Thursday, May 30, 2013

Our Annual Holiday 2013 - Part 3

In the last week of Colleen's leave we decided to give Yzerfontein Caravan Park a visit.

March is still a fairly busy time of year, so we decided to go there for 4 nights, arriving on a Sunday Afternoon and departing on the Thursday morning, as this day was the start of a long weekend and therefore going to be busy.

I had done as much research on the campsite as I could find and nearly all comments I could find were very positive, so I was looking forward to our visit, although Yzerfontein itself has never really applealed to me on previous visits. It does have a stunning beach and pretty harbour but the town itself is not very attractive with lots of huge ugly holiday homes.

We spent an enjoyable few days there and I left with mixed views of the campsite.

It is well maintained and efficiently run. The whole campsite is near the beach but with no view's whatsoever. It is separated from the beach by a large dune with access via a wooden boardwalk. The individual sites are a very mixed bag. Those near the beach are small, have no grass, thick sand and some shade. Now, I prefer nice level grassed sites even if they come at the expense of having no shade as I normally erect a gazebo for this. I also like being able to relax under the gazebo and be able to take in a lovely view, be it of the mountains, a river, a dam or the sea.

We  settled on one of the much larger (it was huge) grassed sites a bit further away from the boardwalk to the beach. There are very nice high thick hedges planted between the blocks of sites which give shelter from the wind and some privacy. In fact the only negative about the site we were on was that the built in braai was back to back with the neighbours braai, which could have been a problem if the place was busy. 

The small ablution block near us was spotlessly clean and well maintained. There were clean up staff every day who were doing a sterling job. Not only in the ablutions but in the whole campsite, cleaning braais and bins, trimmimg hedges etc.  

On Wednesday night a lot more people started arriving for the coming long weekend and I was very pleased that we were leaving the next day. The ablutions started taking strain due to the increased numbers and we had a fairly noisy crowd of friends camped on 3 sites behind us. I would definitely not like to be there when it got really busy. 
Here are a few images.

Skiper Tent Trailer

Skipper Tent Trailer

16 mile beach, Yzerfontein

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Annual Holiday 2013 - Part 2

After we had packed up in Storms River, I felt that we need not immeadiately rush the 600 kilometre drive home and that it would be nice to break the journey up with a stay over in Jongensfontein, some 10km past Stillbaai.

Several people had recommended the caravan park there and I had ridden past it a few times in the past while on a motorcycle rally in the area.

However, I was not prepared for what we had in store there. It was absolutley stunning. We arrived there without booking, stopping off in Stillbaai on the way to replenish supplies of food, wine, beer and braai wood. 

It was in the middle of the week and we expected the park to be very quiet but suprisingly it was quite busy. We were lucky to get a site right on the seafront that had just been vacated that morning. The ablution blocks were ample and spotless.

If anyone who read this blog considers going there, the only unusual thing is that there are almost no built in braai's and one needs to take a portable braai along. We purchased a very nice one in the little shop next to the campsite, which now comes along with us on all our trips. This shop is quite amazing and sells everything imaginable that one could need or may have left at home while on a camping holiday.

We stayed there for only 2 nights and in hindsite, should have stayed there much longer. We will definitely be back again for a longer stay. The sea is lovely and warm for swimming and there is a natural tidal pool just to the right of the campsite.

Here are a few images.

The Campsite and view from our site.

Jongensfontein Caravan Park


Our site again and then packed up and ready to go home.

Jongensfontein Caravan Park.

Skipper Tent Trailer

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our annual holiday 2013

My wife, Colleen, still has a normal job and is about 3 years away from retirement. This means that she gets 3 weeks annual leave a year and therefore we can only plan longer getaways during this period.

In the part of the country where we live, the early summer months often experience very strong winds, making camping a bit unpleasant, but by March/April the wind tends to die down. This is then our prime time to go on a trip but usually try to avoid the Easter and school holidays.

This year the month of March ticked all the above boxes and we hitched up the Skipper and set off on a 6 day trip.

Our first destination was Storms River Rest Camp, part of the Tsitsikama National Park. We have camped there several times in the past. We booked to stay there for 4 nights and asked for a specific site that we had checked out on our last visit.

Skipper Navigator
 It was site No 43, with a wonderful uninterupted sea view and nice nearby ablution facilities. Here are a few more images.

