Category Archives: Travel

Fun at Bontebok National Park

Friday 6 January 2023

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.

A lovely place to stop for a meal in Swellendam – Grace and Merci
Our timing was perfect – got to have a meal with Carl
Discussing the pros of riding a bike!

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.

Luckily a caravan is quick and easy to clean.

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.

The rain was gone and the bridge was not slippery
The Earl making his way safely across
There is a campsite without electricity right beside the river
Tubing, swimming and riding the rapids is being enjoyed by some fun-loving kids
Fishing is allowed – someone is all set up for the afternoon but he is nowhere in sight!
There were lots of weavers in the reeds
And a Cape Bulbul asked to be noticed too

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 have no sense of direction whatsoever so hoped the signs would guide me both there and back!
As I adventured on I imagined that I was an explorer not knowing what was around the next bend
Certainly lots of aloes
And beautiful succulants
It was quiet and only the birdsong could be heard
I thought that if I followed this sign the aloe hill trail would get me back to camp
Lovely flora of all different colours to admire
Hey – You’re in my park – The bontebok owns this place
He introduced me to his friend
Another bridge to cross
This Karoo Prinia literally yelled for his portrait to be taken

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.

Our campsite – The Earl doing the braai
Hungry after my long walk!
A beautiful sunset

Camp Facilities

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 kitchen
A picnic table and braai under cover for campers’ use
Scullery has double sinks with plenty of space to put a drying rack
Laundry sinks
Washer and Dryer

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.

Basins with mixer taps
Make up counter with plugs for hairdryers and shavers
Bathroom for mobility challenged

This is certainly a park that is worth a visit. There is lots to see and do.

Bontebok National Park

5 January 2023

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.

Always an interesting place to stop
The weather made us sit indoors this time
As you can see only a few chose to be chilly outdoors
The Benedict Wraps were delicious

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.

We love this little town of Suurbraak between Swellendam and Barrydale
This made us giggle

The homes are simple but everyone makes them look really pretty.

I love the yellow door
And this blue one
What a welcoming mini market
Goodbye Suurbraak – we will visit one day soon as at Warmwaterberg we met some folk who have a home here
And then the rain came down in torrents
Waterfalls in the mountains

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.

Well a wet good morning to you too!

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 red hartebeest was too grumpy even to lift his head.
And this spotted thick knee looked amazing in spite of being wet
The wildflowers were also quite cheerful – I think this is some type of Erica.

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!

A Little Breakaway to Warmwaterberg – Part Two – What fun we had.

Friday 25 February 2022

On Friday morning we awoke to a little bit of rain but it did not last long. We went for an early morning swim in both the hot and cold pools and then enjoyed an “Early Breakfast”. I am indeed lucky to have a man who loves to cook. He particularly enjoys using our nifty little Snappy Chef cooker and Smart Space pan.

Delicious scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, banana, feta and mushrooms

After breakfast, we spent some more time in the pools. The hot waters of the spring are very relaxing and certainly help to ease any aches and pains you may have. The mineral-rich water once cooled is also very healthy to drink. Perhaps it even has some healing powers?

After swimming the Earl took a short nap while I sat in the shade of the canopy and read my book. All of a sudden I became aware of something moving near my feet. I looked down and got quite a fright at the giant that I saw. Was he aiming to chew my toes?

The angulate tortoise is common in The Karoo and is quite unafraid of human beings. No, being a vegetarian, he did not chew my toes but gobbled up the lettuce I gave him.

At midday, we decided to take a drive to Barrydale where we stopped in at Diesel and Creme for a Very Berry Smoothy. It sounds healthy but is actually quite decadent!

Lots of ice cream and berries

Diesel and Creme is a fascinating place to stop if just to stare at the interesting ancient memorabilia on display. It is deliberately shabby with very little chic. You can look back on my previous Warmwaterberg posts for more photos if you wish.

