Magoebaskloof South Africa

African Sunset

I have a really good friend that recently went on a retreat of sorts in the Magoebaskloof in South Africa to escape the festive madness and just reconnect with nature without the clutter of daily life. In my opinion, this type of self awareness is such an important part of modern life to ensure that we not only keep ourselves grounded but also create the opportunity to properly disconnect and recharge our batteries.

This is her experience and I hope you find inspiration in it like I did:

 

The Journey Begins

 

“The lure of the scenic views of Magoebaskloof and the surrounding area with its tranquil forests and rejuvenating waterfalls was the motivating reason for me to travel to the little province called Limpopo located in the North of the Republic of South Africa. The borders of Limpopo are extensive connecting South Africa with its northern neighbours Botswana, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is best known for its indigenous wildlife, safari tours and the local vegetation known locally as bushveld… the most well-known tourist attraction in the area is the Kruger National Park. Today though, my journey will be centered around two main towns namely Haenertsburg and Tzaneen.

The drive along the R71, from Haenertsburg towards Tzaneen, is absolutely breathtaking but I feel that this statement does little justice to the real beauty of this area. It has been a long time since the beauty of such a drive has captivated all my senses. Surrounded on either side by vast trees, the meandering road offers such promise around each and every corner where deep down in your heart, you wish that you could continue forever captivated in this moment. As you meander through the mountain passes, the exhilaration that you feel can perhaps be best described as the perfect and most harmonious waltz between you and nature. If you are lucky enough to be a passenger, being captivated at the view is to be expected… as the driver though; it is rather challenging staying focused on the road ahead and not on the scenery. The vastness of greenery that surrounds you and some of the overhanging trees complete this green tunnel of tranquillity gain maximum benefit from the full experience, I opened all the windows in my car and relished in the mixture of the dampness and the organic smell of wood and mulch, as it culminated in a revitalizing breath of fresh air. The air seemed so pure, that I am certain I started to feel the stress of modern life dissipate.

 

Wegraakbosch Organic Farm & Dairy

 

Wegraakbosch Cheese Farm

My first stop along the route was Wegraakbosch Organic Farm and Dairy. The farm is VERY rustic and by that I mean that one can be a little disappointed by the cleanliness at times. Thankfully the variety of hard cheeses on sale made up for the lack of decor, reminding me that we were on a working “farm” after all. The process of cheese making here is completely organic and only solar and bio fuel is used during the manufacturing process. I decided on very flavoursome sharp cheeses called Thabeng and Lesedi. The Thabeng cheese was surprisingly smooth for such a hard cheese while the Lesedi taste was a lot sharper and grainier in texture, even more so than Tilser or Parmesan.

Kuhestan Organic Farm was next in line and I was once surprised by the vastness and extent of the gardens located there. There were beautiful azaleas, roses, hydrangeas… there were so many that I can’t remember all their names now. Walking along the luscious lawns and through the rainbows of colours, I really felt like Alice who just found Wonderland. The shop offered no shortage on a variety of cordials, jams and pickled vegetables for sale. As the owner happily reported, “nothing is ever wasted. If it cannot be used in a spread or a jam, it must either be pickled or made into a refreshing drink.” I decided that a beautifully sour raspberry jam would pair wonderfully with the strong cheese I bought at the previous stop and I just could not resist the cherry cordial.

 

Magoebaskloof Farm Stall

 

Magoebaskloof Farm StallI found a little hidden gem on the journey known as Magoebaskloof Farm Stall. The name is a bit deceiving, as it resembles nothing like a farm stall at all. However, their commitment to sustainable farming practices and lowering their carbon footprint on the environment had piqued my interest somewhat. I just settled for a Cappuccino, not expecting anything spectacular, since it was a farm stall on the side of the road after all. Needless to say it was impossible to hide my surprise, when in fact I was served the largest and the most delicious cup of coffee I had the pleasure of enjoying in the past few days. The coffee was strong and hot, but not burnt. Initially the flavour is difficult to discern, but the aftertaste is dark & fruity and tends to linger long after that long-drawn sip. The coffee is fair-trade coffee, as is the farm’s commitment to good farming practices. Unfortunately, the farm stall does not stock fruits or vegetables, but does have a host of locally made items or produce (jams and biscuits) from other local shops. It soon became very obvious to me, that each business in the area supported other local businesses. It makes sense… when one benefits then all benefit in the spirit of Ubuntu (Common Humanity) which embodies the spirit of community and what it means to help each other. At that point, I realized that at every stop I had made previously during the day, each owner or manager had recommended my next stop and asked curiously what I had seen or places that I had visited. This was how they could make recommendations for their fellow neighbours or help me with other points of interest.

