Text: A man
Photography: Another man
Most men are natural born campers.
It’s probably got something to do with the time when we lived in caves. Like a basic natural instinct to light a fire (with Blitz), hunt for food (fetch the chops from the fridge), and fabricate a bit of a shelter (pitch the gazebo) – you know, real survival, real man-stuff. It comes naturally to most men.
The percentage of women who take to camping like ducks to water is less impressive. Probably around the 23,2% mark. As one non-camping female camper famously said: “Camping is like giving birth. You leave your dignity at the door.”
This is exactly where the Leisure Wheels Bush Babes come in to rewrite history. Call it women’s lib if you want, but today’s women, including our seven Bush Babes, simply refuse to have their dignity sullied by something as trivial as camping, considering their role in giving birth, raising children, running a business or a successful career, seeing to hubby’s needs and being a lady at lunch and a beast in bed. Hell no, camping is the least of their worries.
As most modern women will agree: if you don’t like it, change it. And so the Bush Babes are changing the face of camping to such an extent that they will actually like it? even love it. Compromise, but not sacrifice.
That’s their motto.
Since only about 23,2% of women who do camp actually enjoy it, and don’t mind oily hair smelling of campfire smoke, showering only once in two days and don’t get panicky if they are surrounded by canvas, and not bricks, where does that leave the other 76,8%?
These are the ladies we want to know about. And these are the ladies our Bush Babes represent. Ladies who want to experience the outdoors and want to rough it up (in an extremely euphemistic sort of way), but most definitely do not want to look like Aileen Wournos (from Monster) just because they are now “camping”.
Who wants to look bad if they can look good? Watch carefully who gives you an answer in the positive. And also watch carefully who gives you the “it can’t just all be fun” line, too.
Have your cake and eat it. That is a new kind of camping — glam camping, if you will — for the majority of women out there.
This is how the Great Hairdryer Expedition series came about. In this series of articles, the seven fashionable Leisure Wheels Bush Babes – who are accustomed to a daily routine of hairdryers, straightening irons and meticulous make-up sessions — will prove that a camping lifestyle in the bush can be what you want (or need) it to be. And that there is nothing you need to go without.
In the first episode of the Hairdryer Expedition a few months ago, our seven handpicked Bush Babes broke the proverbial ice (along with some pina colada, a rum-based cocktail), and trekked to the Royale Marlothi Safari Lodge, in Mpumalanga.
This was not a camping trip, though. The ladies of leisure spent the night in the lodge’s luxurious chalets. It was a session to warm up for a whole range of adventures to come, the first being a night of camping, in preparation of a proper 4×4 camping trip in Lesotho, early in 2011.
So it was a dress rehearsal, if you like. In sandals, not takkies. Rounded off in stylish attire, of course.
Fast forward to the first weekend in December, 2010, at the Hennops Pride camping site, situated west of Pretoria on the banks of the Hennops River, in the Schurveberg mountain range.
Four of the seven Bush Babes were called up for this mission. Crazy Bush (Maryka Bezuidenhout, hair salon owner), Wild Bush (Katy Sokolowics, photographer), Sporty Bush (Karin Stewart, accountant) and Honey Bush (Leilani Basson, Leisure Wheels journo). You will meet the other Bushes later.
The four arrived on the scene in a bubbly flurry, in two new Mitsubishi Outlanders. In sandals and that stylish attire.
4×4 Megaworld’s Bernie Williams was in charge of the group, along with his right-hand man, Godfrey Senosi. They were there to provide the camping gear, the technical know-how and the moral support for the Bush Babes’ first camping experience as a group.
It must have been a peculiar scene for the other, hardier campers at Hennops Pride. Four trendy, easy-on-the-eye coo-girls, in the midst of a camp site. In nature. Under trees. Next to a river. With only communal ablution blocks to flee to.
It must have been a bit like hearing Barney Simon, the “mosh pit” radio DJ, playing Kurt Darren’s latest Afrikaans hit on Jacaranda FM. Or a burly rugby player that wears size 15 shoes receiving a massage from a man called Francine, and who is not afraid to wear a bit of lipstick.