Tsitsikama Sunset


Storms River View

Skipper Tent Trailer
After 4 wonderful days there, we packed up and set off for a couple of nights at Jongensfontein, on the way home.

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Adventures - Leentjiesklip Weekend

Now that we had made this investment in the Skipper Trailer Tent, I decided that we need to use it at least once a month to justify buying it. A lot of people buy caravans that stand around in their driveways forever and only get used once or twice a year.

I did a lot of research on local nearby campsites and various camping and caravanning forums to find suitable nearby weekend getaways.

A few weeks after getting the Skipper, I decided to give Leentjiesklip at Langebaan a try. We set off at about 4.00pm on a Friday afternoon and by 5.15pm we were booked into the campsite which is situated on Langebaan Lagoon. It still took us a while to set the tent up as this was only the second time we had done so. As soon as I had unpacked the tent I realised that I had left the key to the nose cone storage section of the van at home, which housed the wall sections of the tent.

Anyway this is what it looks like without the side and front walls.

The weekend was lovely apart from a bit of rain on Saturday morning. Fortunately I had erected the van with the front of it facing the weather and it stayed nice and dry under the awning.

We will definitely be back here again. The views of the lagoon from the campsite were outstanding. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

As we have got a bit older, the one negative about camping has become the effort of erecting our tent and even more so, packing it away at the end of our stay, especially when wet!

My brother-in-law, Robert, has owned caravans for as long as I have known him. At first, I used to think that it was quite a large expensive outlay for an item that you only get to use a few times a year, plus the expense of towing. However in recent years, we have been looking more and more at this option. One problem is the you need a fairly powerful and heavy vehicle to legally tow a large caravan in South Africa. Sprite Caravan's used to make a light caravan for the smaller tow vehicle called a "Scout". They discontinued the original light model in the 1990's and then made a much heavier version for a few years, but this has also been discontinued.

After spending many hours on the internet looking at various caravans, I eventually came across a site for the "Skipper Tent Trailer". 

This is more or less what one used to term, a "Pop UP" caravan. This would enable us to tow it with our present 1.6 litre vehicle with no problem. I found a used one for sale on Gumtree in Sedgefield on the Garden Route and contacted the seller. It was an almost new unit and his reason for selling was that his wife had developed back problems and could no longer camp. We eventually agreed that Colleen and I would travel up there on a Friday to inspect the van and if all was to our satisfaction we would pay for it and take it away. Sedgefield is about 5 hours drive from Cape Town. Anyway, the set day dawned and we set off on our journey.

We arrived, looked at the Van, which had been set up by the seller, liked and bought! An hour after arriving there, it was packed up, hitched to our bakkie and we were on our way home with our new aquisition. However, we had decided that it would be foolish to simply drive all the way home the same day and would stay over for the rest of the weekend and camp in our new van. We booked into the ATKV resort in Hartenbos and set up the van on a seafront site.

We did struggle a bit to set it up for the first time, but are now very used to it and have it set up within 45 minutes of arriving at our destination. The start of many new adventures to come.

The first big plus was our fuel comsumption for the trip. I calculated the fuel we used not towing to fetch the van compared to towing it home and there was almost no difference. It towed like a dream.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ever since I was young, I have enjoyed camping out. From the first few bush camps with school friends and I even remember packing up a tent and backpack when I was about 13 years old and spending a few days out on the nearby Helderberg mountain on my own.

This progressed to often camping out near or on the beach in my surfing days in my late teens and early twenties.

Later on, once I was married to Colleen, we often camped out when on holiday along the Garden Route and in the Cederberg Mountains. In our hiking days we often carried a small tent and all our food and hiked to extreme wilderness area's and camped for a few days.

For me it is a mixture of enjoying nature, being away from it all and getting to play with all our camping toys. I have often been called "The Gadget Man" which sums up my love for any new innovations in whatever hobby etc I am engaged in at the time.

I have always had a variety of the latest "hi-tech" tents from extreme ultra light 2 man expedition tents to huge luxury multi roomed camping tents. The latest being dubbed "The Hugh Hefner Suite".

The above image is the Hugh Hefner Suite at Storms River. The picture does not do justice to its actual size. It is huge! I can easily stand upright inside.