WITH MARVELLOUS MOUNTAIN VIEWS AND CRYSTAL-CLEAR POOLS, BEAVERLAC IS THE WEEKEND CAMPER’S DREAM SPOT. ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO IT LIKE WE DID!
Maui Motorhome Rentals agreed to let me borrow one of their four-sleeper Mercedes-Benz Sprinters for the weekend. The result? I do not want to camp the regular way ever again.
Who needs tents that require pitching, and blow-up mattresses that slowly deflate during the night, when you can sleep in the cosiness of a camper, complete with soft bedding and feathery duvets? I’m being dramatic, of course. But really, if you want to spoil yourself with a bit of luxe ‘camping’ without breaking the bank, a Maui motorhome isn’t a bad way to do it.
I collected my camper from the Maui depot near the airport and received a tutorial on all the bells and whistles that come with it, including a small bathroom, gas stove, microwave, kettle, toaster, two tables that neatly fold out into beds, ample cupboard space, all the cutlery, crockery, glassware and cookware you will need, a fridge – the list goes on. It really is a little apartment on wheels. We each packed nothing more than a small bag of clothes (they even provide towels), bought some
food and drinks, and off we went.
Camp like royalty
Beaverlac is a popular little camping resort situated near Porterville, a small village at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains. It’s a relatively short drive from Cape Town, but I would advise factoring in, and leaving enough daylight for, the last stretch of dirt road coming down the Dasklip Pass, which is treacherous at the best of times. I wouldn’t recommend doing it in anything smaller than an SUV either. Luckily, we were in a 315i CDI – 2.2ℓ Merc with more clearance than most 4×4s and, although it can feel a bit top-heavy at times, we never felt unsafe descending the pass. Motorhome tip: if you’re going to drive off road, secure the crockery in the cupboard with a towel or pillow, so it doesn’t rattle or break.
Finally arriving at Beaverlac, we checked in at reception, paid (R240 for two people and a vehicle for two nights) and found a beautifully shaded campsite near the beginning of the hiking trail, which leads to the main rock pool. While the rest of our party started unloading their cars and pitching tents, we removed the camping chairs that come with the vehicle, retrieved two ice-cold beers from the fridge, sat back and looked on smugly as our envious chums toiled.
Beaverlac has very strict no-music and no-noise-after-10pm policies, so when we received our first complaint at midnight due to a raucous game of 30 Seconds, we called it a night and retired to our air-conditioned mobile lap of luxury, while the others traipsed off to their tents.
The next day, feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed after
a particularly good night of sleep and a delicious breakfast conveniently prepared on the camper’s gas stove, we decided to take on the spectacular hiking trails Beaverlac is renowned for and the main reason behind its popularity.
We checked out the main rock pool first, which is a mere five-minute walk from the campsite, but a bit busy, before setting off into the mountains along the Leopard Trail to the well-known Totem Pole pool. About an hour and a half, the walk won’t trouble seasoned hikers, but it does have a steady incline and requires climbing in places. One of the stops along the way to the top is called the Bum Slide, and when the water is high enough, you can slide down the long slabs of rock into the pool.
Once at the top, we stopped to catch our breath. The view from there is one of craggy hills bestrewn with Cederberg-like rock formations, complemented by glassy pools scattered here and there, and finally rounded off with rolling green valleys beyond; its beauty will likely rob you of speech for an instant and, needless to say, is well worth the hike.
After a refreshing swim in the crystalline Totem Pole pool, which is surrounded by sheer cliffs to one side and views of the valley on the other, we spread a picnic blanket on the rocks and had a few deserved drinks and snacks, before heading down again.
That night, we had a huge braai and lots of wine, but retired early, so we could do it all over again the next day. Bliss.
Distance from Cape Town: 175 km
Beaverlac lies between the Olifants River and the Ratel River. You can fish in the Olifants, but it’s a five-kilometre hike from camp and you can’t drive there.
The mountains surrounding Beaverlac contain various species of wildlife, including baboons, leopards and several kinds of small antelope. Birders
will also be in their element, as Beaverlac has a great variety of species.
Cottages and campsites are available for rental. A tuck shop on the premises sells ice, wood, beer, wine and other essentials. Dogs are welcome, but no day hikers are allowed.
Camping: R55 pppn and R20 pn per vehicle. Cottages: from R150 pn.
Be sure to bring cash, as there are no card facilities. To get an access permit, you’ll need to register online at beaverlac.co.za.
Do it in style
Rent a comfortable four-sleeper motorhome from Maui Motorhome Rentals for around R1 500 per day. Perfect for two couples or a family.
Rentals available in Windhoek, Joburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and East London.
011 230 5200, email@example.com or visit maui.co.za