Satara Camping tips
We had 10 days in October 2012 to figure out what worked and what not, we also saw what the other campers did.In short, the Satara Camping Tips:
1. Decide what you want: fence, tree, bathroom or privacy.
2. Apply a strategy to get what you want if it is not available right away.
3. Camp as far away as possible from the recycling bins.
4. Check the level of the ground even if you think it will never rain and pack a spade.
5. Tighten the ropes and secure everything as Satara can get very windy.
6. Secure the gas bottles and other equipment before going out.
7. Monkey proof everything and discard your trash before going out or going to bed.
8. Keep the kreepy crawlies outside and take a torch when walking at night.
9. Keep an eye on the little ones and elderly at night, they can get lost.In long, the experience and explanation:
We saw that it did not help being early at the camp site if you want to camp at the fence.
The people that are leaving that day, first go for a short drive and then pack up or take literally for ever to pack up.
We arrived at Satara to early for the people still packing up and to late after the people speeding to get there first.
We saw the next day what the people do: they get any camp spot and pitch just the basics or park the caravan and unpack nothing.
Then the next morning they sit around and wait until the perfect spot opens up and move there, sometimes around 12 o'clock.
It sounds like a lot of work, but a lot of people did this.
At the fence the tents and caravans are on top of each other.
When you arrive at camp drive the whole camp site, locate all the bathrooms, sculleries and laundries. Close to the bathrooms are also in high demand juggling for space and some people would do the same thing as for the fence, wait until the right space is open.
We would have liked the fence, but we decided a descent tree was essential because of the heat and luckily found be best one at Satara was available.
As far as good trees goes, they aren't really that great.
People came to ask us regularly how long we are staying as they would like the tree.
But look out for bird's nests as the birds will sleep there and make a nice mess of your tent with there droppings all in one spot.
It was easy to clean the random droppings, but not that easy were the nest was.
We camped close to the bathrooms and laundry because we liked the big tree, but I did not like the following:
the day we got there, there was a blocked drain and smelled bad, but they fixed it quickly.
I did not like the traffic up and down past our tent, but got used to it later.
I could hear the washers and dryers at night, but it seemed to stop by the time everybody goes to bed.
If you have little kids being close to the bathrooms will be essential as we saw, moms could clean the little ones easily after playing in the mud and could do regular laundry.
If you want piece and quite you must rather find a spot far from the bathrooms and walk the walk at night. The scullery is also a busy place and the bathrooms we camped at did not have a scullery, so that extra traffic was not there.
But we had to walk the walk for hot water.
The new bathroom / laundry / scullery at the fence is beautiful and modern but very busy at times.
The strip of fence close to that was also packed with campers.
The bathroom / scullery on the far side was never very busy and had a lot less campers around it.
The other thing to consider if you want piece and quiet is the utility stations (recycling bins, water, electricity).
You need your electricity to be plugged in, but the bins are very very noisy.
Cans and glass bottles goes into one of the bins and when they hit bottom you are wide awake.
One guy made camp right next to a utility station and moved two days later.
Take a very long extension cable or two and try to be as far away as possible if you don't want to hear or be woken up by trash being dumped.
When you arrive you can choose your neighbours, if they are around to size up.
We had no neighbours when we arrived, but had several coming and going during our stay.
Some were as quite as a mouse and some I can just say was terrible.
One lot had a very noisy mattress and I woke up every time they turned around.
But they also camped right next to us trying to share our shade.
I saw people put up these shade cloth wind brake fences just to keep the guys from moving in right on top of you.
Some people put up an extra small tent or two just to put some distance between them.
Especially at the fence the people will squeeze into the smallest space available.
Then very important, check the level of the land.
We did not give it one thought when we made camp as it was sooooo hot.
We camped in a bit of a hollow, not much, but when the rain came down we were in the middle of a dam. Our tent is well designed and waterproof and the inside stayed 100% dry, but to get to the tent was another story.
The ground mesh sheet floated on top of the water, but then sank into the mud with every step we took and the mud was on top of it.
You have to pack a spade.
We dug trenches to divert the water and that helped, but the mud soup was made.
People across the road tent's flooded completely.
Skillie went to help them, but the waters just kept coming.
Their blow up mattresses floated in the water and all there bedding got wet.
They were lucky and could find a chalet for the night.
