This year, July Camp offers another new Base Camp site! This time in the beautiful Cobham Valley, that most people only know, if at all, from crossing through it on the Giant’s Cup Trail which runs South from Sani to Bushman’s Neck. Our campsite lies in the chi-chi (‘nchu-‘nchu) bush on the banks of the Polela River some way above the Cobham office complex that includes the Giant’s Cup Trail Overnight hut.
It is arguably one of the most beautiful areas in the Southern Berg and is drained by the Emerald, Pholela and Mzimkhulwana streams and abounds with good caves. The most popular way to the top would probably be the Msubasuba Pass that bisects the gap between the Hodgsons Peaks.
This area of the Southern Berg offers a dramatic and scenically rugged terrain with superb hiking for sub-campers in the Little Berg which has a number of excellent caves for over-nighting; backpacking on the Escarpment; and, of course, delightful, varied and memorable day-walks, for those who are thus inclined; opportunities for rock-climbing and some superb examples of rock art (e.g. eSiphongweni Shelter and Pinnacle Rocks), abundant bird life and the antelope for which the Berg is renowned.
After the relative luxury of last year’s Base Camp with hot and cold running water and flush toilets, this year we will be back to the traditional style July Camp, but with additional extras in the form the elegant ‘stove’ which made its debut last year and which promises to boast the 2012 revisions and innovations. We also will be offering state of the art bathrooms and loos.
The Camp will run from Saturday 7 July to Saturday 21 July 2012. Campers can attend for the whole period, either week, or for just a few days. Space will be limited, so please book early.
● July Camp 2012 will offer:
- superb sub-camps and long hikes in the Little Berg and/or on the Escarpment
- satisfying day walks with views, forests, waterfalls, streams and spectacular rock formations
- visits to rock art sites
- excellent opportunities for game viewing, bird-watching and Berg photography
- opportunities for rock parties to do some climbing, provided there are rock leaders in the group
● Applications to attend the Camp:
Each prospective Camper should apply to attend July Camp on a separate copy of the enclosed form and to indicate his/her preferences, abilities, and membership status. N. B. Visitors are very welcome. Campers are assigned to parties according to their ability and preferences. Prospective leaders are asked to indicate the type of party they would like to lead. All Campers, for their own convenience and safety, should be reasonably fit and well equipped. Children, accompanied by a parent (or other adult) taking full responsibility for them at all times, will be very welcome.
● DIRECTIONS TO THE BASE CAMP
NB. Campers are advised to approach from Underberg. Please do not think that the approach through Nottingham Road is preferable. This road is shorter and very scenic, but it is in very poor condition, very time consuming and should be avoided at all costs.
From upcountry, pass the Howick/Tweedie and the Howick/Midmar turn-offs, and then, at Merrivale, to take Exit 99 (R617) to Underberg and the Southern Berg.
From PMBurg and Durban, pass the Hilton and the Cedara/Mount Michael turn-offs, then, at Merrivale, take Exit 99 (R617) to Underberg and the Southern Berg.
Continue to Underberg and at the Shell garage bear right towards Himeville. On entering Himeville, take the first turning left to Cobham (beware the bump in the road). Travel to the end and park at the designated July Camp parking site. From this site, your personal kit will be taken by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife transport to the campsite.
NB: Please note that the access to the Cobham Reserve is restricted from 07:00 to 17:00.
If you need any further details, please phone Rikki Abbott Wedderburn on 082 538 5389 or 033 330 3921 (home), Margaret Brown on 082 055 2143 or Mike Coke 083 321 8841. This year, Mike will be handling the applications etc.
● HIKING FEES, CARDS and PASSPORTS
- Each camper is required to pay Ezemvelo KZ-N Wildlife an overnight camping fee of R45 per person per night. This is included in the fee paid to MCSA and will then be paid over to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
- Leaders wanting to stay in caves will have to take potluck and book them at the Office during the Camp, or let the Organiser know, well in advance, so that she can make an early booking.
- MCSA members are required to carry their current membership cards with them.
