On top of a hill, in the depth of a val, at the end of a road, in the middle of nowhere, with someone you know, about something you don’t, to get away from what you do, to see anew and hear nothing at all but your very own soul…
It’s indeed our best kept secret. The first track was made or shall we say discovered already back in 1999, while exploring Simonskloof on a borrowed good old Avalanche Mountain Bike.
We’ve never made much noise about it, but lately there’s been several enquiries which made me realize that there was absolutely zero info on our website.
So here we go, check our latest page on Simonskloof’s MTB Trails with map and description of our 3 MTB trails from 10 to 40km, two of the three are circular routes, with the most scenic views, through remote valleys and up and down some hectic passes. The 20km track offers single track and even some historic ox wagon trails – the very first access into the Keerom valley.
Make sure you have a ice cold beer in the fridge on your return or carry some cash for a Coke and Biltong at Oupa Batt’se Winkel our local farm store along the route.
Photo credits go to Charles Raymond & Cooperfeesh – Thanks Guys!!!
Please contact Stella at Sweat Lodge email@example.com to book and express your gratitude for Mother Earth’s unconditional Love.
Ultimately we are all related:
…Carless vs Careless
When last did you walk down to the corner shop for a loaf of bread, a bottle of something cold, a six-pack, some snacks, or the missing boerewors or mushrooms (vegetarians take note) for the impromptu braai???
Is the memory of driving a couple of blocks or even a section of the highway to reach the nearest shopping mall or even your favorite organic grocer in the suburb next door clearer?
The daily school drops with the kids, before spending endless time in total static rush hour traffic to get to your even more stationary office desk. Mind the 2-3hours drive it took you to get to Simonskloof, dodging 18 wheelers and speeding minibuses along the way.
Sitting in flu inducing air-conditioning, law obeyingly strapped in by your restrictive seatbelt, while losing your favorite radio station’s signal, the more the city fumes give way to fresh country air and blue skies. Then to top it all “Are we there yet…?” or “I need to wee…” from the kids, while your copilot is scanning a smart phone for directions. Finally, ten dusty, bumpy kilometers are all that separates you from your well-deserved, so looked forward, hard earned weekend break – never mind the much-needed car wash before Monday mornings meeting with a prospective client – but let’s not think about work AGAIN!
So, here you are opening a creaking farm gate, almost as powerful as Emmerich’s Stargate itself, beaming you into another galaxy, some old, really old car wrecks suggests a different era, one of white walled tires and even oxen, be it to pull the stripped “car-cases” to their final resting place or actually dragging the last wooden wagon on its monthly supply trip to the nearest steam train siding. Friendly road signs warn you about the slow creatures of this planet… no more speeding tickets – mind you, the receptionist might hint on your F1 driving style through the last ditch and gives you the checkered finish flag for first place in your personal car race.
- Hang ‘m up, those car keys!
- Switch off that I-droid – no signal out here!
- Light your fire…
- Open that bottle of your finest or brew that cuppa…
- Lean back, feet UP…
- Breathe in the fresh mountain air…
- and take in the endless landscape!
You get the drift: Carless is King or Queen…!
The next morning, after a good night’s sleep – wondering what happened to the neighbor’s alarm or the noise from the nearby main road, the ice-cream bell (do you still get them?) and the builders racket from the site around the block.
You realize it’s all gone, does not exist, on hold for the next 36 hours at least!
Time for your morning run or yoga session or straight to breakfast with a slow brewed coffee, un-toasted fresh farm bread*, good – real – natural – honey** free range farm eggs***.
* watch this space for our “Weekend with Bread” treats!
** need some real honey from a happy beekeeper? Ask mom at the Honey Cottage!
*** well the eggs never ranged free, but ours are definitely Mongoose friendly, as he seems to get most of them, hence so far none are for sale – sorry!
Sooner or later our hiking trails are calling, the little farm dam needs to be explored, the car wrecks beg closer inspection and summon your creative juices for an amateur photo session. The big old oak tree asks for your tree hugging skills and your ancestral connections, eventually will draw you to search for the rock paintings in the kloof.
