The Road Trip Begins
One more sleep and then our road trip can begin. Until now, we were putting all our road trip items in a neat pile in the garage, waiting to be loaded into the bakkie. How did this pile get so big? There seemed to be a lot more things in that pile than what we had written down. Luckily for us we have a bakkie to load everything into, however, it has not been kitted out for camping trips just yet and it is still just a plain bakkie.
We decided to load everything in the day before the trip so that we did not have to be rushed for time when we were going to head off to the meeting point.
By the time I had loaded it up, we realised that we literally could not bring anything else even if we wanted to. But, the car was packed and we were ready to begin in the morning.
Adventure Team Unites
In the morning we met up with the rest of the Adventure Team. We were a group of 5 bakkies (all of them 4×4 except for us in our “little” Ford Ranger). They had already ticked off their first mountain pass (Ou Kaapse Weg) to get to the meeting point in Paarl which is where Linda and I live, so our first pass was going to be Du Toitskloof pass heading over from Paarl to Worcester.
45 minutes later, with our first pass in the bag we had a quick break at the Ou Meul Du Toitskloof, near Rawsonville. Linda was able to get some coffees for us (and a delicious butter croissant for me), and Olivia was able to have a drink to keep her satisfied for the next stretch… which turned out to be 1 hour later when we stopped in Touws Rivier to fill up before heading onto dirt roads for the next foreseeable future.
The Dirt Begins
Halfway between Matjiesfontein and Touwsrivier we turned off of the N1 at a signboard pointing to Witteberge (when looking for more information about the Witteberge, the only reference I could find was for the Witteberg Mountain in Lesotho. Google maps references this mountain in the Karoo as “Witberg” but no results for Witberg come up on Wikipedia. I did find out that “Witteberg” is used for any mountain range that gets snow-capped in winter).
No one wanted to get a flat tyre on this trip, so we took extra careful precautions every time we went onto gravel roads. This meant that we would deflate our tyres at the start of a dirt road, and then inflate them again when we got back onto tar. I was quite skeptical of this process in the beginning, as I have driven dirt roads before without deflating and inflating my tyres and I never had any issues before. I also didn’t want to be the only one that didn’t change tyre pressures and then risk being the first one to get a puncture, so by peer-pressure I joined the group by deflating and inflating. And not one of us got a flat tyre for the entire 1500 km trip…
Gamkapoort Dam, anyone?
Our route took us to the southern part of Laingsburg where we turned south, then headed past Porcupine Ridge Rest Camp (Middelplaas) towards Seweweekspoort, but instead of going over the pass, we wanted to go and check out the Gamkapoort Dam. We reached a closed gate half way up the road, and there was no answer when we rang the intercom system (it was after 5pm at this point). It turns out that the gate was unlocked and we just needed to slide it open… we only found this out when we returned to the Porcupine Rest Camp and the owner informed us about it. Although… I think it was a blessing in disguise, as Olivia was getting very irritable after spending the last 6 hours in a car seat and it was nearing her bed time. Had we ended up driving the extra section to the dam, it would certainly have meant we were getting to our camp site far too late.
Porcupine Rest Camp
We arrived back at Porcupine Rest Camp with not much daylight to spare. This meant we needed to unpack our bakkie, set up the tent with mattress and cot and changing station, prep Olivia’s food, give her a bath, give her a bottle then try to get her to sleep. After that was done, then we could focus on feeding ourselves.
The site that we were on was newly constructed. Unfortunately there wasn’t any grass (we are basically in the middle of a desert), and the stands were surrounded by Kameeldoring (thorn) trees. This meant you had to be that little bit extra careful when pitching your tent to avoid any mishaps. Also, good luck when walking around barefoot…
The ablutions and kitchen area were neat and clean. There was also a large communal braai area for the site so we got to meet our neighbours.
I tried slow cooking some lamb ribs that I have had in the freezer for the last few months, but unfortunately my whiskey and coke kicked in too quickly and I ended up creating lamb dust. I thought we had eaten it all between the whole group, but the next morning I found a big pile of crumbled up lamb ribs on a plate under my chair…
I must add that the hosts/owners at the Porcupine are very friendly and seem like proper characters to have a lekker jol with. The bar area is relaxed and looked super chilled. It is unfortunate that we did not stay longer at the site, as I would have liked to have had some cold beers there and maybe play some pool too.
And so ends day 1 of our camping road trip. Time to stumble back to my tent smelling like whiskey, lamb and braai: irresistible!