- Campers intending to go on to the Escarpment must also carry their passports with them.
- For EVERY TRIP, be it a day-walk or a sub-camp,campers will have to complete the appropriate mountain register before leaving the Base Camp.
● BASE CAMP
Campers are required to bring their own lightweight mountain tents – sub-zero temperatures can be expected. Strong winds, snow or rain are not uncommon.
● If you plan to take your own tent sub-camping, there is a large MCSA tent to store your excess kit.
● Base Camp, meals are prepared and served by the Camp staff, but we ALL do our own washing up.
● After supper, weather permitting, we can gather in the campfire enclosure for a singsong and hot drink.
● Limited hot water will be available at the superior, state of the art, camp-style bathrooms.
TRANSPORT OF CAMPERS’ KIT
Campers’ kit will be transported between the car park and Base Camp at the following times:
Saturday 07 July from the car park to Base Camp – 12h00 and 15h00
Saturday 14 July from Base Camp to the car park - 09h00
Saturday 14 July from the car park to Base Camp – 12h00 and 15h00
Saturday 21 July from Base Camp to the car park – 09h00
However, in the event of very bad weather, if the tractor transport cannot negotiate the track or is involved in fighting fires, it may be necessary for campers to carry ALL their own kit to and from the Base Camp. SO, in your own interests, PLEASE LIMIT YOUR KIT TO REASONABLE AMOUNTS.
NOTE: NO ARMCHAIRS, NO BIKES!
Campers arriving, or leaving, at times other than these must be prepared to carry ALL their own kit to and from the Base Camp.
● KIT REQUIRED
- Lightweight tent and bedding suitable for sub-zero temperatures with wind, snow and/or rain
- Clothing (generally, the days are sunny and mild, but the nights are intensely cold)
- Waterproof and windproof gear
- Personal first aid kit, sun-hat and sun-barrier creams
- Torch and spare batteries
- Boots (sturdy, supportive, water-repellant, strong Vibram–type soles! Other shoes are NOT suitable!)
- Water bottle
- Rucksack appropriate to intended activities
- Two mess kits – one for use in Base Camp (retrieved at the end of Camp), the other for your trips
- Plastic bucket/ basin to carry water and to wash clothes
- Biodegradable soap and shampoo
- A clothesline and a few pegs are useful
- If required, a folding stool or SMALL folding chair (NB: NO ARMCHAIRS will be accepted because space at the fireside will be limited)
- Preferred sweets, drinks and snacks to share at the campfire or while out on sub-camps and/or day trips
- TWO large rubbish bags – ‘carry in, carry out’ principle applies. Please keep ALL the rubbish YOU generate both in Base Camp and on day-trips/sub-camps and TAKE IT AWAY WITH YOU.
- If you want to plan your trip in advance or acquaint yourself with the area, the relevant maps are Hiking Map no. 5, Cobham, and possibly Hiking map no 6 Garden Castle and Bushman’s Nek - available from Ezemvelo, P O Box 13609, Cascades, 3202 or firstname.lastname@example.org (OR) on arrival, from the office at Cobham.
- MCSA Berg maps will also be available for sale in the Camp.
- Since NO OPEN FIRES ARE ALLOWED in the Drakensberg, ONLY STOVES may be used.
* Both benzene and methylated spirits for stoves are provided in Base Camp.
- If you plan to join a sub-camping party, please bring cooking utensils/billies, containers, plastic bags, and stove plus spare fuel containers and gas, if using a gas stove. Then the leader can select the best equipment for the trip.
- If you are keen on rock-climbing, please bring your own harness and climbing equipment. Then, if there is a rock-climbing party, the rock-leader can select the best equipment for the climb/s.
NOTE: Camping stoves MAY NOT BE USED IN BASE CAMP because of the fire hazard.
