FALSE BAY CAMP (ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK)
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.