Lake Eland | Oribi Gorge
Let’s get right into it. We love a luxury stay, all the fine things… but, sometimes the finest thing is camping with your favourite humans and, when you get to share your love of camping with first-time campers (sister-in-law and niece who are more the glamping sort…and even that at a push), it’s a weekend packed with family fun and adventure. Yes, we’re HUGE fans of camping and Lake Eland has it all and more for camping and outdoor enthusiasts. On the ‘Richter scale’ of best camping spots in KZN, this scores right up there! Oribi Gorge here we come ….
Lake Eland Bookings
We’re not limited for great camping spots in KwaZulu-Natal, but Lake Eland definitely ranks very highly for us as one of the best camping spots in KZN as there is so much to do for the entire family. This particular trip was our third time camping at the beautiful Lake Eland (nestled in the famous Oribi Gorge) and we always choose to go for the non-electrified campsites.
Did someone say Camping Gadgets?
We shall pretend it’s because we want to rough it and be ONE with Mother Nature but if we’re honest, it’s probably more to do with wanting to try out all our nifty camping gadgets.
Back to the Lake Eland Bookings …..
Booking is fairly easy and we’ve booked all our stays over the phone but, for first-time visitors we suggest you take a look at the accommodation page and plan exactly where you want to stay before making that phone call. There are so many options and it’s a good idea to get a feel for what would work best for you by visiting their website which has a map to show you the lay of the land.
Location Location Location …. Good Suprises
On our first stay there we were shown a few options by the then manager and opted for the non-electrified campsites, more specifically, campsite number one which is the closest to the boom gate, has a tree for shade, and is right on the dam’s edge which is teaming with fish (the man does love a bit of fishing). It is quite a distance from the main lodge, restaurant and shop area but, we love an excuse to jump in the landy and take a bumpy cruise. Plus… this was the first time that the sister-in-law and niece would be camping and we wanted them to have the ‘real camping experience’.
Cards on the table…
we were secretly thinking nothing could persuade the non-camper glampers that this was fun and when we broke the news that we forgot the coffee plunger, we thought they would be making a drive back to Durban but they surprised us and, we think they surprised themselves as well. Camping can do that to a person. Surprise you in a good way.
Lake Eland … The road there
Making your way towards Port Shepstone, you take the Oribi Plaza off-ramp following the N2 inland towards Kokstad.
We suggest that you switch on your GPS here if you are as ‘directionally challenged’ as the navigator who writes these blogs.
Once you are off the N2, the road is incredibly scenic and as you make your way through the valley put your phones down and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. Some of the road is dirt road but even then, we made it in just less than two hours from Durban… in a slow and steady landy. You may be persuaded to veer off here and there but keep following the signs and the Elands (not real ones of course – statue like creations and sign posts) that dot the landscape here and there and you’ll make it to Lake Eland Game Reserve.
WINE ICE is an essential | Camping List 101
At reception we checked in, bought some ice for the writer’s wine, a slush puppie for the man child and some bait for the Man who wanted to try his hand at Catfish fishing that night. The man has been watching some show called Catch, Cook and Eat on YouTube and wanted to try Catfish (commonly referred to as a Barbel here in SA) and…he wanted to eat it. I bought some goodies before leaving like chilli bite mix etc., ingredients he insisted were needed to prepare the fish. Firstly, this one writing right here, does not eat fish and will certainly not eat Barbel but, I wasn’t telling the Man this as you can’t crush another’s dreams. We made our way down to the campsite and setup camp.
Lake Eland – Booked and here – so now what??
The Glampers …. 1 hit wonders
The glampers were only joining us the next night as two nights camping were too much for them they insisted. The man threw a line in the water and setup all that was needed for a night’s fishing. The man-cub was on his bicycle and had made a few friends from a campsite further down so I was left to my own devices and nested. Again, there is absolutely no electricity at the actual campsite thus, you need to make sure you pack enough lighting (we may pop up a camping list and some of the gadgets we have that have become essential for our camping – maybe a future blog).
Lake Eland communal bathrooms do have electricity and thankfully hot water as it can get quite cold in the evenings and especially in wintertime which was when we were there.
NOT ENOUGH – BLANKETS!
