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Monday, January 11, 2016

Camping at Silver Rocks

Before I share the details of our New Years Day and weekend camping adventures, I wanted to share some exciting news. I am thrilled to let you know that this blog is now featured on the Expat Arrivals website as one of the "best expat blogs in South Africa" Yay!! Expat Arrivals is a website that is a resource for expats across the world. You can check out the page that contains links to my blog and several others here. 

I also want to publicly thank my friend (my virtual friend we have never actually met) and fellow blogger Joburg Expat. Joburg Expat regularly shares my blog with her thousands of readers and also frequently comments on my blog and repeatedly tells me how funny I am. If you are moving to South Africa, Joburg Expat's blog is extremely informative about things such as schools, traffic registry and much more. And her writing is also very funny. Check out her blog here. 

And now, onto the details of the New Years Camping Trip.
You might be wondering what exactly is going on here. This is a photo of Mr. Deep installing a makeshift ceiling fan to the top of our tent. He duct taped the ResQ battery (you might remember I wrote about this battery here) to the fan, plugged the fan into it and then affixed the fan to the top of our tent so it faced down on us like a ceiling fan. For some reason the way that it hung it mostly cooled me, but I'm not complaining. And I think that was Mr. Deep's whole plan, to ensure less complaining from me! 


Powered by ResQ
Two posts ago I recounted the horrors of trying to sleep in our own home without the air con on Christmas Eve. Fast forward to New Years Day and Mr. Deep and I were leaving to go camping for the weekend. This camping trip had been scheduled, planned and paid for in full before the scorching night before Christmas episode occurred.  Because of the discomfort we experienced at home when the power went out, we weren't sure if we should attempt the camping trip. We wondered, "does anyone even camp here during the summer?" Were the staff at the campground where we booked laughing hysterically that some out of towners booked a campsite for New Years weekend? Were they opening the camp specifically for us since no South African would ever consider camping during the summer? 

We decided to give camping in mid summer in South Africa a try and traveled to a place called Silver Rocks Caravan Park located near Bela Bela in the Limpopo Province.  Bela Bela is known for its natural warm baths, but it would be too hot to visit warm baths during this trip. The campsite was located less than two hours from our home which was good because if we were dying from discomfort and heat stroke after the first night we could just come home early.

Silver Rocks Caravan Park is a true campground. This was not roughing it style camping like what we did when we traveled the Lebombo Eco Trail back in September. This campground has spaces for tents and campers each with electric hookups and water spouts. The campground also has a pool and full service bathrooms and showers.  A nearby lodge has another pool and a restaurant. Game drives in the nature reserve are also available from the lodge.    

While Mr. Deep and I do have our own tent, we decided to rent a larger canvas tent at the campground because it included cots and we thought it would be more comfortable. At the last minute we did bring our own tent along, in case the canvas tent felt more like a canvas oven.


This was our welcoming committee when we arrived at our tent. No, your eyes aren't failing you it's just a really bad picture. It's so bad it reminds me of a picture that someone would take of a supposed Bigfoot sighting.  It's a scorpion in case you can't tell. 
Reception area at the campground
Table tennis anyone?



Our campsite
Close up of the tent. It had a little reception area shown here.
Inside the tent

While we explored all of the great amenities at the campground, we noticed that yes, people do camp during the height of summer. And they don't just camp. They camp in full style. The campers and luxury items that our fellow campers had on the Lebombo Eco Trail is a thing. It's what everyone does.  Mr. Deep and I approach camping with these thoughts in mind 1) be prepared so we don't die from exposure or injury 2) try to store and prepare food in a manner so as not to become violently ill from food poisoning and 3) try to stay somewhat clean and sanitary during the trip so that when the trip is over we are not mistaken for being homeless. Everyone else in South Africa it seems approaches camping with these thoughts in mind 1) bring a set up that rivals the style and comfort of your living room, kitchen and bedroom back home 2) have lots of electric lights including Christmas style twinkle lights to create nice and celebratory atmosphere 3) have full refrigeration and freezer capability so that you can bring and cook as much meat as humanly possible. 4) spend most of each day preparing to cook meat, cooking meat and eating meat.

Even though this time we were not competing with other campers we were once again completely outclassed. Luckily we were also the only ones who rented a canvas tent (who needs a giant canvas tent when you have a camper) so we were down the hill and not visible to the other campers and they were not aware to the degree that we were slumming it.

Other campers do it in style!
But no worries, what we lack in fancy camping equipment Mr. Deep makes up for in ingenuity!
Enjoying the fruits of his labor.
On Friday afternoon shortly after we arrived we went on a game drive. We wanted to walk to the lodge where the drive would depart from to avoid moving the jeep which was parked right near our campsite. We were told the lodge was 2k away but it was more like 3k. The guide must have been worried that we would be late so he and another guy came and picked us up as we were walking. When we got into the car the two men were talking to each other. It's not unusual here for people to talk to each other in other languages besides English, none of which Mr. Deep or I can understand. White people might talk to each other in Afrikaans and black people will talk to each other in one of the Bantu languages. So these two guys were chatting away with each other in Zulu or whatever and then one of them said, "spitting cobra" and started pointing explaining to the other guy he had recently seen a spitting cobra nearby. There was enough English interspersed that I knew what he was saying. I'm not paranoid, Mr. Deep heard it too. 

Luckily this sculpture was the closest thing to a cobra or any snake that we encountered!
Thanks to the ride we made it to the game drive in time. The only big five animal at this reserve is a rhino. They used to have two rhinos but sadly one was killed by poachers. 
Here are some of the best photos from the game drive.
I will never get tired of seeing this.
I should create a whole blog post dedicated to photos of Mr. Deep peering through binoculars. Like a greatest hits album.


Is there something behind me?
It was a great trip and we were not too hot or uncomfortable. The ceiling fan helped as did a huge rain storm on Saturday night.  Here are some additional photos from the weekend.

On Sunday morning Mr. Deep got up very early and went bass fishing up at the lodge.
For scale this fish was 20 inches/50 cm long.
Dinner!
We did not know the campsite had an electric hook up so we did not bring along the electrical cord for our camping refrigerator. We only brought the cord along that plugs into the power supply in the jeep. Next time we will know.

In the pool at the lodge. The lodge is called Silver Streams and would make a nice getaway from Joburg for those who would rather not camp.


Happy 2016 to all! 











5 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the mention! Wishing you many more happy camping trips in 2016. When you leave South Africa one day, you will have mastered the traveling in style part like a true South African:-) We miss traveling with our SA friends. We are just not as good about planning as they are. We once even forgot the alcohol!

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    1. Ha! Your friends must have been horrified that you forgot the alcohol. I am pretty sure that alcohol is the real reason South Africans like to go camping. I hope there was a Liquor City nearby?! :)

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  2. I read your article with interest as I love camping and am always looking for new places to explore and camp at. The camp site looks lovely with lots of great facilities. I'm glad you now have air conditioning in your tent it must make a huge different. Good luck with future camping trips!

    Andrea Wilkins @ Getaway Outdoors

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    1. Thank you Andrea! And yes, I would recommend this campground. It is lovely. Thanks for reading.

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Hello and thank you for taking an interest in my blog. This blog tells the story of some big life changes. First, my husband and I have moved from the U.S. to South Africa for three years. We moved due to an exciting opportunity my husband had with his job. Second, I won't be working anymore. I'm actually not allowed to work so that will be different given that for the past twenty years I've been somewhat of a workaholic. I'm excited to share our adventures with you! My thoughts and opinions are my own.