Coun­try Es­capes

Take a turn into the un­known at these five un­ex­pected spots

South African Country Life - - In This Issue -

Our pick of where to stay that’s com­pletely dif­fer­ent

1 East­ern Cape

TiPi Bush Camp Pater­son

If you’re look­ing for an un­usual ex­pe­ri­ence, I sug­gest ‘go­ing Hi­awatha’ in the African bush. Mem­o­ries of the haunt­ing Song of Hi­awatha helped in­crease my ap­pre­ci­a­tion of this malaria-free, en­vi­ron­men­tally-friendly prop­erty where, with lit­tle en­cour­age­ment, we lapsed into re­unit­ing with na­ture. TiPi Bush Camp in the Addo Afrique Es­tate bor­ders Addo Ele­phant Na­tional Park. When we weren't roam­ing freely with non-preda­tory game, we sat back to view the ac­tiv­ity in the pic­turesque val­ley be­low. Ac­com­mo­da­tion, in one of only three spa­cious tipis, com­prised a dou­ble bed and dou­ble sleeper couch that sep­a­rated into twin beds. It’s self­ca­ter­ing so you need to take food and drinks – linen and all kitchen­ware are pro­vided. The clean ablu­tions were close by, and the sun pro­vided all the en­ergy – there is no elec­tric­ity. Restau­rants are about 20 kilo­me­tres from the camp but we chose to be mes­merised by the night calls – and then the sounds of si­lence. The oc­ca­sional car or train pass­ing in the dis­tance didn’t spoil the oc­ca­sion. Bird­song started be­fore sun­rise giv­ing us plenty of time to de­cide on one of the many ac­tiv­i­ties sug­gested. We took an­other in­vig­o­rat­ing walk. – Olivia Schaf­fer

info@tip­ibush­camp.com

2 Western Cape

Farmer Red­beard's Bush Bus Robert­son

Can you beat this for an un­usual place to stay?

The school bus is tucked away in aptly named Wilde Paarde Kloof at the foot of the Lange­berge moun­tains. With car­a­van-like ac­com­mo­da­tion for four, the bush bus is in a se­cluded grove on Farmer Red­beard’s land where his fam­ily have farmed for 300 years. A canopy pro­vides shel­ter over the bus and there is a sep­a­rate bath­room fa­cil­ity close by. The great thing about stay­ing on the farm is that you can learn about the birds and the bees (lit­er­ally), for Farmer Red­beard shares the se­crets of bee­keep­ing, fruit har­vest­ing and wine­mak­ing with his guests. There are guided bird­ing walks, wine tast­ings and a chance for kids to do ex­cit­ing things like make stick bread over an open fire. There are also ro­man­tic cot­tages for two and the 300-year-old Die Ou Huis (sleeps eight) on the farm, while the nearby Robert­son Wine Val­ley has lots of fun things to do. – Mar­i­anne Heron 023 615 1204, 084 205 6166, info@farmerred­beard.co.za www.farmerred­beard.co.za

3 Mpumalanga Highveld

Jail Bird Guest­house Chrissies­meer

I never thought I would want to spend time in jail but this re-pur­posed jail in the Mpumalanga Highveld town of Chrissies­meer has a charm all its own. Cell No 1 is the old­est of two cells, hav­ing been built of sand­stone in the 1880s when the vil­lage was just start­ing up as a half­way trad­ing sta­tion be­tween the gold­fields of the Lowveld and the Wit­wa­ter­srand. This was a time of traders and stage­coaches, high­way­men and for­tune seek­ers, so the good and the bad passed through here. The inn, which still ex­ists across the road and is now known as John Jack Inn, must have seen many a bar fight, and Cell No 1 would have pro­vided ac­com­mo­da­tion. Cell No 2 was built in the 1940s by the Ital­ian POWs of World War II. De­spite what I thought would be cold sand­stone walls, both cells are now sim­ply fur­nished but cosy be­d­rooms. The old cor­ru­gated-iron charge of­fice has been con­verted into a bath­room, kitchen and din­ing area. There is a pleas­ant out­door sit­ting area paved in old sand­stone and I loved the thought of all the his­tory sur­round­ing me as we sipped sundowners and looked over the lake. You can ei­ther self­cater or pop across to the Bil­liard Room for sup­per. Don’t miss out on The Gin Shop nearby where the orig­i­nal Transvaal gin was made and was prob­a­bly the cause of many peo­ple spend­ing a night in the cells. Now it’s a much more civilised place but mind the ghosts as you walk back to your cell af­ter a night out. – Sue Adams 082 929 1219, www.chrissies­meer.co.za/ alt/1971/jail-bird

