I was extremely lucky to get a last minute stand at Bass Lake Lodge outside Pretoria. It was a long weekend and this is an extremely popular venue, less than 30 minutes’ drive from Pretoria. It is pretty much booked out every weekend and holiday of the year.
Hook, line & sinker!
My well-grassed 12 x 12m stand, with its own power point and portable braai, was directly opposite one of the two ablution blocks. In fact, all 34 stands are relatively close to the bathrooms and toilets. And I have to say that these facilities are the best I have experienced so far on my travels. I will get back to the five-star bathrooms later, but first let’s look at the layout of the camp.
As you enter the camp, the large reception area, shop, and entertainment area are on your left. The entertainment area has a pool table, table tennis, air hockey, and a large screen TV for those important rugby games. Just outside the reception area and shop are the trampolines, jungle gym, and two swimming pools – one being a kids’ pool.
After being welcomed by Angelique van Reenen, the extremely friendly young camp manageress, I popped into the adjoining shop for a look around before she showed me to my stand. Here I met another friendly Bass Lake staff member, Allan Mbando. The shop stocks things like wood, charcoal, firelighters, and the basics that one so often forgets at home. They also have ice, cool drinks, an ice cream machine, and Allan makes the best milkshakes in Gauteng.
While setting the caravan up at the stand, my friendly neighbour, Barend Gouws, asked if he could help. The Gouws family, father Barend, wife Linda, and their three young kids: Liné, Natalie and Deoné were camping in their Conqueror Roadster caravan. I didn’t need help, as the two-sleeper Crown Trax off-road caravan I was testing was an easy three-minute affair to set up.
The campsite was chock-a-block, all 34 stands. It was a collection of mom, dads, and everyone in-between. Of course, the grannies and grandpas were also out in force. Bass Lake is tailor-made for families with kids. On arrival I stopped and, with permission, photographed Ouma Sienie Dormehl with her beautiful little granddaughter, Mé-Mé, as they walked up past the reception area. The first campsites are situated left and right, and start just after the reception area. The campsite is set out in an oval.
In the middle are the two ablution blocks. From the moment I popped in I could hear the faint applause of all the womenfolk in unison. The facilities for the men were equally five-star. Every camper that I spoke to over the weekend commented on the first-class bathrooms with dedicated ladies’ make up area with mirrors and plugs for hairdryers. There are even special child-sized hand basins in both the men and women’s sections. I also photographed and appreciated the lovely family bathrooms. There were a lot of families with young kids. One mother described the family bathroom, “It’s the same as being at home, and the bathrooms are just super clean, neat, and modern.” I agreed.
This attention to detail can be seen in every aspect of Bass Lake. Keen and experienced campers Leon and Melené van den Heever created the campsite in 2011. The campsite is situated in the lovely bushveld covered hills of the surrounding Bobbejaansberg. Bass Lake is a mere 30 minutes’ drive north east of Pretoria and an hour from Johannesburg. As one would expect with a name like Bass Lake, this campsite attracts a lot of fishermen. I got chatting to my neighbour Jaco Houman, from Roodepoort, and was intrigued to watch him tackling up two fly rods. I love fishing myself. I hardly ever catch a thing, but I love sitting next to a dam or a river with a fishing rod of any sort. Jaco was a friendly young chap and he impressed me with his fishing tackle collection. Later, up at the main lake, I met Bennie Booysen who also had two rods set up on a sophisticated rod holding framework. Bennie was fishing mainly for kurper, he explained, “It’s a bit cold for bass at the moment … they tend to go deep when it gets cold. But I’ve had a lot of fun fishing for kurper.” In fact Bennie was enjoying himself so much he stayed on an extra day after the long weekend.
I also really enjoy being totally on my own out in the bush. As the sun was just starting to set, I sat on one of the wooden railway sleeper benches and watched as a kudu bull and a couple of females came down to drink on the far side of the dam.
I fully understood Bennie’s sentiment. I also wanted to stay.