Orange Cottage 2.0

Originally built in the 1960’s as a 2-bedroom farm worker’s cottage, Orange Cottage’s classic square shaped foot print, can be found in multitude
Main Bedroom @ Orange Cottage on farms from here to Montagu. Back in 1988 it served as our base when visiting granddad here on Simonskloof. Then in 2004, our 5th year, we turned it into our third guest cottage, after Eric’s Place and our famous Faraway Cottage.

Over the years it saw many minor additions: a wood fired Dover stove, Solar heated water, a reed and hessian ceiling, apricot pips around the braai area, an under-counter fridge – mind you, the latter back fired, literally and before we knew it, it simply over heated, I’m working on the ventilation as I type.

Solar lights replaced the sooty paraffin lamps and yet so romantic candles. But they simply darkened all the walls and together with the falling off of plaster and peeling paint, it started to look more like a shack than a cosy cottage. So, in January 2018 straight after the silly season holidays we tackled a serious make over! Fortunately, we had some much needed helping Bathroom at Orange Cottagehands in form of four young WWOOFers (Volunteers) and by the end of January we were done, including a neat reed screen to add privacy when enjoying a bush bath outside. The hot water for the bath is still on the cards and might just arrive in form of a Fire-Bath workshop – watch this space!

The Kitchen top, as well as the entrance door, received a good sanding down and trimming of the scraping bottom, all sealed with three layers of Woodoc. The double bed (Queen size…) finally “lost” its foot-board, making it more comfortable for taller people. The Geckos, however, proved themselves worthy of new speed records and escaped many attempts at being caught – natural insect solutions can’t be tempered with! Hence, please accept the occasional droppings on the wall.

The cottage looks amazing, we are pretty chuffed! The window frames still need some TLC and so does most of the floor, all in good time.

Braai Area @ Orange Cottage

MTB @ Simonskloof

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!!!

WWOOF @ Simonskloof

Ever had the urge to hit the road for a Simonskloof pizza nightchange 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?
WWOOFers on veranda roof 2Than 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.

Americans Iyla, Nick and me

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.

Fixing the catchment

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?

Painter DJ Magdalena from Switzerland

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:

Ignathio from Spain working on the Gecko Trail

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?

WWOOF caravan

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.

So, what are you waiting for?
Like to see More Images? Please visit our picture gallery.
Like to WWOOF? Call us or e-mail us! Last minute help is always welcome!

Boots and All

Ever wondered where is what at Simonskloof?

Often we’re asked in an e-mail:

  • How far is Faraway cottage from Orange or Eric’s Place?
  • Are the cottages private and have un-interrupted views?
  • Where does the Gecko Trail start?
  • How far is it to the rock pool or to the Jetty of the Farm dam?
  • Where’s the campsite and where does one Abseil or go kloofing?
  • How far is it to Langdam or Nuy Vallei (the other ends/starts of the Gecko Trail)?

So here you go indulge in a couple of GOOGLE-EARTH images from close-up to a perfect overview (2’000 – 25’000m above the earth) to get a good look at Simonskloof Mountain Retreat.

Simonskloof - Setup

If the images still leave you puzzled, here the stats in metres, as the crow flies and by (foot/car):

Eric’s Place to Campsite: 160m (170m/515m)
Eric’s to Orange Cottage: 450m (540m/770m)
Campsite to Orange: 300m (370m/580m)
Orange to Faraway: 180m (250m/550m)

As an indicator it takes roughly 1-2min to walk 100m…

Hence looking at the differences of foot to car, it’s a “no-brainer”, that once you are at Simonskloof, you’ll keep the car keys in your pocket and WALK 🙂 !

Simonskloof's Dayhikes

Which brings me to the next announcement: Autumn/Winter/Spring is HIKING season!!!

Gecko Trail A - B

So, see you soon at Simonskloof  – Boots and All!

Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony

Friday the 26th September – Sunday the 5th of October 2014  it’s time again:

Tim Sikyea will be back at Simonskloof for a 10 day Sacred Sweat Lodge Ceremony.

Sweat Lodge Flyer Sept 2014

Tim Sikyea was born in March 1951 in Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, Canada. He is of the Dene Nation and his Indian name is Wanbli Isna-La (Lonely Eagle) given to him by the Lakota people. Tim grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada.

Tim 2 largeTim teaches people to help themselves and to discover joy, happiness and appreciation of all life. His teachings remind us of the sacredness of Mother Earth. Tim is Chief of the Earth Dance — a ceremony for the earth, our Mother. She is our true mother and her love for her people is unconditional.

The Sweat Lodge Ceremony and way of life of the Indian people is about connecting with our Creator and Mother Earth. It is about gratitude and thanksgiving for everything that we have in our lives and for everything Mother Earth gives us to sustain our physical world.
The Sweat Lodge is a place of refuge where our minds, bodies and spirits come to rest. It is a place not only to heal but also to release all negative emotions such as anger, hurt, guilt, resentment etc. in a safe environment. In the Sweat Lodge we pray that our hearts and minds be opened to receive Great Spirit’s unconditional love.
We enter the Lodge which represents the ‘womb’ of Mother Earth and after a period of intense prayer, we leave having shed all unwanted baggage for Mother Earth to take care of.

All that participation in Sweat Lodge Ceremony requires is that you have an open mind and an open heart and no expectations.

It is difficult to answer questions such as “how long does it last” and “how hot does it get” as each sweat is different and we all experience something unique and special.
All Tim will say is “TRUST”.

Make a spiritual investment by participating in this powerful sacred ceremony of purification and healing.

Open your heart and open your mind. Then, everything is possible.