So once again I went out to Robertsport in search of clean waves, beautiful beaches, and good times. As always the beaches were beautiful, and good times were had. Sadly the waves were a little choppy and the current was super strong. I had to be continuously moving to stay in the same place. It was tiring and frustrating to always be in the wrong place and then have to paddle back. I also managed to put a little gash in my board when trying to get out over some rocks. So the surfing could have been better. I managed to get a couple of good rides in and a great workout. A bad day at the beach is still better than a good day working.
The real excitement of this trip, as Sean, Carter Center, Lauren, ARC, and I discovered was Nana’s Lodge. A few months ago when I was here I met some South Africans who said they were going to build a hotel out of “five-star tents.” Needless to say I found this a little questionable. But sure enough, there on the beach were some pretty nice looking tents built on wooden decks in the beach front hill side. The tents were the kind of tent you’d think of the army pitching when they needed a field hospital, not a family camping trip. Each tent had two very nice beds, a fan, and a mini-fridge. I thought they were really nice. You could be comfortable, but still feel like you were taking in nature. The tents are $100.00 USD a night, though you can squeeze as many people in a tent as you like. With two beds you could comfortably sleep 2 people in a room, 4 if you don’t mind doubling up. The guy we talked to said, “You could probably get 16 people in there if you all slept on the floor.” Somehow I think he looked at us and knew we were all right out of college.
We had brought our own tent, and hadn’t budgeted for $100, so we slept right outside of the lodge. The guys who ran the place, Joe, Enky, and Musa were very nice and let us park our car in their lot and use their facilities.
They also have a pretty nice bar with reasonably priced drinks, darts, and a sand floor. The sand floor was my favorite part. We stayed up playing Jenga with team America vs.Canada vs. South Africa. After that Sean, Lauren, and I had a headlamp strobe dance party. We thought we were pretty cool. In the morning we had an amazing breakfast: Eggs, bacon, Sausages (hotdogs), milk, coffee, cereal and fruit. I couldn’t believe it. It was so good.
On the whole I like the lodge. It seems to have been done well. The construction seems solid and no doubt business will be good. They said they were booked solid for the next two weeks. I am slightly worried that the unspoiled beauty of Robertsport is now going to fade. Granted you can still walk 20 minutes down the beach and find yourself in paradise with no trace of humanity, I just hope it stays that way. This kind of tourism could do a lot for the local economy or it could lead to more foreign exploitation. I also worry about the safety on the beach. They have security at Nana’s, but now the beach will draw more attention from the wrong kind of crowd. At the moment things seem fine, I hope they stay that way.
If you want to book a tent at Nana’s Lodge call Joe Richards (+231-6-814-795).
If you want something a little more wilderness and a little less luxury call Sam Browne(+231-6-604-084). Sam is a local fisherman in Robertport who has been very helpful in arranging for the safety and security of several of the camping trips I’ve been on at Robertsport. We’ve paid him $10 USD per car to keep the vehicles safe and a little extra to keep an eye on the tents. He’s also helped some clueless expats when they needed it. This past trip we were struggling to get a fire started with rain soaked wood. Out of nowhere Sam and another guy show up with a piece of scrap metal with a pile of red hot coals. We were also a little worried about our stuff being by itself as we headed out for Nana’s bar. I felt confident Sam would keep the place secure, but being his first time, Sean had his doubts asking, “Where is this Sam guy anyway?” Probably 5 seconds later Sam and a small entourage appeared out of the darkness. Sam was there to make sure everything was ok. I told Sam what we wanted to do and our predicament. He said no problem, looked at a member of his party and said, “Stay here and watch their stuff.” When we returned a few hours later, the same man was curled up next to our tent with a sleeping bag. Everything was still there. I’m not sure how much I like the thought of someone sleeping on the beach to guard my fancy, over priced camping gear so I can drink a beer, but he’s getting more money doing that than he would otherwise. And I’d rather contribute directly to the local economy than through a private security service. So if $100 for a tent is a little steep or you wana have a more primitive camping experience, call Sam. Otherwise, call Joe.