Glad to escape the heat in Bot River, I aimed my old Honda Africa Twin motorcycle north by west and made for the West Coast. During the journey, the heat sat as tightly clamped on the undulating landscape as the lid of a pressure cooker, and I was very relieved to feel the air freshen as I neared the coast outside Elands Bay.
My plan was to catch my breath and hole up for a couple of days in the revitalised old-style country hostelry, the Elands Bay Hotel, before seeking out a campsite a little further up the coast.
After trawling the net in-between long strolls on the beach and bouts of reading-induced head-lolling in my armchair, I settled on Malkoppan. Sure, there were a number of other good options both in Elands Bay and nearby Lamberts Bay, most with better sea- facing locations; but what swung my decision towards Malkoppan was the fact that I could walk to the quintessential open-air seafood restaurant I’d been wanting to eat at for years: the world-renowned Muisbosskerm.
The illicit ride into Lamberts Bay, along the now ‘closed to the public’, coast-hugging toll road from Elands Bay, was as good as I’d remembered it from five years back. En route, I was once again glad to have my jaw drop as a 220 coach, eight locomotive iron ore train from Sishen rumbled its three and a half kilometre length past me.
But probably the most thrilling experience of all was stopping the bike alongside a dune next to the dirt track and making my way to a deserted bay over the rise, flopping into the creamy white sands and meditating to the surging pulse of the sea.
With a few hours to kill before my 2pm check-in time at the campsite, I headed into Lamberts Bay to buy a few provisions. While in town, I visited the local Tourism Information Office and was pleasantly surprised at how much there was to do and see in the area: a visit to the Sandveld Museum; a short stroll to Bird Island; tastings at a number of local wine farms, and pristine beaches and coastal shell paths to walk on, to mention but a few.
Later, I piloted my heavily loaded motorbike down the short sandy track to the campsite and was immediately taken with the expanse of the place and how well-kept the lawns were. When you are camping in a tent, a grass-covered site is always welcome; particularly for sitting on outside the tent as I’m not able to carry camping chairs with me on the bike.
I quickly located a site near the ablution blocks, wedging myself in-between two sheltering hedgerows.
The story behind Malkoppan’s name is an interesting one. Apparently, in the early to middle 1900s, the road from Leipoldtville to Lambert’s Bay used to run through the farm on which the campsite now stands. At this time, the current campsite was sown with oats and sat atop an old salt pan with a high lime content; something oats apparently thrive on.
But, as the oxen pulling the wagons used to pass in front of the farmstead just south of these oat fields, their senses became confused by too many different stimuli. Not only did the road surface suddenly change from sand to hard clay, which drummed up a disquieting noise from the oxen’s hooves; the sound of the waves breaking on a nearby reef was also greatly amplified here, and this disturbed the great beasts. There was also the smell of fresh water from nearby fountains and other tantalising farm aromas which all combined to unsettle the oxen greatly. On one occasion, around the mid-1930s, the ‘madness’ that infected the oxen at this point resulted in a ‘touleier’ being trampled to death by the rampant span of oxen he was trying to placate. And so the name Malkoppan was born.
The camping area is located approximately 5km south of Lambertsbay on the farm Malkoppan, right opposite the Muisbosskerm Restaurant.
The resort is ideally situated for all nature and sea lovers, like diving, fishing and surfing, and it is walking distance from the beach.
The campsite has 75 stands (12m x 10m), the majority of which are set on a wide open area that is mostly grassed; some have intermittent shade. The best sites are on the outer perimeter of the ‘pan’, and are separated by hedgerows.
There is electricity for all the stands, and while there is a tap at each stand, the water is brackish. There are, however, two fresh-water points around the campsite.
There are shared ablution blocks. The men’s has 6 showers, 4 hand-basins, 4 toilets and 4 urinals; and the ladies’ block has 3 showers, 2 baths, 4 handbasins and 3 toilets.
A washing room is available, as are outside washing-up facilities and clothes lines behind each ablution block. However, the owner intends to turn the area behind the men’s ablution block into a communal kitchen facility.
After a hot, high-pressure shower, (the ablution blocks are well-thought-out, modern and were very clean when I was there) I ambled the short distance up the road to my much-anticipated dinner at Muisbosskerm, which is run by the same family who own the campsite.
Now, I’m not really a person who likes to scrum with hundreds of valuedriven diners at buffet-style restaurants, but I was prepared to put aside these sensibilities to experience the exemplary culinary offerings and sublime on-beach setting offered by Muisbosskerm. For R250 per head, you get to try at least 12 different types of braaied, baked and smoked fish, plus vegetable and salad accompaniments plus paella; a local meat stew, and freshly baked potato sourdough bread with farm butter and a range of homemade jams — exceptional.
After a restful night’s sleep, I fired up my small gas stove and was pleased with the way my new Stanley pot and insulated mugs performed. I could easily have stayed here another day and explored the nearby beaches and other attractions in Lamberts Bay, but I had booked in somewhere else that night and unfortunately needed to make tracks.
Only 1 family per stand allowed – a maximum of 5 people.
Arrive after 2pm and before 7pm, and please vacate the stand before 11am, unless otherwise arranged.
No noise after 23:00.
Roads within the beach/veld area must please be used with consideration to the natural surroundings.
General Campsites: 75
Credit card facilities: No
Chemical Toilet Disposal: No
From R150 per campsite per day for 1-2 people and R 375 per campsite per day for up to 5 people; extra people charged R 75 per person per day. Caravan and tented Camp, R200 p.p.p.n and the cottage is let out at R750 per night.
GPS: S 32° 08.021′ E 18° 18.345′