Camping in the Cederberg with a newborn baby MzansiBride

Winona Griggs

Camping in the Cederberg with a Newborn Baby

I have always been an adventurous person. As soon as I finished university, I couldn’t wait to pack my bags and hop on a plane. It’s been six years and I’ve traveled to four continents. Now, I find myself living in Cape Town with my boyfriend and our one-year-old son.

When my baby boy was born, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let go of my adventurous spirit. So, when he was just 18 days old, my boyfriend and I decided to take our little family of three on a weekend getaway to the Algeria campsite in the breathtaking Cederberg mountains.

After all the stress that comes with being first-time parents, we believed that some fresh air and the beauty of nature would be the perfect remedy to recharge our energy. And we were absolutely right.

So, there I was, all packed up and ready for our camping adventure. We had to fit everything into the car, which turned out to be quite a challenge. And by everything, I mean not only the camping gear but also all the stuff we needed for our little one. Let me tell you, when you have kids, the whole idea of packing light just goes out the window.

After what felt like forever, we finally managed to squeeze everything in. I looked at the car and couldn’t believe how full it was. And most of it was for our little bundle of joy, who was blissfully unaware of the chaos we went through to make this trip happen. Talk about surprises!

Our plan was to go during our son’s usual nap time in the hope of having a peaceful journey. Just in case he woke up, we had a backup plan – a repertoire of those repetitive kids’ songs that we had memorized. You know the ones, like “On Top of Spaghetti” and “Eensy Weensy Spider.” They might have been annoying, but as parents, we were willing to do anything for a moment of peace and quiet.

On our way, we grabbed some coffee and snacks for the three-hour drive ahead. No South African road trip is complete without a bag of droëwors and biltong, so we made sure to buy enough for the entire trip. As we left the city, we could see Table Mountain in the rear-view mirror and a long open road ahead – our first trip had finally begun.

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Our baby fell asleep just after we passed the Engen on the N7. ‘Alright,’ I said, ‘it’s time for some grown-up music.’ I quickly looked through our collection of CDs and put on one of our old ELO albums. The song “All over the World” filled the car. Finally, some music other than “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”!

As I traveled along, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the breathtaking countryside that surrounded me. The views were absolutely stunning. I was surrounded by vast valleys and towering hillsides, with majestic mountains in the distance. The landscape was dotted with vineyards, sheep farms, and rooibos farms, creating a picturesque scene. I wondered if the farm animals themselves realized just how lucky they were to call this place home, or if they had become accustomed to its natural beauty.

Driving from one town to another, I marveled at the diversity and charm of each place. From Philadelphia to Malmesbury, Mooreesberg to Picketberg, and Citrusdal to Clanwilliam, every town had its own unique characteristics. It was hard to imagine that a bustling city was just a short distance away.

As the day wore on and the sun poured into the car, the air grew hot. The paper bags, which were once filled with delicious biltong, now showed oily rings from the fat. If we had any doubts about buying our new family car, they certainly didn’t bother us today. Thank goodness for air conditioning!

Even though the drive was long, it was incredibly refreshing. Being able to break away from our usual routine and actually talk to each other about things besides the kids was reason enough to go on this trip.

Wow, things got a little rough as we switched from smooth pavement to a bumpy dirt road. Some parts were seriously jarring, but we powered through. Just when we were about 10-15 minutes away from our destination, the baby woke up from a nice nap and demanded to be changed and fed immediately! Despite the unexpected pit stop, it was a relief to stretch our legs and take a breather. Plus, we got to feast our eyes on the majestic sight of towering rocky mountains.

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Finally, we arrived at the campsite and were warmly welcomed by one of Algeria’s friendly workers at the gate. Even though we had booked in advance, she let us know that there were still a few spots available if we wanted an upgrade. After weighing our options and considering the pros and cons of each spot, we finally settled on one.

Wow, let me tell you, the moment we arrived at our campsite, we knew we were in for something special. It was like stepping into a fairytale. Right by the sparkling water, surrounded by majestic trees providing cool shade, and with a picnic table and braai facilities at our disposal, it was everything we could have asked for. But that’s not all. The view of the mountainside was absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. It was the kind of view that takes your breath away and leaves you in awe.

Now, I have to admit, I’ve done my fair share of camping in the wide-open bush of British Columbia, Canada. So, staying at a campsite with designated spots and the luxury of flushable toilets was a whole new experience for me. And don’t even get me started on the possibility of a hot shower. I was beyond thrilled when I found out that I could have a hot shower the next day. It felt like a dream come true.

As we settled into our campsite, my boyfriend focused on setting everything up while I took the baby in the carry pouch and went for a little adventure around the grounds. Let me tell you, Algeria is fantastic. It’s nestled within the stunning Cederberg mountain range and has about 48 spacious sites. The campsite is situated in a river valley, with a peaceful river flowing through it. This river not only divides the camping area but also acts as a natural sound barrier, ensuring privacy and tranquility for each campsite.

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As we crossed the concrete bridge in the middle of the grounds, the sound of laughter and splashing water reached our ears. It turned out that some of the other campers had taken a dip in the refreshing river to beat the heat. It was so tempting to join them, but we had other plans this time. On our way back, we stumbled upon a group of campers enjoying a delightful braai, filling the air with the mouth-watering scent of sizzling food. And then we saw something truly unique – a group of people taking a donkey cart ride around the campsite. It was like a step back in time, a magical experience.

Further down the path, we encountered a few weary, dirty hikers making their way back from a long day of exploration. It reminded us that besides the incredible camping experience, Algeria offers some fantastic hiking and climbing opportunities. Although we didn’t plan on doing any hiking this time, it’s definitely something worth considering for future trips.

When the baby and I got back from our walk, we were thrilled to see that our tent was already set up, our stuff was unpacked, and our fire was already smoking. The plan was to give the little one a sponge bath for the night, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the washroom had bathtubs specially designed for kids. It was a relief because all we needed to pack next time was a small plug instead of a bulky baby bath.

We quickly got ourselves cleaned up, dressed, and fed the baby, just like we would at home. He peacefully fell asleep in his travel bassinet without a fuss, and we zipped up the tent, ready to enjoy the night.

The sun had set, the air was chilly, and the stars were shining brightly. We set up some candles around the fire, unfolded our camping chairs, and had our first dinner in the great outdoors as parents. I looked at my boyfriend and said, “We should definitely do this more often.”

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