Category Archives: Caravanning

Vanrhynsdorp to Langebaan

28 September 2022 A Visit to Langebaan

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.

Beach in front of Leentjiesklip Caravan Park
Homes in this area have wonderful sea views
Sunset at Leentjiesklip
A Dramatic Sky

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!

Richtersveld Wilderness Camp

Saturday 24 September 2022

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. 

Campsite 9 -Sunbird
The Orange River
Looking across The Orange River to Namibia

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.

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater
White-fronted Bee-eater
Mountain Wheatear
Familiar Chat
Karoo Thrush

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.

Niewoudville to Kamieskroon

Thursday 22 September 2022 Travelling Day

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.

Vanrhyn’s Pass
Gecko 109
Typical Karoo Koppie

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.

Parking at Caltex Express Stop
Shop and Take-away

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!

Arriving at Kroon Lodge
A very pretty, well-maintained caravan park and lodge
Each site has its own kitchen and braai
The Earl gets the caravan in with remote control 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.

Imagine living in the middle of nowhere

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.

How does a plant grow out of a rock!
More beauty

We also saw some wildlife

The vehicles spooked this klipspringer and he raced off over the rocks at top speed – too fast for a decent photograph
Cathy alerted us to a ‘unicorn’ Sorry, I mean a Gemsbok (Oryx) with one horn.
Quiver trees dotted the mountainside
This steenbok was full of the joys of spring
Stunning view
Spring flowers were delightful
The Ford handled the steep pass
Scary near the edge

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.

Hondeklipbaai was once a busy port for transporting diamonds from the mines in the area. Now it is pretty derelict and deserted
Admiring the view and waiting for food
Dop and Kreef Restaurant
Life is a little slower here.

A Visit to Namaqualand

Sunday 18 September 2022 Home 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.

Two Geckos parked at Van Loverens

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!

Arriving at The Baths, Citrusdal

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.

View from the top of Vanrhyn’s Pass

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.

The Lapa
The fireplace in the Lapa

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!

It was lovely to be protected from the cold while we sat in the Lapa and enjoyed a lovely braai

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.

A Gecko owner cannot help photographing one of its own species
Matjiesfontein Farm Stall and Restaurant
Isn’t this cute

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.

Love the tumbleweed decorations

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.

Taken by Cathy

Namaqualand has some lovely scenery which we drank in as we drove to and from the Quiver Tree Forest.

Typical Koppie seen in Namaqualand

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.

Loosely translated – To the pig who throws his litter on the road – If I catch you, you are going to sh*t yourself.

We were sad to see litter in some places and one wonders what induces people to spoil such a beautiful environment.

This lovely scene brought us great pleasure

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.

Gecko 81 at Addo – Day 6

Thursday, 09 June 2022

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.

Addo Camp Water Hole
Our lovely men braaing out dinner last night

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 first bird of the day was just outside our caravan. The tap tap tap alerted me to its presence. It is a female Cardinal Woodpecker if I am not mistaken.
Soon after exiting the gate, we stopped for the ellies. They were very close
We were about to pass by when this one took the right of way!
One of the gorgeous boys who appeared quite frequently
This suricate in a tree made us laugh
Jumbo is making his way to Domkrag
The herd in the background has just left. The zebra to the right make way for him
He has the pond to himself
Is he admiring his reflection?

The Earl captured some stunning photographs of the Ant-eating Chat.

And a Wattled Starling made an appearance too.
Carol’s Rest was hosting a variety of animals – I just managed to snap the eland before he left in a hurry
I wonder what happened to his other horn
He couldn’t get away fast enough
This young red hartebeest was content to nap in the car park
Ellie wanted a drink too. But the proprietor has an exclusion policy – Not giants allowed and if he tries to break through he will get a shock!
So he storms off in a huff. The zebras don’t mind!
Something made this guy jump.
Come on, Porkies – Get a room!
The wildflowers in the park are beautiful
We were delighted to find chest-nut vented warblers but they would not sit still for a decent portrait.
This is an old one from the archives

Gecko 81 at Addo – Day 5

Wednesday, 08 June 2022

This morning the temperature was relatively warm and getting out of bed was not too bone-chilling.   We were ready to set off by 8:30 and made our way toward the southern part of the park.   We did not find the lions!    At first, there was very little to see and elephants were conspicuous by their absence.   Later in the day, this changed and we saw some at a number of the water holes and in the bush.  Hapoor Waterhole, however, did not host any elephants at all.  For some reason, the elephants are more spread out and in smaller groups than usual.   Zebras, however, seem to be gathering in very large herds.