As I’ve mentioned before Route 62 is popular with motorcyclists and they frequently stop at Diesel and Creme for refreshment – old bikes in the foreground, new, visiting ones behind.

Perhaps the bikers like the place because many of them are ancient hippies themselves.

Part of the establishment is the Karoo Moon Motel

You can stay over in this hotel which was built in 1896 but has now been converted into two self-catering units. We have never had the pleasure of staying there but you can check it out here.

One wonders how those ladies’ legs got into the flower garden!

Later that afternoon our friends Carl and Yolandi arrived. Originally they were going to bring their tent but we were surprised and delighted to see they had borrowed a friend’s trailer. It didn’t take long to get perfectly set up.

Yolandi making the bed
All set up in a shady spot
Very excited to escape for a weekend.
After setting up we all went for a swim
Carl brought seed for the peacocks

It was Carl’s birthday last week so this evening we went to the restaurant for a celebratory dinner. We have always found Warmwaterberg’s restaurant to be awesome, not only because of the wonderful view but also for their excellent food.

Carl and Uncle enjoying a chat

The Earl, Yolandi and I ordered Bobotie and Carl had Schnitzel – well he is of German descent so it was to be expected!

Yolandi could not believe what was put before her
View across the valley from the restaurant
The colours are awesome

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening and after the relaxing warm waters, beautiful surroundings, good company and fantastic food we all slept beautifully.

Saturday 26 February 2022

What awesome weather we woke up to this morning. The sun was shining, the skies were clear and it was hot! I emerged from the Gecko at 07:15 and found Carl and Yolandi in the process of rising too. Before long we were all in the pool and found that many of the other guests had the same idea of getting in early.

When we returned to camp we found a kill in progress!

A Gecko of another kind finds some juicy prey

The Earl then cooked us one of his famous breakfasts and then we all piled into our car with Carl in the driver’s seat. Our mission – to visit Calitzdorp, 100km away. The Earl just didn’t feel like driving but was happy to be a passenger with his pal who calls him “Uncle” taking the wheel.

The mountain passes on Route 62 are legendary. The one we are featuring here today runs between Ladismith and Calizdorp and is just as picturesque as Tradouw Pass which I wrote about in the previous post.

The Huisrivier pass runs between Ladismith and Calizdorp and is 13.4 km long. It is quite a twisty drive and you need to be alert while negotiating the bends. However, the scenery is just stunning. There are three river crossings during the course of the pass. As the geology of this pass is unstable, several pioneering engineering techniques were applied during its construction to ensure it would survive all weathers safely. The steepest gradient is 1:12. Rockfalls can occur but the catch walls are taking care of most of them.

Huisrivier Pass Scenery
Entering Calizdorp

Calitzdorp is a small town on the western side of The Little Karoo. It is built on the site of the farm Buffelsvallei. This farm was granted to Jacobus Johannes and Matthys Christiaan Calitz in 1831. In 1853 they donated some of their land to The Dutch Reformed Church so that a church could be built. The church then, in 1858 began to sell plots to members of their congregation.

In 1924 a railway line was opened and in 1937 electricity came to the town. A new cement road linking Calitzdorp to Oudschoorn was also built.

Calitzdorp experiences extreme weather from very hot in the summer months to very cold during winter. Often the mountaintops are covered in snow. The town is also susceptible to droughts and floods.

Typical Calizdorp Street

We went to do some gin and wine tasting at Boplaas Tasting Rooms. You can read about their history here.

Before we went in we noticed some standing rocks arranged in a circle and went to investigate.

This is the story behind the rocks
Earl and Yolandi look into the circle of stones.
Yolandi trying to decide
There was a lot to tempt us

After tasting a bit of this and a bit of that we each bought a bottle of citrus flavoured gin and Carl and Yolandi also got a bottle of red wine

By this time we were all getting a bit peckish so at the recommendation of one of the Boplaas staff we went to Cafe @ The Rose. What a good choice. Their cheesecake was delicious as were the iced coffees and the Americano which I chose. There were many delicious things on display and I ended up buying olive tapenade, olive and sundried tomato tapenade and two bags of Maria’s Camdeboo coffee. On the package, you can read Maria’s story which I quote here below.

