On the short (and possibly illegal) drive from Elands to Lamberts Bay, we encountered several cars heavy-laden with surfboards and saw a few stoked-looking bodyboarders changing into and out of wetsuits at Doringbaai.
This spelled only good things for Lamberts, which made Guillaume step a little more firmly on the accelerator.
True as bob, popular surf spot Yo Yos was pumping: 3 – 4ft lines marched into the bay, with a stiff, yet gentle offshore wind combing the perfect a-frame peaks. Surfers whooped as they carved up the playful walls, the sun slowly setting behind them, leaving streaks of incandescent pink, orange, purple and blue in its wake. (This beautiful description courtesy of Guillaume).
We witnessed all of this from the neighbouring municipal camspite, where we were pitching our tent for the next two or three (we hadn’t quite decided yet) nights. Guillaume had gallantly sacrificed his surf to help set up the camp in the last bit of light.
Picking a stand
After driving around a bit to check out the vibe, we decided on a stand in the lower, more secluded tier right by the beach.
The main, elevated section of the campsite seemed to be occupied largely by semi-permanent campers – probably contract workers and commercial fishermen who preferred to save a bit of their hard-earned cash by not booking into expensive accommodation – and we weren’t too keen on company.
Apart from this, with tall, scrubby bushes surrounding it, the lower tier also seemed to enjoy a slight bit more protection from the biting winds than the exposed stands at the top.
The only downside about our spot was the fact that the ablution blocks were about 10 000km away. They also happened to be a bit shabby – peeling paint, taps that don’t work, broken toilets – so I wasn’t really that keen on visiting them too often in the first place.
Surfing, chilling and spontaneous beach cleanups
Our first night of camping was freezing cold, so we huddled by the fire until the embers had all burned out, then jumped into several layers of sleeping bags and blankets. Fortunately it warmed up significantly the next day, allowing us to kick back and relax in more comfort.
We took it really easy during our time in Lamberts, just hanging out at the campsite, making delicious meals (breakfast, braais and even spaghetti bolognese), enjoying a variety of beverages – from steaming cups of plunger coffee to enamel tumblers filled with Weskus pinotage and late night whiskies – reading and chatting away in our camping chairs.
On day two Guillaume also managed to go for a surf and caught a fun wave or two, even though the conditions weren’t nearly as dreamy as when we arrived.
One thing that really bummed me out was the fact that the beach was strewn with litter. Wanting to do our bit for the environment, we grabbed some plastic bags and conducted a spontaneous beach cleanup at sunset on our last evening there. We ended up filling both bags to the brim with bottles and papers and fragments of polystyrene cups, but the beach was still far from clean.
Packing up camp
After two days of laid-back winter beach vibes and breathtaking sunsets in Lamberts, we decided it was time to move on and started packing up camp. Of course we battled to get the tent rolled up just right to fit into its box, but had a good laugh about it… just as we did about our disastrous first three attempts at inflating the blow-up mattress on arrival. If nothing else, camping sure does know how to keep your ego in check.
Little did we know that more of the same (and worse) awaited us in the Cederberg. Read all about it in the fourth and final installment of the Winter wandering along the West Coast series in two weeks’ time.