I had always longed to visit this permanent campsite up along the Cape West Coast, so when we arrived in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve in the dark of night I could not control my excitement. We pulled up to a quiet enclosing beside the still ocean with wooden A-frame tents and army-like tents behind. We could hardly make out anything in the dark and only had the stars and a few lanterns to guide us to the bar and lounging area where we ‘checked in’. I imagined that we were the only campers there for the weekend because it was so silent that I could only hear the insects buzzing amongst the succulents outside and the water gently lapping the kelp-ridden sand.
The Beach Camp in Paternoster is what camping used to be before electricity, luxury tents and fancy gadgets. I awoke in the morning to find that it was every bit as exquisite as the photos portrayed. Only now I could see the morning sunlight sparkling on the sea a few steps from our tent zipper and I fell in love with its rustic charm immediately. Before breakfast the hot tent coaxed us outside and into the ocean where we swam until the boulder and back. We made our own breakfast in the communal kitchen and washed our dishes thereafter. It’s a place that allowed you to hibernate and totally seclude yourself from all other company if you so wished. If you were open to chatter, there was plenty of it to be found playing board games in the bar with its old lanterns, photos and fishermen’s interior.
The day melted into hours of lounging in the hammock of the chill room, shooting rocks with the giant catapult outside and making our way over the huge boulders in the nature reserve. We sat atop boulders and watched the angry waves crashing over the rocks. Seagulls squawked and flew to the serenity of the sand below. We walked amongst bright orange, pink and yellow flowers that sprung up amongst the succulents. There was no tv, radio, ipods or distractions- just slimy seaweed, nature and thankfully gas-heated showers. Sonia ran the camp and served us Argentine mate in a gourd whilst explaining some of its healthy properties.
When we started to lose the light, the evenings gave way to something even better. Without lights at the campsite and all the lanterns extinguished, the sky presented the clearest night and an array of stars pricking every available spot of darkness. We sat beside the tent on benches, whilst our meat was braaiing and two of the camp staff tapped ever so lightly on bongo drums. We put on jackets and drew closer to the fire as the sea breeze brought a chill along with it and arched our necks towards the stars. The raw beauty of the West Coast and the simplicity of life in this little campsite is something I didn’t want to say goodbye to.
Lauren and her husband love exploring the outdoors, photography and surfing. When not traverseing the globe, Lauren writes for SA-Venues.com where you can search for and book accommodation in Paternoster on the Cape West Coast.