As the long weekend approached us, the nagging feeling of exploration grew strong. A last minute decision on Thursday morning landed us a booking at the Diepwalle nature reserve, deep in the heart of the Knysna forest. We opted to spend the night camping in the deck tents. What a fulfilling experience it was.
A little after 14:30 on a Saturday afternoon, slightly delayed upon arrival, we rambled up the bumpy gravel road bordered by beautiful plants, trees and shrubs illuminating different shades of green as the sun shimmered upon them. After spending 40minutes carefully navigating our way through the hustle of an informal settlement, zigzagging around cows, goats and residents dominating the only tarred road in the area, and then fighting a losing battle with the GPS signal – we eagerly welcomed the sight of the dusty road.
I couldn’t wait to crack open a cold one, sit on our own private deck and just listen to the quiet whispers of the trees…saying that makes me want to go back right now. When we arrived, the site manager led us to our tent deck, his cliché camo-green land rover bounding infront of us. Due to a slight error in our booking we were introduced to a tentless deck, but the site manager speedily rectified the problem and had the tent up in a matter of minutes. Tent pitching was as easy a skill to these men as tying shoelaces is to you and I…it was second nature.
Some decks were built at the edge of the forest while others were plotted a bit further in. We had a deck closer to the edge and it was perfect. The tent is pitched to one side of the deck and the other section is partially undercover sheltering a long bar like surface, log stools and a dustbin. There is also a light fitted to the roof and a power supply for convenience. The braai is just to the side of the shelter and reaches high into the trees. The ablutions were about a 50m walk from the forest and up a slight incline. I couldn’t fault the cleanliness of the bathrooms and they were never too busy which meant hot water for showering was plentiful (keep in mind that the campsite was 90% full).
We unpacked our luggage and got comfortable and decided to explore and orientate ourselves with the surroundings. We discovered some bright green willow-like trees to play in for a bit. Yes, I am 30 years old and I am a big kid at heart.
We got back to our site, the clouds had covered every spot of blue sky by then and eventually burst to sprinkle a few drops of rain on us. We immediately opened some drinks and got a fire going while we took in the scenery. Ice cold cider in hand, fire crackling peacefully, a gentle breeze swooshing through the trees and quiet drops of rain spitting down, my version of bliss. It wasn’t long before the Uno cards came out and things got competitive. If, unlike me, you are used to the quiet, then there is no need to bring a music device or speaker along. But, as a teacher, I am constantly surrounded by noise all day long and I was happy to have some soft music playing in the background as we prepared our supper on the fire. We turned it off later as were settling in for the night and we were able to relax to the enchantimg sounds of the forest. I have a feeling it would have taken me a few days before I would’ve been perfectly at ease with all the unusual quiet #teacherproblems.
We went to bed quite early as it started to drizzle again and spent the rest of the evening snuggled in our sleeping bags reading our books by torch light. Falling asleep to the soft pitter patter of the rain was undeniably peaceful.
The next morning I awoke feeling refreshed and took in the sweet sounds of tweeting birds and the faint sound of the other campers waking up around us. We had a lazy morning laying in bed gazing out at the lush leafy trees swaying back and forth. We didn’t want to leave!
Just before 9:30, we packed up all our belongings and put everything into the car. It was so great not having to deflate an air matress and demantle a tent. We just put our bags in the car and that was us. We would have stayed longer if we could, but I appreciated the brief moment we had getting to know the trees. There is lots to do in the nature reserve if you were to stay on a few days, lots of picnic spots, trails and hikes – one being the well known Elephant 🐘 Walk (no walking with the ellies, just the name given to the trail ;)).
We were then in search of a cup of morning tea and coffee as we didn’t pack any. There is a small tea garden just up from the campsites in the reserve, that offers a small breakfast at a fairly decent price. The garden shows off an exquisite view of the top of the forest while you sit under the shade of the trees and enjoy your meal. There is also a nursery on site for those that have a green thumb 👍 .
We decided to venture into Knysna as it was a Sunday and the kitchen seemed to open slightly later due to the staff maybe attending church (I am assuming, otherwise they had all overslept haha). The trip into Knysna felt way shorter heading back as we were now familiar with the route. We had a cuppa and some scrumptious eggs benedict while overlooking the popular Knysna heads at the East Head café and we discussed our afternoon plans which included exploring Jubilee creek – the other side of the Knysna forest (in the direction of Rheendal).
See my next post for more details on that 🙂
Some personal tips if you are considering to camp in the Diepwalle deck tents:
What to bring along:
- Camping chairs – the log stools provided do not allow for the standard reclining position in which to relax
- Bedsheets – the plastic covering around the matresses can become noisy, especially if you are a restless sleeper
- Tabard – to keep those mosquitoes away
- Kettle – for your morning cup of tea or coffee of course
- Boardgames/card games – for entertainment
- Coolerbox – to keep your meat cold and drinks chilled