4 KwaZulu-Natal Mid­lands

Zu­luWaters Est­court

Zu­luWaters is one of those hid­den gems that you stum­ble across and can’t be­lieve you never knew of be­fore. There are a few ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions, start­ing with the self-cater­ing Nandi House and Lake House, and cul­mi­nat­ing in the very ex­clu­sive Shaka House, com­plete with pri­vate chef. We tried Nandi House for a week­end away, and what a lovely spot it is. Self-cater­ing only, it also has a scullery and a kitch­enette, and a lit­tle bal­cony to catch the morn­ing sun. A free­stand­ing fire­place rounds off the beau­ti­fully ap­pointed in­te­rior. Built on an early 1900s stone reser­voir, it is a mod­ern stone, tim­ber and cor­ru­gate­d­iron (or wrig­gly tin, as the Aussies charm­ingly call it) con­struc­tion with two dou­ble be­d­rooms and in­cred­i­ble views. A vast re­serve of more than 7 000 acres, Zu­luWaters strad­dles bio­spheres be­tween moun­tain and bushveld. Fancy a spot of fly­fish­ing for seven-pound trout in a moun­tain stream? You can do that here. Fancy horse rid­ing across grass­lands, watch­ing buf­falo and rhino graz­ing on the slope in front of you? You can do that too. Night drives? Yip. His­tory walks? Yip. Fine din­ing? Yip. More than any­thing, vis­it­ing Zu­luWaters is an ex­pe­ri­ence, one that is to be savoured. Close to both Est­court and Mooi River, Zu­luWaters is con­ve­niently lo­cated to ex­plore the KwaZulu-Natal Mid­lands.

– Stephen Smith 036 352 0100, info@zu­luwaters.com www.zu­luwa­ters­gamere­serve.com

5 Western Cape

West Coast Flower Pop-up Camp Lam­bert's Bay

If you like to stay off the beaten track, this camp out­side Lam­bert's Bay is per­fect. There are nine tents set up along an un­spoilt stretch of pris­tine beach in a pri­vate na­ture re­serve, just for the West Coast flower sea­son in Au­gust and Septem­ber. Af­ter that, it van­ishes as if it’s never been, un­til it pops up again the fol­low­ing year. This is no or­di­nary camp­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The tents, de­signed in France, are spa­cious and com­fort­able, each po­si­tioned to max­imise your view and your pri­vacy, and with its own en suite bath­room with toi­let, basin and shower. Hot wa­ter is de­liv­ered for your shower each morn­ing and evening. There is also a larger com­mu­nal tent where de­li­cious three­course din­ners and break­fasts are served, and the food is sur­pris­ingly good con­sid­er­ing the venue. The camp is beau­ti­ful and at­ten­tion to de­tail makes it very spe­cial, like binoc­u­lars and bird books in the com­mu­nal tent. A fire on the beach ev­ery evening is an invit­ing place to sip a sun­downer and chat to fel­low campers and, when you re­tire for the night, you’ll find the beds turned down, a choco­late on the pil­low and a hot-wa­ter bot­tle un­der the cov­ers. Even when the flow­ers are not at their best, the area around Lam­bert's Bay has lots to ex­plore, from Bird Is­land with its gan­net colony to Dor­ing­baai where you can learn about abalone breed­ing or taste wine on the pier.

– Des Feather­stone

076 268 0501, info@re­mote­lo­ca­tions.co.za

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