Last minute as usual I was searching for a self-catering chalet for Friday night. On Friday. It was looking unlikely but then I found what looked like a lovely place and at a very good rate. Olievenhoutsrus north of Vaalwater.
When I arrived I got a lovely welcome from Dina and Zacharias but when I said ‘chalet’ Dina’s face fell. ‘But we are fully-booked,’ she said, a worried look crossed her kind and smiling face. They were full up with crazy mountain bikers as the SA Champs X-Country was being held nearby. Owner Delmar arrived an hour or so later and his face also fell. ‘But you booked a campsite, not a chalet,’ he said. Look, let me show you.’ No, I believe you I said. I’ll just camp till a chalet becomes vacant. I have a tent. ‘But’ said Dina, ‘Do you have a mattress? Bedding?’ No, but I have lots of warm clothes, I’ll be fine. No! She squeaked and rushed off, returning with a mattress, a fitted sheet, a duvet and a pillow! What stars, what lovely people.
Zacharias said ‘Follow me,’ and off we went into the bush to their lovely remote campsite. Lots of wild olive trees about.
I explored around camp and just before dark lit the donkey. Just a few twigs got me a lovely hot shower. Supper was a cold tin of beans and ended just as well with a bar of chocolate. Fine dining. My bed was warm and comfy.
Saturday I went looking for signal on the tar road outside the gate. A bakkie drove past, made a u-turn and drove up close. ‘What’s wrong?’ It was Dina and Zacharias, on their way home for a long weekend. Concerned that the old geezer might be having trouble. After I reassured them Dina said, ‘We’ve freed up a chalet for you, btw, you can move into number 2 whenever you like.’ Back to luxury.
The resident Jack Russells adopted me and I had four lovely nights in the chalet. Great birding at the campsite, around the chalets and on walks along the game farm’s sand roads. I’d go back to Olivenhoutsrus like a shot.
Talking to Delmar about the tracks I’d seen he mentioned the African Civet and I said, ‘Ah, that’s a special sighting. I’ve only seen one once.’ Driving out on leaving I saw two on the tar road heading north to Lephalale – both road kill!
Yet again, South African Hospitality. Cannot be beat. What great people.
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