Ifafa Campsite

Ifafa Campsite

With a four day weekend on the cards Sharon and I started looking for new campsites to visit with Emma. Funnily enough we made our final decision based on Emma’s passport. Having not been able to enter Lesotho earlier in the year when it was snowing we thought it was high time we braved the queues and got the vital document. A friend had advised us that Park Renie had the quietest home affairs and as such we picked a campsite in the general area – Ifafa.

Although Ifafa’s website looked good our initial perceptions were not. The 45 campsites were crammed into a small area, surrounded by an aging wall topped with rusting barbed wire, nestled between the train tracks and the beach. There was also construction on the go which meant a lot of dust and building material near the entrance. Sharon and I gave each other a worried look and then tried to decide between the cramped front sites, which weren’t near the wall but were exceptionally busy, or the neglected back sites where security was our main concern.

I am happy however to say that our initial perceptions were wrong. The staff were extremely friendly and helpful, as were the other campers. The pool was great, and the beach was meters away with a beautiful tidal pool that Emma simply loved. There was also a small beer garden (partially under construction), a shop, and a (potentially) lovely restaurant with a deck overlooking the beach. And finally the toilets were amazing. In fact they had a staff member on permanent duty who would clean the individual bathrooms immediately upon your departure, ready for the next occupant. They were immaculate to say the least. There only down side was that there was only hot water at certain times of the day, so you had to be well aware of the schedule. All in all we were highly impressed.

Day one was relatively relaxed. After setting up camp we took Emma to the beach and then enjoyed a few cocktails on the deck as the sun set. No complaints there.

Emma relaxing on the deck in mom's sarong
Emma relaxing on the deck in mom’s sarong

Day two was however far less than desirable. We left camp at 7am and headed for home affairs where we joined an already long queue. To sum up the process of getting Emma’s passport took around 7 hours and we let out an audible sign of relief as we walked out the door and headed back to Ifafa, where my mom, aunt and uncle had been waiting for us.

(You can read the full story by clicking here if you’re looking to avoid our mistakes)

After a quick beer to celebrate our return we all headed down to the tidal pool and spent some time on the beach. So despite the day starting badly, all was quickly forgotten and it ended relatively well.

That evening we ate in the local restaurant, with both of us ordering the Eisbein which was on special. Initially we thought it looked promising as the venue was packed – usually a good sign. But once again our first impressions were wrong. The service was terrible, our food was cold when it arrived (over an hour later), and the people behind us were served their hamburgers on bread since they’d run out of rolls. Would I recommend it? Perhaps for lunch or a drink on the deck (when not in a rush), but certainly not for dinner.

View from the tidal pool at Ifafa
View from the tidal pool at Ifafa

The next day we got to enjoy the full experience for the first time. Camp was set up, we didn’t need to spend 7 hours in a queue, and the weather was great. We took complete advantage with several trips to the beach and tidal pool; we jumped on the trampolines, climbed the jungle gyms, and swam in the pool. All in all it was an amazing day that released all of the previous day’s Home Affairs stress. And yes, we did return to the restaurant, but this time for milkshakes and beer.

I also had a small fly fishing fail when I headed down to the beach with my 9 weight line on a 5 weight rod, but you can read about that here. Not having Nick around is clearly leaving me a little sloppy.

Sharon was kind enough to braai that evening while I watched the Springboks take on the Samoans in the beer garden. Despite being partially under construction there was a great turnout, and thankfully the Boks showed promise after their disappointing loss to Japan.

The next morning we spent a little more time on the beach after dropping camp. It’s hard for me to fully rate this venue. The sites are small and cramped, the restaurant wasn’t great, and the buildings were mostly under construction. But the beach and tidal pool were amazing, the deck was great, and the ablutions were incredibly well maintained. Add to this the friendly staff and facilities, and I definitely think I’ll be back once construction is complete.

The Prior family at Ifafa
The Prior family at Ifafa