NEELS’ RALLY TENT

Neels van Heer­den has iden­ti­fied a few overnight spots for car­a­van­ners on their long trek to their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion, or at least places that could make for a good spot.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

Ev­ery year thou­sands of fam­i­lies tow to the coast dur­ing long week­ends and hol­i­days. Re­sorts in KwaZulu-Na­tal are a leisurely day trip away from Gaut­eng with a car­a­van in tow. If you want to ar­rive early at Scot­tburgh, the Dol­phin Re­sort or Mac Ni­col’s, you have to leave the City of Gold just be­fore mid­night. The trip to the Eastern or Western Cape usu­ally re­quires that you spend the night some­where. I of­ten see on so­cial me­dia that cam­pers look for safe overnight spots that “won’t cost them an arm or a leg”. I be­lieve that the min­i­mum re­quire­ments for such overnight spots are safety, de­cent ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties, the lo­ca­tion, and the qual­ity of the stands. Most car­a­vans are quite cramped in­side when you’re on the road – all the last-minute things that couldn’t fit into the tow­ing ve­hi­cle is shoved into the car­a­van. So where will Grandma and the kids sleep then? That’s why peo­ple of­ten stay over in chalets. Dad and the el­dest son will typ­i­cally sleep in the car­a­van to keep an eye on things. The de­mand is there, but what does the avail­abil­ity of safe and cheap overnight spots look like? A Petro­port is an ex­cel­lent spot to stretch your legs, re­fuel, and get some­thing to eat. It’s a good idea to stop ev­ery 250 km and cast your eye over the tow­ing com­bi­na­tion – and to check if the car­a­van’s wheel nuts are still tight and all the lights are work­ing. The ex­ist­ing busi­ness model for petro­ports is a com­bi­na­tion of a spe­cific fuel brand name and a spe­cific fast-food restau­rant as a fran­chise. Ap­par­ently, it’s never been part of the fa­mous fran­chises’ vi­sion to es­tab­lish overnight fa­cil­i­ties. I also haven’t been able to find any re­search con­ducted on the vi­a­bil­ity of overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions at petro­ports. This past De­cem­ber hol­i­day it was no­tice­able how fa­cil­i­ties at an es­tab­lished petro­port in the KwaZulu-Na­tal Mid­lands have de­te­ri­o­rated. My con­cerned let­ter about this is al­ready in the in­box of the brand man­ager of the com­pany in ques­tion. Di­lap­i­dated build­ings and fa­cil­i­ties cre­ate a poor im­pres­sion for any com­pany – so much more when thou­sands of tourists visit your es­tab­lish­ment ev­ery year. A new devel­op­ment be­tween War­den and Vil­liers, 250 km from Pre­to­ria on the right shoul­der of the high­way, is a place of in­ter­est where you can also stretch your legs. Ne­go­ti­a­tions are un­der­way to cre­ate overnight spots for car­a­van­ners and es­pe­cially mo­torhome own­ers. A sim­i­lar devel­op­ment is also needed some­where be­tween Est­court and Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. How­ick’s mu­nic­i­pal camp­site hasn’t been in op­er­a­tion for years, and the Mid­mar Dam is prob­a­bly the only op­tion near Pi­eter­mar­itzburg. At Har­ri­smith there are a num­ber of pri­vately owned camp­sites right next to the high­way and within walk­ing dis­tance from quite a few restau­rants. But what about the other routes? I checked out a road map and iden­ti­fied a few places where overnight spots al­ready ex­ist or places that would make a good spot for it. It only needs five stands. On the way to the Cape there’s a very cute place north of Brit­stown. In and around Bloem­fontein and Beau­fort West there’s a hand­ful of pos­si­bil­i­ties, and be­tween Jamestown and Queen­stown there’s an op­tion on a farm near the main road for those head­ing to East Lon­don. At the bot­tom of Schoe­man­skloof there’s a small­ish fill­ing sta­tion and shop com­plex that’s open 24 hours a day. You can cre­ate a few stands here for those look­ing for a place to stay en route to the Kruger. With re­gards to fran­chises… What about a brand name sim­i­lar to that of the AA but for ac­com­mo­da­tion? My pro­posal is that ap­proved overnight spots will have a sign that says some­thing like “go! Drive and Camp-ap­proved overnight ac­com­mo­da­tion”. I’m will­ing to com­pile the cri­te­ria along with other read­ers. Car­a­van­ners who stay in these places could write an anony­mous, short re­port to en­sure that the stan­dards are main­tained. What do you think about that idea?

My pro­posal is that ap­proved overnight spots will have a sign that says some­thing like go! Drive & Camp-ap­proved.

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