 individuals and De Hoop nature reserve also has a number of these beautiful antelope.
Because there are no predators in the park it is safe to walk and cycle in the park and a number of cycling and walking trails have been created. They are well-signposted and easy to follow. The Earl and I started on the Aloe Hill trail but then turned off to have a look at the river where boating, fishing and swimming is allowed.
It was quite hot and after walking for half an hour the Earl decided not to continue. So I walked back to the caravan with him and a little later went off on my own. The birdlife in the park is prolific and I hoped to get a few photos. I certainly saw more than I could capture digitally though!
I continued to follow the signs but I must have missed the Aloe Hill sign and found myself on the bushbuck trail which petered out and so I turned around and retraced my steps until I found the sign that pointed me back to camp. This all took over an hour but I had the most awesome time being an almost lost in the bush explorer!
Fortunately, I arrived back just as the Earl was waking from his nap. “I thought you were lost!” he said. He has no faith in my ability to find myself without him!
It was soon time for a sundowner and to make a salad while the Earl did the braai. What a beautiful day it was after all the rain yesterday. We chatted to our neighbours – campers are always friendly and then had our dinner before settling down for the night.
The camp facilities are lovely. The kitchen has electric hot plates, food preparation sinks and a microwave. There is a laundry with big basins for hand washing and a washing machine and dryer that work. Tokens must be obtained at R15 each from reception. There is also a scullery where you can wash dishes. Everything is neat, tidy and functional.
The ablution block is modern but the shower cubicles are quite small with just one hook behind the door and a small fold-up bench.
This is certainly a park that is worth a visit. There is lots to see and do.
It’s not so bad finding yourself “homeless” when there are so many awesome places to stay cheaply, assuming, of course, that you have a tent or caravan!
As I mentioned in my previous post we have taken on the gypsy lifestyle while our house is let out for the holidays.
Today we left Warmwaterberg where we spent two lovely days and as we travelled toward Swellendam we enjoyed the scenery before the rain bucketed down.
We stopped to have breakfast at the infamous Diesel and Creme in Barrydale.
We really should have ordered one wrap to share because neither of us could eat both halves!
Thus fortified with food we continued on our scenic drive to Bontebok National Park.
The homes are simple but everyone makes them look really pretty.
It was still raining when we entered Bontebok National Park. I asked the reception staff to please turn it off but they just laughed at me. Anyway, my spirits were up when we saw our first Bontebok of the trip.
We settled into our not-too-muddy campsite and huddled in the Gecko till the rain let up a little and then went for a drive.
The park is very pretty but in the wet weather, there was not too much to see.
At supper time we did not need to cook outdoors as we had leftover Benedict wraps and leftover ribs from Warmwaterberg both of which were still quite delicious.
More to follow tomorrow. I promise the weather improves!
This morning we awoke at stupid o’clock, had a cup of coffee and set off from The Homestead to Addo Elephant Park. We arrived at quarter to 8, checked in for a day visit, and then went to the restaurant which is a Cattle Baron, for breakfast. For R55 each, ($3.20) the Sunrise was well worth it. You get two eggs, two pieces of bacon, two small rostis, a grilled tomato and two slices of toast with butter and jam. We also had coffee – Americano for me and Cappuccino for the Earl.
While waiting I yawned without putting my hand in front of my mouth in time. While rectifying my rudeness I caught the eye of another tourist! He laughed. I said, “This early rising is not easy!”
He had a Scottish accent and was there with his wife and three kids. Later we met them at a lookout point and I told them the names of the birds. They were in an awesome hired campervan that accommodated all five of them and he let us take a look. It was lovely but I still prefer my Gecko!
It’s not the best visit we’ve had to Addo. The park is recovering from a serious drought and is looking much greener but the animals were scarce and we saw very few birds.
It was a beautiful sunny day and the flora in the park was lovely.
Here are some photographs of some of the birds that made an appearance. Some of the usual suspects like bokmakieries were missing in action.
We missed seeing suricates but did see a few yellow mongooses – no pics. Also no jackals.
The zebras were few and far between which is unusual in Addo
It is the last day of 2022 and although we have been invited to join our hosts and their extended family for a bring and braai we have decided not to. It will be early to bed for us and we will greet the New Year at a more reasonable hour tomorrow!
May you all have a fun-filled, prosperous and happy 2023. Embrace every opportunity that comes your way and remember Life is not made up of the breaths you take but of the moments that take your breath away! Live adventurously!
Last Friday we hitched up the Gecko and headed off to Plettenberg Bay to celebrate Christmas with our kids and grandkids. Our daughter and son-in-law generously have an open home at this time of year and now that the children are growing up there are bound to be extras invited along. Having the caravan provides extra accommodation if necessary and also gives us flexibility if we feel the urge to go off somewhere.
