MON­TAGU

In his hit song about this town in the Klein Ka­roo, David Kramer sings about how the sun sets fire to the Lange­berg. When you come camp in these parts you’ll see ex­actly what he means.

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Text Schalk Jonker Pho­tos Nel­lie Brand-Jonker

You know you’re close to Mon­tagu when you get to the fa­mous rock tun­nel. But how many of us have ever stopped here to find out a bit more about the his­tory of this land­mark? The fa­mous road builder Thomas Charles John Bain was re­spon­si­ble for the con­struc­tion of this tun­nel. Even if you don’t know who Bain was, there’s about a 100% prob­a­bil­ity that you’ve driven on a road built by ei­ther him or his fa­ther An­drew Ged­des Bain. Thomas Bain was a road builder in the 1800s and he com­pleted the tun­nel in 1877 to make life eas­ier for those trav­el­ling through the Cog­man­skloof. The tun­nel was made big­ger in the 1950s to ac­com­mo­date pass­ing trucks, and this means that you shouldn’t have any is­sues tow­ing your car­a­van to Mon­tagu. This town’s is the per­son­i­fi­ca­tion of Klein Ka­roo hos­pi­tal­ity, with its quaint shops, ex­cel­lent res­tau­rants and friendly lo­cals who wel­come you with open arms. We wanted to get away from the busy city life and de­cided to head to two camp­sites in the area. And by the way, Kramer was right: it does look like the set­ting sun has set fire to the Lange­berg… >

MON­TAGU CAR­A­VAN PARK Bring the whole fam­ily

The Mon­tagu Car­a­van Park is one of the most pop­u­lar camp­ing des­ti­na­tions in the Western Cape, and it’s easy to see why. It’s just a two-hour drive from Cape Town and it’s the ideal place for a week­end get­away with the whole fam­ily. Once the kids are oc­cu­pied with all the dif­fer­ent things to do, you quickly re­alise you should ac­tu­ally come camp here for longer than a week­end. Happy kids mean a good time, and here you’ll feel like kick­ing back and stay­ing for a while. Be warned, though: You have to book way in ad­vance re­gard­less of what time of the year you’re plan­ning on vis­it­ing. It’s al­ways busy here, es­pe­cially be­cause it’s also a favourite gath­er­ing place for car­a­van clubs. The re­sort is neat, the ablu­tion blocks are mod­ern, clean and neat, the staff friendly, the stands green, the shade am­ple, and the only way to the de­scribe the at­mos­phere is re­laxed. You can’t really ask for much more, which is why you can’t just rock up and ex­pect to find a spot. We stopped out­side the gate one late Fri­day af­ter­noon on an or­di­nary week­end in Novem­ber and re­quested a stand with­out a book­ing. There was one left. It was also not a sales gim­mick that places

some­times use to sell some­thing to you. When we walked through the re­sort later, it was packed to the brim. Find your spot There are 82 stands on three ter­races, all on green grass and most of them un­der shade trees. The first row of stands lies on the bot­tom ter­race in a row op­po­site each other as you turn right af­ter you drive through the re­sort gate. There’s a row of apri­cot trees that pro­vide shade, but the stands on the right re­ceive a bit more sun than those on the left, next to the dam. The price you pay for the shade is that the grass isn’t as lush as in the rest of the re­sort so it’s best to bring your own ground cover. The stands are large enough for even the big­gest car­a­vans and there’s a brick braai (with­out grid) and a power out­let with a stan­dard do­mes­tic socket. The taps are spread out in the camp­site, but you never have to walk more than 20 steps to get wa­ter for your cof­fee. Bring along your fish­ing gear and see if you can hook a carp, Mozam­bique tilapia or catfish. Just make sure you re­lease them again. There are also pedal boats if you want to take a trip on the wa­ter. The other stands are on the left-hand side of the re­sort as you drive in, in front and past the cold-wa­ter pool on the top two ter­races. There are loads of shade trees, grass and shel­ter from the wind, and this is the spot to be if you want to keep an eye on the kids while they en­joy the su­per­tube. Some­thing else to keep an eye on are the geese and ducks that non­cha­lantly stroll through the camp­site. >

We are very sat­is­fied with the re­sort and fa­cil­i­ties. There’s a lot for the kids to do and you camp on grass un­der shade trees. The hot-wa­ter pool is a hit. We will def­i­nitely be back.