This beautiful canary was the first bird to greet us this morning
Always beautiful to see and hear. There were lots of bokmakieries about today
Mousebirds were also all over the place
Buffalo and Red-hartebeest ignore each other
What a place for a crow to perch! The buffs don’t look impressed. Ngulube Waterhole
Burchell’s Coucal spotted on the other side of the road
And these warthogs too
Red Hartebeest were about too
Near Lismore a baby zebra feeds
Marion Baree hosted a good number of elephants
And they were in a playful mood

We stopped at Jack’s Picnic site for our breakfast break.  This site is kept beautifully neat and tidy and the restrooms are clean.  There are lovely little secluded sites with picnic tables and braai places.  There are no bins and you need to take your rubbish away with you.  This prevents monkeys from entering the site to raid the trash cans.  It works.  We did not see a single vervet while we were there.  At the caravan park, we have to keep a close lookout for monkeys and make sure that no food is left outside and the grocery cupboard door is kept closed even while we are sitting outside.  Our cousins are very opportunistic and will grab whatever they can if given half the chance.

Jack’s Picnic Site
Picnic sites protected by spekboom
This boubou tried his luck – but rules are rules!
Mr. Shelduck was visiting Hapoor but no sign of his wife.
Mrs. Moorhen was there with several chicks but she seemed to have a favourite
She kept feeding just this one – to be fair he was the only one who came close to where she was foraging. The others were late to the dinner table!
Come on down little brother – Mom’s got food!
The spoonbill was back at Rooidam
Ghwarrie had a few ellies
They were preparing to leave when we arrived
Woodlands seems to be the place they prefer and so do the kudu
As we neared the gate this giant approached us.
And passed a little too close for comfort!

We returned to camp at 1 pm.   The weather was stunning with the temperature quickly rising to 28 degrees C.

Gecko 81 at Addo – Day 4

Tuesday, 07 June 2022

It was absolutely freezing when I got up at 7:30 this morning.   Yesterday we bought a small fan heater from Spar in Colchester and I put it on immediately.  What a difference this makes to getting up in the cold caravan!  

After a shower and a warming cup of coffee, we set off at 8:30.  The skies were blue and cloudless and there was no wind so it warmed up quite quickly.   Our first stop was Domkrag Dam and then we did the Gorah Loop to Carol’s Rest Waterhole and then back to camp.  

Red-billed Teal – Domkrag Dam
Mr and Mrs Shelduck at Domkrag

It is amazing to see all the animals scattered across the veld.  Elephants, kudu, zebra, and red-hartebeest can be seen all together decorating the landscape.

Red Hartebeest
Such handsome creatures
This one getting close to its food
Elephants scattered about everywhere
How many elephants?
A huge number of zebra all over the park
A buffalo at Carol’s Rest

We were thrilled today to see two different sightings of suricates.   What cute little creatures they are – always alert and on the lookout for danger.  They all look in different directions and then if there is danger they pop right back into their holes or if they need to go someplace else they race off all at the same time.   We also saw a few yellow mongooses who are more fluffy and less hyperactive than the suricates.

Yellow Mongoose checking out the environment
On the other side of the road, this meerkat family looked around nervously
Around the corner, it was difficult to see that there were lots more of these cute creatures
But they were there alright
Making sure no predators were about
Uh oh something is coming – hide!
And in an instant, this is all you see as he scurries into his hiding place

Back at camp, the Earl cooked us a delicious breakfast and the birds came to visit.  The red-winged starlings were the cheekiest chasing all competitors away.  Even the pied starlings gave way to them.  It was lovely to have the Karoo thrush, Karoo Scrub-robin, southern boubou and black-headed oriole pop in to say hi too.

Karoo Thrush
Pied Starling
Black-headed Oriole

By midday, the temperature had risen to 28 degrees C and our jerseys and jackets were discarded until much later in the evening. We went out at 3 pm and enjoyed some more lovely sightings.

