Moolmanshoek, men and my kitchen
Text and photography: Foxy Babe (Almal van As)
There's a certain advertisement that always makes me chuckle. It's a cheeky ad about a twin-cab who's brand name I won't mention for obvious reasons. The theme: Girl power with 'sisters doing it for themselves' where the heroine changes her persona and in the end swaps rolls with her husband by sending him off to the kitchen to make her a sandwich. Being a Bush Babe, this ad rings true to a certain extent as we have entered a mainly male dominated area and have proved that we are as capable as our male counterparts and can have just as much fun as they do, while tackling off road conditions or doing some adventurous challenge. In November 2013, Bush Babes were going to spend an action packed weekend at Moolmanshoek, a private nature reserve in the Witteberg mountains in the Free State between Ficksburg and Bethlehem. But this time it would be different. This would be the first outing since Bush Babes have been privatized. As an exception husbands, partners and children could join us on this one. We would be sponsored by Isuzu and guided by Marius and Karen van Vuuren. Isuzu would supply the vehicles with fuel and radios for communication between the vehicles. For our own pocket, just the accommodation, drinks and food. What a great deal! Except for one thing: Bush babes is our domain and did we want to share it with our men? Was this going to work? I decided to take the risk and tag my hubby along.
We met at Gerotek where we swapped vehicles and introduced ourselves to those we didn't know, then headed south to the Free State. We were a convoy of 12 vehicles which is an experience in itself, if you have never done it, but fortunately we have on quite a few occasions. Upon arrival at Moolmanshoek we were welcomed with great hospitality and spectacular scenery. Just time enough to put our belongings in our rooms before we went for a guided game drive in game viewing vehicles. Our room was such a treat with a bath draped in lace, double shower and lovely little touches to make us feel special. I'm pretty sure we had the honeymoon suite! The area where we went for our game drive was fondly named the mini Serengeti. We could see why as on a much smaller scale we got a taste of what it would be like with herds of springbuck, wildebeest, eland, gemsbok, zebra and blesbuck roaming the plains. The wildebeest kept us entertained as they ran circles around the savannah with the young ones matching their pace. Tragically a couple of months ago a fire spread over the mountains and burnt much of the vegetation but fortunately the buildings were saved. This in turn though gave us luscious green grass over rolling hills, valleys and plains. Back in time for a delicious dinner and getting to know our new travel companions. House salad in phyllo pastry, lamb shanks or chicken with rice and vegetables and decadent desert huge choc mouse cake and meringue roulade. Feast for a king, but in this case a bevy of Bush babes and their partners.
The next morning after a delicious breakfast we piled in to our Isuzu’s and drove the Langesnek 4x4 trail. Marius, our Isuzu Off Road Academy representative and guide first gave us a briefing and had an apt phrase: ALWAYS KEEP IT AS SLOW AS POSSIBLE AND AS FAST AS NECESSARY. A good tip as he took each of us through every step over the obstacles along the route. The route took us at least 5 hours, which means he was on his feet, running back and forth, up and down and over the rocks continuously between the 12 vehicles. We took turns to conquer the obstacles, but in essence it was with Marius' expert guidance and the great capabilities of the Isuzu’s that we achieved what we did. What made our driving even more worthwhile was an extra reward of seeing the impressive scenery in and around Moolmanshoek.
After a late lunch, those that were keen, went horse riding. The rest of us spent a more leisurely couple of hours relaxing or walking and watching a great display of a thunderstorm developing before having another delicious dinner. I think most of us went to bed shortly after such an exhilarating day and didn’t take long to fall asleep.
Throughout the night the wind blew so the abseiling and high rope adventure had to be cancelled as the wind was too strong. Both my husband and I were so disappointed because we were looking forward to that part of the weekend as well. The rest of the morning was spent amusing all the children with a ride on the horse cart and others continued to put their bruised behinds through further punishment by riding horses again.
We set off at 12h00 to head back home in convoy after such an exhilarating weekend. We will have to be back to complete our adventurous activities and as Bush Babes there certainly will be more occasions to have equally adventurous ventures.
The verdict after inviting our partners? In fact the weekend worked very well. We may even invite our partners again, but only if they behave and take their respective place in the kitchen!