The ground seems to be hollowed out underneath the trees from all the camping.
That means that if you want shade you runs the risk of water flooding that spot.
Rather be repaired and dig trenches before the rain start.
The mud the day after the rain and the dam walls on the right, not to bad.
We wind blew very hard a couple of nights and we heard a lot of hammering in the midnight hours.
The ground is hard and people only hit the tent pegs in half way.
We knew the ground was hard from camping there in April and the normal 10 pound hammer just bounced off the tent pegs.
We got a dead weight hammer, its a hammer filled with something that moves inside and that worked well to get the pegs in all the way.
A couple of nights before the rain tents and rally canopies blew away.
Our back neighbours had to break down there caravan's rally canopy 2 o'clock in the morning.
Wash stands, gazebos, towels, tables and chairs blew away that night.
Our tent did not move, but Skillie always use double corner anchor ropes, hit the pegs in all the way and regularly tighten the ropes.
When we booked our 4x4 drive at reception the next morning there were a family looking to book a chalet as there tent were so damaged they had to sleep in the car the rest of the night.
Gas can also be a problem.
We were cooking the night before and left the next morning early.
It got very very hot that day and the pipe from the gas bottle to the gas cooker blew off.
Luckily the nice people we met heard the noise of the gas blowing out of the gas bottle and went to close
It. We could have come back to a heap of charcoal if there was a spark or something.
Always close the gas bottle's valve itself, not just at the cooker.
Now to the monkeys, they where not there the first couple of days and everybody was relaxed.
The nice people we met were taking an afternoon nap in there caravan and the monkeys opened the tent. Zippers don't stop them, they pull them up.
Nothing will stop them if they see or smell food.
They would even chew through mesh if they think they see food.
They even steal tupperware or any sealed plastic containers that they can carry.
Plastic crates with latches they can open, you need to lock them with lock and key or cable ties or something.
The problem is that they don't just take the food, but make a huge mess, especially eggs, they break them right there.
We did not have a problem as our kitchen are locked away behind the trailer's doors and we did not leave anything outside.
In April at Letaba I left the tablecloth on the table and found if full of hair and poo and footprints.
You cant even leave dirty dishes, they steal it to lick it out and you might not get it back as they could leave it in a tree or outside the fence.
Don't go inside your tent if you think there is already monkeys inside, they will feel threatened and attack you to get out by biting or scratching you.
Rather hit on the side of the tent, but don't block their escape.
When we were kids my sister got scratched by a monkey when my mom send her back to the tent to get something at Skukuza.
As she entered their exit was blocked and they attacked her, luckily not serious.
Rubber snakes help to keep them away.
We put them around the tent and move them every day.
A monkey came down our tree and saw the snake next to the trailers wheel and speared off squealing.
The problem is that if they get a big freight they might soil them selves, but not always.
They also get brave later and throw rocks at the rubber snakes or try to attack them.
Just don't put rubber snakes near your car and always keep the windows closed.
Also keep clearing your trash not to invite the little terrors or the honey badgers at night.
We were worried the birds might also be afraid of the rubber snakes, but not at all.
They would even sit on them waiting for something to eat.
Even the honey badger knew they were fake as he raided our trash right next to rubber snake the one night that we forgot to discard it.
When you leave your tent's bags under the caravan or trailer tie them shut so that the kreepy crawlies and snakes don't take up residence in them.
When opening the bags again, shake them out before putting your hand inside.
We had a Red Roman (not venomous) in the ground sheet bag.
Also keep the tents mesh door to your sleeping area zipped closed at least around the bottom even when your there to keep the kreepies out and not to get a surprise when you climb into your sleeping bag.
Don't leave an outside light on all night, that attracts moths that attack big Baboon Spiders.
We saw them at the bathroom lights.
Take a torch when going to the bathroom or scullery at night, I almost stepped on a snake (only a small one) and then I took my torch every time.
With young children, grandpa and grandma at night, walk with them the first couple of times to the bathroom and back.
We had to help an elderly gentlemen to find his way back to his family as he turned the wrong way when leaving the bathroom and had no idea where he was.
In April me and my friend went looking for the Scopsies in the middle of the night and got lost on the way back.
It took us for ever to find the tent and we came close a couple of times.
Everything looks different in the dark.
Happy camping at Satara!