Elephant encounter at Rooidam
At the same time, two kudu males were at each other
While a Cape Teal simply ignored them
As we drove on we got held up by a traffic jam
Annoyed to be urged off the road
Honestly, it’s so much easier on the road – let’s get back there!
This is a zebra crossing – cars must wait!
We don’t mind
Have a nice day!
There were no elephants at Hapoor but the egrets were enjoying themselves
And so was this blacksmith lapwing
And this three-banded plover enjoyed not having to worry about getting underfoot of a pachyderm
The warthogs found the lovely green grass on the edge of the dam quite tasty
Such freedom when you don’t have to worry about giants stepping on you.

Sitting outdoors this evening was very pleasant. It was a perfect, still evening and although we wore jackets it was the best evening we have had so far. I cooked a chicken and vegetable casserole in the Remosca Pot and Jim and Maureen joined us.

Gecko 81 at Addo – Day 2 and 3

Sunday, 5 June 2022

It rained last night and we woke to overcast and chilly weather.   Fortunately, we had put our chairs in a sheltered place.

I packed a breakfast bag and filled a flask and we were out of camp by 8:30 am.  There were a few spots of rain which soon cleared up and by afternoon the skies were clear again.  Temperatures were low but not unusual for this time of year.

We spent most of the morning exploring, stopping a Zuurkop Lookout Point to have breakfast. We did not go to the southern part of the park until our afternoon drive when we went in search of lions and did not find them!

Our first spot of the day – Pale Chanting Goshawk. There were two. The light was not quite right but still lovely to see these awesome birds.

You may alight from your vehicle at a place that overlooks Domkrag Dam and it is usually a worthwhile stop. We spotted elephants and kudu in the distance and the dam had a few birds to entertain us.

Grey Heron patiently waiting for some action
Juvenile Striated Heron catching the morning rays
A pair of Egyptian Geese – (Earl’s Photo)

Today as we drove around we saw a good number of malachite sunbirds.

They flitted about rapidly but this one reluctantly sat still for a few seconds.
The handsome Common Fiscal was more obliging
Very common but very pretty. I couldn’t resist snapping this female Cape Sparrow
And later a pair posed beautifully
A speckled mousebird soaking up the morning sun

We were hoping to be entertained by meerkats (Suricates) but instead, a pair of yellow mongooses put on a good show for us.

They are just so cute
This handsome guy was striding across the veld too.
And keeping a close eye on the girls

At Carol’s Rest Waterhole there was very little action. While we watched some ant-eating chats take a bath we heard a tapping on our rear window. It was a cheeky wagtail imagining that he saw a potential rival. He was attacking his reflected image! We had such a giggle and even when we drove away he followed us for ages. I got some shots in the side mirror!

Poor Waggy attacking an intruder!
Ellies were all over the park

Hapoor is usually a good gathering place for pachyderms but today it was fowl of the water variety.

A rather good-looking yellow-billed duck
And a hamerkop dropped in for a chat too
Kudu ruled in the park today and we saw quite a number of lovely males with stunning horns

Rooidam produced some waterfowl too.

Hamerkop
And a very busy spoonbill
Ghwarrie dam attracted elephants too

In the evening we went over to Jim and Maureen’s campsite. Jim had a fire going which created a lovely ‘gees’ (atmosphere) and kept us relatively warm.  Maureen cooked a delicious chicken and vegetable stir fry with just enough ginger and chilly to give it a bite.  

The sunset once again was just too stunning.

Monday, 06 June 2022

Omiword it was freezing when we got up at 7:30 am.    The temperature was about 4 degrees C.   After a hot shower and a warming cup of coffee we set off toward Colchester Gate and tried to find the lions on the Ngulube Loop where they had been reported but we had no luck.  We did, however, see an Aardwolf!   It was a lovely sighting but he dashed back into the bush and refused to pose for his portrait.   But this is a free clipart drawing of one!

And yes – he gave us such a look!

Of course, we stopped to photograph other creatures along the way and were pleased to see some of the waterholes had attracted a bit of wildlife.

Marion Baree Waterhole is one of my favourites
Warthogs really rule in Addo. This handsome lad was good enough to pose
The best bird in Addo has to be the Bokmakierie
Glossy Starling
A special bird to see – Red-necked Spurfowl

We exited at Colchester Gate and went to Taste of Africa for breakfast and to make a few purchases at the Spar next door.   It was still very cold at 10 am.

We then went back through the park and explored a few roads and waterholes enjoying some lovely sightings.