“When I imagine the perfect cup of coffee, I think back to sitting our stoep with my dad enjoying a fresh cup lovingly prepared by my late mother, Maria. This treasured memory inspired ‘Maria’s’, a place where my family’s passion for coffee has been realised.”

Maria’s is a coffee shop in Graaff-Reinett, where we have been and had the most amazing meals as well as wonderful coffee. This little restaurant, Cafe @ The Rose, only serves Maria’s Coffee.

Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Cafe @ The Rose
Some more vineyards
The Church
Calizdorp Side of Huisrivier Pass
Carl taking the selfie

Back at camp, we enjoyed the pools then took a nap. When we woke up we took to the waters again after which The Earl started the braai.

The Braai Master
Almost ready

On Sunday after swimming, we packed up and made our way to Diesl and Creme where we met up with Yolandi’s cousin. Desmond is working in Tulbach for a few months and rode up on his motorbike especially to see Yolandi.

Waiting for breakfast at Diesel and Creme. Lovely to meet Desmond
Gecko #81heading home after another awesome adventure

A Little Breakaway to Warmwaterberg Spa Part One – First Day and All the information

It was another of our spur-of-the-moment decisions to pack up the caravan and head to Warmwaterberg Spa for a few days. We mentioned our plans to our friends Carl and Yolandi just before we booked and they decided that they would join us.

The Earl and I left on Thursday 24 February and they joined us the following Friday leaving after Yolandi finished school for the weekend.


Warmwaterberg is on the Cape Tourist Route 62 which starts in Cape Town and includes Oudtshoorn, the Langkloof and Port Elizabeth. It would be the scenic route that tourists would take instead of following the N2 Highway. It is also very popular with motorcyclists.

Our route took us from Struisbaai, through Bredasdorp and Swellendam and then onto the R62 to Barrydale and Warmwaterberg Spa. The scenery along the way was amazing with its magnificent mountains and ravines through the Tradouw Pass which then contrasted with the arid landscape of The Little Karoo.

We left just Struisbaai just after 08h00 and after dropping off a parcel for our young friend at Bredasdorp Primary School we went to fill up at Caltex Petrol Station. There, a couple approached us and said, “We saw you passing our house with your Gecko caravan and we’re interested in buying one. We followed you here. Please can you show us yours!”

I can just picture the scene – “Darling – look there goes a Gecko – quick jump in the car – let’s follow them.” And without even stopping to lock their front door they hop in the car and race after the disappearing caravan, fortunately finding it stopped at the petrol station so they didn’t have to overtake and wave it down.

Of course, we were only too delighted to oblige. The Gecko Offroad Caravan is the best in the country and the waiting list to get one is getting longer! The couple will probably be putting their order in very soon.

At 10 o’clock we stopped at Rolandale for breakfast. This is a delightful farmstall/restaurant that not only serves wholesome meals but sells crafts, homemade preserves and confectionery too. It is really worth a stop even if it’s just for a cup of their excellent coffee.


Before turning off towards the Tradouw Pass we went through Suurbraak a settlement that was established in 1812 when the London Missionary Society started a mission station to serve the Attaqua Khoikhoi. It is such a picturesque little village and I always enjoy travelling through it. Some of the residents grow vegetables on small plots and they still use horse-drawn ploughs to till the soil. They sell their harvest to an organic restaurant or at the Swellendam markets.

On our way to Suurbraak
Lovely old houses
Beautifully decorated

The Tradouw Pass was built by a gang of prisoners under the guidance of Thomas Bain. It was completed in 1873. It is a magnificent drive that follows the course of the Tradouw River in the gorge below. At times the sandstone precipices loom very close to your car window and towing a caravan can be a tad scary around those sharp bends.

