Highways and Byways to Hoedspruit. Places We Saw And Friends We Met

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Highways and Byways to Hoedspruit. Places We Saw And Friends We Met

Maun is not my favourite place, possibly because it’s a neither-here or there sort of place. It could also be the flashbacks I have of our off-road caravan’s demise and the dreadful trip back to Cape Town we had. Our poor caravan was in a dire state and looked like a sardine tin with a rolled-up lid,  except ours flapped and crabbed home.

We found a very comfortable one-night stay at Sitatunga Camp just out of town. The central open lapa is colourfully decorated in a mish-mash of African prints. Tourists arriving in Overlander trucks were parked under the trees, where the driver and his assistant set up tables to prepare supper for their guests. The weary guests lazed around on cushioned day beds, stretching their aching legs while catching up on world news. Butch and I joined them and also hooked up to the communal wifi.

I wasn’t going to cook, so we had supper and an early night. We were heading for Elephant Sands and then the South African border which was quite a push.

Our campsite was great, and we had private ablutions which worked like a charm.


After Elephant Sands we had a hard day’s driving and only a stop to fill up with fuel for the Honey Badger and a hamburger from the Wimpy in Francistown, we pushed on to make it in time to cross the border at Stockpoort—easy peasy with no hassles.

We crossed the Limpopo and were on home soil again. Just a few kilometres from the border post, we spotted a sign beckoning us to turn in for the night. Stockpoort Border Lodge. An excellent choice it was too. The manageress Sophia and the chef Vuli were both delightful. Chef greeted us at the door, his hands covered in flour. He was busy kneading bread dough.

Our campsite, next to a bungalow, was all we needed. We could use the bathroom.

The menu had a good and reasonable selection; Butch wouldn’t braai but sit down to a delicious steak and veggies from the kitchen, delivered to our table.

The orange sun had a calming effect on us. It would be an early night, and we planned to leave early the following day.


The landscape changed as we approached and climbed up to the Waterberg Mountain range in the Limpopo province, which feeds the Mokolo River. Lush trees carpeted the valleys in shades of green. With our list of things to do, we’d go to Vaalwater, the village, which is part of Modimolle (Place of the Spirits), the larger nearby town.

Bustling with many shops and workshops, we had nets made for our ceiling hatches and the large window—a recommendation from Alan and Sue, who we’d met months before in Upington. Much water has flowed beneath both our bridges since then.

Gift, from Malawi, has a thriving industry where he manufactures canvas accessories for lodges, campers or, like us, a few mosquito shades. He told us there are over 800 lodges in the area, and he has serviced many of them. His workmanship is excellent and always on time, and reasonably priced too. Butch and I can recommend him. We’ve found a remarkable decline in the number of insects flying inside after sunset—a joy.

Vaalwater is a small village with a vibey central hub boasting many gift shops, a lovely decorating boutique and art galleries. Coffee in the courtyard is trendy, but Carla’s bakery and bistro steal the show. Carla, the owner, is a brilliant pastry chef, and her Pecan nut pies are to die for. We enjoyed numerous treats there; I couldn’t fault one. Moreish and delectable, we couldn’t resist buying a few extras to take home.

Like many farming communities, the villages are small, and businesses depend on the larger district to boost the economy. Wildlife and nature reserves are significant contributors, with the lodges providing hunting opportunities. Soft fruit, table grapes, peanuts and maise flourish here too.

The climate is pleasant, with hot summers and moderate winters. Vaalwater is an excellent stopover en route to various destinations.


Our destination was Matamba guestfarm. Without reservations and only a recommendation, we arrived at this lifestyle farm’s gate to be welcomed by Mr and Mrs Richard and Carol Pascall, the owners who escorted us to our campsite.

The Pascall’s, farmers and ex-Zimbabweans, have been involved in the tourism industry for ages and are lovely hosts. While we hung around waiting for the men to organise our campsite, Carol and I chatted, and I gleaned some insight into their exciting life and the trauma of losing their farm in Zimbabwe.