All quests start right at your doorstep, the very stoep of each cottage is the base of each of these adventures. Your feet are the pivotal point around which activities on Simonskloof revolve. Here, these most remote of body parts are central to your stay, here they experience happiness, be it barefooted on the Campsite lawn, squishing through the mud of the little farm dam, stepping on sharp little pebbles in the rock pools up in the mountain, soaking up sun rays while you lie in the hammock at Faraway and read your favorite novel, toe wriggling with the water taps while enjoying a bush bath at Orange, tiptoeing across the creaking wooden floor of Eric’s, strapped into your hiking boots while hiking the Gecko trail or while finding your rhythm down a rock wall, abseiling into the gorge and ultimately boulder hopping in your Rockys 14 times across the Nuy River – HAPPY FEET!
Leave those keys hanging, just like Tom Dooley’s head. Leave your car parked, for the weekend – well of course that is, if you’re not heading for the Saturday Morning market down in Montagu or the Protea Farm’s famous tractor ride to the top of the Langeberg…
Simonskloof offers you that happy feet experience, that connection with mother nature, slow enough to spot the little things of life. “Down to Earth” is our terrestrial pursuit after all and so is our appeal at Simonskloof for the understanding and respect of the land, to walk and not drive while staying here – it’s only a 5 – 10 minute walk between cottages and the perceived trail head – remember all trails start at your cottage!
See the opportunity for your young kids, to gain a deeper insight of what it means to drive or not to drive, to walk or not to walk, the beauty of an ever so unconditional supportive planet earth, down to the smallest unexpected living thing. Yet in a blink of an eye we’d sit in our metal monster, driving over her little creatures, catching the flying ones with our windscreen. At night a car’s headlights become death traps for most night insects or birds of prey. Instead marvel at the endless night sky with its millions of fairy lights, while taking a safe 10 minute stroll home with the chance to discover a porcupine shuffling in the oaks forest looking for penny bun mushrooms or listening to the frogs chattering in the farm dam.
Keep those keys hanging! We, Simonskloof and mother nature will be thankful.
Next time you need another six-pack… hmmm, consider walking, it will grow with every step!
“So, don’t f&#k with me!” …What on earth!?, might have been your first reaction, when reading above words… Well, as inappropriate as it might sound at first, it hits the nail straight on the head and in the spirit of 2017 (don’t beat around the bush, say what you mean, mean what you say, get to the point), it is very much Waya’s situation right now.
Our little Waya is heading for that special time of her life, or in Neil Diamond’s words: “Girl you’ll be a woman soon”. Hence, we have to tighten our pet policy, allowing spayed females & neutered K9’s only! If your hound, mutt, canine, dog, mongrel, cur, tyke, doggy, pooch, mong, bitzer, man’s best friend or whatever you call your barking, tail wagging pet, still sports his “family jewels” or if she’s in heat for that matter, they will currently not be allowed at Simonskloof, the latter to make life a bit easier on young Hakan.
The “Dog Free Zone” i.e. no dogs in the cottage bedrooms still stands – for those of you struggling to grasp the reasons why we do not wish to have dogs in the cottage’s bedrooms, it’s very simple: In the last couple of years we equipped our guest cottages with good quality & beautiful linen and down duvets. Dogs – especially those that sleep or sometimes just jump on the beds are simply damaging the linen and leaving hair behind. This might not be of concern to you at your own home, but having many different guest staying at Simonskloof it does cause a problem, after all, not everyone shares your love or tolerance towards K9’s, some might even have an allergy towards animal hair. Hence we ask you to respect our house rules, they are there for a good reason.
BUT despite all these restrictions, we do still welcome your friendly and well behaved dog. Please make sure you have his/her favorite blanket or traveling dog bed, a leash and collar and food and water bowls packed. Along the road, plan in enough stops for pee-breaks yet keep them under closer control as you never know what he/she might pick up along a harmless looking farm fence. At Simonskloof please keep your pet on a leash when checking in at the reception, as we do have two cats too.
We’re looking forward to welcoming you and your friendly pets at down to earth Simonskloof.
In 3 weeks it’s time for our 10th Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony here at Simonskloof Mountain Retreat.