Quellea
Young kudu

At Peasland Waterhole there were simply scores of zebra coming and going

Don’t ask – something was funny!
There were lots of red hartebeest in the park too
We have seen the tail end of a few buffalo but this one decided to give me a quick glance
before heading off on his own mission
Lots of these girls were trying to hide amongst the trees
They have such pretty faces
Southern Bou-bous also made an appearance
Such a gorgeous bird
And please beware of dung beetles – Don’t drive over them and don’t drive over dung where they might be hiding.

More tomorrow if I get time – otherwise the next day!

Two Geckos at Guano Caves, Montagu

To follow our Gecko Weekend at Glen Oakes in The Hemel en Aarde district, Cathy thought it would be nice to extend our break-away with a visit to Guano Caves. We had never been there and neither had she and Alec but the reviews on the place were good. However, trying to book was not easy. Cathy phoned a few weeks before departure and was told to email. She did this and did not receive a reply. She phoned again and they said to wait 48 hours. She did but still no reply so again she telephoned and asked to speak to the owners. Only then did she manage to book! Because of this, we were worried that the place might not be all that it was cracked up to be but we were not disappointed.

We left Glen Oakes in slightly overcast weather on Monday morning and stopped at Ou Meul in Riviersonderend for breakfast. There was plenty of double parking for our two rigs. We ordered two teas, a cappuccino and an Americano. Cathy and Alec had bacon and cheese omelettes and the Earl and I had spinach and feta omelettes. They were served with sourdough toast and were very good. I also bought some croissants for the following day’s breakfast. It was a lovely place to stop.

Cogmanskloof pass

Check-in at Guano went well and we were assigned Sites 26 and 28 which are next to each other. The sites were big, even and shady. The ablutions were excellent but you need to bring your own toilet paper and soap. If you want a plug you need to pay a deposit of R50 at reception. I am sure this is because some campers walk off with them! The ablutions were clean and Cathy and I were quite satisfied with the ladies’ section. Hairdryers were available. There is a built-in tile bench in each spacious shower cubicle. There is also a long ledge on which to place your shampoo, shower gel, etc. The men told us theirs did not have that but they did have a bench.

Two Geckos at the Guano Gate
Spacious and shady campsites
Full-length mirror as you enter the bathrooms
Basins
Plenty of hot water in the showers

There are also several family bathrooms with baths and showers with double roses on the perimeter of the ablution block.

The camp kitchen only provides washup facilities. All cooking must be done at your campsite. There is a laundry but the washing machine was out of order.

Camp Wash-up Area

The facilities are lovely. There are two pool areas with crystal clear cold pools. In the main pool area, there is an enormous outdoor pool and supertube as well as a heated indoor pool made to look like a Roman Bath. Treatments are available at a spa too.

A beautiful arrangement of pools
A lovely bridge leading to the picnic area

The main pool and indoor Roman Bath are situated near reception, the shop and the restaurant. There are plenty of loungers and there is enough shade. We had a meal at the restaurant on Thursday and found the food very good.

Looking down on the main pool.

Guano Caves Resort has a petting farm and there are a variety of exotic animals to see. They also have rabbits in enclosures and birds in aviaries. I am not in favour of animals being kept like this but they were well cared for.

This poor swan was alone as its mate had died.
There were a variety of different ducks swimming on the ponds
Peacock
Camels enjoying the Karoo Environment
They do blend into the landscape

On Wednesday after enjoying Cathy’s delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and croissants we made our way to Montagu. Earl and I visited Leiwater Bird Hide in Barry Street. How surprising to find a bird hide on the pavement! It overlooks a lovely little dam where a variety of waterbirds nest. We did not see very much but what we saw was delightful.

Common Moorhen
Reed Cormorant
Egyptian Geese and Sacred Ibis

We then met up with Cathy and Alec at the Montagu Museum. There are two to visit and they had already done the first one. After enjoying the second we popped across the road and had coffee and cake at the Rambling Rose which was excellent. Afterward, C and A went to buy wine and we went to see the church museum. Both museums were very interesting and it cost R15 each to see both.

A young boy sitting at the table in his highchair
Sheep guarding the cake display
Cheesecake and apple strudel were delicious. Coffee was excellent

When we were done the Earl and I took a short drive and went to Cape Dried Fruit Packers where we bought some dried apricots, nuts and olives.

Our campsite attracted wild birds which kept us entertained.

