I’ve always been of the opinion that Easter weekend is the perfect time to go camping. Falling on the cusp of either summer and autumn, or autumn and winter, one would think that weather-wise this long weekend would be like the little bear’s bowl of porridge was to Goldilocks – neither too hot, nor too cold, just perfect.
However, after two consecutive years of braving the elements – huddling in the large stoep area of my parents’ tents as torrential drops and gale force winds play a game of tag outside, my family and I have realised that perhaps it may not always be the case.
Despite the terrible weather, and deciding to leave a day early, our Easter camping trip this year was rather magical. We headed to the Grootvadersbosch Nature reserve just outside Heidelberg in the Western Cape and discovered there, hidden amongst the flat farmlands and fynbos, a forest as lush and mysterious as the Tsitsikamma itself.
The reserve comprises 250ha of this Knysna-type forest and is the most noteworthy in the southwestern Cape. Among indigenous trees like red alder, stinkwood, yellow wood and the dominant iron wood, a few exotic species such as camphor, Australian blackwood, eucalyptus, ash, Californian redwood and oak can also be found. They were planted here between 1896 and 1913 to cover the areas denuded by woodcutters. Now, a century later, Cape Nature is working hard to reclaim these areas for indigenous trees.
What we didn’t know beforehand, was the fact that this area lies in the transitional zone between winter and all-year rainfall regions and that Grootvaderbosch has an average annual rainfall of about 1 050 mm. Drier periods are from May to July and December to January. Ooops…
I must say, however, that there’s something strangely charming about camping in the rain. It’s kind of cosy and when it does let up, energy levels seem to rise at an alarming rate, pushing one to explore the area while you can.
And that’s exactly what we did. Here are a few pics.