Tim Sikyea is pouring the water and holding the space, Harry Bateman is keeping the fire and Stella Plantinga is in charge of bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Stella at 042 294 1712
Ever had the urge to hit the road for a change of scenery, needed a break from your everyday 8 to 5 job, do some hard work instead of sifting through 100’s of e-mails and endless Whatsup conversations a day? Wanted to actually eat healthy and breathe clean air? Drink water from a natural stream instead of a PET bottle. Be part of a trail building team and come home physically tried but happy. Sleep with seeing the stars above and shower with a scent of fynbos in the air not from an Airfresh can… Meet the chicken you just had an omelette from or water the herbs and veggies you’re about to have for lunch?
Than WWOOFing might just be what your doctor ordered, to get you back on track and experience life, how it was meant to be: Natural, sustainable and truly rewarding!
17 years, since mid-1999, We’ve been living off-grid out here in the mountains near Montagu. At first all by myself and two border collies, turning the old farm house into a guest house, serving guest mouth-watering trout, or beef fillet from an open fire, potbread and homemade jam from organic apricots and freshly ground coffee… Whenever the work load got too much, help came from friends and volunteering people, weeks and even months at a time. Then in 2004 we joint WWOOF Independent and opened up to more real life seeking humans from all over the world. We’ve been going strong ever since and enjoyed a great exchange of culture and ideas as well as valuable help and expertise.
But what is WWOOF for you may ask?
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an international organisation – see also www.wwoof.org . The movement started in England the 70’s as Working Weekends On Organic Farms, giving organic farmer a much-needed helping hand to be competitive with conventional production. Today WWOOFing focuses more and more on cultural exchange while volunteering on farms with an organic approach to life and production. It’s an exchange of your help for Food and Accommodation. In short it’s about experiencing and taking part in everyday farm life, to its fullest and NOT just a HOLIDAY on a farm! Duration is around 1 month up to 6 month, all year round.
What help is needed?
WWOOF work here at Simonskloof ranges from heavy stuff like: Fieldwork, building or renovation of a guest cottage, hiking trail maintenance and stacking wood, to light work as: Cleaning of guest cottages, helping in the kitchen and our permaculture garden. Where possible we all work together in a team, however WWOOFers should to be able to work on their own and be comfortable with the remoteness of the farm and the lack of connectivity. Working hours are 6 hours per day 5-6 days a week, so there’s time for you to meditate, read, study and explore the farm.
Are YOU suited?
YES, if you outdoorsy, willing to do physical work and are open minded – having practical experience is a bonus. Mostly we eat vegetarian meal these days, all help with the preparation and eat together. WWOOF accommodation is a caravan or the safari tent, depending on availability. We take between 1-4 WWOOFers at one time, so far they have come from all over the globe:
Australia, Scotland, UK, France, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, USA, also from South African, Taiwan and Liechtenstein. But please keep in mind, if you are looking for a job, cheap accommodation, or a holiday on a farm then WWOOFing is not for you!
What do I bring?
Plenty of enthusiasm to work and learn! Standard backpacking gear e.g. Backpack (for working on the trails) Sleeping bag, hiking boots, some light shoes too, an overall or other working clothes, sun protection, cool and warm clothing. Temperatures in summer days can reach +42° and in winter nights drop down to -5°. And of course you’ll need a valid tourism visa if you are not from South Africa, appropriate travel and health insurance, as well as enough pocket money for your personal little luxuries.
18m… 12m… 5m… more to the South, no… a step to the West. Yes… there, that must be it, under those rocks!!! YES, GOT it!!!
Armed with a GPS (Global Positioning System device) or a mobile app and a Waypoint downloaded from the internet, they are poisoned to find a little box, as small as the dice, but more often the size of a 35mm firm container or a lunch box sized Tupperware container containing a logbook and sometime even some additional items for swopping. These boxes called Geocaches with names like Under Pressure 2, Disconnected, or A bridge too Far, are hidden in the most unusual places, under park benches, in trees, on mountain tops, or in private post-boxes or under garden gnomes or rock piles.
Currently there are over 2,5million caches hidden in 180 countries all over the whole world, 12’000 alone in SA, ~40 in and around Montagu. The game is called Geocaching and started in 2000 with the opening of the American GPS satellite system to the general public.
