I was really looking forward to my 5 days off and anticipated a relaxing week with a couple of hours free to be creative and work on my designs.
Alas, my husband, Simon, had other plans…I remember my eyes widen and my heart start thumping when he suggested camping. He’s eyes lit up as he told me he booked 4 days at Nylsvley Nature Reserve in Limpopo…He wasn’t referring to glamping… It was real camping, apart from the flushing toilet *Phew!* no warm water, no electricity, no chalet…or bed.
Time flew by and we were all packed. We hit the road and when we arrived, we were the only campers. Apparently it’s a treat to have the camp site all to yourself. All I could think about was being attacked by animals with no-one around to hear our cries for help!
Our home for the next few days
Simon picked a camp site closest to the bush…apparently, also another treat…Terrified of bugs, I slowly got used to the sandy piece of ground we would call our home for the next few days. The tent went up in a jiffy and we were settled in our camping chairs with a fresh cup of tea in 30 minutes or so, not too bad.
The nature reserve was beautiful and the sunset one of the most glorious. The reserve had animals roaming around freely, no predators of course. I was hoping to see them around our camp site, but no such luck.
Simon told me a couple of stories about lions and the Kruger around the camp fire on our first night. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep at all! I kept imagining a lion escaping from a neighboring nature reserve sniffing around our tent. My imagination went wild while he slept like a log next to me. He must have been so tired from all the storytelling….
I was exhausted the next morning, but Simon convinced me to join him for a “short walk” that turned into a 10.5km trek in the scorching sun, not really sure where we were going. Surrounded by animals, I was totally freaked out by the long grass. One word…snakes! There were no predators of course, but gosh I wanted nothing more than to see our tent! Lots of zoo biscuits later (remember these?!) we stumbled across our camp site…thank goodness!
Although I had a little bit of sunstroke, it was lovely to see giraffe, warthog, buck, baboons, ostrich, eagles and other beautiful birds on foot.
After that walk, I decided to relax the next day, but didn’t…Simon had other plans…of course! We did another 10km walk in the scorching sun! He bribed me with the chance of seeing giraffe up close and getting a selfie. Smart man! The walk was fruitless unfortunately, but I got an ice-cold drink (thank goodness for the little restaurant in the nature reserve) and a foot massage as a reward!
The bright side
Apart from the cold showers, competing with a spider for the loo and the sunstroke, we had a 4 day cleanse from the world. We had no cellphone reception. Surrounded by wildlife, snuggled with my favourite person in a sleeping bag and a small tent and being woken up by tweeting birds, life was perfect. We chatted and laughed with no interruptions. It turned out to be a very refreshing bonding experience and a very special trip away.
My camping wardrobe essentials
I wasn’t really sure what to pack and I probably packed a few items that I didn’t need. I now know which items were the most useful!
A long sleeve top, a tank top or two, a tee, a warm top and 2 x black tights. For pj’s, I recommend tights, long sleeve top and socks as well, juuuuuuust in case any bugs sneak into the tent! Pack Tabbard too! I also packed skinny jeans and an extra tee and sneakers to travel home in.
I packed a few accessories too, like sunglasses, a sunhat and a scarf. It really helps keep you cool when all you have is a tent and a couple of trees for shade. I’m so glad I packed long socks and hiking shoes, it really made our walks easier. I packed slip slops as well, was great for giving my toes a breather from the hiking shoes and was easy to clean.
Sanity pointers for amateur campers
When I went camping, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, I was never really the outdoorsy type. Camping was honestly more relaxing than a hassle of any kind, but a few tips never hurt!
• Shower in the afternoon before it gets dark, with no electricity and warm water this is the best time. Showering in the morning when it’s cold or in the evenings in the dark…not ideal!
• Go to the loo just before you go to bed, venturing in the dark with a torch at odd hours is super scary. Reminds me of the Blair Witch Project!
• To avoid bugs sneaking into your humble abode, keep the tent zipped closed at all times.
• Start cooking supper while there’s still daylight, cooking is not an easy experience while trying to find things in the dark…
• Keep everything you need (food/eating utensils) outside the tent in covered containers when you need it. At first we kept it inside the tent, but that involved too much unzipping and zipping, especially because I was stressed about bugs sneaking in! Lol
• Don’t run when you see or think animals are nearby, just stay still, they’re more afraid of you than you are of them…apparently…eeek!
• Make sure that the fire is completely out before going to bed.
• Do not rely on your phone to be your camera on the trip. Remember there’s no electricity and a power bank can only do so much. You want to make sure you get pictures of all the magical sites and memories.
Will I do it again? Yeah…you could say so.
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