The name has been Vdub Camp Fest for about 14 years now, and for the 15th instalment it became known as SA Camp Fest. With the Vdub part dropped from the name we expected to see a bunch of other makes and models rolling around the Warmbaths venue in Bela Bela, but there were no more of these “outsiders” than usual, probably because the name change didn’t have anything to do with what cars are allowed in or not. While the name has changed, it’s still actually a VAG-only event, and so Volkswagens and the associated VAG cars were as plentiful as ever, possibly even more so. This year was also a little different for this here shooter and writer, I attended as media instead of in my usual role as a judge, a hat I wore for quite a few years. I decided to try sample the event from a different perspective which would allow me time to capture different shots in different places because without having to spend two days on the stage could see more things. It ended up being pretty similar, and I did manage to get in the extra shots I wanted and they would have been great if not for a wee technical issue. There’s still hundreds of pics for you on the VAG Café Facebook page, albeit with a few shots of some key cars missing.

Arriving on Friday is the new normal for this event, and we got there a little after 15:00 after some of the worst traffic we’ve ever seen on the roads through Pretoria. The drive itself is always a pleasure though and the roads that were littered with potholes had been patched up somewhat – must have been a relief for the static boys. There were already hundreds of people at the venue, all in party mode, and many were even there from early on Thursday. It won’t be long before Thursday is the new main arrival day as the event gets even bigger still. With the Friday normally used for getting settled in and catching up with mates and the gossip in the scene, that’s what we did. Unlike last year, the weather played along as best it could, which means the heavy rain that had been seen in the area for some time took the weekend off so the big (and little) people could play nicely.

On Saturday things started a bit later than I’m used to. In previous years I was up at dawn to get pics of the camp site before heading to the main stage arena and start judging. This time round there was no rush which meant for the first time in years I slept a little later and even got in a smashing breakfast with the ShowTime Magazine crew who I was staying with. The camp site was packed as expected, but a little less than in 2023 on the Saturday, which made me think that many were still going to arrive during Saturday to take up the open camping spots, which is exactly what happened. Taking a few laps of the resort meant seeing different cars and people on every trip. With not needing to be on the stage for hours, it meant one of the most chilled days in Fest history for me, getting a chance to visit familiar faces, catch up with people and their builds and chat all things cars with everyone without having to excuse myself to get back to work. It was great. A bunch of cars, I was told around 40 or so, managed to pass over the rotating stage to be judged on Saturday. The ones that I spotted were awesome, the level of builds and cars rises year on year. Some of the most anticipated cars did the usual Sunday reveal so they stayed away from the arena getting final preps done or being covered up completely until Sunday.

The main talk of the weekend was the new BodyLine build, this year they did DAZA things to a T-Roc to make a lil’ sibling to the DAZA Tiguan from last year. That technical issue I mentioned means the nice close up shots I did of the car and it’s insides didn’t work out, which sucks a fair bit. The same goes for a car that was immediately tipped to be one of the best on stage for the weekend, the Mk1 Golf known as Escobar. In that car’s case, every single image didn’t work out, so you’ll have to see that Durban awesomeness in other Camp Fest posts. Apologies. Durban certainly brought the heat this year, if you rank class wins by area, Durban was the undisputed top dog. The other MK1 that I thought was a top build was Garfield – that leather was just mad! After a chilled day, I was looking forward to the after party, but didn’t make it, instead I ended up party-hopping at the chalets and having a banging time with the crazy brothers from Future Audio. While walking around I noticed that things were running much smoother. Last year I mentioned that the parking at the hotel was a mess, but this year the area was well controlled and residents had no issue getting in and out with their cars. I even saw someone offer the guard R150 to get their car in and he stuck to his guns. Nice!

Sunday stared off later than ever for me, but that was always the plan. There was a little rain overnight but things stayed dry for the most part with no mud or squishy sections anywhere, a nice opposite to 2023. It was just enough of a drizzle to make everyone pull out their microfibre cloths for a fresh wipe-down. The cars lined up for judging early on and the stage was busy throughout the day with the only delay being from the rotating stage needing some maintenance after it stopped working. Vic and the judges were properly busy and they had loads of cars to get through, over 100 I believe, I didn’t envy them at all. With the cars having levelled up so much it made getting through them up close quite the process. Once again it was the timeless Mk1 Golf that was the most plentiful car spotted at Camp Fest 2024, but there were also so many Polos you could have a separate event just for them. The MK2 and Mk3 contingent was massive this year, especially parked around the event, their numbers were definitely up from previous years.

Air-cooled was the same as 2023, some nice ones but not as many as you’d expect. There was a handful of MK4s, Mk5s and Mk6s, it looks like their numbers have dropped a bit, but the quality of them was tops. The Mk7 side of life is getting bigger year on year though, it looks to be the most in-demand car for shows, there were loads scattered around the venue in various states of tune. Mk8s are starting to pop up now too, and there was a bunch of Mk8 Rs cruising around, mostly stock-ish though. On the Mk8 R front, the VAG Café Equipped one was a hit, and ended up being one of the most talked about cars at the show. The Cafe’s Boss Man’s Mk8 R is an example of how to do things right. It has to be the hottest and best-equipped 8R in SA right now. Fight me.

SA Camp Fest 2k24 was another success for the Cum Laude organisers, they have a winning recipe, a winning venue and they can put together a world-class event that is gaining international interest. VW celeb Jamie Orr was here again from the US and his Citi R build and road trip did amazing things for the VW lifestyle. Sadly his was another car that the close up shots messed up with, but if you’re reading this, there’s a very high chance you’ve already seen the car and know all about it. I’m pretty sure I spotted the chap from BFI walking around, and we had our own German visitor and friend along for the fun, Patrick Östringer, who also deals in VW things back home. The VAG Café tent was a central hub of activity for many, and having the top brass from Volkswagen SA take a close look at things as well as making an introduction to the Scene Oom was a definite highlight. Overall it was a power event again, and things went off without a hitch for the most part. There were a few chaps that drove around like idiots and damaged their cars, and there were a few reports of vandalism, which we hope isn’t a new, ugly trend starting. Besides that, it was a typically successful Camp Fest. How was your Fest? What were the highlights? What were your favourite cars? Let us know, in the meantime, check out the full album of pics over on our VAG Café Facebook page.


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