Rainy days in national park saved by cosy kitchen
Few American park campgrounds have a kitchen like those in South Africa: hot water sinks, electric hot plates, refrigerator/freezers, electricity/cell service.
It was nice to be in a South Africa national park where you can walk. Too bad it rained nearly all the time I was there.
The U.S. announced today that it will reopen travel Dec. 31 to southern Africa countries, so the experience I describe here will again soon be available (should you enjoy down days in the rain, like much of the American West is currently experiencing.)
During my three-night stay in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, I had intended to do some hiking. Most other non-coastal South African national and state parks I visited had been wildlife reserves, so campgrounds are fenced, and leaving vehicles to go walking outside the fences is restricted to guided outings.
Golden Gate Highlands has wildlife, but no elephants, rhinos, lions or buffaloes. Perhaps it has leopards, but all I saw were various antelope, a jackal and a baboon.
The baboon waited patiently as I got organized and walked away from the rental car, to go to a vulture viewing blind. When I was about 100 meters away, the baboon walked straight up to the car and tried to open the drivers door with the handle. I was smarter than that baboon because I had locked the door.
Now, about that rain . . . . there was two days straight of it, the most during my six months in Africa except for cloud bursts in Tanzania and Malawi. Two days of rain would ruin most camping trips, right? But not this one.
Pretty much everyone left the campground except for me. There I was, my little tent, the rental car and the visitor center/store/gas station across the highway.
Plus the kitchen, my ace in the hole.
What, pray tell, is a campground “kitchen?” We don’t have those in U.S. national parks.
This kitchen had eight electrical hot plates, six sinks with hot/cold water, a refrigerate/freezer, hot water on demand, bright lights, and windows I could use to watch my tents for baboons.
I had a chair and was able to set up an “office,” using a counter as a desk. There was electricity for my laptop and I had cell internet service via a T-Mobile partnership. It was the South African summer so the rain wasn’t cold, and it seemed to back off at night when I was sleeping.
The men’s room and hot showers were in an adjacent building, a short covered walk away. A crew of six ladies came in at noon to keep the kitchen clean.
I almost didn’t want it to stop raining.