Is anyone else feeling like this year must just end now? I am so ready for 2018. Although 2018 has been great (baby news, renovations and other lovely things) it has also been a year of difficulties. My pregnant body is tired of 7-day-work weeks and although that wont change come 1 January, at least it will feel like somewhat of a fresh start.
I’ve been revelling in my rare ‘off’ days lately, and so it was such a treat to be invited by Tented Adventures to come sty at one of their camps for a weekend a month or so back. Barry and I were all too eager to ditch the dry heat of Jozi and head to the Pilansberg Nature Reserve for 2 nights of bush bliss.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect – the website for Tented Adventures promised ‘an authentic African safari experience‘, but it also mentions ‘tent’, and to me anything in a tent is camping. So, it was with excitement and a little trepidation that we headed off early Saturday morning.
Upon arriving at the camp we were greeted by the friendly camp manager, Bennie, who showed us to our ‘room’ and told us to relax for a few hours until our 5 pm game drive. The tent was actually perfect – on a raised platform with plug points, a fan, hotel quality duvets and a sturdy bed, I could have quite comfortably stayed there for a week or more. The private area, to the side of the main camping site, had several tents and then the main tent – where guests would eat dinner together or grab a hot coffee and rusk before the 4 am game drive.
The heat was ferocious as we arrived, and unfortunately Barry had to leave to head back to town as we arrived to find a battery for his car. I took advantage of the alone time and static heat and stillness and dozed on the bed. Something I did the very next day as well. There really is something about the bush that just makes you so relaxed.
There aren’t ablutions on the site so guests do have to walk several hundred metres to the main campsite and ablution facility. I am no princess, but shared ablutions have never been my thing, ever, so I must admit it was the least favourite aspect of my trip. I can also blame my pregnancy, but having to wee all the time meant frequent dusty walks to and from the tent to the loos. I mastered the ‘roughing it’ look and managed to avoid washing my hair the entire duration of our trip.
Dinner was served after the game drives in the main tent. The food was simple but tasty, and we were so exhausted after 4 hours of game spotting that we downed our food and headed straight to bed. The website did mention that drinks were included, but they weren’t. Next time I would be better prepared and bring along snacks, such and booze for us to enjoy at mealtimes and on the drives. Luckily theres a campsite shop so Barry could buy some beer. No-fun knocked up over here nursed her water and Sprite. On the second night there was a power failure so we all headed to the main lodge restaurant for supper. Not at all associated with Tented Adventures, this was one of the worst culinary experiences of my life – but made hilarious and fun due to the crowd we were with and the absolute comedy of the evening. The Manyane camp in Pilansberg really is stuck in the 1970s and the overall place could do with a huge revamp (and some waitron training!). Again, our camp manager Bennie really made a huge effort to make sure we were all fed and looked after and did his best at helping us in a situation he had zero control over.
Breakfasts were also served at the main restaurant and if you are a foodie, I wouldn’t suggest touching Pilansberg with a 10 foot barge pole. However, if like me, you are an animal and wildlife lover, then you can overlook the catering and come just for the game drives. An absolute highlight of our trip, we were fortunate enough to see of of the Big 5. Our rangers were enthusiastic and super knowledgable and I would go back and back and back just to relive the sightings and animals we saw. Game drives take place twice a day and after every drive you are met by the staff who make sure you are escorted to your tent or off the vehicle safely.
Tented Adventures is really reasonably priced and perfect for the bush lover who isn’t quite ready to take the camping plunge just yet, but is keen to dip their toe into some tented water. No kids allowed, which means apart from game drives there really is nothing to do except relax, read and refresh.
For more info, head on over to their website to find out more.
Thank you Tented Adventures – you prepped me so well that I actually went proper camping 2 weeks later!