Camping in a more “primitive” way has always been my preference. In Belgium (and most of Europe) you can find almost any type of facilities and attractions on offer.
If it’s swimming pools, children’s activities, wellness centers, entertainment, and restaurants you’re seeking, there are plenty of parks ticking these boxes.
But that was not what we were longing for.
Who is we?
Well, now with the corona restrictions and us, dwellers from the province of Antwerp, we could only really travel with people out of our bubble.
So my bubble was two other mom’s and we all had 5 kids with us, three tents, two cars, and a cute white Swiss shepherd (huge) puppy dog who enjoyed herding us.
This is when Instagram became helpful again.
A friend of mine had posted a picture of one of her sons, eating at a table with a river on the background. Knowing her a bit, I knew that the camping site was probably not going to big the great big recreational type of camping.
So I looked it up, presented it to my friends and we all agreed that this would be it.
The camping site was situated in the Belgian Ardennes and was bout 2 1/2 hours drive from Antwerp. The name: Les Ochays in Mortehan, Ardennes.
We were a bit disappointed that we did not have a spot right next to the river, but instead at the very front, next to the trampoline and the sanitary block. But after our weekend, we all agreed that the spot was actually great for us. The sound of the children playing was not annoying, we could keep a good eye on our children who were on that trampoline constantly.
Even though the idea about being next to a sanitary block might not seem appealing, it was not bothersome at all. There was still a good enough distance between our camping spot and the block, but handy having all these children needing the bathroom often.
We could also get water and do the dishes while still keeping an eye on the kids. No, I think if we would go back, that we would ask for the same spot again.
How we experience the camping Les Ochays
There is no shop there, but there is a fridge at the reception area stocked with life essentials like beer, wine and cava (we ordered the last). Some canned goods were also available and you could order fresh bread for the next day.
One of the appealing things to me about this camping spot is the “NO MUSIC” policy. No playing the radio and things like that.
So it was really peaceful in the evening, even with the children’s laughter in the background and the occasional screaming baby.
Even though our tents were not right next to the River “Le Semois”, it would only take us a minute or two to walk over to it.
The water was low this year. Usually, you could canoe the waters, but that was not possible, but it was great for swimming. Not too deep for the children. They had a hoot, trying to catch fish and frogs. One child even caught a river crab. So we did a great lot of swimming.
I’m not a great fan of it, but for my son, I would do anything, even dip in the slippery rock water. I actually enjoyed it a lot.
A little adventure?
There are a few trails you could do, and some towns to visit near the campsite Les Ochays, but as we were only there for a weekend, we only did a small hike, looking for beaver dams.
We did not actually find the dams (we did find something that looked like one and saw some trees with beaver marks on it) and we probably took the wrong route.
I’m pretty sure we were not supposed to be hiking through the slippery rock river (with 3 women, 5 children under 9 and one dog…)
Not even knowing if there was a hole or something in front of you to then finally have no other option than the send the white shepherd puppy out of the water so he could make a path through the burning thistles and all different types of prickly weeds just to get out.
Did I mention that I and my half-naked barefoot son got lost for some time? With no phone, no bag, nothing or water in the middle of nowhere?
After my anxiety kicked in and my thoughts dwindle off to us maybe getting kidnapped and murdered by the workers we spotted a way back who were enjoying their lunch, my friend with her dog found us!
So that story ended well.
Besides that, we just stayed at our camping spot where the children made new friends, and we got to relax a bit. With some cava.
And so if you are looking for a great small camping spot, with not too many frills, next to a River and where no music is being played and extremely enchanting then this camping Les Ochays is for you.
- Clean showers and toilets (clean is a must, there stops the primitivity for me)
- Laundry room
- Wash-up area
- Possibility to buy drinks at the reception area, also some canned goods and fresh bread for the next day. There is a small terras (two tables) across the reception. Cozy!
- For the kids: Trampoline, table tennis plus bikes and go-carts free to use around the camping. And the River Le Semois of course for swimming, with a little boat.
- Kayaks (but the river was too low this season)
And dogs are allowed!
So there you have it folks. I hope that I enticed you with this post, just writing about it makes me want to go back.
Let me know if you can recommend any similar “no-frills” camping grounds.