I was a reluctant full-time caravanner wife. Now, in December and after 10 months on the road, we have come to the end of being “full-time” caravanners.
My husband, Ivan, always wanted to travel around SA for at least a year when he retired. I couldn’t imagine doing that… living in one room for a year or more. We’d bought a house in the Western Cape after selling our house in the Eastern Cape − I was not nearly ready for this move, but did not want Ivan to say that I’d kept him back from living his dream, so decided to do it. Inside, I was kicking and screaming, but kept my mask on, as we all do to please our husbands.
It was quite hectic packing up the house, storing the furniture and packing the caravan for full-time caravanning – apparently I always pack too many clothes, and now I had to pack for at least a year. I did sneak some clothes into every space I could find; and, believe me, I was good at it and got away with it for a while. The fact is that I didn’t need half of what I’d packed – some friends met us at one of the parks and were kind enough to take bags of clothes with them to store for me.
What I can say is that it was an experience I’m very glad to have been part of. We met such wonderful, amazing people along the way who are now our friends for life, and (of course) there were also the others. We stayed in some beautiful caravan parks and in some not so wonderful. Some caravan parks we can recommend whole-heartedly, and others not.
We travelled from the EC through the WC, through the Karoo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and also the Kruger Park for a month, as Ivan wanted to celebrate his 70th birthday in the Park.
We’d thought the Free State was very dry (and I’m sure it’s worse by now) and it was devastating to see crops dead in the fields; but we could not believe the drought in the Kruger Park. It was indescribable. We were able to see lots of animals, most of which appeared to be in good condition despite there being nothing visible for them to graze on, but it was heart-breaking to see hippos lying dead in the veld. It was dry from the KNP at Berg-en-Dal right up to the Fever Tree Forest and Crooks Corner in the north, but I believe that they’ve had a huge amount of rain now − we are happy about that.
We’ve been in caravan parks when rallies have arrived. Some have been very quiet and well behaved, but others have had hordes of noisy children riding their bicycles through even the ablution blocks, doing whatever they wanted to and running and screaming as if there were no parents around. The state of the ablutions when these children were around amazed me. Do their bathrooms at home get left in a state like that?
The staff members in the parks were wonderful and helpful. However, the upkeep of each park was very different. Some managers have their fingers on the pulse and others just don’t care.
There were so many things I did not consider before we left on our trip. Like, what to do about finding a hairdresser, dentist, and doctor? Thankfully we didn’t need a doctor as we are blessed with good health, but we did support a number of dentists and hairdressers. Park owners and fellow caravanners were extremely helpful with the necessary information.
We did this trip in our 26-year-old Sprite Musketeer, towed by our Subaru Outback – no tent, only a rally awning, as we used the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) system. We stayed in 27 different caravan parks.
People asked us what we did with ourselves all day… Well, we’d never been so busy: socialising, sightseeing, admiring the beauty that is all around us, checking out all the coffee shops and finding out where to get fresh fruit, etc. No TV. (That was wonderful.) My overall impression is that we have a beautiful, diverse country, with beautiful, diverse people, and I would have loved to have gone on for longer, but… we found nowhere to stay for December that was affordable.
We decided to move into the new home that we’d rented out, to fix it, and then take to the road again whenever we get the opportunity before we get ‘too old’.
Now we’ve been in our home for just over a month, and I miss the uncomplicated life of caravanning. I would love to do it all again, but for longer.