Words & pictures by Richard van Ryneveld
The sun’s rays were just peeping over the mountains to the east of the Buffelspoort Holiday Resort. Those had to be the Magaliesberg mountains, I realised.
I was wandering around the caravan park with my camera, trying to get my bearings, as I’d arrived in the dark the night before.
Pitching up in darkness can mean either a pleasant surprise or a total disaster in the morning. In the case of Buffelspoort, it proved to be a great venue from the start.
It was even better when I got chatting to a gentleman who was busy with a team of workers laying a series of slabs close to my Echo Kavango off-road caravan. He stuck out a work-hardened hand and said: “Spook Groenewald; pleased to meet you.”
Spook Groenewald turned out to be the manager of the caravan park, and an absolute mine of information.
Number of stands
Yes (20A: you need a blue plug-adaptor)
Washing machines & tumble dryers
Fishing at Buffelspoort Dam
Horse & pony riding
I obviously asked him where he’d got his name from. He said, “My mother gave me that name as a kid. I would disappear like a ghost, always gravitating towards anything mechanical.”
He laughs at the memory.
Spook grew up on a small farm. He told me that his father had a trucking and coal-delivery business, and that Spook was always helping him to fix and service the trucks.
Spook went on to build numerous stock cars as he grew up. I learnt that he can do anything with his hands; he is an electrician, a plumber and builder, as well as a qualified sewing-machine technician − which includes large industrial embroidery machines.
He also worked underground on the mines for many years. This handyman helps his wife Bev, who is originally from England, to run a successful home-embroidery business in the nearby town of Mooinooi.
I know he’s going to be angry with me for talking so much about him, so I’d better get down to the business of sharing some of the information he gave me.
Buffelspoort ATKV Holiday Resort, as the name suggests, is a large and well-organised resort.
On the camping side of things, there are 205 sites for caravans, motorhomes, and tent-campers. Practically all the sites are paved and under shade. The few that are on the grass have a neat shade-netting area for the caravan or trailer.
There are also five emergency sites in case there’s a serious problem like a burst pipe.
The resort is divided into A, B, C and D blocks. The five large ablution blocks servicing the resort are some of the neatest and cleanest facilities I’ve seen in this country. The sculleries in the centre of each ablution block tick the same boxes.
Buffelspoort is an excellent venue for families with kids of all ages. There’s a large playground, as well as heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools. For summer, there’s a large cold-water outside swimming pool with a Supertube.
Then there are the trampolines, the snooker and pool tables, golf, and a comprehensive adventure putt-putt course. For the more sporty and adventurous, there’s pony- and horse-riding. And there’s volleyball, squash and tennis. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, as this area is great for bird-watching, too.
Buffelspoort is like a small village, with amenities that include a licensed restaurant with a take-away section, a sports bar, a beauty salon, a hairdresser, a well-stocked shop and a bottle store. There’s an ATM available on the premises.
If you need something that is not available at the resort, you’ll find a large shopping centre with a Spar a short distance away in the small town of Mooinooi.
But, if it’s good meat you’re looking for, just head one traffic light up the road from the Spar to the Mooinooi Butchery. They have great boerie, biltong, droëwors − and the best cheese boerewors I’ve ever tasted.
I also discovered a Chisa Nyama shop and Seattle Coffee outlet, at the Caltex garage right opposite the Buffelspoort resort entrance. Why chisa nyama? Because I headed across the road every day to buy take-away pap to go with my Mooinooi Butchery meat, and for a good cup of coffee before I cracked my first beer with the evening braai.
Oh, and thanks to Spook, I also knew that there was a large Midas hardware shop literally a kilometre down that same road to Mooinooi. I needed one of those blue plugs for the resort’s power supply, and found one at the store. And as Spook had said, it was at a good price!
At Buffelsfontein ATKV, I met a retired couple who’d sold their upmarket home and decided to hit the road permanently in their brand new Jurgens Exclusive.
The wife told me: “The kids said we were nuts! We’d lived in a huge double-storey house for close on 40 years, but we hardly knew our neighbours. We’ve made more genuine friends in the six months we’ve been on the road than in all those years living in that huge monstrosity.”
I can only agree with that sentiment, as I travel around caravanning and camping in this beautiful land of ours. In fact, I was wandering around with my camera just after the sun rose on that first morning at Buffelspoort.
Directly opposite me were a couple of caravans with large side-tents and extended awnings.
Making up the trilogy was a Tentco bow tent with an adjoining gazebo. It was still early − but the next thing I knew, I was shaking the hand of Dawid van Nieuwenhuizen, who offered me a cup of coffee. His wife, Daisy, rustled up a brew of moerkoffie and served the best home-made rusks this side of the Vaal River.
The first thing I noticed was that the van Nieuwenhuizen didn’t camp: they “glamped”. Take a look at the photographs to get some idea. They have all the creature-comforts, including a neat, black, two-burner stove with an oven.
I admired the aluminium wind-protectors surrounding the gas burners. “Where can you buy those?” I asked.
Dawid replied: “You can’t buy them… my brother-in-law Peet made them.”
By then, brother-in-law Peet van Rensburg and his wife Miemie had joined us from next door.
Peet is Daisy’s brother and like Dawid, is an artisan who worked on the goldmines in Welkom. The two couples, now retired, have camped together all their lives.
When I saw the incredible skills of Dawid and Peet in making major changes to their caravans, I wished I had only 1% of their skills. I cannot even hammer a nail in straight!
After that, I didn’t have to head out to the Seattle Coffee shop outside the resort gates: I had an open invitation for morning coffee and rusks. I was invited to supper, too.
Man, I love camping!