Words Fiona McIntosh, pics Shaen Adey
A Cape bulbul hops along the balcony rail eyeing me as I lie in bed. It’s clearly an admonishment. The sky is pink, there’s no wind. I should be up to experience daybreak. But I feel disinclined to rush. I’ve been appreciating the dawn chorus and the crash of the breaking waves from my comfy bed. There’s an uninterrupted view through the open flaps of my tent across coastal thicket to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s been a long time since I slept so soundly.
I’m staying at Slangkop tented camp in Kommetjie, in one of six tented dwellings hidden in a grove of sprawling milkwoods at the foot of the Slangkop peak, named by old-time mariners for its distinctive snake’s head profile. With two single beds and a private deck, the tents are perfect for holing up with a book or binoculars, while the big, communal wooden terrace and semi-enclosed braai area allows plenty of space for socialising even when the camp is full. In a private reserve surrounded by a perimeter fence, it’s totally secure. This is glamping at its very best.
Though only 45 minutes from the centre of Cape Town, my temporary home feels a million miles from the rat race. Arriving in the seaside village mid-morning the day before, we explored the area until check-in time, visiting the art galleries and quirky coffee shops, and lunching on fish and chips. Climbing the 145 steps of the slender, white Slangkop lighthouse merited a lie-down before sundowners on the rocks and an evening on the terrace under the stars as dinner sizzled on the braai. Built, like all the Hoerikwaggo camps, from alien vegetation, mostly red river gum and pine removed from the surrounding mountains, the camp conforms to the ‘touching the Earth lightly’ approach of having minimal impact on the environment. Ten years after launching, the site is still being rehabilitated with indigenous species planted to replace the introduced manatoka.
It has a sleepy, seaside feel; reinforced by the domed tents, which are designed to reflect the wind-sculpted, undulating dune thicket. Overhead lighting concealed in whale vertebrae is a nod to Kommetjie’s past as a whaling station. This, and a range of topics from local history to the flora and fauna of this picturesque corner of the Cape Floral Kingdom, is documented on the fascinating information boards that cover the walls of the roomy, well-equipped kitchen.
After morning coffee we leave camp through a back gate onto the coastal boardwalk. A short stroll takes us past the Kom, the little basin from which the seaside village takes its name, to Long Beach, a glorious crescent of silky golden sand.
After watching the surfers I brave a swim in the Atlantic Ocean before heading ‘home’ to pack up camp. Two otters pop their heads out as we pass the Kom and I wish we could linger longer. The stay has been too short, but I feel refreshed and invigorated. If you’re after a good value beach escape look no further. Slangkop Tented Camp really is one of the best-kept secrets of Table Mountain National Park.
Accommodation Slangkop Tented Camp offers a nature-based location with the convenience of shops and restaurants within walking distance. R635 a night for two people in a safari tent with two single beds. Communal ablutions, boma and braai area.
Bookings SANParks Central Reservations 012-428-9111, www.sanparks.org
Source: Wild Magazine