One for the campfire: Beaverlac Campsite

This time round sees the Nomadic Existence team atop the Cederberg Mountain range without sunscreen or water and on the run from naked campers. It was in effect a lesson in roughing it out with your significant other.

As we hit the 10km gravel road my first thought was if we were going to make it. Not the car, but Nomadic Bug and I. We had recently returned from a month long break with the family in Italy and felt a holiday from our holiday would be our best option. And so on a blistering hot January weekend we worked our way up the west coast to the amusingly named natural heritage site; Beaverlac.

Located in a valley atop the Oliphant’s River Mountains near Porterville it’s a reversion to an era where beasts of burden plowed the land and men tilled the earth till their backs broke. Or so it seemed as we wheeled past dilapidated remnants of farming equipment and barns. It wasn’t until we made the hair raising descent over the Dasklip pass, complete with donga’s and loose earth into the actual campsite, that we realised our hardships were far from over.

For as it turned out I became the beast of burden as I toiled in the darkness, firstly trying to find a campsite and secondly, trying to erect our tent.  “We heard you coming in last night”, said one of Olivier brothers, co – proprietor of the farm. “You get in OK?” “Yip, piece of cake”, I replied as I remembered back to how Nomadic Bug and I argued over my dismal attempt at starting the fire, which was certain to have roused even the weariest of travelers. Note to self; next time buy the Rooikrans, not the fireplace wood chips.

The CampfireAnd as dawn beckoned with a new day and a fresh start, we hurriedly made our way down to one of the numerous natural pools they have scattered all over the Grootfontuin farm. The water spilling in from the nearby Ratel river was ice cold. But coupled with the heat it was pure heaven as we ducked under mini waterfalls and dried off on the flat hot rocks. Shortly after we decided on an afternoon hike along one of their numerous trails, which we surmised  would be a good deal better than lazing around all day, and so opted for a trail named; the Leopard hike. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

For other than the shy leopards, caraculs and wild cats that apparently wandered the trail from the nearby Cederberg Leoperd conservation area, our biggest fear turned out to be the hike itself. How we had managed to hike 17 Km and not 7 Km we later found out was anyone’s guess, as we pushed on into what seemed like the middle of nowhere. Only to discover that we were not alone when I heard Nomadic Bug whisper, “Naked man up ahead”. I had at first assumed she might be delusional from the heat and so squinted only to see an untanned body duck back into a well camouflaged chalet. It seemed foreign at first until I recalled being told by the campsite, officials to stay away from the secluded residences as “they yield for their privacy”, something I can now rightly say is not dependable. So stepping back behind a nearby boulder with only one conclusion in mind, to avoid at all costs an introduction to the aforementioned streaker, we started to head back the way we came.

Finally and after much arguing we made it to the shade of a huge tree we had passed earlier. We must have sheltered there for at least an hour before our procrastination eventually gave way to our famished bodies. Our return would see us cooking raw potatoes on an open flame like only city dwellers can. Pre – boiling them at home would have been the smart thing to do, but at least we had purchased enough wood this time round to keep our heat stroked bodies warm in the chilly evening. It is looking back at it now probably one of the best dinners I ever cooked.

Shortly after dinner I noticed the campsite was unusually quiet, but giving that it was a Sunday we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves. Except of course for one lonely traveler and her dog who eyed us curiously, probably wishing for the same solitary existence. But we ignored them and repositioned our camp on a choice site under a beautiful weeping willow tree.

The next morning saw us back at the pools, better prepared and a lot wiser for city slicker types. The loner and her furry companion were there as well, tanning by the pool, and subsequently slid further down away from us as we dove in. Presumably they were not impressed with us couple types infringing on their privacy. It was a scenario we were fast becoming accustomed to.

But as the day drew to a close and we made our way over the pass, the car this time around, as silent as a stalking tiger. I knew after all we had been through that we might just make it. Even if it was just till the end of the gravel road.

Beaverlac campsite survival guide:

  • Make sure your car is more than roadworthy, the route is somewhat an off road enthusiasts dream.
  • Don’t despair if you arrive unprepared, the campsite has a small shop to meet your every need.
  • Remember to take lots of water and sunscreen when heading out for a hike, the temperatures can rise to well over 40 degrees celsius.
  • If you find yourself running into someone “kalgat” (naked) then turn around you may have taking a wrong turn. Consult the map you got on the way in at the main gate or just run in the opposite direction.
  • If you’re struggling to make a fire make sure to have some handy firelighters on hand and don’t buy the fireplace wood chips. Rather opt for actual braai wood. (Sold at the campsite shop).
  • If possible go during the off season, its not as hot and you’ll be glad for the lack of crowds.
  • Beaverlac is a natural Heritage site and deserves to be respected as such.
  • Its also known as an agritourism facility, which means you’re camping on an actual farm (Grootfontuin Farm) where they still either farm animals or cultivate crops, so respect it and enjoy the country life
  • The farm borders the Cederberg Leopard conservation area and is a part of the Winterhoek Mountain Catchment area.
  • The natural flora is Mountain Fynbos and the site is fed by the Ratel and Oliphant’s river.
  • Its a bird lovers dream and is perfect for spotting Black eagles, Jackal Buzzards and Sunbirds.
  • Fishing is strictly forbidden due to overfishing  of indigenous species. But if you’re lucky you might spot some rare glimpses of Clanwilliam Redfins and Yellowfish.
  • Fauna you might spot include Game; Rhebok and Klipspringer, and Cat; Caracal, Wild cat and Leopard.

For more of Nomadic Bugs photos go to the Bevearlac, Cederberg Photo Gallery

And for the Official Website Bevearlac Site 

By Slippery Joe Lyzard © (Writer for Nomadic Existence)

Photography: Nomadic Bug © 

Nomadic Existence 2015 ©

 Explore. Conserve. Discover.


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