The Isuzu’s wheels turned onto a path which led me closer to the mountains; along the way signs indicated to go “SLOW” every few hundred meters, setting the pace for the next few days.
Upon entering the spacious canvas tent the portmanteau of “glamorous camping” finally made sense; a built-in kitchen (a hundred times more stylish than my own kitchen) and bathroom, two separate bedrooms with down duvets, electric blankets, a fireplace and real plates and glasses. There was even a vase of flowers on the table.
On the deck a lounge chair invited me to sink into comfort as it presented a mountain view with rocky folds and green creases while the sun and clouds played a game of casting shades and sunlight onto the Langeberg Mountain’s carpet of fynbos. Birds chattered in the distance, a speckled mousebird moved around tree branches and running water echoed tranquility from the freshwater dam.
It was quiet.
No cars, no neighbours close-by and no signal.
It was camping.
Close to nature, a place to braai and enamel coffee mugs.
It was glamourous.
No sleeping bags, no tent lines and tent pegs to trip over, plus there was no signal yet there was wi-fi.
One thing is certain, when they say that glamping is glamours camping, they definitely don’t lie.
An Experience with AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve
Last year, an invite popped into my inbox to experience the launch of AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve which is situated just a few kilometers outside of Robertson in the Western Cape. My travel itinerary at that time had other plans (Sri Lanka) and while I had to decline I always hoped that my wheels would cross paths with Pat Busch again to experience the boutique tents of AfriCamps.
And so it did.
And what an experience it was!
An experience filled with highlights, memories and enough reasons to use the phrase, “next time, when I come back…”
From going on a wine tour (and actually enjoying it) to four unique wineries, walking around in ancient and recently discovered concrete wine tanks and experiencing a Riedel tasting to exploring on foot with a guide infused with knowledge, learning about plants and nature. From having a braai on the deck to indulging in homemade soup in front of the tent’s fireplace. From sharing the serenity with a friend to finding stillness with my camera. From watching the dark sky turn into a glitter parade of stars, waking up to the sound of nature to a delivered breakfast basket on the tent’s stoep to thinking, “Next time, when I come back…”
They say that the proof is in the pudding, so have a look at the video I made from my time at Pat Busch, a one of a kind pudding and sweet delight in Robertson.
The AfriCamps Philosophy
The philosophy of AfriCamps, founded by Manou Bleumink and Jeroen van Rootselaar, is based on the foundation of sustainability through local empowerment and education (tents and furniture are handmade in the Western Cape). The boutique camps are typically placed on working farms where visitors can connect with a local host, indulge in South African produce and experience the peace and quiet of nature.
They believe, “The best travel experiences are often those where you’ve managed to get up close with the landscape, the people and the food of the places you’ve visited.”
What to do at AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve
Put Your Feet Up
Sit in the sun and relax on the deck of your tent.
Order a Breakfast Basket
An AfriCamps breakfast basket, filled with all kind of morning glory goodies, is the cherry on top of the experience; they deliver the basket to your tent and you can cook up your own storm in the tent’s built-in kitchen.
Make a Fire
A tent with a fireplace! What is more perfect than that? Due to the fact that Pat Busch is (almost) surrounded by mountains the sunlight shows face later than usual in the morning and disappears earlier and while it can get a bit chilly in winter, the fireplace and heated blankets are a match made in heaven.
Go on a Guided Hike
Jaco, the manager at Pat Busch Nature Reserve is also a guide and a fountain of never-ending knowledge, especially when it comes to local plants and its traditional uses, Khoi san folk tales and remedies, animal behaviours and birds. Visitors can go on a guided hike with Jaco, explore the indigenous fauna and flora, and learn more about the pharmacy of nature. Hikes are about 3-4 hours and R300 per person. There are also other, clearly marked, hiking trails for visitors to explore on their own.
Pat Busch Mountain Reserve is situated in Klaasvoogds West which forms part of the Klaasvoogds meander, a short route making its way through wineries such as Kranskop Wines and Fraai Uitzicht, vineyards, the Owl’s Rest Farm Stall which specialises in lavender and olive products, the Sheilam Cactus Garden, Marbrin Olive Growers (perfect for olive tours and tastings) and there is also a wellness spa at Rosendal.
Go Wine Tasting
Sit back (or sip back?), relax and hop on the Pat Busch bus to experience four hand-picked – one as unique as the other – wineries in the Robertson Wine Valley. The tour lasts around 5 hours, includes a lunch stop and different tasting experiences at Kranskop Wines, Esona, Springfield Estate and Zandvliet Wine Estate.
Explore the Freshwater Dam
Within walking distance from the boutique tents there is a freshwater dam which is not only a great spot to relax, swim, canoe and fish (catch and release), but it is also magical to wait and watch as the sun rise over the mountain.
There are also some other activities on offer – such as more hiking trails, paddling and fishing in the freshwater dam and mountain biking – which I didn’t get to this time but if my wheels cross the Pat Busch Mountain Reserve path again in the future I hope to explore more (especially the waterfall).
Details and Costs of AfriCamps
The tents are 55 sqm and features two bedrooms (both have one queen size bed while one room has a single bunk bed installed as well), with electric blankets and shared air-conditioning, a private bathroom plus a spacious open-plan and fully equipped kitchen, dining room and lounge area, complete with a fireplace, that opens up onto a wooden deck where a braai, loungers and a picnic table can be found. And while a stay at Pat Busch is the perfect getaway because there is absolutely zero signal, all the tents do come with Wi-Fi if you feel it is necessary to connect with the outside world.
Tents can sleep up to five people and the rate starts from R495 per person in low season (1 May to 30 September), R745 per person in high season and R995 per person in peak season (16 December to 10 January). Additionally guests can also opt and pay for guided tours, excursions and mountain bike rentals, braai wood and firelighters and ordering a breakfast basket at R110 per person; the basket includes eggs, bacon, homemade bread, butter, jam, cheese, muesli, yoghurt, fresh fruit, fruit juice and coffee.
Where to find AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve
Pat Busch Moutain Reserve is situated just a few kilometers from Robertson. If you’re coming from Cape Town’s side, continue for about 10 km on the R60 from Robertson in the direction of Ashton and turn left onto the Klaasvoogds West road. You’ll find a T-junction after about 4 km, take a left again at the T-junction and the road will lead you to AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve in about 3 km.
A more detailed blog post of the wineries will follow in the next few weeks as well as the story of my visit to Eseltjiesrus Donkey Sanctuary in McGregor (just 30 km from Pat Busch Mountain Reserve).
Disclaimer: I was a guest of AfriCamps at Pat Busch Mountain Reserve but as always, all opinions are my own. This place is awesome.