It was the coldest and wettest day we’ve had this winter in Cape Town and there was some doubt as to how enjoyable our weekend away was going to be at the Bontebok National Park, just outside Swellendam, but I for one was looking forward to getting away and the chance to unwind, whatever the weather. While it rained for most of the 240km journey out along the N2 and was still drizzling when we arrived, all of our spirits were lifted as we were dropped off at our awesome wooden chalets overlooking the Breede River and we were excited to see that they had heaters in them too.
The chalets at Lang Elsie’s Kraal Rest Camp are fully equipped and are ideal for two adults but can accommodate more by use of a sleeper couch. Each one has an outside deck with covered braai area and the hiking trails start at your doorstep.
Having unpacked, settled in and put on another layer of warmth we headed to Die Stroom function facility, where we had a braai with Bulelwa, the Park Manager and some of the rangers. As we sat around the table we got to know more about the park and how it had been established to save the Bontebok whose world population had gotten to as low as 16. There are now around 200 Bontebok in the park and approximately 3000 worldwide so it’s a real success story. No braai in the wild is complete without roasted marshmallows on the fire and a few ghost stories. Legend has it that Lang Elsie, the female Khoi chief who lived in the area between 1734 and 1800, has been seen and heard around the rest camp so there were a few nervous smiles as we said goodnight and retired to our chalets.
It had continued raining all evening and had even poured down at times so we were all hoping that the morning would bring clear skies and sunshine for our day out exploring the Republic of Greater Swellendam…