A dirt track cuts a wide avenue through dense alien brush and heads for the mountains. I’m close to levitating out my seat in anticipation as an ancient milkwood grove materialises from the thick army-green bracken. Potted cacti mark the threshold to an ancient forest and another world: the sacred sanctuary of Lagoon Lodge in Mosaic Private Sanctuary.
An elegant boutique lodge situated a couple of kilometres outside of Stanford and less than a two-hour drive from Cape Town with only five suites ensures perfectly privacy for anyone looking to ‘get away from it all’. For a recent recluse like me (one too many baboon breakins led me to leave Scarborough) this is heaven! My brief survey of Kingfisher suite elicits an enthusiastic flurry of ‘ooh!’ and ‘ahs!’ as I take in bush panache of the glamorously rustic interior.
Prancing along the boardwalk like a very merry Bambi, I all but bounce across to the main lapa, nestled beneath a massive, gnarled milkwood and I have to restrain myself from climbing the low hanging boughs. Trees seem to exert an elemental magnetism over me, insistently whispering: ‘climb me!’ Co-owner and masterful interior designer, Kathryn Johnson later tells me this particular beauty is over 800 years old! Imagine the stories it might tell…
I’m welcomed by Simone and tea. Even the sugar impresses me, accented as it is with nutmeg and star anise. Lagoon Lodge veritably exudes old world charm and dedication to detail – it’s obvious why they have such a stellar rating. The main lapa’s boasts huge windows, offering epic views of majestic mountains, mirror waters and endless azure sky. I believe Africa’s greatest lure is her vast sense of space. Far from skylines broken by buildings, one’s wild heart expands to bridge the earth and sun. This why I love the country – it grants me freedom.
Suitably relaxed and rehydrated, I’m transferred into the care of Octavia, wise guide and son of a Shangaan medicine woman, who takes us out in the crisp spring afternoon for a game drive. Whilst there’re no fierce beasts on offer in the Overberg, he’s a consummate storyteller, offering insight into traditional plant cures and animal adaptations, weaving magic from what might otherwise be considered mundane. As we enter Walker Bay Nature Reserve, two ordinary pigeons keep getting in the path of the Landrover. “That” declares Octavia, tongue firmly in cheek “is a good omen. It means we’ll see whales!”
Low and behold, when we reach the beach, the ocean conspires to present a watery theatre of whale ballet! We spotted at least 7 distinct whales mobs (that’s one of the official collective nouns – I checked!), mostly mothers with calves, frolicking happily in the sea as we celebrate with sundowners and the sky fades to a pastel palette.
We return at twilight to find the grand tree lit by lanterns to meet Breese and Kathryn, the visionary couple from Tennessee who own Mosaic Farm, for a sumptuous dinner. Chef Jurie presents with unstated flourish: homemade springbok carpaccio with salad and fresh farm bread; spicy pea soup and succulent fillet with red wine jus and butternut dauphine. Desert is a malva pudding accompanied by custard infused with rooibos. Traditional with a clever culinary twist – absolutely delicious!
The Mosaic clearly value and support ‘local’. Their impressive wine list features Hemel en Aarde neighbours (and personal favourite) Creation with Raka as the house wine. They recognise local’s lekker – even though they’re from America. The Johnsons are passionate about the area, its people and produce. Promoting sustainable practise, they’ve created jobs through opting to build instead of buy furniture; clearing alien vegetation (which is how they discovered a perfectly concealed location for the lodge); rocks were hewn from farm ground to build; branches reincarnate as rustic towel rails; trunks form curvaceous supports and even a shipwrecked Gabon tree, washed up on Muizenberg beach finds new life as a beautiful bar top.
I’m enchanted as I make my way to bed along the boardwalk, midnight stars glittering. There’s a thoughtful handwritten message waiting in the room with an Amarula night cap. In a generous bath, suitably salted, I float blissfully as candle light flickers against the rough rock. I slip into bed to discover it’s delightfully warm – turn downs and electric blankets? This is the life!
Waking from a deep sleep exclusive to holidays or heaven, sunshine streams through the net canopy, framing another glorious view of lagoon, mountains and morning sky. I sip herbal tea on the veranda, my soul soothed by the blessed sanctuary and a sense of sadness settles on my heart to leave this haven. I scribble a few notes before I amble past the magical milkwood to breakfast. Which is more an event than a meal: lavish smorgasbord of fruit, cheese and cured meats; concluded by creamy scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Then it’s time for a morning nature walk, a gentle 3km stroll along the lagoon to the Spookhuis – punctuated by Octavia’s intriguing tales and discoveries of fresh caracal prints, wild flowers and porcupine quills. I’m suffering serious lens envy as we marvel at the graceful stand of flamingos, like a silent catwalk of models lolling backstage: one leg bent, hand on hip.
Marcelino meets us at the exquisitely restored 1892 Spookhuis, painstakingly rehabilitated by the Johnsons. Another amazing venue! For a yoga retreat. Musical soiree. Wedding reception. Romantic afternoon coffee. Or lazy family picnic. Replete with an enviable wine cellar, Country Cafe, beautifully booked library (Breese’s beloved collection) and fully equipped conference room upstairs – and 4-star self catering stone cottages nearby.
This mosaic of stunning locations is run by a cohesive, passionate and experienced team who function more like family than colleagues. From the handwritten welcome notes to electric turn downs, solar lanterns, wool and knitting needles (a local empowerment initiate), flower petals and homemade bath salts, each creative touch has been thoughtfully considered and lovingly executed.
Mosaic Private Sanctuary
The entire experience at Mosaic’s Lagoon Lodge is surprisingly affordable: luxury accommodation, three-course dinner, exceptional breakfast and activities cost R2800 a room, a night (more details on rates here). Stay longer if you can – there’s still a heated pool and spa treatments for the leisurely; quad bikes and cave tours for the adrenalin junkies; sunset cruises and picnic adventures… or you could just as well stare at the horizon, read or pen your memoirs. Trust this inspired team to make the kind of magic happen that’ll take your breath away…
There are three self-catering cottages, sleeping between two and nine people. The cottages cost from R720. For more information on rates click here.
For more information or to book your place in paradise, tel 028-313-2814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org