FALSE BAY CAMP (ISI­MAN­GAL­ISO WET­LAND PARK)

Go! Camp & Drive - - Destination -

What hap­pened here?

The False Bay camp­site is on the banks of Lake St. Lu­cia, 12 km past Hluhluwe. The tar road doesn’t just run to the gate of the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, but 3 km fur­ther to the of­fice. About 100 m be­fore the of­fice the road makes a T-junc­tion, but campers with a four-wheel-drive tow­ing ve­hi­cle and a heavy car­a­van shouldn’t just mer­rily turn left here. It’s a steep down­hill of 40 m and it’s also a rocky dirt road. With the in­cor­rect com­bi­na­tion you won’t get out of here on your own. The sign at the bottom says it all: “GO. OUT. IN. FISRT. GEAR. PLEAS. THANKS.” There’s a row of stands to the left next to the lake, with the of­fice on the right. On the first stand there’s an old Gypsey Car­avette 5 and a few fish­ing rods against a tree. No one is home when we ar­rive, and the ra­dio plays as if the en­tire world wants to lis­ten. The words on the Wel­come sign in front of the of­fice are carved out on a tree stump and coloured in with yel­low paint that’s start­ing to peel. iSi­man­gal­iso has some of the most idyl­lic camp desti­na­tions – places like Sod­wana, St. Lu­cia, and Cape Vi­dal, but False Bay def­i­nitely plays sec­ond fid­dle. The expo cen­tre next to the of­fice is empty and the glass slid­ing door is closed. The of­fice is equally bare, and in the fur­thest cor­ner there are a few por­traits of fish­er­man of by­gone years. The few shelves against the left wall are empty ex­cept for two smaller frames, also con­tain­ing old pho­tos. How­ever, two friendly re­cep­tion­ists quickly com­plete the pa­per­work and you can even pay with a card. You can also choose your stand. The ladies only want to know if you want a stand with or with­out elec­tric­ity, be­cause the fees dif­fer.

This way and that way

Be­sides the row of 12 stands at the of­fice, there are an­other 26 stands on the other side of the of­fice. Th­ese stands are also in a row and right next to the wa­ter. Where you turn left at the T-junc­tion, you swerve to the right for th­ese stands. This side luck­ily doesn’t have a dif­fi­cult hill to deal with. The stands on the of­fice side are on an open piece of land, but on an in­cline that runs in the di­rec­tion of the wa­ter. At each stand is a pole with a num­ber on it. There are only three elec­tri­cal sock­ets (stan­dard do­mes­tic socket) near the first, last and mid­dle stands – and al­most no shade or grass. The two or three built-in braais are wide apart, but the grids are nowhere to be found. The first two stands are the most even, and both have a de­cent shade tree. The bath­rooms are to the right of the of­fice, and here an aloe has grown so big it leans against the build­ing’s gut­ter. Some of the trees have plas­tic name tags that look very new. The tiles in the bath­rooms are still the orig­i­nal white square ones, but it’s time for a re­vamp be­cause some of the tiles have fallen off. Just like the bath­room floor, the shower cu­bi­cle’s floor is also painted but there is only a wet sec­tion, mean­ing you have to get dressed out­side of the shower if you want to stay dry. Be­tween the men’s and women’s sides is a cov­ered sec­tion for wash­ing dishes. The stands on the other side look al­most dou­ble the size as the first ones, and there’s a bit of grass. More or less half have shade and some of them are also on an in­cline. The bath­rooms are al­most right across the mid­dle stands and higher up, also with a small hill in be­tween the trees. It is sim­i­lar to the other bath­rooms and the warm wa­ter is boil­ing hot. We saw only two elec­tric­ity boxes, also at the mid­dle stands, and there are a hand­ful of built-in braais with a grid at some of them.

Sit and walk

Even if you sit deep in the iSi­man­gal­iso Wet­land Park, you can’t ex­plore the rest of the camp from here – the road from the gate ends at False Bay. There are two walk­ways, or you can fish, but don’t swim in the lake – it’s hippo and crocodile ter­ri­tory.

Be­cause you’re camp­ing on the wa­ter you can en­joy the bird life with­out binoc­u­lars. The pied king­fisher watch the shal­low waters with ea­gle eyes, the herons fly al­most with their breasts on the calm wa­ter, and the duik­ers de­scend like a squadron aero­planes from the op­po­site side over your stand as the sun sets.

PRETTY BUT NEEDS AT­TEN­TION. At False Bay you camp right in na­ture on the banks of Lake St. Lu­cia, but un­for­tu­nately some of the fa­cil­i­ties are in need of some at­ten­tion.

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