Test all limits in the Nissan Navara
Test all limits in the Nissan Navara

Let the Fun begin!

A few months ago, in our My Ride & I section, we featured an impressive group of women who are taking the overlanding and camping world by storm – G&T in hand. The “Tannies met ‘n Trailer” recently spent some time in the Addo Elephant National Park. The group’s Ayesha Cantor shares their experience and a little bit about what she has learnt about being a tannie.

The other day I read that a “tannie” is like your mom, only cooler. Synonyms include wynkop, wyndrinker, joller and lekker mens! I could not agree more – maybe just to add another synomym: vrienGIN. Us group of tannies are fortunate to be able to visit a place very close to my heart – the Addo Elephant National Park – on a regular basis as the southern Matyholweni gate is only about a 35-minute drive from our homes in Port Elizabeth (or rather Gqeberha, as it’s called nowadays).

Having said that, Addo’s only campsite is located up in the northern section of the park, at the main camp. However, it is a lovely drive through the park from the south to the north and we always spot ample game within minutes from entering the park. This time was no different. But back to the camp – it really is lovely. Each campsite is clearly demarcated by a dense spekboom hedge with a generous layer of gravel underfoot and some lovely big trees providing shade on hot summer days. For campers who appreciate a bit of help, especially getting tent pegs into the firm ground, camp assistants are always around and willing to assist.

Between us we quickly discussed which trailer would fit where, helped each other manoeuvre each trailer into position and quickly finished setting up camp before cracking an ice-cold bottle of bubbles – a firmly entrenched tradition by now. Whoever said setting up camp is a man’s job? Us tannies make quick work of it, always to the surprise of bystanders! Camp set up and cosy, we got to what we came here for – elephants. It was time for an afternoon game drive. Addo elephants (current estimates indicate a 600-strong population) are – unlike their cousins up country in the Kruger and other parks – super relaxed. On a hot summer’s day waterholes like Hapoor can have anything from 100 to 300 elephants enjoying the water. It’s incredible to see each family group (around 22 per group) approach the waterhole, the matriarch keeping her family in tow as they patiently await their turn.

It’s loud and it’s dusty but it’s never scary – a bit like us tannies, then! On the other hand, it can be scary for the little ones who sometimes fall into the deep end of the watering holes. Luckily the herd’s mothers and aunties are always on-hand to rescue the trumpeting tots. Our cameras got busy – sometimes you just don’t know where to point as there is usually so much to snap. Meeting back at camp later the evening, we all quickly jumped into action for dinner prep. And, of course, we needed to get the fires going – one to cook on and another for gees. Because is it even a camp if there is not a lekker, big bonfire? Calls of “Wine or bubbles, tannies?” rang out and the neighbours’ ears pricked up. “Oooh, you ladies sound like fun, and you’re so organised!” Our chirpy responses often have them pulling in to join us for the evening. The more the merrier, right?

This is probably the part I love most about camping – the neighbours that become friends, the camaraderie of like-minded people enjoying nature in the best way possible. I also love the sounds of camp life, kids tearing around stretching their legs (and lungs) after being cooped up in a hot car all afternoon, their excited laughter filling the air. Campfire conversations fill the air: who’s adding what to the braai meal tonight (our Scalli’s spices won after our previous Adventure Afrika feature came in very handy – what a range!), amazing sightings of the day are shared, shower schedules agreed upon, routes for the following day planned and some memories revisited.

And so, our long weekend progressed with a familiar pattern: up before dawn each day for early morning game drives, back to camp for lunch and to compare notes on each other’s sightings, an ice-cold beer or two, maybe another solid game of dominoes with a healthy dose of cheating, and then back out for an afternoon game drive, with a G&T stop along the way. How can this EVER get old?

The story of #TanniesMetnTrailer

Up until about three years ago, my friend Amanda and I camped with an Oz ground tent, which we loved as it’s easy to set up and maintain. What we did not love, though, was having to pack and unpack my car for every trip. Eventually, I managed to convince my hubby that we really needed a trailer to keep all of our camping gear together and in one place (and no, a Ventertjie was NOT going to cut it!). Before we took the plunge to get a trailer, I was fortunate to get an opportunity to accompany a group of friends to the central Kalahari. Each couple had a different setup – there was an off-road caravan, a trailer with a rooftop tent on the vehicle, a trailer with rooftop tent on the trailer, and so forth. After watching their setup and breakdown shenanigans as well as the ease of use during this trip, I had a better idea of what I wanted and – more importantly – what I absolutely did NOT want!

The search was on. I knew that it needed to be small and light, easy enough for a tannie to handle on my own as I often travel and camp solo, sometimes in very remote campsites where there would not be extra hands to help if need be. A rooftop tent and drawer system in my vehicle were not really an option for me. The kind of travelling and camping that I enjoy – for the moment, at least – is having a ‘home’ to come back to in the evenings after a long day out in the parks and game reserves. My checklist was complete. It would need to be priced right (hubby’s budget was merely a suggestion), it would have to be a fairly new model and in very good condition (reliable), and it needed to include a rooftop tent, practical kitchen setup, a fridge, enough storage (a tannie has lots of stuff) and a bar.

