Beaverlac camp lies over the most astounding winding mountain pass with lilac mountains and copper fields as far as the eye can see. Getting there, a four wheel drive is preferable on the twenty kilometres or so of dirt road that is so bumpy you feel as though your brain might fall out one of your ears and if you sing you sound like Disney’s Snow White.
We arrived just before sundown and set up our camp sacrificing flat ground for the shade of some tall trees. We would spend the next few nights fighting gravity in a bid to not fall out of the roof tent. However, we were so grateful for the shade as temperatures hit a breathless 44 degrees.
Before making our fire and getting dinner ready we walked five minutes away to the nearest pool. We couldn’t believe our eyes! Before us was a large, deep, crystal clear rock pool with a cascading waterfall that was almost too perfect to be natural. It looked like something you would find in the man made concrete jungle of Dubai or the Osbourne’s back garden in Beverly Hills. Under a starlit sky we took a romantic dip. Up until this point Bow Wow had never been much of a water baby, but this was the moment that he chose to throw himself in, all four paws flailing and proceeded to chase us around the pool! He swims as fast as an otter and we had to stand at opposite sides and keep turning him in the other person’s direction so as to avoid his sharp claws.
If Bow Wow thought that he had won the doggie lotto before, he was quite certain of it now! We three spent everyday hiking or mountain biking to a rock pool more spectacular than the one before where we picnicked, swam, fished and read. There are no real paths to these pools, you have to follow little cairns (piles of rocks) and bundu bash your way through but scratched legs are a small price to pay for such dreamy days and mostly without another soul in sight.
I say mostly because we did meet two women one day, far off the beaten track. They were facilitating a Vision Quest where people go into the wilderness with only some water, their wits and a whistle to attract attention in case of an emergency like a snake bite. As far as we could understand it is eleven days or there about without the distraction of food or people. You find a home in the mountains and reflect, try to stave off heat and hunger and on the last night you stay in a different place of your choice and say goodbye to your old life. We found one such sacred dwelling under a grand old oak tree where the person bidding farewell to their previous self had created a kind of landscape art, arranging twigs in a perfect circle around it’s trunk.
We were the only ones camping at Beaverlac when we arrived on Tuesday but Friday brought weekenders and lots of four legged friends for Bow Wow to play with. I was reminded of something Billy Connolly found mind boggling when he heard people talking from Bearsden (the posh end of Glasgow) about ‘taking the dog for a walk’. Where he came from in Partick ‘if yer dug wants tae gae fer a walk, he gets up an he gaes fer a walk himself!”. When we are camping Bow Wow’s life is a little like this. He is free to do his own thing, sniff around, chew sticks, dig holes and play with his new pals. Beaverlac truly is Hound Heaven.
At bedtime Bow Wow sleeps in the bottom part of the tent and is tied to to the car. Every morning when we come down the ladder from the roof tent he does an enormous stretch and readies himself for the most enthusiastic of good mornings. He is so excited that it is a new day, he can hardly contain himself. One morning we woke up to find that although Bow Wow was still in the tent, we had obviously not tied him up properly as his lead was loose. At first we thought it strange that he did not wolf down his breakfast like usual but we soon worked out that he had made his way around the entire campsite and been given bits of bacon and egg from every camper in Beaverlac. It just goes to show, you can take the dog out of the township, but you can’t take the township out of the dog!
Beaverlac is very remote and so there is little light pollution. At night the sky is so brightly lit you feel as though you are swathed in the most glamourous Shirley Bassey frock. After dinner on Saturday evening there was an impromptu star gazing lecture presented by a camping astronomer. We sat on the grass with a glass of red wine as he pointed out black holes and constellations with a torch. The astronomer blew handfuls of dust, each tiny particle representative of a star, into the torch light to demonstrate the vastness of our solar system. There are more stars in the heavens than there are grains of sand on all the World’s beaches. Bow Wow was so well behaved and seemed to listen very intently.
The lecture was in English but almost everyone at Beaverlac spoke Afrikaans. Even if you do not speak the language it is so wonderfully descriptive that you can usually understand what is meant. We were amused to meet a rosy cheeked little girl who looked like a Lucie Attwell drawing and was affectionately known as ‘Stompy’ which is Afrikaans for a cigarette butt! Here are some more Afrikaans expressions, see if you can work out what they mean: ‘snot en trane’, ‘lekker jol’ and ‘gaan kak in die mielies boetie’.
After five fabulous nights at Beaverlac it was time to hit the (very bumpy!) road and head for Citrusdal. We have a water tight plastic bucket which we use for washing our clothes and the rough dirt track over the mountain pass provided the most ideal spin cycle! We left feeling more excited than ever about the journey ahead.