The week we spent in Plett was lovely. The house was overflowing with young people which came with all the accompanying joyful noise too. Every day meals for up to thirteen were prepared with the minimum of fuss with everybody giving a helping hand where they could. You might wonder where everybody slept and I’m still not quite sure but the caravan was not required. The house has four bedrooms and a study which had a few mattresses thrown down on the floor. Two daughters shared a room, the earl and I had another, daughter and son-in-law had one that is separate from the house with its own bathroom. We had our own bathroom and there is a family bathroom too. The youngsters sorted themselves out on mattresses and beds wherever they could find a space!
The weather in the Southern Hemisphere is splendid at this time of year and a lot of time was spent on the beach. One of my grandsons signed up for the five-day swim challenge and was on the beach by six o’clock each morning. The boys also hit the gym every day. Oh to have such energy again! You can read about our Christmas celebration in my SYW Post previous to this one.
After a week of trying to keep up with our young relatives and with the threat of more friends arriving to join the fun we decided to escape to a quieter location. We could not get a campsite in Addo Elephant Park at such short notice but we did get a spot at the Homestead just 14km from the main gate. We have camped here before and find it a very pleasant spot.
There are different types of campsites. Some have shelters, some have slabs, and some are grassy. Most have shade. The ablutions are basic but clean and neat. The hosts are very friendly.
The campsite is leafy and bird-friendly and has little nooks and crannies where you can sit and relax and enjoy the surroundings. There are inspirational signs all over and some are quite amusing.
There is a play area for kids and also two pools.
We needed to fill the caravan tanks with water and there was a tap near our camp. It had sprinklers attached to it and when the watering was done we asked if we could attach our hose but were told not to use the water as it was not potable. It came from a dam. But the owner then organised a tap to be installed close by! We were hugely impressed with the two guys who did the job.
We had clear skies and crisp air this morning as we drove from Vanrhynsdorp to Langebaan. What amazing scenery we have in South Africa. If you are reading this from far-flung shores, I hope you might consider a trip to our beautiful land.
We stopped in Klawer Engen to refuel and breakfasted with Cathy and Alec at the Wimpy which was once again very good. Then we said our goodbyes as they would continue home to Napier and we would, at Clanwilliam, turn toward Langebaan.
We arrived at our Leentjiesklip Caravan Park at midday and have a really lovely campsite with a beautiful sea view.
Langebaan is where my friend, Hanny, whom I’ve known since we were 20 years old, has taken up residence in a wonderful retirement home. I haven’t seen her for two years so this reunion was very special. It was awesome to see how well-settled she is.
Hanny directed us to her favourite restaurant which is right near the beach and has a lovely view of the ocean. After lunch, we went to the Langebaan Yacht Club and had a coffee there. It was a lovely venue to sit and chat and catch up on old times.
It was half-past four when we dropped Hanny at home and made our way back to our campsite. We sat outside enjoying the gulls and the changing sky as the sun went down.
29 September 2022 Home
We woke up far too early this morning. The Atlantic Ocean on the West Coast is influenced by the cold Benguela Current and so the early mornings tend to be chilly. In spite of this we got up before 7 and by 7:45 were ready to leave. We travelled back via Robertson and arrived home at lunchtime. What a great trip we had but now it’s time to clean the caravan and get it ready for the next trip. Watch this space!
We were up by 7:30 this morning. The sun was shining but the air was chilly. As I mentioned before the Northern Cape is having a water crisis and load shedding does not help the situation. Although the electricity was on this morning when I got to the showers there was no hot water! Not a pleasant start to the day. After a warming cup of coffee, we packed up and were on the road just after 8:30.
Our first stop was Springbok where we stopped for breakfast, to shop and to refuel. We were amused to see an enterprising young man with his carwash kit. I asked him if he would mind me taking a photo. He looked doubtful but I offered him some cash which he gratefully accepted. He told me he needed funds for his baby who was not doing well.
Our breakfast, Springbok Café, is an old favourite of Cathy and Alec. Every time they pass this way they pop into this novel place. The dining area is still in the style of a sixties diner and it serves excellent toasted sandwiches and boerewors with your bacon and eggs. The attached shop is very interesting and sells a variety of crafts, books and semi-precious stones! It is decorated with memorabilia and old photographs making it fun to browse around.
The scenery on our route was quite dramatic too. It is very dry in this part of the world. Nothing grows on the rocky mountains and some areas could easily be mistaken for The Moon or Mars.
However, near the Orange River, it becomes quite green and we passed a few wine farms too.