Strangely, the pedestrian traffic streaming past the Babes’ campsite leaned heavily towards the male denomination. Like in 99%. It might have had something to do with the low cut tops and trim bodies.
Meanwhile Godfrey, the right-hand-man, was hard at work, pitching tents and a gazebo. The Bush Babes, clearly in awe of his tent-pitching skills, eagerly awaited Godfrey’s attention, with their own canvas abodes in mind.
But that wasn’t going to happen. If the ladies were going to go camping in wild Lesotho, they needed to get stuck into the tent-pitching affair themselves – with some assistance, of course. Hence the two tents, in their bags, waiting for them.
This was when some, well, disparity surfaced. There were two tents: A normal canvas tent, and a Malamoo “three-second” tent. The Malamoo item is one of those that you just take out of its carry bag and it magically becomes a tent, inside three seconds. The Malamoo was obviously the first prize for the foursome of ladies who had never pitched a tent before!
But after it was pitched, a small hiccup occurred, with “small” being the operative word. There was only space for one person, and not two! The Malamoo, once as desirable as a pair of Levi Capital E jeans, was instantly reduced to a Mr Price bargain pair.
So Godfrey was charmed out of his comfy canvas tent right into the “compact” Malamoo and the four ladies divided themselves between the two more spacious tents.
Godfrey and Bernie became the pillars of the “How to pitch a tent help centre” service.
Finally, amidst all the jokes and jolliness, the tents were up and running. But there was some more construction on the cards? stretchers had to be assembled. And this is where Bush Babes Katy Sokolowicz and Maryka Bezuidenhout (or Wild Bush and Crazy Bush) had a technical, er, well? incident.
Two of their allocated stretcher’s spring poles were slightly bent – as they should be, as this forms the slightly elevated part where one’s head rests. Since two of the ladies had earlier given an impromptu version of pole dancing, to the enjoyment of the onlookers, they thought they had accidentally bent the poles in their moment of silliness. Therefore, the immediate task was to straighten them without anyone noticing.
One plan entailed driving over the poles with a Mitsubishi Outlander. Another was to jump on them. Thankfully, before any damage could be done, the penny dropped. Eureka! The poles are supposed to be like that!
Meanwhile, Leilani Basson (Honey Bush) and Karin Stewart (Sporty Bush) had their stretcher assembled – without having to jump on anything. With all the gear that needed assembly assembled, things were looking up.
Preparing food is a priority when camping. There are no Newscafés or FTV clubs in the middle of Lesotho, with set menus. In the spirit of expanding their horizons, the ladies assembled in disorderly fashion for a cooking lesson, courtesy of Godfrey. They were going to learn how to bake potbrood, or pot bread.
Notes were taken (it’s quite a complex business, baking bread, especially if you’re used to Woolies Low GI seedloaf). Crazy Bush (Maryka) was so impressed with Godfrey’s man-cook skills that she virtually proposed marriage.
And so, with the sun setting, Godfrey’s lamb potjie on the boil, and the papsak of Mainstay cane and a bottle of coffee-flavoured tequila taking some mortal blows from the ladies, Bernie took out his guitar. As it turned out, Bernie is quite an accomplished performer, and has shared the stage with some big names in the local music industry. And can he sing!
The party went on late into the night. It was a good party too, since partying is clearly something most girls are quite skilful at. Finally, the ladies retired to their canvas abodes – it had been a looooong and eventful day.
Early the next morning they slowly, gingerly, started emerging from their tents. Well, not everyone arose from their tents. Wild Bush (Katy) couldn’t sleep in the tent at all, and eventually made herself comfortable in the Mitsubishi Outlander. So she arose from the Mitsubishi.
Crazy Bush was not a happy camper. Early mornings are clearly not her thing.
Courtesy of the always-working Godfrey, the ladies were soon munching omelettes and toast, washed down with a dash of Poncho’s coffee (coffee with a bit of extra skop from a dash of tequila).
