Brandkaros

The next morning (Sunday 5th) Koos and Lieta decide to stay on an extra day as they had been on the move for a month and needed a bit of catch up time. I was pleased as they are such a nice couple and have some really interesting stories from all their travels over the years.

They wanted to see the river and I wanted to try a spot of fishing so off we trekked. I found what I thought was a nice spot to thrown in a line and they went off to explore further downstream.

Fishing in the Orange River

Fishing in the Orange River

Not even half a bite (foto: Koos Prince)

The day was very pleasant, hot with no wind and by the time I got back to camp later and at last starting to relax into it all when the next shock arrived in the form of a troop of monkeys. It was chaos for about the next hour and a half as they emptied every bin they could find and jumped all over the caravans. Not very nice at all. They did not give me such a hard time but went for Koos and Lieta and nothing we did would scare them off.

I have discovered that Brandkaros is no longer a working citrus farm, has not been for the past couple of years, and is basically just going to rack and ruin. There is still a huge amount of fruit on the trees but they have not been trimmed or harvested in ages. What a shame! From what I have heard it used to be an oasis in a desert landscape.

Brandkaros Farm

Brandkaros Farm

Brandkaros Farm

Brandkaros Farm

The farm is just falling apart. Even the irrigation piping is all broken and useless.

From what I can gather there is a reason why this farm and many other businesses in the area are either finished or on there way out. There has been a massive land redistribution in the area to the Richtersveld people and also a lot of money poured in by the government and it is all going to waste. People who have been in the area since the early 18oo’s have been kicked off their land without much, if any, recompense. I am not going to say much more as I am no expert in the field but by the look of it things can only get worse.

Had a great evening with Koos and Lieta. They are or were both teachers and have some wonderful stories to tell while sitting round drinking coffee and Rooibos. Also found out that Koos was at one stage Lietas school principal before they got married. Stunning couple!

About 10pm, after a glorious day we said our good nights and off I went to lala land. After all the walking and day fishing in the sun I slept like the dead.

The start of my journey (Part 3)

The next morning (Friday 3rd) took a drive into Port Nolloth, filled up with petrol and found a Spar shop to get a few things and draw some money. Went back to camp and hitched up ready for my drive back to Alex. Bay and the ordeal of getting to Brandkaros.

Site at McDougalls Bay

Site at McDougalls Bay

As you can see the camp is just hardened sea sand

McDougalls Bay Caravan Park

McDougalls Bay Caravan Park

Just to illustrate how full (in season?) the park was (not).

The journey back to Alex was uneventful and I then drove the 27 k’s of bone jolting road to reach Brandkaros at about 11.30am and checked in for a week. By the way it is R50.00 per person per night.

Again I was the only one there so could choose to park wherever I wanted. Found a nice shady spot under some trees and started to set up camp. Wow!!!! Opened the caravan door to find the fridge door completely off its hinges and lying on the floor and the contents scattered all over the caravan. The rest wasn’t too bad but the dust was something else. Managed to get the fridge door back on and then spent about an hour trying to get the dust out. What a job!

By the time I had cleaned up and set up camp it was 4pm and I was really hungry so went to the new “deep freeze” to get some goodies out for a big super. This is when I discovered that this was no real deep freeze but a cooler that tried to keep already frozen food frozen but with no success. I have, up to now, thrown away about R400.00 worth of food as a result. I also found out that the fridge in the caravan was not working and I could not find anything wrong to try and fix. I was not a happy camper. It was only at about 6am the next morning that I sat up in bed with a brainwave. I opened a cupboard where the plug for the fridge is situated and found that something had fallen over , in all the shaking of the drive, and switched the plug off. Have now taped that switch down. More of my frozen food ruined!!

Brandkaros camp site

Brandkaros camp site

My nice shaded camp site but it still gets really hot in the afternoons.

At this stage I was already starting to wonder if I was doing the right thing or should I just pack it all in and head back to Cape Town. It just felt that so many things were against me.

In spite of everything I managed to put together a good meal, watched an episode of Lost and then crashed.

The next morning (Sat 4th) I did a few chores and then decided to do some exploring. Got some very hazy directions on how to get to the river and set off.

It took me about an hour to walk and then find a way through the really thick bush and I eventually came out on the banks of the Orange River. From what the 4×4 man had said I was expecting a roaring, massive flow of water with high cliffs on either side, maybe a rapid or two… ha-ha.

Orange River at Brandkaros

Orange River at Brandkaros

Orange River at Brandkaros

Orange River at Brandkaros

The “roaring” Orange River.

Got back to camp to find some new arrivals, a group of about 6 vehicles and a couple with a Safari caravan.

Made friends with the couple, Koos and Lieta Prince, who were camped next to me and so at last had someone to converse with and they spoke far better English than I did Afrikaans. What really nice people.

To be continued..