- Camp fees include a standard selection of food for all meals in Base Camp and on day trips
- Pre-packed, lightweight food is provided for sub-camping trips
- If leaders want to plan their catering, a copy of the food list can be sent via e-mail or posted
- Campers with specific dietary needs are advised to provide for their own requirements
● COST – PLEASE NOTE:
a) The FEES FOR THE CAMP ARE R200 per adult per night (13 to 18 years R175, 6 to 13 years R125 and under 6 years R100)
b) Caves must be booked through the Office. Booking of trail huts will have to be negotiated
c) If you are NOT a member of MCSA, or an affiliated Club, there is an additional Visitor’s Levy of
R 80.00, which can be redeemed against future membership of the KZ-N Section of the MCSA.
July Camp reserves the right to retain a 20% booking fee in respect of cancellations. Please note, refunds will only be made if cancellations are received before Saturday 23 June 2012, as all the food for the Camp will be ordered during the following week
● PAYMENT and CLOSING DATE
a) Application forms and full payment must be received on or before Saturday 23 June , 2012.
b) Please make cheques out to Mountain Club of South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal Section, July Camp.
c) Alternatively, if making a direct deposit, please include the applicable cash deposit fee.
● PLEASE INCLUDE PROOF OF PAYMENT WITH YOUR APPLICATION.
Late entries (after 23 June, 2012) will be accepted only if the Camp is not fully booked.
NB: This year space will be limited
● FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, QUERIES AND ADDITIONAL FORMS:
The Convenor, July Camp Sub-Committee,
Rikki Abbott Wedderburn,
(Home) 033 330 3921
(Cell) 082 538 538 9
(Fax) 033 330 8412
● URGENT MESSAGES:
From Monday 2 July to Friday 6 July, 2012, the July Camp Sub-Committee will already be in the Berg preparing the Camp and will probably be out of cell phone range.
Any very urgent messages in connection with the Camp, may be telephoned to the Cobham Office at Tel: 033 702 0831 (during office hours).
REQUIREMENTS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE EZEMVELO KZ-N WILDLIFE
ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PLAN
July Camp endorses a comprehensive system of environmental practices that address, inter alia, conditions of access, admissible structures, services, monitoring, auditing and decommissioning, reinstatement and rehabilitation, pollution and the impact of the event on soil, animals, vegetation and other area users.
○ Water quality
The Berg is the main watershed for KZ-N, so all Campers are required to use biodegradable soaps and shampoo and to ensure that grey water is dispersed directly onto a grassed area and not into a watercourse.
When out of Base Camp, all Campers are required to observe bush etiquette.
○ Soil conservation
Palettes or duckboards must be used in the bathrooms to prevent soil trampling and compaction.
The principle of ‘carry in, carry out’ will apply. Participation in July Camp is on the understanding that each Camper will carry out and take away ALL the rubbish he/she generates both in Base Camp and on day-trips or sub-camps.
Women please note that this applies particularly to items best described as ‘hygiene products’ and that they should bring suitable ziplock bags. While Campers are encouraged to ‘pack-out all waste’ a designated bag for such products is provided in the Women’s toilet at Base Camp.
Any leader intending to undertake rock climbs is required to be fully familiar with the Bolting Policy as developed by the KZ-N Section of MCSA and KZ-N Wildlife.
Each Camper leaving the Camp (whether for a day trip or a sub-camp) must ensure that he/she joins a recognized party and clearly indicates his/her destination on the Mountain Register in the Camp. WANDERING AROUND ON ONE’S OWN IS AGAINST ALL HIKING CODES.
○ All Campers leaving Camp must complete the Camp register at the office and must carry water, adequate warm and waterproof clothing, a torch and spare batteries.
The sense of peace, animals and other visitors must not be disturbed by noise.
No radios (or loud music) shall be permitted.
The site will be monitored before and after the event.
○ Flora and fauna
If any sensitive species (e.g. vulture, lammergeyer or oribi) are seen, please inform the Reserve Management promptly so that the KZ-N Wildlife specialists can be informed.
No open fires may be lit by day trip or sub-camp parties. Special concession is given for the Camp to cook on the camp stove, to heat the bath water in the ‘donkey’ and to have a campfire, if conditions permit.
All standard conservation codes must be practised.