Popular with motorcyclists
Tradouw RIver below
Some twisty bends

As you leave the pass you turn toward Barrydale whose history goes back to the early eighteenth century. Farmers moved into the area in search of fertile arable land and water. The town finally came into being in 1878. In 1940 the Barrydale Kooperatiewe Wynkelder was formed and a distillery was established. Joseph Barry Brandy was produced locally and in 2003 was voted the best brandy in the world.

Beautiful Barrydale Farmlands

The town now has about 4000 permanent residents and is a great tourist attraction because of the interesting arts and crafts shops which have amazing textiles, jewelry and African souvenirs. The restaurants are also novel and serve good food. It is certainly a town with a difference.

One of the many interesting shops in Barrydale

The Earl and I visit Warmwaterberg Spar three or four times a year, sometimes as a stopover to more distant places and sometimes just to take the waters and to have a few days of relaxation. My regular readers will have read about our previous visits to this blog site.

Warmwaterberg is between Barrydale and Ladismith. It has both self-catering accommodation and caravan and camping sites. Some of the accommodation is very basic and the ablution facilities could do with an upgrade. Bath House 3 and 4 are awesome. They are new and have their own enormous bath, big enough for two, a lovely kitchen area and a separate loo and shower just outside the room.

We prefer to camp. Our favourite caravan site is 17 C next to the pool. Site 17 A and B are also good. The rest of the caravan/camping sites are further away but are in a shady environment and quite acceptable if you don’t mind a bit of a walk to the pools. They are also near the ablution block and the wash-up facility. If you camp on sites 17 A, B and C you need to use the pool showers and loos. We don’t need the wash-up facility as we have our own with the caravan.

Campsite 17C

The hot water spring is 44 degrees C at its source and has a very high iron content making the water brown in colour. The water in the pool comes from the artesian spring and is untreated and each hot pool is emptied and cleaned on alternate days. There is also a cold pool.

The Cold Pool in the foreground and the two Hot Pools beyond

We arrived at midday and set up in the shadiest part of the site. It gets hot in The Karoo, especially in summer. Rain was predicted but we only got a spit and a spot the following morning. For the rest of the weekend, it was clear skies and sunshine. The Peacocks were there to greet us.

Mom with her chicks who are quite big already
Dad left her pretty much to do the child-rearing on her own
This ‘familiar’ bird came for a ‘chat’ (A Familiar Chat)
The Earl made us a lovely braai for dinner.

Watch this space for more about our weekend and a report on The Huisrivier Pass and Calizdorp.

Breaking Free From Lockdown. Day 29

Monday 23 August 2021

Today we did quite a long morning drive. We started on the H1-4 then did the S89, S90 and S41, before returning to Satara via the S100. We saw a lovely variety of birds and animals. I am posting the highlights and letting the photos tell their own story today.

Our first Burchell’s Coucal of the day. Several of his friends turned up to say hello during the course of our drive
This sleepyhead would not look at us
So Cathy took a close-up
This usually shy steenbok is not afraid of anyone
Uh oh, Road Block
Keeping company with the stripy ones
Cathy’s nick-name for giraffe – “Raafies”
These leaves are delicious
A call from Alec on the walkie talkie alerted us to a big surprise
This guy has huge tusks
I want to be a tusker!
A Tawny Eagle posed obligingly
A juvenile bateleur enjoying a meal
He gave the Earl a hard stare
Lots of elephants on the S100
Don’t worry, I won’t chase you today
Wildebeest were on the march

We arrived back at camp at 13:30. After doing camp chores and having a rest, Cathy and Alec went for a short drive at 16:00, but the Earl and I decided to stay in camp. They returned after an hour to say we hadn’t missed much except for some lovely hippo.

Just flying in to see how you are.
Our camp at sunset
The sun dropping off to sleep

Breaking Free From Lockdown. Day 28 Satara to Timbavati Picnic Site

Apologies for being missing in action for the past two days. The internet at Satara is not that great at the best of times but for the past two days it has been down completely. I will try to catch up as quickly as possible.