Karoo Thrush
Cape Weavers
The ringneck doves called from the trees constantly and also came down when crumbs were available

Overall the visit to Guano Caves Resort was most enjoyable. The water for all the pools comes from a spring at a temperature of 24 degrees C. By the time it reaches the pools it has cooled down so the Roman Bath is heated to 35 degrees C. Unfortunately they were experiencing technical problems so we did not get the full benefit of the really hot water. The pool was, however, warm enough to enjoy a swim each day we were there.

The Roman Bath

It is a lovely venue and we will certainly visit again.

Nine Geckos and a dog visit Hemel en Aarde Valley

Thanks to the hard work and excellent organisation of Colin Henderson, nine Gecko caravans gathered together at Glen Oaks Farm in the beautiful Hemel and Aarde Valley. Nardus and Adelien brought their cute little poodle, Hayley, along too and she turned out to be a source of great entertainment and delight. Noone escaped having to throw the ball which she gleefully chased and then hid challenging her chosen victim to find it.

Gecko 109 and Gecko 81 setting off from Napier
A Camp full of Geckos

Nardus almost didn’t join us as he has injured his back but at the last minute, he decided he just could not miss out. With all the Gecko men volunteering to help him and Adelien they were set up in no time!

Many manne make light work

The facilities at Glen Oaks are rustic. There is no power and no camp kitchen. But there is a Lapa where we all gathered in the evenings to braai. On the first evening, it was very cold so we gathered in the inner section which had a roof but thereafter we sat around the pit fire outdoors. This fire was an excellent source of heat. The weather was fine during the day but a lot chillier at night. We were ever so grateful that it did not rain.

The inner Lapa
The braai masters at work

Gecko people are special people and it was the best experience to see so many of our twins parked together at the same venue. We enjoyed some lovely conversations, shared camping stories, joked a lot, and had many laughs.

Like when Francois dried Susan’s hair with a leaf blower! – “A Blow-job of note” quipped Cathy!

On Saturday we all set off to Stanford and took a river cruise down the Klein River. It was just the most awesome experience. Our guide on the Lady Stanford knew his birds and for those of us who were into bird-watching, this was an extra bonus. As we set off, a Purple Heron flew into a tree and posed, and that did for me straight away. I was in heaven.

Setting off on the cruise (Photo by Colin)
A good start to the cruise – Purple Heron
Susan and George
Diane, Hennie and Francis
Colin produced some sherry! Cheers!
Yellow-billed Ducks
Egyptian Geese
African Darter
Female Pied Kingfisher
The African Queen was also on the river
Colin on the top deck doing the Titanic Thing!
Alec called down to his wife, “I’m nuts over you!”
Karen and Johnnie
Naked Lady tanning on the jetty 🙂

After the two-hour cruise, we went to the Birkenhead Brewery for lunch. Pottie and Nida joined us there and it was great meeting them too. While we waited for lunch to be served we were taken on a short interesting tour to see how their craft beers were made. Afterward, some of us did a beer tasting. The Earl ordered a Pot Belly Pilsner which was delicious.

On the Brewery tour
Colin’s photo

Our food was served promptly and I heard no complaints. It certainly is a lovely venue and if you’re ever in the Stanford area this is a good place to stop for lunch.

Beer Tasting (Photo – Colin)

On Sunday, we all had a quiet day at camp and just enjoyed each others’ company and the glorious weather. My friend, Sonja, had baked two carrot cakes for me and insisted that I take them along to camp and give everybody there a slice. This I did on Sunday afternoon and all agreed that it was delicious.

Thank you Sonja
The outer Lapa and pit fire – Right side Standing -Johnnie Seated Mari, Francois, Cathy Alec
The outer Lapa -left to right, Louis, Rika, Diane, Colin, Nadus, Adeline

On Monday morning after a leisurely start, everybody started to pack up and by 11:30 Alec, Cathy, Earl and I had bidden everyone farewell. We stayed another day so as to avoid travelling on a public holiday. WIthout Colin to make the fires we decided to abandon braaing and went to the Plaas Kombuis for lunch. It was a good decision and we can highly recommend this as a place to go when you’re in the area.

Plaas Kombuis
Excellent food

We left this morning and are now happily settled at Guano Caves Caravan Park where the weather is just stunning.

Two Geckos happily set up at the shady campsite of Guano Caves