Thursday, March 4, 2010

Camping Supplies

Above, after our first shopping phase, the haul: planning for 13 days and 4,300 km/2,671 miles on the road and in a tent.

My photos from our trip? After deleting about a tenth of them, I have 1,309 left.

So, instead of panicking, I will start the story at the beginning, and take it day by day. Some days had many stories in them, even if the whole story was in one picture, or in words because we were too busy staying on the road to take pictures, or too shy; and I will sometimes depart from the timeline and take a story and tell it on its own.

We planned to camp for the most part, with the exceptions of one booking made at a self-catering cottage on a farm near Nieu Bethesda in the Karoo (R400 or $54 per night), and one at a luxury self-catering (contradiction in terms?) lodge in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. As things turned out, the money for the latter (R1,360 or $183) was rather wasted, though the scenery did not disappoint.

On average we paid between R145 - R200 ($19 - $27) per night at SAN Park camping sites. In return we got a stand for our tent and car (usually a patch of grass with a shade tree) with water and an electrical point, impeccably clean ablution facilities (shared),which included showers, baths, toilet stalls and sinks with copious mirrors, and scullery and sometimes kitchen amenities. Two of the camp stands had views beyond description (Glen Reenen, Storms River).

The gas (which was diesel for the thirsty Toyota Landcruiser) cost a lot. It costs R7.50 per litre in South Africa [in 2010]. That's about $4.10 a gallon in US terms. We paid about $440 for gas, for 4,300 km.

We needed a lot of supplies for two meals a day (breakfast and dinner), plus inbetween snacks.

We had the two strong plastic ammo boxes.

Pantry  ingredients: Pasta, polenta, packaged marinades, canned tuna, self-raising flour. Cornichons, salamis, home made chutney, crackers. Pepper grinder, salt, olive oil. Bags of lemons, pineapples and avocado. Long life custard for Vince. Garlic and onions and shallots and potatoes. Apricot jam. Road basics, with variations possible.

In the fridge and cooler (replenished on route with the ice that every place sold) were frozen lamb and boerewors and cheddar and parmesan cheese and peaches and nectarines. My mother's suck confit (indestructable, hredded into mac and cheese and eaten on our second last night after the worst drive ever, above Rhodes). Also sugarsnap peas, cherry tomatoes and long-lasting iceberg lettuce. Vinaigrette in a glass bottle with stopper. And rosemary and thyme in ziplock bags with the air sucked out. Butter. Wholegrain bread.

In the Kitchen Box was my kitchen, and the dining room: A chopping board, a chef's knife, a paring knife, two wooden spoons, tongs. Plastic wrap, foil and trash bags, a torch (flashlight) and Tabard citronella candles for mosquitoes. Enamelled tin plates, bowls and skottel (lidded dish) for chops and sausage. Napkins and kitchen towels for wrapping around glass. Three candle holders with glass chimneys. and many candles. Two tumblers for wine or beer, knives and forks for eating.

Plus, tucked behind the driver's seat cast iron pot and pan. With  a kitchen towel between to stop rattles. Rattles can drive you mad.

Above: our kitchen at Glen Reenen Rest Camp, Golden Gate National Park, Eastern Free State

We packed the rest of our life into designated bags.

A breakfast bag: long life milk, coffee, espresso pot, sugar in a mason jar, enameled cups, teaspoons, rusks.

I aways looked forward to breakfast. While I was still asleep, or brushing my teeth, Vince would fire up the Cadac gas bottle, balance on it the wire grid we used for braais (barbecues), and make the coffee. Then he'd warm the milk in a little pot. We'd sit in our camp chairs, sip the strong coffee, dip our rusks and look at the cliffs of Golden Gate in the early morning light, or the conversational sparrow weavers at our feet in the Karoo, or the waves of the Tsitsikamma shoreline crashing on the rocks below.

Above: Breakfast coffee, Day 6

The Fire Bag: matches, wood, blitz fire lighter briquettes, axe for splitting wood, braai grid and tongs, charcoal.

The Green Bag: bath towels and toiletries.

The Tent Bag: pillows and sheet. Yes. Sheet. The sleeping bags in tight drum shapes.

Not to mention toilet paper. In case. A spade. Really in case.

The scullery bag with soap and sponge and brush and plastic basin.

The Orange Basket with flower and bird and animal books as well as passports, wallet and binoculars and journal for expenses and gas. And pencil. With eraser.

And wine and beer. And lots of water.

At last we were packed. With tent and chairs and tiny wooden folding table and less tiny wooden folding table. Air mattress, pump for same.

We were ready. Covered in Basotho blankets, to which my mother pinned Jane's gift of a mini Estorbo - the taliscat to guard our comings and goings, the Landcruiser was ready to go.

Regard the number plate. It will come up again.

And now a word for our sponsors:

To HP - we could not have done it without you
To MM - for letting us go
To Jay and Guy - the fridge, the ammo boxes...
To Tipsy - for praying for us on mountain passes


Curious about where we went and what we saw? Check it out. 

Day 1 - Cape Town to the Karoo National Park
Day 1 - Tortoises- a sad story
Day 2 - Karoo National Park - a thief in the night
Day 2 - Traffic Cops in Beaufort West - how the law won
Day 2 - Coffee and a Rusk
Day 3 - Karoo National Park to Nieu Bethesda
Day 4 - Doornberg, the farm of our dreams
Day 4 - Nieu Bethesda

Day 4 - Sneeuberg deli and Two goats brewery
Day 4 - Flowers on Doornberg

Day 5 - The R26 to Golden Gate - the worst road in the country?
Day 6 - Maliba Lodge, Ts'ehlanyane National Park, LesothoDay 6,7 and 8 - Golden Gate and Glen Reenen Rest Camp
Day 6, 7, 8 - Flowers of the Free State
Day 9 - Sani Pass

Day 10 - Driving to Rhodes
Day 11 - Mountain Zebra National Park
Day 12 - Storms River


  1. Well planned, indeed! Make sure you keep a list for next time or the next situation. Isn't it amazing what you can do without and still have an amazing, romantic, complete meal?

  2. hey do you know they sell skottels at sportmans warehouse now? Do you get sportmans warehouses down in NY?
    Anyway, I'm super jealous of your trip, thanks for sharing... oh, one more thing! Where did your Ma get her hands on the Basotho blankets? Couldn't find them when I was last at home...

  3. Love the taliscat!(And, clearly, it worked well.)

  4. 440 for gas and 4300 km, not bad at 10 km a dollar (not counting everything else!).

    My wife loves to camp. Now I have to find a way to make it more than just sleeping on the ground for me.

    Maybe the prep and cooking is the way to go...

  5. Everyone should have a taliscat! You make camping look elegant!

  6. While thanking the sponsors, I'd like to add Andy and Jonathan for ideas and advice, and Indiana Jones for inspiration. Couldn't have done it without you.

  7. oh, I just realized I should have said Sports Authority. Sportmans Warehouse (SA shop) would be hard to come by in New York!


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