After my caffeine shot, I was ready for some exercise. My drive took me upwards through a vast forest reserve. Once I reached the summit of the road, I parked my car for the modest fee of R10 ($0.6c) and embarked on the 800m descent down to the Debengeni waterfalls. (Alternatively, you can pay R10 per car plus R10 per person and drive the 800m. Just remember that what goes down must come up and if you choose to walk down, it is a steep climb back to your car. Another suggestion, if you are fairly fit and love the outdoors, is to partake on one of the many Magoebaskloof hiking trails that will also lead to the Debengeni Waterfalls along their routes.

 

Debengeni Falls

 

Debengeni means “Place of the big pot” and upon reaching the base of the waterfall, it is clear to see how it got its name. The Debengeni Waterfall ends in a large plunge pool at its base surrounded by lush green forest and bush making it a huge tourist attraction. What makes Debengeni unique is that it has a dedicated picnic spot and braai (BBQ) area and I was surprised to see how many people were enjoying the festivities and taking full advantage of the holiday season in these serene surroundings. Debengeni flows over smooth mountain rock, some with deep cavities creating fun natural rock pools and natural water slides. The water is clear, crisp and invitingly cool, perfect for a typical 34ᵒC South African summer’s day. My auditory senses were filled with the shrill of children’s laugher, the sound of gushing water and the tranquillity of the birds in the nearby tree tops. I managed to find a quiet spot away from the crowds and found myself falling into a meditative state, with only the feeling of the cool water running over my feet being equalled with the sight and sound of the surging water. By the time I had realized, 30 minutes or so had passed. I was mesmerized by the flow of the crystal, clear water over my feet and fell into a trance like state. I decided to make my way up to the top again and see what the kids were up to.

Before entering the Debengeni falls, I noticed many signs of the risks and dangers of the rock pools, all stating factually that people have drowned there before. With these words of caution in mind, I found a great observation spot and proceeded to watch the children having fun on the natural slides and then it dawned on me that the inherent danger was people not exercising practical wisdom and taking excessive risks. I was watching the daredevils challenge each other, by seeing who would go to the highest point to slide down the smooth rock and into the pool below. Only after the first couple of slides, did I fully comprehend why people get hurt. The slippery rock and gushing water makes this the best free slippery slide in the province, but I did not account for the speed at which one comes flying down the mountainside. Thankfully, each time one of the teenagers came flying past me, they landed safely in the pool below… although my heart must have stopped a couple of times when they became airborne for a fraction of a second before landing in the pool. I calculated that just a few centimetres to the right as they were airborne, would spell disaster with an open head wound and possible concussion, brain haemorrhage or even death at that speed. Suddenly I became all too aware of the danger and could not bear the thought of watching someone (especially a child) get injured. So I headed back towards my car and continued my meandering journey through the forests of Magoebaskloof towards Tzaneen.

Debengeni Falls

Agatha Forest Reserve

 

It was getting dark, so I decided to retire to my accommodation… a wooden cabin hidden in the Agatha Forest Reserve. Needless to say, I had the best night’s sleep in months. Not sure if it was the excitement of all the day’s activities or the huge supply of oxygen at my doorstep. All I can say is that I knew I had found my place of solitude, where one’s thoughts coalesce to fill the heart with nothing but pure love for Mother Earth.

 

To Be Continued……….”

Written by:

Dr Charmaine Young

Chiropractor at Better Backs

 

 

 

 

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12 Responses

  1. james8268 says:

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience.

    Though I haven’t been to South Africa yet, it is on my travel list. Debengeni Falls looks beautiful. I am a little curious how much did the farm stall sell the cappuccino? And did they sell coffee bean as well?

    Waiting for your sequel article!

    • Richard says:

      There is raw coffee available from the stall and coffee is relatively inexpensive as compared to international standards with a cup costing approx. $2 per cup.

