By the time we climb into bed that evening, we’re sighing and smiling with pleasure, burbling on about how striking the night sky is, how wonderful it is to be lulled to sleep by the song of nightjars. And our smiling continues for the whole of the next day.
Tankwa Karoo National Park has a policy that if you book a campsite they consider it yours and don’t book anyone else to share it with you. So it’s just you and the bushes and the flowers, you and the mountains and the sky. Brilliant. Yes, toileting is a marginal challenge, the whole dig-a-hole-and-burn-the-paper routine, but we cope admirably, knowing that if there were ablutions here the site would probably be more in demand and we wouldn’t have it to ourselves. And the view from our open-air loo and shower is hard to beat.
Hubby spends the day in a fiddling frenzy with all the bits and pieces of his new camping trailer toy and I just move my chair from one side of the trailer to the other, following the shade much as a sunflower follows the sun. A troop of baboons barks nearby and passes on a foraging expedition, giving us a wide berth instead of coming to pester us – a sign of how isolated and wild this area still is. Jackals bicker and complain in the distance and a few raptors fly overhead. We end a perfect day with a glass of wine around the campfire.
But things soon start to come unstuck. Literally. By eight in the evening a nasty wind is buffeting the tent and trailer. By eleven o’clock we wake to a tremendous clamour and clatter. Some of the tent poles are lifting a few inches off the ground and the canopy is about to become a hot-air balloon taking off into the stars with us attached underneath. So we decide to take it down.
I act as a rather unstable anchor while hubby loosens the guy ropes on the windward side first. We’re hoping the wind will help get the canopy down much more quickly than we put it up – and it does. One, two, three and it has flipped itself right over the tent and landed in a pile on the other side so all we have to do is bundle it up and put it inside the car before the wind steals it away.
We spend an uneasy night in a moaning and groaning tent, feeling a bit like the three little pigs while the wolf huffs and puffs and tries to blow the house down. There’s no change by morning so we have to pack up in the teeth of the wind. But as soon as everything is stashed and tied down again, the trailer hitched to the car, we’re already talking about where to go next. We figure we need a little practice if we’re to nail this tent erection business in just two minutes. And what better excuse than to have another weekend away?
[Note, in 2011 ablutions were built at Langkloof and Perdekloof camp sites.]
More about Tankwa Karoo
Time to contemplate time at Tankwa
‘Luxury’ camping is hard work
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