The company I work for is currently in the process of moving offices. Files, cabinets, desks and printers all had to be moved in a period of 2 days. And I am the lucky candidate who gets to sort through the ancient, dust-ridden paperwork that hasn’t been touched in about a decade.
Confined to a windowless room for 9 hours a day (the new office is underground), I experience an urge to run away at least 8 times in those 9 hours. Thank goodness for April in South Africa; we have about 5 public holidays in this month, and not one full working week as a result. The Cederberg is a perfect getaway destination: not far from the cities but far enough to not have great cellphone signal, I could hardly wait to get lost out there. Needless to say my first ever (intentional) camping experience was an absolute win.
Some friends of mine had been planning a camping trip for that weekend for a few weeks and kindly let me join them, though I have next to no prior camping experience and was quite useless when it came to setting up. The campsite was beautiful, in a wooded area with a river running through it and completely surrounded by mountains. Small bathrooms scattered throughout the campsite made a toilet and a cold shower available, for which we were immensely grateful. Though the site was a bit full with South Africans trying to make the most of their last long weekend, our neighbors were friendly and our “tribe” of 9 members quickly grew to 15. We all sat together as the braai heated up, with our dirty hair and fingernails. That’s one thing I loved immediately about camping; no one cares. No one cares what they look (or smell) like, or that you’ve been wearing the same pants for the last 2 days. It just doesn’t matter. We could share stories or play guitar or lay around with a book and no one put any expectations on anyone else.
With various walking and hiking trails, we were spoiled for choice and ended up doing only 2 of them. The second one, Geelhoutskloof trail, included a natural amphitheater and, quite literally, a guide dog, who led us up the mountain path and back down again. Our empty tummies and tired legs were comforted by the overwhelmingly beautiful views. Not even the rain could curb our focus as we looked out over the gorge and back towards the “koppie” behind us.
For first time hikers, I would recommend one of the river trails. These are not so much hiking trails as they are walking routes and are far less strenuous on the legs, while still getting you elevated enough to provide a really beautiful view.
One to aspire to is the Wolfberg arch trail, which we unfortunately didn’t have time for on this trip. The Cederberg is known for its rock formations, and I am really looking forward to seeing this particular one one day.
This trip turned out to be a really refreshing outdoors experience for relatively little money. The biggest costs were food and petrol. While the per night fee for the Jamaka campsite is quite low, you obviously need your own camping equipment. Going in a group made this easier as, using from each other’s camping collections, we had everything covered. Altogether, for 3 nights under the most breathtaking thicket of stars I’ve ever seen, you’ll pay about R300.
From the perspective of a first time camper, I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding break from the business world. The simplicity of camping and being immersed in nature served as a perfect refresher. I will definitely be visiting the Cederberg again soon.
- flip flops for walking around camp or, more specifically, for showering (about 30 people use the showers on the campsite, so if you’re a bit grossed out at the thought of sharing foot germs, take some shower shoes).
- extra cloths – you’ll need to wipe down your tent if it rains. Some clever and obviously more experienced campers brought brooms with them to sweep the raindrops off their tents before packing them up.
- extra gas for your gas stove
- mosquito repellent
- more than one towel!
- baby powder – for all body-drying purposes 🙂
- and finally, white gold (toilet paper)
Happy camping 🙂