Archive | July 2011

Canon Road Campsite: a gem in southern Namibia

Place: Canon Road Campsite, Gondwana Canon Park, Namibia
Closest Town: Grunau (?km), 20 km from the Fish River Canyon
Facilities: Excellent ablutions including great showers with hot water- one for every two campsites. Restaurant, Self-catering accommodation also available
Water: It’s the desert, but they do boast a pool with a splendid view
Surroundings: Namibian desert-like conditions in the canyon lands
Turf: Sandy spots generally under large, much-needed trees
Distance from CT: roughly 886 km
Privacy: Sites have been laid out in twos, but because the campsite is very spaced out in general, lack of privacy is not really a problem
Highlight: A really rustic campsite that captures the essence of southern Namibia, the Fish river canyon (25km away), the selection of rusting, vintage cars on the property
Cost: N$ 120 per person (rates until October 2011)
Contact: Website

I’ll start off by apologising for the map. I’m pretty certain that it includes the area where Canon Road Campsite is situated, although I cannot be sure (which drives me nuts). And it’s a good 3 years since I visited this spot, so take the map lightly and forget about GPS coordinates- if you stay here, you’ll be emailed directions anyway. I know it’s not in South Africa, but it would be a pity to not to give this spot a mention.
So what’s this spot about? Pure, wholesome Namibian desert goodness, that’s what. We visited here as part of a trip to Augrabies Falls and Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Northern Cape of South Africa and had booked a site by pure chance after some very frustrating searching. I’m damn glad we did.
Some may argue that there’s not much to do, but my guess is that one generally visits this area to see the Fish River Canyon as one part of a more substantial trip. If you’re in the hood, stay here. It was super chilled, very quaint and kind of everything I’d hope a desert campsite to be.
The sites were brilliant and very cleverly ‘organised’ in twos, so you would never be too close to more than one other camping group. An additional bonus is that you only have to share your closest ablution block with those immediate neighbours and the facilities are probably the best and most modern I have seen to date. Most sites seem to have a massive tree in the centre with ample space for a number of tents to be pitched underneath, so shade in feisty desert conditions need not be your main concern. There’s also a pool, a restaurant and some vintage cars to keep you occupied if you’re not out sightseeing.
In my opinion, it’s one of the better campsites I’ve been to and I’d certainly advise a stopover even if you’re just passing through.
Our Campsite
The pool

The aggressive Cobra we saw

Canon Roadhouse

De Pakhuys, Clanwilliam, Western Cape, South Africa

Place: De Pakhuys, Pakhuis Pass, Western Cape
Closest Town: Clanwilliam (28km)
Facilities: Standard ablutions facilities, which likely have hot water…hard to say because we had no water whatsoever
Water: Dam nearby, rivers on the farm and walking distance to river and waterfall
Surroundings: Splendid, rugged Cederberg
Turf: Informal, mostly gravely ground, fair amount of shade
Distance from CT: 256km
Privacy: You could certainly escape immediate neighbours on non-busy weekends.
Highlight: I’d imagine the river and waterfall that we unfortunately didn’t have time to see, bouldering/ rock climbing for those that way inclined
Cost: I seem to remember something along the lines of R70 per person (roughly)
Contact: Website, Email, +27 (0)27 482 1879
GPS Coordinates: -32.119946,19.059219
De Pakhuys Campsite
De Pakhuys

A fully accurate account of camping at De Pakhuys is slightly impossible because we only stayed for a night and left early the next morning to look at a farm. However, here is a slightly biased account of our night:
I’ll start with the few ‘obstacles’.
1)      We phoned to book a site for a random Friday night and were told to simply pitch up. I like this policy, but, it comes with its downfalls, apparently. We arrived at about 9pm on Friday and, as expected, the office was closed and farmhouse pretty silent. We presumed we could just proceed to the campsite, but missed the small sign for it and subsequently spent about half an hour chugging around the wrong side of the farm trying to locate it. This failed, so we backtracked to the farm house to find a sign or a person. Or even a door to the farmhouse. No luck. When we retreated out the gate, we found the inconspicuous sign and made our way in the opposite direction to the campsite. Worse luck. It was access controlled – guarded by a brand new electric gate that required a token or card.  We headed back to the farmhouse and decided to finally pester the people in a cottage adjoining the main house. They informed us that the owners went to bed ages ago, but kindly (and drunkenly) offered us their token. We didn’t hesitate to take it and arrived back at the campsite. Finally. In one minute flat, our tent was up, our bed made, the chairs out, the fire was blazing and, importantly, our glasses were full.

2)      Some farm workers seemed to be having a raging Friday night jol. “I like to move it move it” echoed off the Cederberg mountains and reached us almost as flawlessly as it left the speakers. We found it quite funny. Even two hours later at midnight.
3)      It’s bed time i.e. time to mission to the ablutions, brush teeth, pee and get a stash of water for next to the bed. There’s no water. Whatsoever. Okay, there is. One drop, which Mike tried to get before it evaporated. I panic. Not because of the toilet. I’ll wee anywhere. I need water. So, in the middle of the night, we make our way to the dam. We can’t reach the water. Mike laughs. I swear and then laugh.
That’s the unfortunate side of De Pakhuys.
I have no doubt, however, that it is a brilliant place to spend some time. The website reveals all the kinds of things in the vicinity that I love about the Cederberg and has the added benefit, for those that care, of some pretty well known bouldering/ rock climbing spots.
The actual campsite seemed pretty accommodating too- offering plenty sites away from immediate neighbours, lots of shade options, the ablutions were great (albeit our experience of no water), and for those travelling from afar, wifi is available…a pretty unique find in the mountains of the Western Cape.
I’ll go back because I’m curious. But, I’ll arrive early. And I’ll take water.

Very early morning
Vague early morning view

Extra Info:
Rocklands Boulders (for climbing enthusiasts)