We definitely did not bring enough blankets. We only packed our sleeping bags which DID NOT keep us warm that night. We ended up putting a couple of layers of clothing on to stay warm throughout the night. We said we loved camping…we didn’t say we were any good at it.
So, a night spent freezing and waking up to no coffee (remember we said we forgot the plunger), we were feeling a bit testy but managed to build a coffee pot out of tinfoil. Yes, one needs to improvise and we had to have coffee. Sure, we could have driven to the restaurant and ordered a cuppa but where’s the fun in that?! Also, we promised the older glamper that breakfast and coffee would be ready on arrival. Which it was.
Day 2 at Lake Eland – camping in .. our style
The glampers arrived and setup alongside us. There is enough space for two tents (three at a push) on a site.
The glampers brought down-duvets.
There was some envy and maybe a remark made here and there. Blooming glampers! Don’t know what it means to really camp. You must be one with the outdoors and elements! Okay, that’s just pure jealousy on our part.
We had planned an event-filled day and after breakfast decided to go and burn off some calories. First up, the lake eland suspension bridge which is 80 meters in length and can hold 70 tons (note was taken of this after the breakfast we had). The youngest in our group, the niece RM made it all the way across! Note, the first time I tried it I did not make it, and here was a three-year-old cruising along as if she wasn’t suspended meters up in the air. These glampers were putting us to shame here. The man who came after us did a kind of girl scream. Don’t blame him. It really pushes up the adrenaline levels.
Once we all made it across, the obligatory photos had to be taken and it was then decided to make our way to the next adventure. The Caves.
The Caves | Lake Eland | Oribi Gorge | 100% worth it!!!!
Now, I personally feel the Caves should have been called “The Trek to the Caves” because heck, we definitely burnt off all the calories making the walk back. Sure, the walk there was a breeze and all downhill but we should have taken note of all the adventurers coming back up, red of face and puffing for air. Also, the benches strategically placed every few meters were filled with bodies who looked content to just stay put. Listen, it is 100% worth it. The Caves are beautiful with water dripping from the overhanging rocks (water which was used to cool us down – we didn’t get sick so assume it was clean). We were tempted to take a sip as only brought two bottles of water but thought better of it. If you’re going to take the walk pack enough water and comfortable shoes with good grip as it can be slippery in places where the water has fallen on the rock and also on the actual trail when there’s been rain.
Time for a Snack
We made it back and decided that our energy levels needed to be topped up with a milkshake and Pizza from the restaurant. Was feeling very chuffed about the burnt calories now. Bring on the food!
The restaurant has an extensive menu catering for most tastes and even had a few vegan options. We enjoyed the meal so much that we decided that lunch was on the menu the next day as well but, got to burn those calories off beforehand…
We made our way back to camp, taking a slow game drive and viewing the various animal species that call Lake Eland home.
And so we unwind in the beautiful Oribi Gorge at Lake Eland
The night was spent stargazing and the obligatory braai was had that evening. The Man caught a Barbel and the guilt trip was laid on thick that we should not eat it. No catch, cook and eat here. “It looked so sad to be out of the water…”
The glampers slept easy and warm…
A trip around the dam on our bicycles was made the next day allowing us to tuck in to another delicious lunch…
The glampers are now campers.
Will we be back? Of course, and we’ll be trying out the Zipline and Scooter tours! Maybe a chalet this time just to mix it up a bit and get a peek inside the chalets. We’ll be sure to tell you all about it.
Wanting to check out some of the sights, we’ve done a short clip on our YouTube channel. Go have a look!
Lake Eland RATING: 10 out of 10
Well stocked dams
Shop stocking essentials and curios at reception
Various accommodation options
Camping (with and without electricity)
Can cater for small and large groups
So many activities to choose from
Abundance of wildlife
As we now know, it can get very cold in winter and it can get VERY, very hot in summer (plan ahead and look at the weather beforehand to plan properly and pack what you need).
Contact Details for Lake Eland
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: 039 001 1010
Activities at Lake Eland
Walking and Game Drives
Walking and running trails
Weddings, events and conferences
Oribi Gorge Suspension Bridge
Lake Eland Game Reserve