They will with­out a doubt pop in at your stand at some stage. By the way, you are al­lowed to bring along your pets but chat to the re­sort per­son­nel be­fore­hand about the dos and don’ts of Spot’s com­ings and go­ings. On this side of the camp­site is a jun­gle gym, tram­po­line, and a pen with a few tame ponies. The lit­tle ones will love to see these an­i­mals up close. Be­sides this pool there are two oth­ers. The big heated pool is in­doors and is in front of the first row of stands. The pool is di­vided into two sec­tions, with pil­lars in the wa­ter that sep­a­rate the shal­low end from the deep end. There are loungers in which you can re­lax with a good book be­fore tak­ing a dip in the pool. It does get very hot and stuffy un­der­neath the canopy next to the hot wa­ter in the sum­mer months, though. There is also a smaller in­door pool on the up­per ter­race. This is where you go if you want to have a more re­lax­ing swim be­cause chil­dren are not al­lowed here. Next to the out­door pool is the café where you can buy ice cream, cooldrinks, or take­away meals. There’s also a recre­ation room with a big-screen TV and benches where you can make your­self com­fort­able if you want to find out the cricket score. There’s a pool ta­ble if you want to chal­lenge your brother-in-law to a friendly wa­ger. If you run out of wood or ice, you can go to the re­cep­tion of­fice to rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion. It costs R20 for wood and R15 for ice.

The re­sort is neat, the ablu­tion blocks are mod­ern, clean and neat, the staff friendly, the stands green, the shade am­ple...

Wa­ter af­fairs There are six ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties in to­tal in the camp­site and two of them have sep­a­rate fa­cil­i­ties for men and women. The rest are uni­sex. The build­ings are clean and neat an the re­sort staff come around of­ten to keep it that way. Each shower has its own gas geyser, which means there’s never any dan­ger of show­er­ing in cold wa­ter if you feel like ly­ing in a bit to avoid the morn­ing rush. The show­ers are in their own room with a wet and dry area sep­a­rated by a shower cur­tain. It’s spa­cious enough, though, with hooks and pack­ing space, so your things won’t get wet. Each ablu­tion block also has a place where you can wash your dishes and there’s even a con­tainer for your left­over food that is do­nated to the lo­cal SPCA.

Dor­inglaagte is a fam­ily re­sort 6 km out­side of Mon­tagu where you make your­self comfy on one of the 70 large stands next to a dam on a farm on the moun­tain slopes of the Klein Ka­roo. The camp­site is di­vided into two, with 20 stands on your left as you drive in that are laid out in two rows next to the dam. The rest of the stands are far­ther back and far­ther away from the wa­ter. On the front stands you camp un­der­neath big shade trees on green grass. At the newer stands at the back the trees are still small and you’ll have to bring your gazebo or fly­sheet. The one thing we found here that we’ve never seen at any other camp­site is that you can have a Jacuzzi de­liv­ered to your stand. It’s a loose-stand­ing bath that works with a gas geyser, and at R250 per day (for min­i­mum two days) you can en­joy some hot-wa­ter ther­apy right next to your car­a­van. You’re not al­lowed to bring your own in­flat­able pool, though. Un­for­tu­nately it’s un­likely that the Jacuzzi will keep the kids happy for long, but luck­ily there are pedal boats, row boats and ca­noes for the kids to use on the wa­ter. Best of all is that the use of these is free, but life jack­ets are not sup­plied. If your lit­tle one is still a bit scared of wa­ter it’s best to keep them away or keep an eye on them. You can bring your fish­ing rod if you want to cast your line in the wa­ter. See if you can hook a perch, bream or sun­fish. And if you want to catch from a boat, your boat will need a bat­tery en­gine. Mo­tor­boats are not al­lowed so rather leave your jet skis at home. But the wa­ter sports don’t end here. In the right-hand corner of the camp­site, right next to the dam, the peo­ple of Dor­inglaagte built a shal­low dam for the kids to play in. Here you’ll also find ca­noes and pedal boats and the wa­ter

The one thing we found here that we’ve never seen at any other camp­site is that you can have a Jacuzzi de­liv­ered to your stand.

