What could be better than a cabin set against the backdrop of nature?

Posted by Anton Crone on 11 November 2020

Our Getaway highlight is a cabin in nature embracing that fundamental principle: Less is more.

Views for days and rocky rambles in a private nature reserve between Wellington and Ceres. (Photo: Desmond Louw)

Mount Bain Cabin is just 90 minutes from Cape Town if you let Garmin or Google take the lead. But you should lose those gimmicks, Gadget Guy, they’re designed for the weekly rat race. Ease back on the gas, get off the N1 at Klapmuts, amble through to Wellington and turn left at the Church Spire. Soon, you’ll be climbing Bainskloof Pass, a lick of winding tar pasted over an ancient wagon trail, so bumpy you’ll feel every moment that those wooden wheels bit rock. But oh, what a view, all the way up, all the way down; mesmerising; magnificent; mind you don’t crash.

At the foot of the pass on the Ceres side, a rocky track winds up to a cabin in Mount Bains Private Nature Reserve, a dwelling so beautifully simple that it’s a reminder of what we truly need, and no more. It takes up just as much space as is necessary and leaves the rest to nature. Nature then enters via panoramic glass – an ultra wide LCD screen for you, Gadget Guy, playing ‘Vistas of the Hex River Mountains’ in 8K resolution. The episode ‘Dusting of Snow’ was on a loop when I visited.

Owners Desmond Louw, Antonia Heil and Piccolo.

Ex Bloemfontein boytjie, Desmond Louw, and Antonia Heil who hails from Germany, are the owners and designers. They lodged here throughout the Covid crisis; cosied up in the loft; cooked pizzas on their little fireplace oven; cleared fynbos of aliens and communed with the wind. When lockdown eased, they remained, reluctant to return to their complicated city life. A neat kitchen, a couch, a Nguni skin rug; a small loft for slumbers and a bathroom in the back. What more does one need?

As professional photographers, the extended time they spent here means their images of the cabin, wildlife, mountains and fynbos are oh so fyn. I was able to put my camera kit away and spend more time exploring with my hosts. On a hike along a rocky contour, we helped their slender whippet, Piccolo, over the tricky sections. Arriving at a rock shelter, we scanned the orange pink walls where San had left their mark. Baboons and klipspringers cavorted and tumbled in ochre swirls. We wondered at the fine hand that created these glyphs and the perfect natural shelter that they adorn; imagined a fire there; a blanket of skins here. I looked over the valley that would have been full of wildlife before the grape vines took root, and I wondered how we got basic living so wrong. But there are pockets of simplicity like this that are oh so right. Now it’s yours to enjoy.

Great value in nature

Countryside

Clarens

Omega Luxury Mountain Retreat
The Maluti Mountains set the scene for Omega’s colourful cabins, each one distinct from the other thanks to some snazzy interior decoration. All of them are suitably equipped for a tranquil holiday, and all include an outdoor spa bath for some toasty stargazing.

Omega Luxury Mountain Retreat.

Cost
From R700 pp pn, R400–R500 per extra 
Person | 082 824 8825
omegaclarens.co.za

And more Trails for hikers, mountain bikers, quad bikers, 4×4 drivers and Enduro lovers; the charming town of Clarens is also a must.

Knysna, West

Cliffhanger Cottages
Three lovely cabins await visitors to Cliffhanger Cottages. Two of them (Cliffhanger and Cliffedge) are perched high above a lush valley, offering clear vistas of the Outeniqua Mountains and an expansive forest canopy below. These cottages boast cosy, rustic 
interiors, and spacious balconies on which to enjoy a sundowner, or an Irish coffee if the weather calls for it.

Cliffhanger Cottage.

Cost
From R775 pp pn (Cliffhanger and Cliffedge) R400 pp pn (Hedge cottage) | 044 388 4696
cliffhangercottages.co.za

And more Activities on the Garden Route include hiking and mountain biking; nearby attractions are Buffalo Bay and Millwood Forest.

Waterberg

Summerplace Farm
This is a good choice getaway for a mountain-biking family or group of friends. Summerplace offers a wonderful variety of bespoke MTB trails designed for every discipline of the sport, whether you’re a beginner or a pro. A wide variety of accommodation is available, and you have access to some of the Waterberg’s other renowned activities.

Summerplace Farm.

Cost
From R450 pp self-catering | 083 302 5123
summerplacefarmstay.com

Port Elizebeth

Kleinrivier Wilderness
Families and groups of friends, take note. Kleinrivier’s Black Eagle Tented Camp offers accommodation for up to eight people within a natural wonderland that’s home to a variety of birds, wildlife and indigenous flora. Four carpeted two-sleeper tents await visitors, who can enjoy a pleasant stay amid the calming sounds and breathtaking views offered by the Karoo.

Kleinrivier Wilderness.

Cost
*R2 500 pn for up to eight people (R313 pp pn) | 083 991 7021/041 366 1811
Kleinrivier.co.za

And more Hiking, cycling and 4×4 trails.

Midlands

Copperleigh Trout Cottage
Thanks to both its interior and its natural surrounds, Copperleigh Trout Cottage is a true sanctuary. It sleeps up to six people, in two bedrooms and a loft with a sleeper couch. From these warmly decorated rooms, guests are offered vistas that encompass the serene Natal Midlands, Mavela Dam and the impressive Inhlosane Mountain. Copperleigh Trout Cottage is good for nature lovers, bookworms, painters and all-round introverts. There is an eatery here, but if you want to braai, then be sure to bring along your own wood.

Guest fly fishing at Copperleigh Trout Cottage.

Cost
*From R400 pp pn for two adults sharing, R300 per extra guest or child over three | 082 460 1815
copperleightroutcottage.co.za

And more Fishing and canoeing at the dam; scouting out land and aquatic wildlife and birds.

Broederstroom

B’sorah Luxury Tented Camp
In an idyllic setting near the foot of the Magaliesberg, with an abundance of wildlife roaming free, B’sorah promises both a holiday experience and a romantic getaway. It offers five luxurious, solar-powered, self-catering tents (one exclusively for honeymooners), all of them comfortably equipped, sleeping two people and boasting a stunning view of the natural environs. Small and well-behaved dogs are allowed, too.

B’sorah Luxury Tented Camp.

Cost
R700 pp pn sharing R1 400 per tent | 063 572 1062
bsorah.com

And more Beit Avinu Biblical Centre on-site; nearby attractions include Hartbeespoort Dam, various parks and animal sanctuaries, the Harties Cableway, Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris; hiking, birdwatching and canopy tours in the Magaliesberg.

Photographs supplied






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