Sunday 22 August 2021

Today’s weather was not very pleasant.   It was overcast, windy and cold.   All dressed up in jeans and jerseys we left camp at 07:50 with the Everest in the lead.  We started our drive on the H1-4.  

The first excitement of the day came in the form of two very large birds.

“Oh – look – a Secretary Bird!   Two Secretary birds!”  Then one took off and flew to the other side of the road.  We could not see it but Cathy and Alec could.    

The Earl’s photo
Cathy’s photo

Then just after that another member of the Big Six birds of Kruger National Park made an appearance.

The Heaviest flying bird in the world is the Kori Bustard
Males can weigh up to 19kg

The Big Six Birds to seek are Pel’s Fishing Owl, Kori Bustard, Ground Hornbill, Secretary Bird, Martial Eagle and Saddle-billed Stork.  We have seen five of the six this trip and there is little chance of getting the elusive Pel’s!

At 08:25 we turned onto the Ntomeni Road. As we were looking in the trees for birds the Earl stopped when he saw one that looked familiar. “What’s that,” he asked.  “It looks different to the lilac-breasted roller.”  And it was indeed a cousin, but even in the dull light the Earl noticed something was not quite right.

Purple Roller

We then followed the S40 toward Timbavati Picnic Site. Just before the turnoff we came to the bridge that crosses the river.  A few cars were stationary on the bridge and on the other side.  And for good reason.  Lions had made a kill and were busy with buffalo for breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Ready for an after breakfast nap

We managed to get a few photos and then went to the Timbavati where we planned to cook our own breakfast but the wind was gusty and it was very cold so we just had coffee and then returned to the lions before continuing.

I’ve had enough
Still hungry
Timbavati is an unfenced picnic site kept beautifully by a caretaker. In good weather it is lovely to picnic here. It has a good view over the Timbavati River

We followed the S39 and stopped at Ratel Hide but there was not much going on there.  However, we enjoyed watching a crake and Cathy managed to get a photo of a three-banded plover.

I know I am a handsome chap

Back on the road we stopped from time to time to photograph those creatures who would oblige. Some helmet-shrikes flew into a tree and one kindly perched in a suitable position for just the right enough of time to snap his portrait.

Well hello there

Looking down from an omrit overlooking the river we saw a lovely riverside scene.

Yellow-billed Storks and Grey Heron
Lazing by the riverside

There were plenty of impies about.

We like doing things together

At 11:15 we turned onto the  H1-4 and continued to see more creatures

Buffalo looking curious
I’m tired of leaves, think I’ll try some dry grass

Back at camp we made scrambled eggs for brunch, had a rest and then went back for a drive on the S100. We saw herds of zebra, wildebeest and waterbuck but we dipped on the lions that are often found on this road.

Two species in one tree – Lilac-breasted roller and glossy starling
A road block

And to end, a lovely Emerald-spotted Wood Dove.

Breaking Free from Lockdown. A Gecko Road Trip. Day 18 Tzendze to Letaba

We certainly enjoyed our wonderful five days at beautiful Tzendze but all good things must come to an end and this morning we quickly packed up and were on the H1-6 to Letaba by half past seven. It was only a 50 km drive and we wanted to get there as quickly as possible in order to nab a good position. The Earl tried to keep a steady speed and only stopped for road blocks. We did, however, stop to snap a Tsesebe.

The caravan park was pretty full but as the Earl and I entered, we saw two caravans leaving. “Perhaps they’ve left us a suitable spot,” I said hopefully. The first potential one we saw was near the ablution, quite large and very shady. We drove around a bit more thinking we might have to return to it but found an even better one – number 6 right on the perimeter. Cathy and Alec were ten minutes behind us and I rang to tell them where to find us. When they arrived they approved of our choice and before the heat set in we quickly set up and then went to the restaurant for breakfast and to do some shopping at the Park Shop. There is a new temporary one as the lovely old one they had before burned down in October last year. No progress on rebuilding it has been made.