The first geocaches were simple sturdy ammo-boxes and over the years people downsized them to tiny containers called NANO caches, suitable to be hidden in heavy traffic areas like shopping malls, restaurants or bus and train stations. Other caches were so big they needed no log book, but a confirming photograph of the Geocacher in front of the object like a geological formation and then called EARTH cache. These caches are often very educational, as are those placed at historical monuments or plaques. Did you know for instance that Montagu has at least 5 Boer war forts and where they are – Geocachers know! The caches are placed by the players themselves under strict rules, with great respect to the environment and permission of the landowners.
Sometime you might even find a GeoCoin (see above) or a Travelling Bug (TB) in the cache, those are traceable items which players released into the game to travel the world, some time with a dedicated mission like: Visit mountain summit caches all over the world, YES even Mt.Everest has a cache right on top, called: “Earth’s Roof – Mount Everest Peak”. Our personal Geocoin made it all the way to the Ramat Razi’el in the Judean Mountains before getting lost back in 2011… another TB called “s’ Geise Glöggli – The Bell” travelled 37334.5km so far and is currently in North Carolina.
The 16th of August is International Geocaching Day, for more info on this awesome treasure hunt visit Geocaching.com In their own words: “People geocache because it’s a way to explore the world around them with friends and family and because it’s fun. Geocaching is a free game that reveals a world beyond the everyday.”
100m a day, that’s all one will manage, 200m at most. When you slip tired into your sleeping bag that night, hands full of blisters where there should be calluses, belly muscles aching beyond a gym work-out, and a sunburned face because you didn’t bother about the sunscreen, still you feel on top of the world!
The next day you rise with the last fading stars, the campfire at your feet still hiding enough glowing amber to relight for a perfect pot of coffee, while your trusting border collie is uncovering last night’s dog pellets from the protecting layer of black wattle seeds mixed in with rich fynbos earth.
While the coffee is percolating you roll up your mat and sleeping bag, splash icy spring water into your face and scan the sky for today’s weather forecast. After breakfast it’s time to clear another 50 or some meters of seemingly impenetrable Protea bushes, fynbos, wattles or some gentle willows, before heading home along your piece of work, by now kilometers of solid hiking trail. In between the swinging of your bush-pick and endless electrifying whacks into solid quartz rich sand stone, comes the pleasure of creating “Lord of the Ring” style cairns, to mark the new route.
By the time you get home it’s evening again and that hot shower is soothing your dusty dry skin. You already long for the next session while attending the unavoidable flood of e-mails that built-up in your absence, yet you can’t wipe that smile off your face while contemplating what a day’s work in the city must have been like and you fear, that soon, your just required calluses make way for soft office skin again.
But then you recall the smell of the campfire, you re-live the balancing over boulders and driftwood while crossing the mountain stream, the felling of black wattle trees, the scouting up and down a potential route for the trail – always taking note where your border collie went, naturally finding the perfect path. You remember her sleeping in the cover of the nearest bush where you left you back pack in the cooling shade, waiting for you to return after 20m of freshly built trail to pick up that bag, and rake the new path to its final finish where you lay down the pack and start again…
That border collie was Matata (1999-2015). That trail is the Gecko Trail. The pleasure was, sorry, is mine!
Thanks to all you hikers, Jurgen & Ninon
After more than a year of struggling with cable theft, hence loosing our Telkom number to an odd sounding 0230040459 VoIP number, we’ve claimed it back TODAY, and kissed Telkom good bye for good!!! And it is even more funny looking at our last phone bill that shows R125.29 in credit… THEY owe us! So on that happy note, please note our new/old number again:
But should you by accident dial the old/new number, a friendly lady will pick up hoping you’d like to buy a jar or two of her NATURAL honey. That’s my mom, living across the valley who since today has her own phone and connection to the world.
So be it rest full accommodation or healing honey, we’re back on line!
For those of you outside South Africa, just add +27 and leave the first 0 away and just to give you the full info on the number: 023 stands for the Langeberg Municipality area and 614 is the village of Montagu, yet the new law allows you to have your number transferred to any telecommunication provider of your choice. But most of all 1895 is us!