The ATKV Hartenbos resort started way back in 1936 as a part of the South African railways, and soon Hartenbos became one of the most popular venues on the Cape East Coast.
With the influx of yearly holiday makers, ground around the resort was sold off and over time the town of Hartenbos developed.
It’s a massive resort, probably one of the biggest in South Africa.
There are more than 570 caravan and camping sites in the resort, some close to the sea and others further back. But all the sites are relatively close to the beach.
The camping sites, as well as the rondavels and chalets, are contained in 6 “Blocks” or “Terrains” as they are marked on the map: B Block, C Block, D Block, E Block, F Block and finally J Block.
Water: Yes (shared)
Braai: Yes (bring own grid)
I first camped in the E Block at stand number 37 – snug in my bed in the Stealth EVO XR6 caravan, I looked out watching the lights of an oilrig and a large cargo ship lying in the bay. The beach with its lapping waves was literally 30 metres away from my caravan.
The next morning I moved up to on to the top terrace of the E Block to stand number 96. The only reason why I moved was because I’m a photographer, and this site offered me better opportunities to get the caravan and new Isuzu mu-X with the sea in the background.
I also had nice shade up on the top deck, so perhaps I would choose it in the future.
There are plenty of excellent well-kept, neat ablution blocks to service the camp. There was tons of hot water at all times I found.
There is excellent full-time security at the campsite at all times.
Although it was out of season, the campsite was relatively full. I can only guess how the ATKV Hartenbos must hum during the holiday season.
The long sandy beaches nearby are safe for swimming, fishing and hiking. There’s about two kilometres of paved, wheelchair-friendly boardwalk along the Hartenbos beach which is lit up at night for safety.
FACILITIES & ACTIVITIES
Three water slides
The walkway also takes you down to the Hartenbos Seafront Complex. The seafront has a large Pick n Pay, restaurants and shops of every shape and size. Although the parking area it’s not huge, I easily found space every time. And with it being on the seafront it’s great to walk around and browse.
In season I wouldn’t bother driving to the shops, I would take a stroll along the paved walkway to buy supplies. It wouldn’t be more than a couple of minutes’ walk from any of the six camping blocks.
What I particularly like about the camping blocks was the fact that nearly all the activities for kids takes place down at the huge fun park next to the seafront complex. The fun park is just 50 metres from the beach and an easy stroll from any of the campsites.
There’s something for everyone from tiny tots to teenagers – a fenced-in play area, adventure golf and a splash pad with water-related activities. No child on earth could be bored with the amount of stuff to do!
There’s also a large heated pool, a cold water pool, a first-class mini golf course and three water slides designed to suit every age group.
As if that’s not enough, there’s about 1 000 square metres set out with all sorts of climbing, swinging, sliding and hanging play facilities, designed by experts to encourage and improve kids’ motor development.
With the nearby Takoda Spur, Danielle’s Ice Cream Parlour, three pizza outlets, one selling Donuts as well, an Ocean Basket and Mrs Fish (where I got a really tasty fish and chips take-away), you’ll never go hungry.
My favourite spot for coffee was the Moerby Trading Co Coffee Shop and Deli, where there is also a very well-stocked camping section.
If you have to take a gift home for Granny, there are great gift shops in the centre like Ouma Betty’s se Winkel, Matchbox and Glinsterland. I also particularly liked a shop called Coastline Curios. They have one of the best collections of seashells I have seen.
While there’s plenty to do at ATKV Hartenbos and at the Seafront Complex, don’t forget about the surrounding towns and countryside. Heading up towards George is the small settlements of Klein Brak River, Groot Brak River and Herolds Bay. Head the other way and only 8 km away is the historic town of Mossel Bay. And further south and you’ll find Boggoms Bay, Vleesbaai and Gouritz River Mouth… all fascinating places to explore.
I really enjoyed my stay at ATKV Hartenbos, and I’d love to go back for a longer stay at this well-run resort with its many camping sites spread all over the town of Hartenbos. If I had young kids, Hartenbos would be a superb place to camp. No kid of any age from toddler to teenager would complain of camping here with the feet practically paddling in the sea.
By Richard van Ryneveld