The search was on. I knew that it needed to be small and light, easy enough for a tannie to handle on my own as I often travel and camp solo, sometimes in very remote campsites where there would not be extra hands to help if need be. A rooftop tent and drawer system in my vehicle were not really an option for me. The kind of travelling and camping that I enjoy – for the moment, at least – is having a ‘home’ to come back to in the evenings after a long day out in the parks and game reserves. My checklist was complete. It would need to be priced right (hubby’s budget was merely a suggestion), it would have to be a fairly new model and in very good condition (reliable), and it needed to include a rooftop tent, practical kitchen setup, a fridge, enough storage (a tannie has lots of stuff) and a bar.

At the spur of the moment I had decided to, as a test run, visit Pilanesberg Game Reserve before heading back home to the Eastern Cape. And this is where our #TanniesMetnTrailer adventures began. We have since visited Addo, Kgalagadi, Kagga Kamma, Mountain Zebra, Essendene, Pilanesberg, the Kruger and even our own back yards. If there’s a pitch, we camp! For a couple of years, Wildebeest served as the central hub for all the tannies but one by one they began to sort themselves out with their own trailers. It is amazing to see the variety of trailers on offer out there and even more so to see how each of us ended up with the perfect trailer for our very specific needs. Some tannies still prefer to camp with ground tents or rooftop tents on their vehicles and that’s okay. We all happily fall under the #TanniesMetnTrailer umbrella.

What I’ve learnt on this journey

Slowing for towing

I’ll be the first to admit to having been a bit of a speedster before becoming a #TannieMetnTrailer. The fear of something going wrong is what had me listening to advice from others who believe that the maximum towing speed should hover between 110 to 120km/h as it gives you better control and it gives you time to react should the need arise. Nowadays I’m very happy to sit at a comfortable 100 to 110km/h, relaxed and enjoying the scenery. It’s even possible to engage in a good finger tapping session to my playlist road trip tunes of the day.

Plan the route carefully

Having a good idea of the roads you should be on and the towns you will be passing through helps to prevent any possible mishaps such as running out of fuel with no petrol station within reach. It, of course, also helps to know where you can find shopping centres to stock up on essentials.

Don’t do the long hauls over the weekend

Even small issues can become big issues should they happen over a weekend (or public holiday). Most businesses are closed from about lunchtime on a Saturday, making it difficult to get any assistance you might need. And it could get costly as overtime fees might be applicable.

Set up camp first

It’s so tempting to crack a bottle of bubbly or pour an ice cold something on arriving at the campsite, but we’ve learnt that it’s better to quickly set up camp BEFORE imbibing.

Tea solves about anything

Going into full-blown panic mode when things go wrong is not useful. My regular #TanniesOnTour buddy, Amanda, taught me to stop, pour some tea from the flask, sit, sip, and then figure it out. There is no urgency, no need to panic. Stay calm and sort it out. It actually works!

Not all #hubbygrams are born to camp.

There have been a few chirps about our husbands being quite lonely. Just so you know, our #Ooms have been known to join us on the odd occasion – but they are not as obsessed with all this camping nonsense as we are. In fact, all ooms are very welcome to join the #TanniesOnTour – we will even braai for them, as long as they are accompanied by their tannies!

You’re never alone

Of course one or more #TanniesOnTour usually attract a bit of attention. “Aren’t you afraid? Don’t you get lonely?” No, we aren’t, and we don’t. And no, we are not couples, either. Our campsite is often a hive of activity with visitors coming and going, which we love! The gin bar is always open, extra ‘lego chairs’ are pulled up and the conversation flows.

Less is more

Hubby kept warning me against overloading my trailer, but did I listen? Hell, no! Shopping for camping goods is the BEST kind of shopping, right! So, I had to learn the hard way and I have many gadgets that are now gathering dust in the garage – school fees paid! No matter how well you pack and how well you label everything, whatever you need will always be right at the back and right at the bottom. If you, like me, prefer more time sitting around the braai fire, sipping gin and yakking about the awesome day you had then you quickly realise that less stuff means less searching, less packing and unpacking and more time relaxing around the fire.

You never stop learning

After three years of towing a trailer, you’d think I pretty much have things waxed, right? Wrong! Chatting with fellow campers and checking out their rigs and camps often gives me ideas for a good camping trick, nifty gadget, or cool shortcut.

Every Tannie needs a brilliant back up crew

LA Sport are a #TanniesMetnTrailer’s best friend. Not only do they see to new additions and tweaks to the rig, but also quickly sort out any selfinflicted issues. Every tannie should have an A team, offering good advice, great ideas, and practical solutions. Find yours!

I’ve learnt that I’m a #TannieWatKan

My hubby made it clear that if I was determined to travel solo with a trailer then I would have to equip myself with the knowledge and know-how and the equipment to be able to do so. I couldn’t rely on others to help me at every turn – so, outdoor/overlanding/ camping magazines became my friends, 4×4 forums were perused and I became an expert Googler. Admittedly, a lot of the learning has come from experience – always, the best way to learn, albeit not without its curveballs. Once I got over going into panic mode when things did not quite go to plan, I got a bit of confidence which in turn helped me figure things out and get the necessary done.

Tannies who camp together, stay together

As much as I enjoy solo trips, I do admit that there is nothing better than being on tour with my amazing tannie friends. Setting up camp, especially now that both Sanette and Amanda have their own trailers, is so much easier, quicker and more fun with more hands, lots of humour and cheeky jibes. Did someone say Gin ‘o Clock?

*Follow the Tannies on social media: @tanniesmetntrailer

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