In photos: family camping at Mokala National Park

Posted by Teagan Cunniffe on 29 June 2016 Tags:,

When I found out that Vuyi Qubeka was about to take her parents camping for the first time, I felt privileged to join them at Mokala National Park. Here are some behind the scenes photographs from the story.

 

Khosi, Xolani, Vuyi and Marshall

Khosi, Xolani, Vuyi and Marshall.

 
I grew up on a steady diet of camping trips and long drives to get there: my father picking the most obscure 4×4 paths, mother complaining about the heat venting from our Landy, brother and I jostling for space in the backseat and torturing our folks with our poor music choices. Camping is a big deal to me, and as Vuyi points out, to a lot of white people in general. It means time spent with people you love, making fires, watching the stars by night and getting sunburnt by day. But as Vuyi observed, it’s mainly something done by people with means – when it comes to too few beds and having to sleep on the hard ground, she ‘still know[s] families whose lives are lived that way, and can understand why many of people of colour don’t rush for the floor.’

But camping is just so great. I knew they would love it. We set off to Mokala National Park, SANParks’ newest park, located 40 minutes from Kimberley and six hours or so from JHB along the N1 via Bloemfontein. Marshall Rinquest, our camping guide, chef and general knowledge-trove joined us, along with Vuyi’s lovely folks, Khosi and Xolani. Xolani is full of energy and good spirits, while Khosi is graceful and calm.

‘I’m interested to see how people react to us,’ Vuyi’s father said, chuckling. ‘Black people as their neighbours, in a campsite!’ His eyes danced with glee and upon arrival he made a beeline straight for our closest company, a lady packing up her campsite. We soon heard the sounds of laughter coming from their direction as Vuyi and I looked on, shaking our heads and smiling at each other.

It was the first of many neighbourly conversations, and as an old-time camper this was something new for me, something I could learn from. For myself, camping generally involves avoiding neighbours, beyond a few greetings and small-talk. Oh, there’s been the odd one here or there that we have gotten to know better, but on the whole we did what the white English do best: keep to ourselves and our own community.

 

‘My dad calls for wine o’clock, and announces that he’ll be braaing – not the most frequent of proclamations – as long as someone makes the fire, and Marshall graciously gets it started. They have a good rapport, the two of them. We sink deeper into the magic of the night. Soon my mother, Marshall, Teagan and I are folded over in laughter as the dad pours out his memories behind the rising smoke from the sizzling meat.’- Vuyi Qubeka

 
You can read more about Vuyi’s experience in her wonderful story, First-time Campers, out in the July 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.

 

Vuyi's dad making new friends

Vuyi’s dad making new friends.

 

We saw giraffe, eland, gemsbok and nyala.

We saw giraffe, eland, gemsbok and nyala.

 

Stars and fires; that's what camping is all about

Stars and fires: that’s what camping is all about.

 

Breakfast and newspapers in front of the waterhole

Breakfast and newspapers in front of the waterhole.

 

A cup of coffee later and we were ready for our game drive

A cup of coffee later and we were ready for our game drive.

 

Marshall, elated.

Marshall, elated.

 

Vuyi dicing up some veggies for Marshall's potjie

Vuyi dicing up some veggies for Marshall’s potjie.

 

The start of something great

The start of something great.

 

Marshall set about making a delicious vegetarian potjie and bread

Marshall set about making a delicious vegetarian potjie and bread.

 

Our home for the next two nights

Our home for the next two nights.

 

Clouds rolled in on our second night, bringing rain with them. Featured left is the Coleman Signature 7-Person Instant Dome tent, and right is the K-Way Panorama 3-Person tent

Clouds rolled in on our second night, bringing rain with them. Featured left is the Coleman Signature 7-Person Instant Dome tent, and right is the K-Way Panorama 3-Person tent.

 

Beautiful dawns greeted us

But the next morning, we were greeted by a beautiful dawn.

 
 

This story first appeared in the July 2016 issue of Getaway magazine.

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