The ablution exercise was a futile one, though. That’s because the ablutions were, unfortunately, not very cool. Only teeth and faces were “showered”, and a new set of trendy, fashionable clothes (and the necessary make-up) were donned. Since the girls were not too far from home, the hairdryers, straightening irons, toiletry bags and anti-athlete’s foot flip-flops were kept for the Lesotho trip.
So, are the ladies ready for a rough-and-tough 4×4 overland camping trip? Will they be able to fend for themselves when tents have to be pitched? How will they cope with the 4×4 driving? Will they be able to bake bread, by themselves? Nah! That’s exactly what the camp master and his assistant are paid for.
One thing is for sure? the ladies are clearly determined to go the whole nine yards and make their camping adventures as comfortable and luxurious as possible. Armed with Blitz, chops, Poncho’s, some sunblock, mozzie stuff, and Bernie and Godfrey at their sides, how hard can it be?
But yes, camping and 4×4’ing in Lesotho will inevitably be a bit harder than a one night camp close to home. Compromise. But not sacrifice. No lies.
Boksies of iets:
Mega camp, mega fun
The inimitable Bernie Williams is the main driving force behind Megaworld 4×4 Adventures. Based in Bloemfontein, the adventure company saw the light in 2007, and serves as a natural extension of the services offered by 4×4 Megaworld, the biggest 4×4 accessory supplier in SA.
Besides organising 4×4 training courses all over SA, 4×4 Megaworld Adventures offer self-drive safaris in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zambia. Williams and bush cook extraordinaire Godfrey Senosi ensure that every overland trip, no matter the destination, is an unforgettable one.
Bernie Williams: Tel. 083 300-5442; e-mail [email protected]
The camping gear for this, er? social experiment was supplied by 4×4 Megaworld. The company offers a vast range of 4×4 accessories for just about any 4×4, and also stocks all the latest and greatest in camping gear. From tents to pots, from fridges to mosquito repellents.
4×4 Megaworld: Tel. 011 454-2875; www.4x4megaworld.co.za
Outlander – “jet-fighter” with wheels
The Bush Babes’ preferred mode of transport for this excursion was Mitsubishi’s Outlander. And it’s every bit as fashionable and trendy as our ladies.
In what Mitsubishi termed an extreme make-over at the end of 2009 (see, its right up the Bush Babes’ alley!), the Outlander received a new nose – Mitsubishi calls it a “jet-fighter look”. Stylish chrome fittings were added to the front, sides and back of the Mitsu, and three new colour options became available.
For a compact SUV, the Outlander is actually quite big, and this equates to a vast cabin. It’s also luxurious and modern, with a synthetic leather finish for the dashboard and the door trimmings, while the instrument cluster was updated with fashionable back-lit dials and a LCD multi-information display. Standard safety and luxury appointments are comprehensive.
The Outlander is powered by Mitsubishi’s 2,4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. The DOHC and 16-valve mill is coupled to a CVT (continuously variable transmission) gearbox, with a “six-step” sports mode. The engine delivers 125 kW of power and 226 Nm of torque.
In keeping with its “urban warrior” image, the Outlander’s electronically controlled 4×4 drivetrain features three modes: 2WD (front wheel-drive only), 4WD (where the power is distributed between the front and rear axles as needed), and 4WD LOCK (where the drive is locked in a 50/50 split between the front and rear axles).
The trendy Mitsubishi Outlander retails for R394 500. This includes a three-year/60 000km service plan.
The recipe: Potbrood
1kg bread flour
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 heaped tablespoon butter
500ml warm water
Put all the ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix properly. Scoop some butter into the potjie and grease the bottom and sides properly. Also grease the inside of the potjie’s lid.
Transfer dough mixture into the potjie. Flatten the top of the dough with a wooden spoon. Cover with lid. At the fire, scrape a few hot coals from the fire and create a neat, flat bed of coals on the sand. Place the potjie on a stand, directly over the coals. Add a few hot coals on the lid of the potjie to ensure even heat distribution throughout the dough mixture. Leave for about an hour. Serve hot with dinner or cooled down with breakfast.