This time it was overlooking the dam at Somabula Nature Reserve, a lovely place to camp out and enjoy time away from the city, to get back out into the bush and reconnect with nature.
Most folks arrived on the Friday afternoon to set up camp. Some stayed in the chalets a short drive away from the campsites. None tried the quaint Ox wagons which are also available as accommodation. The Friday evening was a time for folks to relax at their chosen campsites – some private with own ablutions, others communal campsites with common ablution facilities, however, all facilities are of a high standard. Most gathered around communal fires to chat and catch up with each other.
Saturday morning was free time, with some heading into the town of Cullinan to sort out vehicle issues or enjoy the sights, while others went for a walk on the well-marked trail. Those who got out early were able to view the animals on the reserve. Those spotted included a family of giraffe, some eland, a family of kudu, blue wildebeest, blesbok and a herd of zebra. Some wandered to the nearby campsites to catch up with friends. Others took a drive along the trails in the reserve.
Last year we were blessed with a gap in the weather, and this year was no different. There was some heavy rain on the Thursday evening, so to have a clear day on Saturday for our open-air Cheese and Wine event was another real blessing.
Before the planned meeting time Simon, Rori-Leigh, Alida and Malcolm went to the Fish Eagle lapa to set up for the event. It was amazing to see the rustic venue transformed into a stunning harvest table display fit for a cheese and wine event. The view from the lapa, overlooking the dam and the distant hills of the reserve provided a picture-perfect backdrop for this event.
Soon all gathered at the lapa which is close enough to the campsites for most to walk there. Each group brought along their own table and chairs and set up outside the lapa.
The owner of Somabula, Gerry Kock, was warmly welcomed when he popped in with his grandson in the Somabula Series II which is used on the reserve for daily maintenance work.
We then gathered inside the lapa, and with the bench and low wall seating around the large wooden table we could comfortably hear as Simon shared with us some of the very interesting stories of the history of Fairview, and its connection to the Back family (most wine drinkers know the name Backsberg), how they came to start producing goats’ cheese, and the developments which have occurred since. Interesting for me was how some of the Frenchmen working at Koeberg power station had an influence in the development of cheese-making. We also enjoyed sampling the Fairview red blend wine. It didn’t take long for us to take up Simon’s offer to buy a couple of bottles at a good price.
As the sun set, we lit a communal fire to add to the atmosphere. With a few clouds on the horizon, the sunset took on that beautiful red glow. Many used the opportunity of the golden hour before sunset to take some good photo shots.
The choice of a campsite venue allowed us to enjoy the rest of the evening under the stars, chatting at the lapa and listening to the night sounds. We were able to hear sounds of jackal calling and a persistent Rufous-cheeked Nightjar.
On Sunday morning some left early, while others chose to use the time to enjoy the walks and drives and extend their stay before heading home.
With Somabula being so close to Joburg and Pretoria, it was the perfect venue for this event.