If you are looking for a tranquil spot to relax and chill out, look no further than Somabula. I “discovered” this resort (only an hour from Joburg, about 40 minutes from Pretoria) by chance. And now it’s one my caravan parks of choice, as it’s close, yet far away from the Big Smoke.
Somabula is a private game reserve set in prime bushveld dotted around with a host of indigenous trees. On my first visit, I remember a pair of giraffes’ intrigued amusement at my attempt to set up a new off-road camper.
There is no electricity at the campsite, which might be one of the reasons I like it so much, as it means things are always nice and quiet.
Somabula is almost equidistant from the historic diamond-mining town of Cullinan and another small village called Rayton. My first stop is always Rayton Biltong & Braai for great biltong and a coil or two of their superb wors. The butchery is just behind the large Pick n Pay. Cullinan also has larger shops, so everything you need for camping is close at hand.
The town really is worth a visit. Cullinan is the home of the famous Cullinan Diamond, the largest gemquality rough diamond ever found. A worker found the huge stone embedded in the walls of what was (at the time) the relatively shallow opencast mine on 26 January 1905. The town was named after the diamond magnate, Sir Thomas Cullinan.
I love strolling down the Oak Avenue Boulevard with its collection of old Edwardian buildings on either side of the tree-lined boulevard. There are shops, galleries and museums to visit. But, back to the ranch… or rather, back to Somabula.
Owned by Gerry and Zoe Kock, the resort also has an intriguing historic exhibit. When you arrive, you can hardly miss Cator’s Smithy which adjoins the reception area. Chris Cator, who worked at Somabula for a number of years, put together this old smithy and its collection of tools. It’s really a fabulous collection.
Three types of accommodation are available at Somabula: the campsite, the self-catering chalets, and the restored ox wagons.
The camping areas (a maximum of six people allowed per site) are reasonably shaded, and each has its own boma with a braai area. Each site also has a water point.
There are only seven stands in total, four of which are private and have their own toilet, shower and scullery facility outside the ablutions’ wooden building. The other three stands share ablution facilities.
The private campsites carry a levy of R100 per night for the bathroom, no matter how many campers are on the site. In other words, if you rent a private campsite for 4 nights, it would be an extra R400 over and above the per-person per-night tariff.
There is also a communal lapa with a braai area that can be used by campers and those staying in the chalets or ox wagons, and by day visitors. Security for campers is pretty good, as you are given a code for entry to the reserve when you book. Firewood and ice are sold at the reception.
Chris Dyke, a qualified ranger and field guide, runs Somabula. He knows the animals and the bushveld in the 400 hectare park like the back of his hand. Recently, Chris set out 3km, 7km and 12km hiking and cycling trails on the farm.
Walking or cycling can get you up close to the giraffe, zebra, red hartebeest, kudu, eland, blesbok and other smaller game on the farm. For the birding fraternity, approximately 220 species of birds have been ticked in the area.