      Stay tuned and I will publish part 2 as soon as Charmaine has written it.

      Rich

  2. charles39 says:

    traveling is always refreshing and I believe the journey in South Africa did just that. the nature walk  and the thrills that comes with being in untamed Africa are hard to find elsewhere in the world.

    There is so much to see and experience in South Africa which we do not hear much about. The only well known Reserve is the Kruger National Park but there is so much more.

    Thanks for sharing Charmaines experience and educating us a little on South Africa.

    • Richard says:

      There is so much natural beauty in South Africa outside of just the Kruger National Park and Cape Town. One only needs to know where to find it.

      Stay tuned for Part 2.

      Rich

  3. Barry says:

    Thank you for taking me along on this journey of self-awareness and rejuvenation. Even without photos, one can feel the tranquility through the words that have been written.

    The names of the provinces is almost like reading many of the names from the Bible with their unfamiliarity. Right now, I will have to settle for the peaceful reading of the article but it does make one think more seriously about the next destination.

    Thanks for sharing an adventure in an area of the world many of us have little or knowledge about.

    • admin says:

      The names do take some getting used to but that is the case with every foreign language.

      I am really fortunate to have Charmaine’s assistance in showing people another side of this beautiful country.

      Rich

  4. mzakapon says:

    Hi Richard, you have done a great task by posting real travel story. The scenery looks amazing and I had the feeling that I was with her during this journey. I am also interested to know about wild animals and natural resources there. 

    I appears that the story is not ended and I am going to bookmark your page for my future reading about part 2. I am looking forward for your next post. Thanks for sharing Charmaine’s awesome experience.

    • Richard says:

      You are 100% right, the journey has just begun.

      I look forward to publishing part 2 of Charmaine’s journey so I am glad that you have bookmarked it.

      Rich

  5. Prabakaran says:

    Hi!

    Thank you for sharing a wonderful article depicting Charmaine’s personal experience of traveling into a purely breathtaking forest area. Really I enjoyed reading it as if I am traveling and going through the experience of enjoying nature together with her. 

    Really, being disconnected from modern life is essential to add fuel to the body and soul. The Names of places sounds strange to me- typical to Africa. I am living in the Middle East and we enjoy the nature of the desert, which is just opposite to South African terrain she visited.

    I have visited SriLanka which has similar terrain with forests, greens, fresh air, waterfalls, beautiful landscapes, beautiful beaches and so on. You can find many tea estates en route with a great aroma in the air which you will never forget in your life.Thanks

    • Richard says:

      Sri Lanka is one destination from reading looks fairly similar to what Charmaine describes in her piece. It has also been on my list of destinations to travel, now just to schedule a date.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Rich

  6. Evald says:

    Hey there Richard,

    as a person who absolutely loves travelling and is always seeking for new experiences, I am constantly on the look for new & unique places from all over the world to visit, or at least do some exciting research on! Therefore, I am very happy that I’ve stumbled across Your article which I found to be very informative and captivating to read. I’ve learned a lot of new things today. Going into this article I didn’t know nothing about Magoebaskloof.

    Some of my most favourite places to visit & travel to are actually the ones which contain rich nature, and so far Magoebaskloof is shaping up to be an excellent experience in regard to that matter. Just being one on one with the nature makes me feel very positive & alive. It’s truly an incredible source of motivation. I would love to have a picnic at Debengeni one day! I was also quite pleasantly surprised to discover that a typical south African summer day is about 34C, this is great news for me as anything above it would be too much for my body to handle, which would result in me being tired and not being able to fully enjoy the trip. 

    I really admire how Charmaine described the best night sleep of Her life which was in a wooden cabin hidden in the Agatha Forest Reserve,- I can only imagine what strong bond & connection She felt between Her and a Mother Earth, it must be one of the best feelings there is in the world to experience! All in all, this whole trip seems like a true eye-opening chapter in Your life and I am very happy that You’ve enjoyed it! 

    Thanks for the great article- I’ve really enjoyed reading it and learning something new today! 

    • Richard says:

      The South African bush is know for connecting people with nature and recharging the batteries.

      Look out for Part 2 of this series for more on her travels.

      Rich

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