Magoebaskloof South Africa
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
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
I 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 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.
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……….”
Chiropractor at Better Backs