Planes on your patio
There’s a wealth of campsites in this part of the country, but we haven’t yet visited the Aeroden Lodge. The lodge and campsite lie on the western tip of the Hartebeespoort Dam, and you camp at the foot of the Magaliesberg, about 10 km from Hartebeespoort on the Old Rustenburg Road. Aeroden used to be the headquarters of a local microlight club, hence the name. The lodge and campsite were developed later, but the name stuck. The airfield and hangars remain and a few local pilots still come to start their microlights and light aircrafts. So don’t panic when you hear engines humming and buzzing early on a Saturday morning. Take your camera and go and relax beneath the thatch-roof canopies next to the pool right at the top of the airfield and watch the planes taking off – it’s strangely soothing.
Spacious and private
These days there is an abundance of campsites with private stands, but Aeroden almost sets a new standard when it comes to privacy. The caravan park’s six stands are laid out in a neat row and lie next to the first path on the right after you drive through the gate on the main road. Your stand is a good 16 x 12 m big, which means you can park even the largest caravan without problems and move it around to find the perfect spot. There’s a shoulder-high wooden fence between you and your neighbour and you know very little to nothing about each other’s business. >
All the stands have a lush green patch of grass and are surrounded by tall jacaranda trees, but you can plan your camp so that you stand in the dirt section. Your braai is in front of the stand and it looks like something you’d build at your own home if you had money to spare. The brick braai is hip-height, your grid is spotless and adjustable for when you need to slowly braai a spatchcock. And next to it is a work surface for all the important things like snacks and drinks. The braai is on a neat paved slab and underneath the braai is space for the hardekool you brought along. There’s a light above the braai, so you there’s no need to pack a headlamp.
Just for you
Between every second stand is a small brick building with a thatched roof. This is your private ablution facility with a toilet (bring your own toilet tissue), basin with a small mirror, a hook for your towel, and curtained shower. The shower cubicle isn’t the biggest we’ve seen, but the water is hot and the pressure good. The shower curtain does tend to stick to you, and it’s difficult to close the bathroom’s big wooden door from the inside. You lock it with a latch and it’s quite a mission to get the door in exactly the right position to slide the latch in the hole. But that’s really the only complaint... and that’s if we absolutely have to complain. Outside the bathroom, to the right of the door, are two standard domestic sockets and a blue caravan socket – remember to bring your 20 m extension cord. The switches to the bathroom light and the outside light above your kitchen section are also to be found here. The kitchen is to the left of the door on the outside of the building. There’s one sink (bring your own plug), shelves for the dish cloths, a big work surface on which to prepare braaibroodjies, and a shelf underneath the work surface for your crockery. The sink’s taps are also your stand’s water supply. A little bit further, in the corner of the stand next to the braai, is your big plastic garbage bin.
I’m watching you...
Aeroden’s caravan park is next to the playground and swimming pool, which means you can keep an eye on your kids
from your stand. There’s a large blue cold-water swimming pool with a high slide, jungle gym with swings, a Wendy house (or gang lair if your son wants to hang out there) and sand box. The trampoline is around the corner, next to the covered heated pool (which was not working during our visit). The resort’s restaurant is next to the recreational area and in the same building as the reception office. You can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner here, but remember the restaurant is only open at certain times of the day: 8–10 am, 12–2 pm, and 5–8 pm. So you can’t just walk in and order a cheeseburger and chips. With our visit they also didn’t have a liquor licence – so find out in advance if you need to bring your own bottle of wine. If you don’t want to eat at the restaurant but also don’t feel like cooking at your own stand, you can make a fire in the boma outside the restaurant and braai your chops in the communal braai in the company of fellow campers. Pack your hiking shoes and tackle the 2,2 km long hiking trail up the mountain. Take photos of the proteas and look for volcanic rock. The trail takes you up to the summit on this side of the mountain but our neighbour walked it and claims you don’t have to be super-fit to make it all the way up. There isn’t a shop and the closest supermarket is 10 km away. There is a butchery, liquor store and filling station 2 km from the gate in the direction of Hartebeespoort.