Planes on your pa­tio

AERODEN LODGE

Go! Camp & Drive - - 62 -

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.

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