Jabula is the Zulu word for “joy” and that is exactly what this gem, right on Jozi’s doorstep, brings to weary city slickers craving the relaxation and recharging that only camping can bring. The Willemse family share their experience at Jabula Bush Camp in Dinokeng.
When our friends at Eskom announced imminent rolling blackouts during stage 5 loadshedding just as the July school holidays started, we thought: “If we have to live in the ‘dark ages’, we might as well do it in our happy place – the bushveld!” And so the search for something not too far, but ‘wild’ enough started. We were about to throw in the towel and set up our portable power solution in the back yard when we stumbled upon Jabula Bush Camp, an unfenced camp in Dinokeng.
Since we mainly use Dinokeng as a thoroughfare while heading to the Rust de Winter 4×4 track to put our test vehicles through their 4×4 paces, we did not really know what to expect of this ‘wild camping’ experience. We’d probably hear the close-by highway all the time, not see any animals and hardly see the stars considering that the ‘big city’ of Pretoria is so close by… Wrong! What an unexpected joy this gem turned out to be!
At Jabula you are removed from the hustle and bustle of the resorts with water parks where caravans are lined up like sardines during long weekends or school holidays. Here the joy of being in the bush, relaxed, truly engulfs you. At times, when listening to the cry of the jackal and being lulled to sleep by a lion only a few hundred metres away, we could hardly believe that, just around 10km away, there was a busy road!
Jabula Bush Camp is about 7km from the Tau Gate and, as you head down the tweespoor-paadjie, you can feel the city stress leave your body… Just for the adrenaline to kick in as you take a turn and almost bump into two white rhinos! Yes – within 20 minutes of being in the reserve, we were lucky enough to spot these majestic animals! And this was the first of five rhino sightings during our short stay – with one sighting being right in our camp!
It is always such a treat to set up camp somewhere in the bush where there are no fences and you share the field with animals – and it’s even better when the animals drop by for a visit! We were treated to the rhino sighting, as well as a bunch of zebras, some curious impala and amazing birdlife – right from the comfort of our camping chairs around the lovely fire pit! When owner Lucia checked us in and warned us that we should not walk around freely, due to the many wild animals roaming the campsite, we certainly did not expect to share our camp with these beasts! Not that we minded – quite the contrary!
Lucia, hubby Francois and their children bought the property in 2019 and just as they were about to open their luxury glamping sites (four ultraluxe tented camps boasting two double beds, a well-appointed bathroom, beautiful kitchenette, and lounge area, as well as a massive deck with a small splash pool, looking out over the vast bushveld) Covid-19 struck. Not someone to easily be deterred, Francois got busy developing the unfenced camping sites. And boy – did he do a great job!
Each site (at 25m in diameter, providing ample space for two camp trailers/caravans or up to four ground tents) has warm water, a shower, basin, flush toilet, outside shower and washup area – with a canopy of trees offering ample shade. A perfect compromise between ‘wild camping’ (there is only solar power, adequate to power the bathroom and kitchen lights) and all the needed amenities, which means you do not have to rock up with your entire camp setup. A tent and a cooler box are all you actually need! The only complaint we have is that the time spent at Jabula was way too short! Not that it’s a bad thing as it gives us the perfect excuse to visit again!
In a nutshell
NEAREST TOWN: Pretoria (50km)
TYPE OF ACCOMMODATION: Camping & glamping
SHOP: No (wood & ice for sale from the owners)
CELL PHONE RECEPTION: Yes
ACCESSIBILITY: Gravel roads (accessible to any vehicle and road caravans)
RATES: R138 per person per night (during the week) and R207 per person per night over weekends and school holidays. Children from 6 to 12 years old pay R70 during the week and R92 over weekends and holidays.
*The ultra-glam camping tents are available from R1 900 per tent per night (sleeping 4 adults and 2 children) – minimum 2-night stay.
CONTACT: +27 78 948 6781| firstname.lastname@example.org | www.jabulabushcamp | Social media: @jabulabushcamp
*Rates and facilities highlighted in this article have been supplied and are subject to change without prior notice. – Ed.