The original plan was to go to Splashy Fen Music Festival, something we’d still like to do in the future. But for now we’re keeping things cheap and attempting to save for our trip to Madagascar later this year. The Easter holiday was coming up in a hurry and we suddenly realized that ‘Splashy’ was going to cost us more than what we had anticipated. So we had to change our plans and go somewhere cheaper! But where do you find a place to go to at such late notice, only days before the Easter Rabbit would be doing his rounds?
Well it’s quite obvious. You go to a place that not everyone wants to go to. Our good friends kindly invited us to join them for a weekend of camping in the beautiful Cobham Nature Reserve in the Southern Drakensberg. There will be no electricity, they said. And the showers may be temperamental, possibly ice cold and bring warm clothes because the weather forecast says ‘rain.’
“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”
― Dave Barry
Of course we were in – it would be our Easter adventure and it was only R80 per person per night, an absolute bargain! The deciding factor would not be the ‘lack’ of an electric kettle but to be in a beautiful place, close up to nature and away from bustling over crowded Easter destinations with electrical points!
Also, we knew who we were camping with! Which brings me to another point: Choose your camping buddies carefully. Like we did. Our friends came with caravans, industrial sized gas cookers, generators, glammed up camping trailers and enough wood to keep a small city warm. And not to forget the camping side tables for our drinks. (Camping chairs with cup holders are so 2016!) Suddenly camping in Cobham was in danger of becoming ‘glamping’ and we were not complaining!
As we do, we pulled into the campsite just as the sun was going down. We set up our non-waterproof dome tent and unpacked our elementary camping kit, our flimsy mattresses and our kid-sized summer sleeping bags on the coldest weekend this year so far. We peered out of our little tent, with trailers and caravans towering above us and drizzle and thick mist blowing in. Shivering and verging on hypothermia, we bravely exited the tent. Layered with every item of clothing we had, we waddled out like a family of Oros men and went in the direction of warmth. There we joined our friends who passed us beer and wine as we stood huddled and as close as we could possibly get to the blazing bonfire without catching fire! It was then that I learned the true meaning of ‘friends with benefits.’ Always camp with friends who have more camping equipment than you! Especially in Cobham.
“Mom, camping is not a date; it’s an endurance test. If you can survive camping with someone, you should marry them on the way home.”
― Yvonne Prinz,
Weather aside, the weekend flew by. We walked, we talked, we laughed plenty and some of the less sane people in our group swam. Though I will admit that the spectacular sight of deep Cobham turquoise pools could probably tempt a cat into taking a dip!
Easter soon arrived and if you woke early, you’d have been surprised by how many Easter rabbits were operating in the Cobham campsite, eyeing the other campers out suspiciously. Where could they hide their stash of chocolate Lindt eggs that would be safely out of sight from the neighbours ‘eagle-eyed’ chocolate spotting brood?
As you can imagine, the Easter egg hunt started especially early this year, in fact the sun had barely risen. Suddenly the campsite was carnage; wild, wide-eyed kids ran in all directions, crossing tent peg boundaries, raiding other territories and hiding their ‘stash’ from potential chocolate thieving enemies like their lives depended on it. Anxious, Lindt-guarding parents, speaking in code and attempting to convince the frenzied kids that ‘this year,’ the bunny operated in well-marked zones, silently vowing that 2017 would be the last year they’d ever spend 100 bucks on a chocolate egg.
“What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.”
― Bill Bryson,
As camping so faithfully does, beautiful memories were made. Despite the brutally cold nights, the days would soon warm; starting with a new fire and staring into its flames whilst waiting for the water to boil. Sipping on a hot smoky tin cup of coffee and dunking a home-made rusk…camping in Cobham may be basic, but the special memories made were unforgettable.
For bookings and information about Cobham Nature Reserve, phone +27 (0)33
“I must pack my short life full of interesting events and creative activity. Philosophy and aesthetic contemplation are not enough. I intend to do everything possible to broaden my experiences and allow myself to reach the fullest development. Then, and before physical deterioration obtrudes, I shall go on some last wilderness trip to a place I have known and loved. I shall not return.”
― Everett Ruess,