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!

On the Rim of Africa

Rim of Africa Sunrise at Waterfall Peak campNice when a long held dream finally comes true. Since around 2001 I’ve had this vision of creating a hiking trail from Simonskloof to Montagu and eventually connecting with Swellendam. I started with the first section from Nuy Valley to Simonskloof in 2003 and after several rebuilds due to fires and floods, added Simonskoof-Langdam in 2010.

This year I was asked to join an even bigger vision: The Rim of Africa, a 650km mountain passage from Pakhuis pass in the northern Cederberg via the Hex River mountain and the Langeberg all the way to the Outeniqua mountains in the East – not just as part of the trail, but to guide participants along the Rim on stage 5, from the Hex River Valley via Simonskloof to Montagu.

On the 16th October I joined my group of mountain hikers, local and from overseas, at Die Tolhuis outside Ceres heading for Milner peak over into the Hex River valley. However, due to bad weather conditions, snow prediction and zero visibility on Milner, we had to transfer on day 4 to Nuy Valley and hiked the Gecko Trail as a welcome alternative, including its adventurous 14 river crossings and a final scramble up the boulderous Cobra ravine.

For the following two days it rained, so we stuck it out at Simonskloof (lucky me) getting ready for the next four days to Montagu. Monday the 22nd full backpacks were hoisted and in good spirit we headed for Arangieskop. There the hut and its fireplace kept us nicely sheltered from the 4° outside while we dried our boots and feasted on freeze dried Moroccan lamb with couscous. The following day saw us descend along the hiking trail, by-passing the dangerously steep Vensterbank and re-join the ridge by the evening. That night we slept in our tents with a howling south wind plucking on the guylines.

Rim of Africa hikers at the SwooshDay 9 started in thick mist but by the time we reached Olifantskop it had cleared and we were blessed with a vista better to none and in true Rim style we scrambled along the very top of the ridge to our camp at Waterfallkop, much better sheltered then the night before.

Our last morning on top of the Langeberg was greeted by a perfect glowing red sunrise, dry flysheets and a good coffee made from water we had collected out of rock puddles.The journey continued past the trig beacon, then down the “Swoosh” were we finally found fresh spring water again, hence it was time for a much deserved tea break. One “last” climb back up to the ridge and by lunch time we had reached Bloupunt, overlooking Montagu.

Rim of Africa hikers at ArangieskopWe descended on the established hiking trail with some sever flood damage and overgrowth shortly before the Klipspringer Cabins. Here Lola, Pete and Galeo welcomed us with ice cold beers and a mean lekker lamb and waterblommetjies potjie. A restful night followed and the next morning we walked out back into civilisation but our hearts remained on the mountains…

If you are interested in “walking” the Rim of Africa visit their website.
In 2013 another 3 stages will be added, finishing at the Outeniqua mountains.

You owe it to yourself AND to the mountain!

For more images of stage 4 & 5 visit our Facebook page.