Camping Chat: May 2011

This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of the ‘Caravan and Outdoor Life’ magazine:

Having just spent a week camping at Mahai in the Drakensberg, all I can say is – thank goodness we have a caravan.

It was a week of rain, storms and then some more rain, from fine drizzle to downpours so heavy I thought it was hail.  The rivers were all in flood and the field in front of our campsite was an under an inch of water – I kept expecting to see fish swimming in the grass!  But we were snug and dry through it all, even if cooking on a fire was a problem.

Through it all, I watched the tenters.  Shame – they really suffered. It’s grim to be in a tent when the weather is relentlessly bad. The tenters I admired the most, though, were those camping with toddlers and tiny babies.  I watched one group of well-equipped and experienced tenters cope with about six toddlers and a baby of four months. That’s intrepid!

The only time I camped with babies of my own, was when my son was four and my older daughter was eighteen months.  We went to the Kruger Park with a borrowed monstrosity of a tent – it was an ordeal.  The last straw was finding my toddler with a sharp knife in her hand, stabbing the tomatoes.

Of course, camping equipment has come a long way in the last 25 years, as has baby equipment, so maybe it’s easier now – but not when it rains for days on end.  The sight of small naked toddlers running madly on soggy fields of grass was too cute, but pity the poor moms trying to keep the inside of their tents dry and comfortable with damp bodies in and out all day. 

If one is going to camp with babies, my advice is – buy a caravan.  You can pick up an old caravan for not very much more than it will cost you to kit yourself out with everything you need to be comfortable when tenting!

But if you are going to tent – buy one that you can stand up in, at the very least.  Also, make it a big one.  Tent manufacturers may say a tent sleeps four, but that would have to be four very easy-going, consenting (and possibly kinky) adults with no gear at all.

Another thing – make sure your tent is dark, since it will be cooler.  The tents with light roofs are hot in the day, and make sleeping later than dawn light impossible. Oh, and you must have an outdoor sheltered living area too – usually a gazebo or something.  Then there’s all the other stuff – fridge, kitchen stuff, ammo boxes to store everything.

Caravan versus tent? For me, a caravan, thanks!


8 responses to “Camping Chat: May 2011

  1. I’ve just discovered you blog via Nina Timm…oh why oh why didn’t I know about it in 2007 when we were planning our 6 week camping trip around southern Africa!? We certainly would have eaten better…!!

    Camping i the rain sucks. There’s no two ways about it. On that 6-week trip, there were only 4 days when it didn’t rain on us. Bear in mind that we went through Namibia and Sossuvlei and yes, it rained!

    Thanks for the blog, looking forward to more great recipes! (I’m already planning on the roast chicken for Easter weekend!)


    • Hello Tara! Thanks for the lovely comment – your trip sounds amazing, rain & all!!!! Wow, you must have wonderful photos. 6 weeks of camping is quite a trip, what sort of foods did you make?

      Thanks for stopping by, I’ll keep the recipes coming! 🙂


  2. Your mention of the rain reminded me of a summer when I was a child and my mum and godmother plus god mother´s aged mother and four of us kids when camping to Cornwall (South West England) for 2 weeks. The weather was hideous and although we were in a caravan and not a tent we packed up after about 10 days and went home. Now I think of it…I do feel for the adults!


  3. Pete and I have always said, if ever we were to go camping, it would have to be in a caravan!
    🙂 Mandy


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