West Coast based Dutch start-up brings hope to locals

West Coast based Dutch start-up brings hope to locals

Along the West Coast of the Western Cape is a township, often lost in the system yet notorious for its unemployment crisis, housing woes and all too recent spate of xenophobic attacks. It is from this very township of Dunoon that Dutch duo, Jeroen van Rootselaar and Mano Bleumink sought helping hands to work in their factory, producing furniture and tents for their sustainability-based company, AfriCamp, in neighbouring Atlantis. Jeroen and Manou offered hope for change and a brighter future to these people who knew only strife.

Creating a familial environment, both in the factory and on the road to campsites, these workers learn numerous life and workmanship skills as they build and establish “glampsites” for tourists visiting South Africa. Whilst creating an environment for visitors to enjoy an authentic, local experience on working farms in areas like the Klein Karoo and Swellendam, the AfriCamp team live and work together, seeing parts of the country that they might not ordinarily have had the opportunity to see.

Besides the etiquette rules and social and professional skills that these people acquire, some of them claim that whilst creating spaces for tourists to enjoy camping with all the creature comforts, they gain invaluable life experiences. Jeroen and Manou, along with carefully selected farm owners who, in essence, represent their selective part of the country and are responsible for creating the best impression of their towns on their guests, keep paying it forward by creating more than just a business and providing more than just a service.

Glamping is a new phenomenon being introduced in South Africa and Jeroen and Mano are covering all their bases to ensure that this boutique camping experience not only appeals to all campers but that all their efforts are sustainable and locally lekker.

The farm owners on whose working farms AfriCamps are set up on, are on site to ensure that guests are comfortable and to give guests the opportunity to explore their farm. The self- catering tents allow for guests to request a breakfast basket of locally-sourced authentic breakfast goodies to enjoy at their tents, where they may relax and unwind. Each farm’s owners have their favourite restaurants which they are happy to direct guests to, inviting guests to explore the neighbouring farms and venture into the towns in which they are visiting.

With camps being realised in Wellington, the Wilderness, Stanford Hills, Hermanus, Robertson and ultimately in Johannesburg and Durban, AfriCamps will continue to promote sustainable camping and the exposure of local goods and businesses to tourists who would ideally be following along the AfriCamps track through South Africa. Perhaps, more importantly, AfriCamps will continue creating opportunities for those who might not have had any and, in turn, they will continue to help create exclusive camping experiences throughout the beautiful country.

Written by Andrea Fisher



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