is never deeper than knee length. They can swim here as well and slides on the op­po­site side are sure to keep them en­ter­tained for hours. While the kids play you can kick back and re­lax on one of the loungers at the “Ka­roo beach”. It’s a man-made beach with white sand and even a palm tree that pro­vides shade. If that’s too strange for you, you can sit on the lawn next to the “beach”. If the hot sun is mak­ing you parched, head to the Ka­roo Beach Bar for some cold re­fresh­ment. A G&T on a Ka­roo beach is prob­a­bly one of the tastier drinks you’ll ever have. The bar opens at 10 am and there’s even a pool in­side the build­ing. >

You can also come watch the rugby here on the big-screen TV. In the heart of the camp­site is an­other bar with a thatch roof that dou­bles as the re­sort shop, restau­rant and re­cep­tion. There’s also a TV that broad­casts sport. A few feet from this build­ing is a fenced-in play park with a jun­gle gym and a tram­po­line. There are also a few tor­toises. The re­sort’s small pool is also lo­cated here. At the camp­site’s en­trance is a 9-hole golf course. You can leave your driver at home, but re­mem­ber your short irons be­cause it’s a par 3 course. The ninth hole is some­thing to be­hold. It’s an el­e­vated tee with the green 50 m be­low. There are var­i­ous moun­tain and veld trails where you can hike or ride your moun­tain bike. There is also a 4x4 trail if you want to check out if that sus­pen­sion up­grade was worth the money. Pets are not al­lowed dur­ing week­ends and school hol­i­days, but if you come camp here dur­ing the week you can chat to the re­sort man­age­ment and ask if your dog can tag along. But we’re talk­ing about some­thing like a Yorkie, not a Rot­tweiler.

Stand to­gether

The stands are big and even and each one has a tap. You share your power socket (stan­dard do­mes­tic) with your

It’s our first time here and the kids have al­ready said they want to come here ev­ery hol­i­day. It’s the a neat place, the kids stay busy, and staff are friendly and or­gan­ised. You can’t ask for more.

near­est three neigh­bours and you should bring your 20 m ex­ten­sion cord. You get a loose-stand­ing drum braai that’s knee height off the ground. Just bring your own grid. The re­sort staff come early ev­ery morn­ing to clean all the braais. The ablu­tion blocks, with sep­a­rate fa­cil­i­ties for men and women, are in the mid­dle of the camp­site. It’s a good 100 m’s walk from the far­thest stands. So charge your flash­light’s bat­ter­ies be­fore turn­ing in for the night. There are no com­plaints about the bath­rooms ex­cept that they are not wheel­chair-friendly. They are big, neat and mod­ern and there are even hair dry­ers for the ladies. The scullery is to the side, a short dis­tance from the ablu­tion blocks and there’s also a place where you can clean your porta-potti. The nice thing about Dor­inglaagte is that the re­sort is only open to peo­ple stay­ing overnight – day vis­i­tors are not al­lowed which means that the camp­site won’t feel cramped.

I LIKE IT, IT’S NICE. Every­thing is as it should be at Mon­tagu Car­a­van Park. The stands are level, cov­ered with lawn and the trees cast am­ple shade. Kids will love the pedal boats on the dam, the large jun­gle gym and the ponies in the pen. The Ros­souws, Groe­newalds and Ver­meu­lens from Cape Town brought their kids and camped at Mon­tagu Car­a­van Park for the first time.

SLIM SHADY. Dor­inglaagte’s bet­ter stands are near the dam. The trees that grow here are well es­tab­lished and cast am­ple shade. The trees at the newer stands are still young and don’t pro­vide much re­lief against the sun. If you camp on the lat­ter you should bring along a gazebo.

BOT­TOMS UP. In the Ka­roo Beach Bar you can re­lax in front of a fire­place dur­ing cold win­ter hol­i­days. And in sum­mer you can stretch out next to the pool. Chil­dren are not al­lowed to swim in this par­tic­u­lar pool.

The Newells from Som­er­set Echo West camp with their that 6 off-road trailer they tow with a Toy­ota For­tuner.

KEEP­ING IT CLEAN. The ablu­tion block is at the cen­tre of the re­sort and have sep­a­rate fa­cil­i­ties for men and women. It’s mod­ern and clean, but not wheel­chair-friendly. It’s a good 100 m walk from the far­thest stands.

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