Later in the afternoon the Earl and I did the Mingerhout Loop and Cathy and Alec did the S62.

Our drive was really beautiful taking us next to the river but perhaps because of the heat there wasn’t much activity but we enjoyed the creatures that did come out to greet us.

First up were two very well camouflaged sandgrouse. These creatures crouch at the side of the road and look just like stones until you’re almost upon them.

Male Double-banded Sandgrouse
Female Double-banded Sandgrouse

At a lovely waterhole we found two elephants having a drink to getether.

Hi – long time no see
Give us a hug, then
Lovely to chat – see you again soon.

A treeful of vultures were also on duty. The Earl took some lovely close-up shots

A very handsome Juvenile white-headed Vulture dressed in a fur coat and pantaloons
A rather aloof White-backed Vulture
A male waterbuck with beautiful horns wondered what we were staring at.
Georgie Giraffe hiding his face in his food,

While we were enjoying our drive Cathy and Alec were having some lovely sightings too.

Hippos having a splashing good time
I want friends with all my might, but nobody likes my appetite
I hope nobody uses us for target practice
Mommy Kittlitz Plover?
Let’s reflect on this.
White-fronted bee-eater

There was a lovely sunset this evening.

A beautiful end to a lovely day

Our campsite is proving to be really good. This afternoon an elephant came to visit and this evening a hyaena patrolled along the fence. As I started blogging, I also heard a hippo. Right now the Scops Owls are croaking out their calls to each other.

As we are in a main rest camp again, we have the internet albeit it a bit slow and so I should be able to

get my posts out each evening from now on. Thanks for following and for the lovely comments on WordPress, Facebook and Gecko WhatsApp Group. And thanks to Cathy for allowing me to post some of her fabulous photographs.

Cathy and I both use Canon PowerShot SX HS. The Earl uses a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ70

Two Geckos on a Road Trip – Day 4 – Springbok to Augrabies

We decided to have breakfast in camp this morning and only left after 9:00 am. We had an interesting ride to Augrabies and were particularly fascinated to see a solar farm with hundreds of solar panels on the side of the road. With all the sun in the semi-desert it certainly makes sense to feed some solar power into the grid.

The caravan park at Augrabies was relatively empty. The Earl and I arrived ahead of Cathy and Alec and we soon found a shady spot to set up. Photos to follow in my next blog.

Entrance to the pristine Augrabies Rest Camp

We parked and did not unhook as the following day we needed to take the Gecko to Upington for new shock absorbers on the tow hitch.

Once settled I went to explore.

The pond nearby had but one bird – a reed cormorant enjoying a fishing expedition
A rock sprouts a tree and I struggle to get anything to grow in my fertile garden!
There were plenty of pale-winged starlings about
I found two swimming pools and both were sparkling. The Earl and I spent an hour cooling off here later in the day

I found the signposts to the falls so decided to continue my walk to preview them on my own. It was a crazy thing to do as it was midday and very hot!

These curious guys, sensibly resting in the shade must have thought I was nuts to be out in the midday sun
This one tried to hide in the foliage of a tree
I found the falls – lovely but not as thundering as I had expected

Our friends were not far behind us and after they’d set up we had a bite to eat with them before going off for a swim.

After our swim I walked with The Earl to see the falls again. In the afternoon light we could see a rainbow in the spray.

The walkway is well maintained
A lovely rainbow in the falls
These guys were everywhere too.

The facilities here at Augrabies are very good. Hopefully, the ablutions will be adequate over the long weekend when I expect the place will fill up. There are only two blocks with two loos and two showers on each of the male and female sides. They are sparkling clean though.

More about Augrabies in the coming days.

Two Geckos on a road trip – Day 3 – Citrusdal to Springbok

The secret to enjoying a road trip is to take it slowly. What a pleasure not to do long distances on our travelling days. Our morning started with a leisurely cup of tea/coffee and rusks, a chat with fellow campers and then packing up to go.