The start of my journey (Part 2)

The next morning (Thursday 2nd) I took a drive, without the caravan, into Springbok to get petrol (Gulp!! it was worse) and to have a look around. Again it was a trip down memory lane as I used to travel to Springbok as a rep for then Reckkit and Coleman (not sure if the spelling is correct) and stayed there many times. I found the hotel I always stayed at, The Masonic, and it looks exactly the same as it did as it did then.

Back to the park, hitch up and on my way to Port Nolloth via Steinkopf, Alexander Bay and then onto Brandkaros about 30 k’s from Alexander Bay where, after all the stories from my 4×4 man, I planned to spend a few weeks.

The drive was great as there was very little wind and it was pretty flat, apart from one section, so I made good time and knew my petrol consumption was much improved.

Pajero and Sprite on the road

Pajero and Sprite on the road

My set-up on the road between Springbok and Port Nolloth.

The road from Springbok

The road from Springbok

As you can see the road is in good condition, it was a dirt road the last time I was on it, and pretty flat.

Arrived at Port Nolloth about 11.30am had a quick look round and then onto Alexander Bay and Brandkaros. The road to Alex B. was also good and flat so made good time and was there by 2pm and that is where all my troubles started.

My 4×4 man had told me that Brandkaros was fantastic and that the road was tar all the way. Ha-ha on both counts. From 3 k’s outside Alex the tar road became a dirt road and a bad one for towing a little old caravan like mine. I went about 20 k’s down the road and thought ” this is crap”!!  I really thought the caravan was going to fall apart. The guy did not know what he was talking about. I even stopped and asked someone where the camp site was and they had no idea. So around I turned and drove all the way back to Port Nolloth as there was no where else to stay in Alex Bay.

Arrived back in Port Nolloth and found a place called McDougalls Bay  also on the recommendation of 4×4 guy as being wonderful etc. (ha-ha)

The site is huge, about 180 stands, and is situated right on the beach front. So far so good!

Went to check in to be told the price was R123-00. I am used to half that for 1 person at an over 60’s discount, and there was no discount. The reason – it was in season (read school holidays) and that was the price per site for up to 4 people. Reluctantly paid and went to find a site. I could choose from 178 as there were only 2 other caravans there. So much for in season. Had a chat to the lady about Brandkaros and she new exactly where it was – I must have stopped about 8 k’s from the camp site – so I have determined to give it another try tomorrow and just hope my caravan does not fall apart .

The sites themselves are just hardened sea sand and you track the sand everywhere. Also the ablutions left a lot to be desired. Actually I could write a whole post on the ablutions at all the parks I have been to so far. They are all bad but some are really terrible. Anyway what can one do. Sorted out some food and had an early night.

Sunset at McDougalls Bay

Sunset at McDougalls Bay

Pic taken from just in front of my caravan.

To be continued…

The start of my journey. (Part 1)

I left Cape Town last Wednesday (1st July) with the intention of reaching Vanrhynsdorp and staying there overnight. By the time I had hitched up the caravan, checked all the lights and left Noordhoek it was just after 9am so decided to pop in at my daughters house in Claremont and borrow some videos to watch while I am away. Collected the videos, said my goodbyes for the next 2 months and was on my way.

The trip was uneventful, apart from the fact that I was travelling over roads that I had not been on for over 40 years so it was like a trip down memory lane, and I made good time – past Malmesbury, Moorreesburg, Picketberg, Citrusdal and Clanwilliam. I decided to stop for petrol and stretch my legs at a place called Klawer about 320ks from Cape Town. I had been driving smack into a fairly strong head wind most of the way so the petrol consumption was horrendous.

It was still pretty early and  Vanrhynsborp was not to far away so I thought that I might as well push through to Springbok and stay  there overnight. The head wind was even stronger and I could actually see the petrol gauge going down minute by minute as I drove. Also it felt as if I was driving on inclines  most of the time and I knew the petrol consumption was going to be even worse when I next filled up. It was!!

Before I left Cape Town I had had a chat to a guy who runs a 4×4 shop in Noordhoek and got some pointers and advice from him as he was brought up in the area, Port Nolloth and Alexander Bay, as to where to go and where to stay. I also got a mobile deep-freeze from him so I could take quite a lot of frozen food with me.

Lesson 1 -Always try and talk to more than 1 person or check out on the web when you are going to new places. *

Lesson 2 – Always check that what you buy is going to do what it is supposed to do.**

The first bit of advice was to stay at the caravan park situated just before you turn into Springbok. Unfortunately there are 2 turn off’s into Springbok and I should have taken the 2nd. Ended up at the Kokerboom Motel & Caravan Park.

Kokerboom Motel & Caravan Park

Kokerboom Motel & Caravan Park

Pix of the place I ended up at – not very nice and I was the only one staying there.*

I had taken cooked food with me so did not check the deep-freeze at this point in time.**

Kokerboom Motel & Caravan Park

Kokerboom Motel & Caravan Park

Only found the park I should have gone to, The Springbok Caravan Park, the next morning – also not great but a bit better and at least some other people staying there.

To be continued.