My first switching-off adventure!
As a former air hostess, I’m no stranger to travel, hotels and living out of a suitcase. But my time in the sky has made me a bit of a hotel snob – I became accustomed to four- and five-star living. By the time I returned to settle in South Africa and had to start booking my own accommodation, I had developed an unhealthy warped reality. Fast-forward a few years and here I am, reflecting on my first real eco-friendly weekend away. My husband and I, along with our two dogs, recently spent a weekend at Simonskloof Mountain Retreat near Montagu. Hidden deep in the mountains, the rustic cottages have no electricity or phone signal. Solar panels and gas power your showers and meals, solar lanterns light your way. Dinners are served by candlelight, under the stars or next to the fire. And recycling becomes an important part of your day. Admittedly, I was nervous about the prospect of going ‘off the grid’. But it was one of the most liberating weekends of my life. There was no need to check my phone every few minutes. My thoughts weren’t overrun by social media or work. There was nothing and no one imposing views or opinions, or tasks or demands. Just me in my own thoughts in a beautiful, wide-open space that somehow seemed even more beautiful in the silence. Not even the dogs felt the need to bark. While I enjoyed returning to the comforts of home, I’ve experienced the benefits of being open to a wider range of travel experience. I may still look for those elusive ‘five-star on a four-star budget’ specials, but I find myself increasingly drawn to anything that can offer Simonskloof’s addictive sense of peace. I might not be ready for the full no-hot-water-and-sleep-under-the-stars experience, but who knows, maybe one day! I look forward to seeing more of these types of getaways in the magazine. For our latest pick of off-the-grid places (November 2017 issue), visit getaway.co.za.