The strange truth about camping

2015-03-27 21:30 - Nadia Krige
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During a recent discussion about our various weekend plans, I excitedly told colleagues about an upcoming camping trip to the Breede River.

I told them about how I had - completely contrary to my laid-back nature - constructed an extensive menu for the weekend and emailed it to my fellow campers (they were appropriately shocked).

I also admitted that I was actually looking forward to going grocery shopping for the weekend. Like whaaat?!

"You know what. That's the thing about camping," said Louzel. "All the fun is really in the planning. Because once you get there and your tent is all set up and everything is done, you kind of just... sit there on your camping chair. And eat."

It had never crossed my mind before, but I suddenly realised something about camping - it's not so much about sleeping in a tent, or getting in touch with our wild sides or enjoying nature, as it is about preparing and eating delicious food in the great outdoors... and drinking wine out of tin cups. 

For all intents and purposes, camping really = eating.

Mind. Blown.

Twenty-odd years on & @imarkrige is still the stokbrood king. #VSCOcam

A photo posted by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on

Well, all the menu planning and grocery shopping eventually culminated in a weekend at the River Goose Campsite just outside Bonnievale and my newfound theory was thoroughly proven.

As expected, one exquisite culinary experience flowed into the next - all prepared by our own hands on a sturdy table provided by the campsite and cooked over a crackling fire or an eager blue gas flame.

We chatted to News24 Live about camping recently. Check out the video here

We made boerewors rolls with tomato and brown onion soup gravy, a pork potjie so generous it threatened to bubble right over, a gargantuan 'braaibrood' - a ciabatta stuffed with tomatoes, onions and cheese - grilled to perfection, 'stokbrood' - which is basically dough shaped around a stick and cooked over the flames and of course a classic breakfast fry up.     

And best of all? We even had REAL coffee from a quaint blue enamel percolator! 

Camping coffee #VSCOcam #MySlowDrive

A photo posted by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on

So, the cat is out of the bag - camping really is all about the epic culinary experiences you can conjure up out of the most basic, raw equipment and ingredients.

However, if you are heading to one of these 7 great camping spots for Easter Weekend, here are a few more ideas to make the most of your trip... when you aren't eating:

1. Know what you want from your camp site

You are never going to find a stand that has it all. Unfortunately. If you want shade all day, you're going to have to accept the fact that grass covering will be patchy at best, non-existent at worst. If you want to be right next to the sea, you're going to have to deal with sweeping sand out of your tent A LOT. A beautiful view might mean you're going to have to wake up at the crack of dawn as the sun bakes you out of your tent.

Align your expectations with fellow campers beforehand and stipulate your wishes to camp management when making the booking. While they might not be able to offer exactly what you're after, they can do their best to accommodate you. 

2. Arrive before dark

There's nothing worse than driving for hours and then having to pitch a tent in the dark. Wars have broken out over momentary headlamp blinding. 

3. Have a packing list

This is probably the secret to a really good camping trip. Have a working packing list. Believe me, it will never be complete, but that's what makes it so great. After every excursion you will probably have at least 2 or 3 new items to remember for next time. And so, you become better and better at camping all the time. 

4. Zippers are there for a reason

Keep your tent and bags zipped up, because you don't want to wake up in the middle of the night with something crawling over your face... or at the bottom of your sleeping bag. Eeeek!

5. Shower in off-peak times

If you're in a relatively crowded campsite and want a really good ablution experience, avoid mornings and evenings. Instead, go have a shower just after lunch time when everyone's taking naps or busy with fun activities. You will have clean floors, warm water and no queues. Winning!

Breede River exploration. Pre-rope swing row. #VSCOcam #MySlowDrive #meerkatmissions

A photo posted by nadia (@nadia_safaria) on

6. Enjoy the environment

Every campsite has something unique on offer. River Goose, for example, is located right on the Breede River and has three or four canoes for guests to use. So, use them! Making the most of everything on offer really does round off your experience and make it memorable.

7. Bring cards, games & a guitar (but don't get loud)

Chances are you might not even get round to using them, as camp chairs do have a strange way of lulling people into a serene reverie, where no entertainment is needed. However, playing games and singing old classics together really does help to establish a sense of old-fashioned charm.

What are your camping tips? Tell us in the comment section below, tweet us @traveller24_sa or tag traveller24_sa on Instagram  

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