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By Hein Kaiser


Camping on a riverbank

Drie Berge offers so many fun activities

Camping is not about a cheap holiday, because nothing about it is inexpensive. But it is about being somewhat in nature, about space, fresh air and the outdoors.

 At Drie Berge, a few clicks outside Brits in North West, you’re in for all the above, except wide open spaces. Because here, campers are sardined into an intimate setting with strangers.

Loud strangers, quiet strangers, stinky fish braai strangers – and your neighbour’s tent pegs and ropes are a death trap en route to pee in the dark.

Picture: Hein Kaiser

Drie Berge is beautiful

Set on the banks of the Crocodile River with loads of shady trees and three rather large hilly peaks reaching for blue skies.

It’s welcoming, the air has a semblance of freshness to it and the staff are very friendly at checkin. They even hand you a permit with a stand number that nobody ever checks.

But that’s probably because you cannot really spill over into anyone else’s stand or steal a better view because there’s just no space to do so.

When the river flows, it has a barrage wall nearby, the white noise of the mini rapids deliver a slumber like only lapping waves at the coast could.

The foul language of your neighbours provides for some off-colour guessing games of where they come from, whether or how blue their collars are.

Certainly, some better halves of couples seemed on a tight leash given the overheard chatter.

It’s no fun braaiing when your neighbour’s potjie congregation is a yard or two away. Days are fun though.

The heated pools, the ice-cold pool, the picnic area with braai facilities and leisure activities from darts through to table tennis, a beautiful kayaking dam for the kids. It’s absolute bliss.

There is a hiking trail, a 4×4 trail and even a shop where the mark-ups don’t dampen your determination to have a good time. Apart from the cramped camping, Drie Berge is a fun place and you are never bored.

But don’t try and have a shower or ablute in any other manner, because here there’s no such thing as first time lucky.

And while they’re spotless, showers and toilets are somewhat short in supply considering the number of campers who need to use them.

Nobody wants to wait to number two, and if you have small kids, the issue becomes more pressing. But at Drie Berge, picking a time to relieve the pressure is a science that takes at least a day or two of acclimatisation to master.

And when you finally get a cubicle, the pressure is on to get done for the next guy who might be pacing outside. There’s no scrolling social media on the throne here, but partly too because the cell signal is intermittent.

Picture: Hein Kaiser

Don’t let your kids play waterside

Yet, Drie Berge is fun. And the spiders know where their bread is buttered, too. Because near a river, bugs are aplenty.

Pack your Peaceful Sleep, and a spare shoe to whack to eight-legged monsters that descend on your campsite.

Not even day one passed without a web on the trailer and in the tent. These arachnids know a good thing when they see it, because campers attract six legged scavengers; so why struggle when your meal will come to you, guaranteed.

If I was a spider, I’d risk it too. Stick insects are worse than sloths. For the first time in my life, I saw one. It looked like a stick. It sat on the same branch, in the same tree, for four days. Every now and then a leg moved.

But to this day I couldn’t tell which was its front or back end. Unless, of course, it was really a stick and the movement observed as simply the breeze. I’ll never know. Signs warns that campers should be mindful of crocodiles on the riverbank.

So, don’t let your kids play waterside. Fishing for bass and carp is popular, but when the river flows as fast as it did after December’s rainfall bounty, nothing bites. Except the crocodiles, who are never absent and scary enough to make your kids behave.

“If you don’t eat your food, I will send you to play on the riverbank.” Not that I would ever say that. But you can.

As camping resorts go, and if this was Idols, Drie Berge would make it through to the next round, but only because the picnic and leisure area is so awesome.

They could do with additional ablutions and some space between campsites. Because when you’re on holiday, you should be able to poo in peace, and hope the sounds from the tent next door are just sleep-talking.

Picture: Hein Kaiser

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