This Easter weekend, Gareth and I, along with our friends Lizelle and Franco, camped inside the Krugersdorp Game Reserve at the Ngonyama Caravan Park. Since our friends only had the long weekend off and didn’t want to travel far, they had suggested we try this site out and I jumped at the chance to finally explore the world-renowned Cradle of Humankind (more on that later). I was a bit dubious about camping inside a game reserve again, particularly one where the logo features two monkeys pilfering a picnic basket, especially after our recent baboon incident, but although these monkeys did try their luck, they were only a mild nuisance and actually quite entertaining to watch.
We were impressed with the campsite at first, although a few annoyances during the course of the weekend eventually led us all to agree upon a rating of 6 / 10. The stands were large and ours had tall shade trees which would have been perfect had the weather played along. As it was, the rain turned our spot into a muddy quagmire and the trees kept the sun from drying our tent out. Had we known it would be such a damp weekend, we would have pitched our camp on the lovely green grass outside the trees’ shade.
The site was assigned to us, which was both a good and a bad thing. Good because I was one of the first people to book in January this year, which meant we got one of the best spots with lots of shade and just the right distance from the ablution block. Bad because that spot turned out to be right next to the kids’ play park – not ideal if a) you don’t have kids and b) you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet. If we’d had the choice, we’d have picked one of the sites next to the fence where we would have had less chance of being disturbed by exuberant youngsters and would have been able to watch the wildlife pass right by our doorstep.
Our biggest gripe with the caravan park was the ablution facilities and is the ultimate reason why it didn’t get a much higher score from the four of us. There are 48 stands with a maximum of 6 people per stand, which means on a weekend as busy as the Easter weekend, there are roughly 280 people who all have to make do with only one ablution block. That is 2 showers and 4 bathtubs for the ladies (and children) and 4 showers and 2 bathtubs for the men. As you can imagine, getting some shower time turned out to be a bit of a logistical nightmare. While the guys in our group didn’t complain about the availability of the showers, they weren’t too keen on the men’s open-plan arrangement in which they had nowhere to put their stuff while in the shower and had to get dressed in front of everyone else in the room. And due to the mud caused by the rainy weather and perhaps the unavailability of cleaning staff over the public holidays, I’m afraid the toilets were soon a mess and ran out of toilet paper at about 18:00 at night, only to be restocked after 10:00 the next morning. Now, I know we’re camping and supposedly “roughing it”, but a well-kept and well-designed bathroom can make or break a place for me.
All these little grievances aside and despite the unseasonably wet weather, we had a great time. We sat and talked till late at night, we went to Maropeng and got lost in the Cradle of Humankind, we watched a pride of lions feast on half a cow, we learned how to paint with light, we caught Miss Scarlett committing suicide with the Rope in the Hall, we concocted pizzas on the braai and, most importantly, we learned that the company of good friends makes any experience twice as special.
Labels: Africa, camping, Krugersdorp Game Reserve, Ngonyama Caravan Park, South Africa