The road to the Richtersveld Wilderness Camp is quite corrugated so we let down our tyres. It seemed to take forever to get there but we made it by 2 pm. Our campsite is awesome We have two but have put both caravans on one and parked the vehicles on the other. The view of the river is delightful. We spent the afternoon sitting on the shady bank, reading and watching the birds. I took a short walk and the Earl threw a line in but it is very hot on the jetty.
For supper, although it was Heritage Day, we did not braai! Instead, Cathy made chicken wraps which were delicious. Please don’t judge – we are proudly South African, but after our boerewors breakfast in Springbok, we were not in the mood for more.
On route here and at the camp we saw some lovely birds.
We are on the border between South Africa and Namibia but can only receive WiFi from Namibia which means we need to switch to roaming if we want to use our Vodacom Data. However, we can get free WiFi at the campsite. It is weak and when there is loadshedding we can’t get it at all. Because of this posting a blog is difficult and uploading photographs is very slow. Today is 26 September and I am only now able to post 24 September’s Blog. Thank you for your patience. More to follow as coms become stronger.
This morning I was up extra early. It was not as cold as the previous few days so I took the opportunity to wash my hair.
“Don’t get up until I’m done,” I told my darling hubby. “There’s plenty of time to prepare for departure.” He likes to be the first ready and hates to keep people waiting. So what happens today? Our travelling companions beat us to it by at least five minutes!
“We’re late!” complained my beloved and of course, Cath and Alec thought this was very funny!
What a gorgeous day it turned out to be. The sun shone brightly and the temperature got up to 25 degrees C. The road was fairly free of traffic and once again the scenery too beautiful to describe.
We stopped at Vanrhynsdorp Caltex Express Stop for breakfast. The shop has a takeaway facility but they have tables inside and outside where you can sit and enjoy your meal. The coffee is excellent. The others ordered toasted egg and bacon but I decided on a chicken mayo croissant which was to die for. The shop sells all sorts of goodies too. We were tempted to overspend but ended up just getting what no South African can resist – biltong.
As we neared Kamieskroon we saw more and more wildflowers growing in the veld and next to the road. Our campsite, Kroonlodge is lovely and outside each caravan site is a tiny wildflower garden. The sites are quite small so we were super grateful for our movers!
We were disappointed to be told that we would not be allowed to use the washing machines. Cathy had asked less than a week ago if laundry facilities were available and she was assured that there certainly were. But on arrival, we were told that water restrictions were in place and that we could only shower and because the supply relies on pumps this could only be when the electricity was on. At the moment the country is having Stage 5 load-shedding with the electricity off three times a day; twice for periods of 2.5 hours and one of 4.5 hours. We feel strongly that they should have informed us of the water restrictions before we confirmed our booking. Because of this, we have decided to leave here a day earlier than planned and move on to Richtersveld Wilderness Camp on the Orange River where we are assured there is no water shortage.
23 September 2022 An Exciting Drive to Hondeklipbaai
At about 9:30 this morning we set off from Kammieskroon and drove about 115km to Hondeklipbaai. Most of our route was on dirt roads over a rugged mountain pass and through the Namaqua National Park. The scenery was spectacular and we once again enjoyed the Spring flowers still growing in profusion.
We drove on the rough roads for a while but after the corrugations made things a tad uncomfortable we stopped the vehicles and reduced the tyre pressure. This made all the difference.
The scenery was spectacular and we once again enjoyed the Spring flowers still growing in profusion.
We also saw some wildlife
We arrived at Hondeklipbaai just before 2 pm and stopped at “Dop en Kreef” for a pub lunch. Translation for my overseas readers – Dop – alcoholic beverage. Kreef – Crayfish or lobster. Fortunately, they served more than just Kreef at the unholy price of R400! Actually one of the Kreef dishes was R600. Instead, Alec and Cathy had fish and chips and Earl had a hake and calamari platter. I settled for smoked chicken and chickpea salad. The portions were huge and not expensive. You’ve got to love these hidden places for their passion to feed people. Yes, the service was slow but we enjoyed the view and the break from driving. It was just after 3 pm when we left and made our way home on a much shorter route. The dirt road was a good one and it wasn’t long before we hit the tar road.
Sunday 18 September 2022Home to The Baths Citrusdal
This morning just before 9 am The Earl and I, towing Gecko 81 left Struisbaai while Cathy and Alec, towing Gecko 109 left Napier to meet each other at Stormsvlei Turn-off to begin the first leg of our trip to Namaqualand. The weather was cool but sunny and we were in good spirits and looking forward to another caravanning trip together. As we travelled the picturesque route to Robertson it clouded over and we had a few showers of rain. Our first stop was at Christina’s Bistro on the Van Loveren Wine Estate. The temperature was a cool 13 degrees C but we were warmly greeted by our waitron and shown to a fireside table. The Earl and I had Eggs Benedict and Cath and Alec enjoyed Christina’s special breakfast providing the best of everything – eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrowns etc.
