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February 19, 2014

SANParks Smitswinkel Bay Tented Camp

A while ago, it was en route on my first visit Cape Point when I was completely blown away by the sight of a turquoise bay just outside of the gates of the Point reserve. Since then, I have been obsessed by the idea of visiting Smitswinkel Bay.

Smitswinkel Bay, on the way to Cape Point

This weekend, a couple of friends and I set off to spend the night at the SANParks tented camp at Smitswinkel, just a short walk and a relatively easy amble down the mountain from this majestic bay.

With the weekend’s heat wave in full swing, we took a leisurely drive from the city, stopping off in Kalk Bay for lunch at Lucky Fish & Chips in the harbor and ice cream in Simon’s Town. It’s a beautiful drive from the city and it’s not uncommon to spot dolphins, whales and baboons along the way.

With temperatures soaring to around 38 degrees in the city and along the False Bay coast, we rounded the final bend to Smitswinkel to find ourselves immersed in a grey cloud. The weather system out that side provides for some harsh and interesting climate changes, but we were grateful for a respite from the heat.

The SANPARKS tented camp at Smitswinkel is luxury camping at its absolute finest. Even those in the group not fond of camping had absolutely nothing to complain about. Each fixed tented unit comes equipped with two single beds with comfortable mattresses, electricity, reading lights and an en suite bathroom with a hot shower. The units also have a small kitchenette area outside with a table and chairs, small fridge, microwave and two-hob gas stove top.

The communal area has a large and fully equipped kitchen, with a dining area that could comfortably accommodate twelve. Outside is a beautiful fire pit, sheltered from the wind by a stunning wall built from rocks sourced from a local quarry. The whole structure is built from trees felled in the effort to remove alien vegetation and blends beautifully with the natural surroundings. In all directions, natural fynbos provides the backdrop to a haven of relaxation.

We spent Saturday evening braaiing fish and talking late into the night as nature engulfed us in her calming presence. All around us the fynbos and mist created the perfect out-of-the-city-atmosphere. The wind howled that night as we crept into our sleeping bags, pulling at the tent and rattling the zippers. It truly did make us feel like we were on a camping adventure, all from the comfort of our luxurious tented structure. On Sunday morning, after breakfast, we slipped into our swimwear and ambled down the windy footpath to the Smitswinkel beach. 

The beautiful tented camp in the mist, by Emma Jackson

The wind was up, but the water was turquoise blue and surprisingly warm. There are only a few houses in the bay, with no power lines and the most perfect view imaginable. The beach was almost empty, save for a few local dogs playing in the waves and one or two other beach goers. The wind kept us cool as the hot African sun kissed our shoulders and sprinkled light summer freckles across our noses.

One night out in Smitswinkel was not nearly enough. I could have spent at least a week there. The camp is actually one of six tented camps along the 5-day Hoerikwaggo trail, which makes its way from Cape Point to Table Mountain. The Smitswinkel Camp is the first camp on the trail, one day’s walk from Cape Point and another day to the next checkpoint. The Hoerikwaggo website has details on the various hikes and stops along the trail. I plan on doing the 5 day hike in the near future. You can view the Hoerikwaggo map here

Get your SANParks Green Card if you are a Cape Town resident and enjoy 12 entries into any of Table Mountain's National Parks for R105.00

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