Our three-night stay gave us enough time to recuperate after the distances we’d travelled. We went on long rides all along the farm’s game fence, giving us a better idea of the lay of the land. While on our second ride, we ventured out the gate and took to the rural road. Nice but bumpy, Butch felt his teeth rattle, making us turn around and head in the opposite direction.



I believe I have mentioned before that I’m inquisitive, and I try to observe and sniff out as much as I can wherever I am, and this time, I was in luck. On a small signpost, I saw the name of a farm and Anneke and Johannes Kleinhans beneath it. I was sure I couldn’t be wrong and, upon our return to our campsite, asked Carol whether these Kleinhanses were from Worcester. Sure enough, they were.

Butch and I are starved of familiar Boland faces. I sent an enquiry message, and within minutes Anneke confirmed my suspicions. Yes, they lived just down the road. Soon after, a text message arrived inviting us for sundowners.

Berchtesgaden Ranch, their game farm and lifestyle farm, is, as they say, a truly authentic African experience. But we were not there to learn about the farm and all the outstanding facilities; we were there to visit and reacquaint ourselves with Johannes and Anneke.

Reunions are always filled with surprises,  to catch up on a decade of news makes one realise how time flies, how we’ve changed and grown, how our values have changed and as one gets older, how we prioritise our time. Family takes precedence over any other pastime, and we strive to create a space where our children and grandchildren can feel grounded, safe and loved.

We spent a delightful few hours with the Kleinhans’ sharing our trials and tribulations, joys and disappointments,  but agreeing that we were living our best life and wouldn’t change anything even if we could. Before our goodbyes, we walked around their magnificent gardens, and finally, with full hearts, we set off to our campsite just before dark.

The Waterberg and Vaalwater were good to us. With our To-do list ticked, a much-enjoyed camping stay, and the cherry on the cake was meeting up with old acquaintances with a shared past, we were ready to sally forth to Hoedspruit.


Die Eiland near Tzaneen is a trendy destination for many of my bowling friends from Hermanus, who pack up and trek here during the cold, wet winter months to spend an entire calendar month or more on the resort. They all rave about it.

Here, they meet up with other like minded friends, swim, strengthen their muscles in the gym, massage aching joints in the hydro pool and then sweat all the nasty toxins (wine) out of their systems in the steam room or sauna before returning to the outdoor heated pool where they dangle or lie floating like lazy otters on their pool noodles. A swarm of sociable weavers couldn't be more chatty.

Bowlers meet on the greens most days with their woods, hats and towels to enjoy an afternoon of bowling. Rumour has it that successes are celebrated, while some drown their sorrows when things go awry. Just before sunset, these fabulously fit fanatics return to their tents, caravans or motorhomes to light their braai fires or meet at the restaurant for supper. Before nine o’clock, it’s off to bed and the next day its all a repeat.


Magoebaskloof was where we had intended to stay, but, it was getting late, the winding roads were very wet, and the only campsite we could find would not allow a truck under its heavy branches. Disappointed we trundled on to Die Eiland, our other option.

Every word those bowlers said is true. We partook in all the water-based activities, even giving the Super tube a go. Butch craved pizza at the restaurant, and we could stock up on some supplies at the very well-stocked shop. We did it all.

We arrived at a bustling campsite, but by midday the next day, we were the only guests in our section and could enjoy the facilities almost exclusively. The December school holidays was coming to an end.

Hot hydro spas, steam and massaging spouts relaxed us and prepared us for the next stint of our journey. We were ahead of schedule and could squeeze in a few days in Kruger before our rendezvous in Hoedspruit. We did manage a few cycles to get the legs going again and voila, we passed the farm where those delicious Miami Boerie Tomato Sauces come from. As a welcome gift we received a tin when we went through the gate for our ride. 


Sitatunga Camp

+267 72 506 420



Matamba Guest Farm

Carol: +27836531287 (WhatsApp)


Berchtesgaden Lifestyle Farm

Johannes and Anneke Kleynhans



Die Eiland