Stuck in the Mud

A weekend away at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

It’s been a while but we’re up and running again and had a welcome weekend away at Vrolijkheid at the end of October. The good news is that our Landy is back in action and it was a good opportunity to test it’s performance. We’re happy to report that it’s going beautifully and we didn’t have any issues…well, almost none! 🙂

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve

We were invited by Deirdré from the Warrior on Wheels Foundation to help them assess facilities at Cape Nature’s Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve. Having enjoyed our last outing with them to Rocherpan we were thrilled to have been included in the assessment party again.

We drove out in convoy with Richard and Ella who were also part of the assessment group. They suggested that we take the scenic route through Franschhoek. I suspect that they might have been a bit worried about our car and were there for moral support! 🙂

It was a nice drive and the scenery through Stellenbosch and Franschhoek was spectacular. Hard to believe that the Western Cape is in the grip of a major water crisis. We stopped near the top of the Franschhoek Pass to enjoy the view. Bad mistake…smoke started wafting out from the engine bay of the Landy. Pippa and I both had a mild panic attack. I was fairly sure though that it wasn’t serious and probably caused by diesel spillage while it was in the workshop. The engine was still running, the temperature gauge was normal and the smoke cleared quickly. A quick phone call to Philip at Twin Landy confirmed that we could carry on and not worry about it. Easy for him to say but he was right of course! 🙂

The reality of the drought hit home once we were over Franschhoek Pass and driving past Theewaterskloof (Cape Town’s largest water storage dam). With water levels at only about 25% of capacity it was a very bleak sight.

We arrived at Vrolijkheid late in the afternoon. It’s a beautiful resort near Robertson in the Breede River Valley. The thatched cottages looked very welcoming. Deirdre was already there to greet us and showed us to the cottage that we shared with Richard and Ella. It wasn’t entirely wheelchair friendly but the bedrooms, bathroom and toilet were all accessible. Cape Nature are aware of the need for improvement and don’t advertise the resort as being Universally Accessible. I’m sure they’ll get a lot of benefit from the report that Deirdre will have provided.

A view of our Land Rover parked in fron of the cottage

Made it…and the engine wasn’t smoking!

A view of our cottage for the weekend

Rooikat…our cottage for the weekend

Our first evening was a quiet one just catching up on news with Richard and Ella and enjoying a drink or two out on the large verandah of the cottage. Very pleasant!

The next day we went off to inspect the bird hide and picnic areas which are on the opposite side of the road from the resort. The bird hide was very nice and easily accessible along a wooden boardwalk. Just a pity that there were very few birds on show when we were there. Those that were around were on the opposite side of the dam. A pity!

A view of the boardwalk leading to the bird hide

The boardwalk leading to the bird hide

A view of the dam from the bird hide

A view of part of the dam from the bird hide

The picnic site and trails are not accessible in a wheelchair. Deirdré, Damian, Briony and Gouni-Mae (2 new members of the assessment party) tried one of the trails and turned back very quickly. It’s a nice setup for those without mobility problems though and well supported by hikers and birders.

A signpost showing different trail options

Signage showing trail options


A view of the picnic site with a wall preventing wheelchair access

No access for wheelchair users to the picnic site!

We spent the last night there enjoying a braai with the rest of the group. It was a thoroughly pleasant evening and nice to have a chance to spend some time with Deirdré and Damian again. It was also our first opportunity to meet Briony and Gouni-Mae and get to know a little bit about them. Both of them are lovely and a lot of fun. Briony writes a blog which is well worth reading. Have a look at it here.

And so the weekend was over all too soon. We enjoyed our time there very much. Vrolijkheid is a lovely resort and positioned very nicely to use as a base to explore some of the popular places and activities in the Breede River Valley.

Our trip home in the Landy was uneventful and smokeless! 🙂

Next up…a visit to the Karoo National Park!


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