Feeling fortified with good coffee and food we continued. The clouds cleared and the rain stopped but it was still quite chilly when we stopped at Picketburg to refuel and then at Kardoesie to buy some biltong. We decided not to have refreshments at the restaurant as we were almost at our destination. By the time we arrived at The Baths, Citrusdal the weather had warmed up a tad. Our campsite, number 22, is spacious and takes the two caravans easily. After setting up and having a cup of tea, we headed for the hot pool. It was awesome wallowing in the healing spring water. Afterward, we decided to pop into the restaurant to book a table for dinner. It’s a good thing we did as we were informed that they were closing at six and were only doing takeaway meals till then. It was already five o’clock so we sat down for a G&T and ordered chicken salad to go. Had we come at six we would have been too late and as we had nothing defrosted it could have ended badly!
Monday, 19 September 2022 – The Baths to Groenrivier, Niewoudville
Once again we enjoyed a picturesque drive to Niewoudville. We stopped at the Engen One Stop to have breakfast at their Wimpy. They had rather a cute display outside.
We arrived at Groenrivier at lunchtime. Our lovely sites are called Hadeda A and Hadeda B. Each has its own kitchen and bathroom as well as a shared Lapa which had a lovely open hearth for braaing and keeping warm in the evenings. The facilities are basic but clean and neat.
Our hostess visited us on site and offered us a pamphlet with a map and photos of the flowers we might see. It is a bit late in the season for flowers but we were assured that with a bit of effort we would find some.
We set up camp and made ourselves comfortable but did not go out again. The camp dogs entertained us or did we entertain them by obeying their commands to throw sticks which they willingly retrieved. Their most obedient servant, was, of course, The Earl!
Tuesday 20 September 2022 Niewoudville – A Day amongst the flowers
It was very cold last night and we woke to very low temperatures this morning but the sun was out and it warmed up as the day wore on.
After breakfast, we made our way to Matjiesfontein Farmstall’s flower route. We paid R50 each to drive around the flower fields and it was well worth it. In spite of it being the end of the season, we were impressed with what we saw. We were advised by the owner to get out and walk around to get a close look at the different types of flowers growing together. This was lovely for those closeups.
We took hundreds of photographs but none do justice to the experience we had enjoying the flowers.
Some birds also managed to pop into the photographs.
Afterwards we indulged in coffee and melktert at the lovely little restaurant. Imagine having in a house like this in the good old days.
21 September – The Quiver Tree Forest
Today we had a really awesome day. It was considerably warmer and we began the day by sitting in the sun to enjoy our morning coffee and later a quick cereal breakfast. One of the camp dogs turned up for a game of fetch too.
Namaqualand has some lovely scenery which we drank in as we drove to and from the Quiver Tree Forest.
I have seen scattered quiver trees before but today we visited Gannabos, the biggest quiver tree forest in the southern hemisphere. The quiver tree or “Kokerboom” usually grows detached but can be seen growing together too. In fact, this plant is not a tree but a type of aloe. The Bushmen and Hottentot tribes used to make their quivers for carrying their arrows out of the tough yet pliable bark and branches of the Kokerboom hence its name.
After spending some time with the quiver trees we went in search of more wildflowers but only found small patches here and there.
Along the road, someone who is really fed up with litterbugs put up this warning.
We were sad to see litter in some places and one wonders what induces people to spoil such a beautiful environment.
After enjoying our day we returned to camp. The Earl excelled himself in cooking us ox-tail and veggies for dinner. A perfect end to a lovely day.
Late yesterday afternoon after I had posted my blog the Earl and I went for a walk to the camp waterhole and were pleased to find elephants there.
Today was a slow day. We only got up after 8 am and decided to spend the morning in camp. We went to the camp restaurant, The Cattle Baron, for breakfast. We both had the sunrise – scrambled eggs, bacon, rosti and tomato reasonably priced at R 55 if I remember correctly. Earl had a cappuccino and I had an Americano. The staff were friendly and efficient.
We went out for a drive at midday and were back around 3:30 pm. The animals were once again scattered about the landscape which hugely enhanced the view. The weather was sunny but a little cooler than yesterday and toward the end of the afternoon dark clouds began to gather. Because of the cloud cover, the evening was a little warmer than it would have been on a clear night.
Elephants were everywhere. Zebra played happily at almost all the waterholes we visited. Male kudu with wonderfully beautiful horns showed off and the females with their gorgeous eyes entertained us too. Let’s not forget the handsome hartebeest and just one buffalo and an eland with a missing horn. As usual, we also stopped for the birds!
The Earl captured some stunning photographs of the Ant-eating Chat.