Gecko 109 have me completely determined to get movers before our next trip. Wow setting up and packing up is a real picnic with the magic wand in the hands of Cathy. A group of fellow campers were standing around chatting as she quietly pressed some buttons and guided her Gecko. Seeing the enormous van slip off on its own caused one gallant prince to leap forward to ‘save’ it. “Don’t worry,” we yelled, “Cathy has everything in her control.” He was totally blown away and I do believe he now plans to upgrade his camping equipment to include this modern device too.

We bade farewell to the wide-eyed spectators and were on our way to Springbok by 8:00 am. The skies were clear and after a slightly chilly start to the day it soon became pleasantly warm.

Our first stop was to refuel and have breakfast in Vanrynsdorp.

Lovely food was on offer
After ordering you can sit outdoors
Or if you prefer in. The counter along the side provide power outlets as well as USB ports.

Once our vehicles and ourselves were refuelled we continued our journey.

Gecko 109 lead the way

We had not pre-booked a place to overnight but had no trouble getting into Springbok Caravan Park. On arrival there were just a three or four other sites occupied but by 5 pm it was pretty full as a group of five or six trailer campers arrived.

We had two shady campsites next to each other. Everything was in good order. There is a laundry and the wash-up facilities and ablutions are clean and well-maintained.

Gecko 81 and 109 comfortably set up
There is a pool – but it was not sparkling like the ones we’d just left so we gave swimming amiss. I have been to this campsite before and on that occasion the pool was pristine. There was no electricity the whole day and this might be contributing to lack of maintenance of the pool
This is one of the ferral cats that visited and appreciated some generous handouts from The Earl and Alec
Another benefactor of the cat-lovers

Our supper tonight was pork rashers, steak, sweet potatoes cooked in tinfoil with a dash of Amarula, butter and salt, gem squash and a salad.

Everything was delicious

Tomorrow we head for Augrabies.

I know that a number of our fellow Gecko Family members are reading and I thank you all for your support and comments on the WhatsApp group.

Two Geckos on a Road Trip – Day 2 – Citrusdal

The overcast conditions of yesterday were gone and we woke to a bright sunshiny day. Alec was up when I emerged from our Gecko at 8 am. We both put on our kettles and got tea and coffee on the go for our respective spouses. After we were all up for the day we decided to go to the restaurant for breakfast and then hit the hot bath.

Stunning setting for breakfast
Fabulous fun in the crystal clear hot pool

I can’t praise this venue enough. The facilities are awesome. Everything is pristine. Our campsite is not very close to the pool but it is shady and private. The road to the pool is narrow and there are the disadvantage of the campsites closer to the pool mean that you are disturbed by the cars passing by.

After our swim The Earl, Cathy and Alec went back to camp but I decided to stay with the intention of walking back later. However, I ended up spending the rest of the day in the shade, reading my book and dipping in and out of the pool for the rest of the day! Although the camp was fully booked the pool was quiet with guests visiting in waves throughout the day.

The Earl came looking for me at 3:30 and stayed for a swim. We met some other guests and we got to chatting about caravanning and camping. They were staying in one of the duplexes. We took them to see the Gecko and then we went to see the duplex which was really lovely. We also got to see the other facilities on offer. There are lovely natural rock pools and jacuzzis that are available to all guests. There is also a salon where you can go for facials, massages and other treatments.

Me with the natural spring in the background taken by my Ria who I met at the pool
Rock pool taken by Ria
The natural pool
Enjoying our new friends

In the evening The Earl, Alec, Cathy and I went to the restaurant to have dinner. It was really good and highly recommended. I had calamari, The Earl had ribs and Cathy and Alec had fillet steak. All were served with chips and a good Greek salad. Afterwards we had an evening swim in the pool before retiring for the night. It was a really good day!

Dinner at the restaurant