AfriCamps’ wonderful glamping offerings in Wilderness and Ingwe are both excellent bases from which to go adventuring in the Garden Route
The Garden Route is a veritable treasure chest for adventurous types and adrenaline junkies. I tend to count myself among the former, but in this part of the world adventure and adrenaline go hand-in-hand. Think abseiling, bungee jumping, kloofing, kayaking, and a quiver of other activities that elevate the heart rate and get the blood going.
Late last year, I found myself voluntarily taking part in just such an activity, and my heart was indeed pounding as I sat perched precariously on a shelf high up a cliff in the Kaaimans Kloof. It hadn’t seemed this high from the bottom... They say you shouldn’t think about the jump for too long, lest your courage completely desert you. ‘Come on, tuck in your arms and just do it!’ the grinning guide goaded from the far bank, camera at the ready. After a few more moments of fearful contemplation and just before the last remnants of bravery evaporated, I threw caution to the wind and, a few seconds and a distinctly unmasculine shriek later, hit the water with an almighty splash.
A fellow adventurer and I had felt like a break from the city bustle, so we packed the car and wended our way up the N2 towards Wilderness, our first port of call. AfriCamps had just opened their new camp at Oakhurst Farm, and we would be among their first visitors.
AfriCamps recommended our first adventure on an adrenaline-filled weekend schedule, and had put us in touch with Eden Adventures who runs kloofing expeditions in a canyon cutting through Wilderness, the Kaaimans Kloof. And, brother, it doesn’t get much more adventurous. Jumps from various heights (some more hair-raising than others) are part of the kloofing experience, as are hiking, climbing, sliding and swimming. Basically, kloofing entails getting down a canyon by any means possible … and in one piece. I’d recommend it to any adventurer – once you get over the initial fear, the big jumps are almost the best thing about the whole experience. We would have to get over our acrophobia pretty soon anyway, as bungee jumping too was on the cards for the weekend.
The Oakhurst camp is the latest feather in AfriCamps’ well-plumed cap (they now have eight glamp sites throughout SA). We arrived at the farm exhausted but elated after our kloofing session, and Wilna the manageress welcomed us with a bag of wood, a full braai-pack and a friendly smile, then showed us to our two-roomed ‘tent’. It’s more of a chalet with some tent-like characteristics to be honest (it even has air con, a built-in outside braai and a wood-fired jacuzzi), but as I sank down in one of the comfortable loungers on our private little stoep overlooking a small pond, cold beer in hand, I wasn’t about to complain. If you’re after a rustic-but-romantic, cosy-but-comfortable, camping-but-not-really getaway, you can’t go wrong with AfriCamps.
We spent two idyllic nights at Oakhurst, and even did some adventuring at the farm itself, too. The morning after our kloofing escapades, we wolfed down some left-over braai meat, headed to the stables at Oakhurst and saddled up two stallions. The horses are exceptionally well behaved and it’s a pleasant hour’s ride through the forests, fields and paddocks of Oakhurst, a remarkably well-kept farm that offers lovely views from the saddle.
The next morning, we headed further east, as our home for the last few nights would be at the impressive Ingwe chapter of AfriCamps near Plettenberg Bay. We made a pitstop at The Look Out Deck in Plett for a quick brunch (and a beer for some Dutch courage), and then drove the last few kilometres to the dreaded and formidable Bloukrans Bridge – at 216m, the highest commercial bungee bridge in the world...
Customarily, one walks across the colossal bridge on a see-through walkway to the bungee platform at the centre, which is scary enough, but a new addition to the bungee experience since I last did it a few years ago is a zip line that shoots you along the underside of the bridge to the bungee station. The sheer speed and unfathomable height of the zip line, not to mention the significant gusts of wind that threaten to smack you into the massive pillars whipping by, mean my adrenaline was already spiking by the time I reached the bungee station. Alas, the show had only just begun.
Don’t believe the lies: flinging yourself off a bridge doesn’t get any easier, no matter how many times you’ve done it. In fact, it gets more difficult. With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom, fear. Although, evidently not sufficient wisdom nor fear not to do it again, because there I was, once again on the precipice, ankles strapped in, staring into the abyss. And like a reluctant nestling about to be given its first flight lessons, I spread my arms. ‘3…2…1… Bungee!’ rang the familiar chorus from the operators. For the second time in two days, before my fleeting courage could abandon me, I let fly.
‘Ah, so this is why I keep coming back,’ I thought mid-jump. For all the trepidation one feels beforehand, the peculiar feeling of carefree abandon that one achieves when leaving behind the shackles of fear, well and truly makes up for it. The surge of adrenalin is immensely enjoyable and even addictive – no wonder it’s my third time back. That’s not to say that I wasn’t grateful to get my feet back on terra firma. With a mixture of triumph, exhilaration and relief, we headed to Ingwe.
The Ingwe camp is surely the chef-d'œuvre in AfriCamp’s collection. It’s exactly the same setup as the Oakhurst camp – as are all AfriCamps (they all follow the same model): two rooms, a big en-suite bathroom with shower, a kitchenette, small dining room table, braai area, wood-fired jacuzzi and a lovely deck. But the Ingwe camp’s views are the trump card, and nothing short of spectacular. The row of tents sits atop a deep, verdant valley, and lush fields with horses and even occasional herds of prancing impala are visible on the far side.
Bushed from the weekend’s adrenalin, we decided to take it slow at Ingwe. Indolence was the order of the day, and we only emerged from the jacuzzi to top up drinks, and once for an easy amble down the short 2 km track around the farm. AfriCamps supplied us with a delicious breakfast pack, which we cooked on the little gas stove, and on Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a superb seafood lunch at Enrico Ristorante in Keurboomstrand.
Whether you’re eager for some Garden Route adventuring, or would just like to savour the quiet serenity of nature, breathe in some clean air and feast your eyes on the luxuriant forest views of this part of the world, AfriCamps is just the ticket – and a rather affordable one too.
AfriCamps tents can sleep five people.
Braai packs and breakfast packs can be supplied on request, but otherwise all food and drinks are self-catered. Wood can be bought on premises.
Everything else is supplied, including linen, towels, cutlery, crockery, utensils, coffee, sugar.
From R1 090 per night
063 170 4222, email@example.com, africamps.com
042 281 1458
Eden Adventures kloofing happens in the Kaaimans Kloof in Wilderness. It’s a great kloof for beginners, but there are numerous (optional) high jumps for the brave. The deep pools and forest-fringed cliffs make for great scenery and an exciting day out for the adventurous at heart.
Eden Adventures provides a wetsuit and life jacket, and can provide wet shoes too. You’ll just need a swimming costume, camera (the guide keeps it dry in a waterproof bag for you), towel and a set of dry clothes for after.
044 877 0179, firstname.lastname@example.org, eden.co.za