For this adventure I took my family on camping trip to Kleinrivier Wilderness Area. It was a 400km drive to the Reserve which is located near Uitenage.
We camped at a site called Soetdorings (“Sweet Thorns”), so named because of the thousands of thorn trees throughout the reserve.
We booked out the entire site so that we could have it to ourselves (it only caters to a maximum of seven campers).
It has a big covered lapa with sink and wood stove and fire place. Two of the main attractions of the small site are the man-made natural rock pool, under the shade of acacia trees, and a stone-built flush-toilet/hot shower (wood burning “donkey” geyser) with a large open window overlooking the Karoo hills.
We arrived late in the afternoon, after the long drive, and spent the rest of daylight hours erecting our tents and getting settled, with a light drizzle making everything a bit wet.
The next morning we went on our first hike. Our plan was to do a walk along one of the meandering rivers, but the entire area was very dry and there was not a drop of water in the empty river beds.
Nevertheless, it was a enjoyable, easy hike, with some gentle ups and downs through the rocky terrain. It was about a 7km walk.
Here’s a video of us exploring the Riverside Hike at Kleinrivier:
On our way back we discovered another awesome little man-made rock swimming pool which we would visit at a later stage.
Once back at base it was a case of finding some cool shade to escape the stifling heat, and then a braai and some games.
That night we made a fire in the donkey geyser for hot showers.
Equipment I used on this adventure:
- 2 x campmaster 4-man dome tents (one for sleeping and one for all our gear)
- Cowl sleeping bag
- 360 camping set
- 3-in-1 survival whistle/compass/thermometer
- Zoomable torch
- Espresso maker
- Salomon trail shoes
- Max ski pants
- Falke socks
During the Christmas holidays my wife and I travelled inland of the Eastern Cape to spend time with my sister and brother-in-law on their farm. We’ve had a few adventures there in the past, and on this trip we took a drive to a relative’s farm nearby.
On his property he has the most awesome picnic setting, a very private and secluded piece of heaven. It was complete with a glimmering dam, a stunning waterfall with rocky outcrops, and a neat little stream – all of which begged closer exploration.
It was an awesomely sunny day and the beautiful waterfall cascading down made the perfect backdrop while we snacked some lunch and played a few card games.
Then it was time for an extremely refreshing swim in the chilly water. We swam across to the waterfall which we stood under for ultra-powerful hydro massage, – ‘breathtaking’ feeling.
The minute we had arrived at the site, I saw the dry section beside the flowing water and I knew I had to climb up it. So in between swims I set off to find the most accessible route. It was great to scale the rocks and see close-up the power of nature surging alongside me.
After exploring around the top for a while I headed back down for another cooling dip before we called it a day. And so, after a very memorable time of outdoor fun, it was time to head back to ‘base’.
Below is a short video I made of the brilliant excursion, just to give you a better idea of the awesome raw beauty that was literally in this guy’s back yard:
Title track from the video is by Lifehouse, download it here
Yesterday my son took advantage of all the recent heavy rains and began entertaining himself in a mud patch.
Mud play is about fun, it engages all the senses, and should be a normal part of outdoor play.
Fun fact: Playing in mud boosts the body’s immune system. According to the “hygiene hypothesis,” children raised in extremely clean environments, who have little exposure to the bacteria, viruses and parasites found typically found in mud, are more likely to develop allergies and asthma.
AND the rich, engaging sensory play children participate in while playing with mud allows them to express their creativity while enhancing their fine motor skills.
Nature Play QLD recently published their research about the benefits of kids playing in the mud, and why they have an inbuilt need to play in mud.
“There is evidence suggesting that mud play is a basic biological need, and this type of play has many physical, psychological and emotional benefits for children.
MUD MAKES YOU HAPPY – New research has shown that exposure to friendly soil bacteria (Mycobacterium Vaccae) stimulates the immune system causing the brain to release serotonin, the endorphin used to regulate mood.
MUD INCREASES BRAIN ACTIVITY – When children play with mud they use all of their senses, resulting in a highly stimulated and active brain.
MUD INCREASES PHYSICAL ACTIVITY – When children play outdoors, and in mud, the incidental movement and physical activity increases, helping children maintain a healthy lifestyle and develop their physical literacy.
MUD REDUCES YOUR SUSCEPTABILITY TO DEPRESSION – Given the link of the friendly bacteria in mud and its ability to make you happy, scientists say that regular exposure to mud will reduce a child’s vulnerability to depression.
MUD REDUCES ALLERGIES & ASTHMA SYMPTOMS – There is increasing evidence that today’s society is “too clean”, and that this is a contributor to increased levels of childhood illnesses, including immune disorders and allergies.
MUD PLAY BUILDS CREATIVITY – The open-ended nature of mud play is perfect for the developing brain. There is no end to the creations, ideas and games children will invent. During this type of unstructured, outdoor play, children are not only exercising but are building their ability to form ideas, problem solve, and think critically, as well as be innovative and inventive.
KEY DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES ACHIEVED THROUGH MUD PLAY – As children grow through their formative years, mud play will help them achieve many key developmental milestones, such as fine and gross motor skills, sensory awareness, balance and coordination. Mud play will also create opportunities to practice social skills and help children to make sense of the world.
FOUNDATIONAL LEARNING THROUGH MUD PLAY – While playing with mud, children are learning and testing theories, as well as developing foundational understanding of maths and literacy.
MUD PLAY CAN REDUCE CHILDHOOD ANXIETY AND STRESS – There is now scientific evidence linking the restorative effects of outdoor play, which can reduce levels of anxiety and stress in children.
MUD PLAY CREATES CHILDHOOD MEMORIES – Positive childhood experiences while playing outdoors will help to create and strengthen kids’ concept of the outdoors, and reinforce the intrinsic benefits and interest in playing outdoors and being active.
BUILDING AN ADVENTUREOUS SPIRIT THROUGH MUD PLAY – While kids are braving the mud, sloshing and squelching around, they are challenging themselves, expanding their experiences and in turn, their world. Instilling and nurturing this constructive foundational style of critical thinking and risk assessment in children builds and strengthens their values and attitudes toward adventure, and develops important skills that can be carried through to adulthood.
MUD BUILDS A CONNECTION WITH NATURE – Playing with mud is a foundational activity that could lead to children further developing a strong and empathetic connection with the natural environment.
MUD IS FUN! For most children, mud play is intrinsically fun, plain and simple. While adults like to understand the full sphere of why mud play is so good for our children, kids will just instinctively play in it. Especially when their parents encourage them to! Children don’t need to understand why this type of play is important to their development. What’s important is that we provide opportunities for them to do it – and give them permission to get dirty!
Parents and carers know that how our children play is important. We all know we need to find ways to get our kids moving.
MUD PLAY is amazing, not only it delivers a great play experience for our kids, but it’s easy and affordable to get involved.”