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  • Lisa Martus


It’s official… the change of seasons is upon us and we need to warm up to winter! Let’s face it, South Africans are the worst people when it comes to bidding farewell to those sun-kissed days we love so much. But if you choose the right kind of getaway destination, you can make the most of the chilly nights to cuddle up closer to your beloved in front of a crackling log fire with a glass of vino.

Winter is actually a magical time of year when the air is crisp and the skies are clear so as the temperatures drop, many seek warmth and comfort in cosy accommodation nestled in the heart of nature. A popular destination for a winter getaway is Magoebaskloof, known for its picturesque scenery, towering mountains, lush forests, and crystal-clear streams. Venues with fireplaces offer visitors a warm and inviting retreat from the chilly weather outside as well as a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Apart from the rustic charm of cabins and cottages made from natural materials like wood and stone, there is a definite allure to snuggling up in front of a crackling fire, flames dancing as you curl up with a good book or simply bask in the glow, enjoying the peace and quiet of the surroundings. For those looking to explore the area, Magoebaskloof offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, mountain biking, and birdwatching but when the day is done, there's nothing quite like returning to your holiday home, lighting a fire, and settling in for the evening. It’s all about having the time to make memories... conversations and celebrations... candlelit evenings and long days to relax and recharge.



A perfect winter’s weekend can be spent in a log cabin tucked away amongst the pines at Stanford Lake Lodge in Magoebaskloof. As the light streams through the leaves, creating reflections across the face of the lake, it’s tempting to just stay put in your delightful hideaway but you can also put on some layers and head off to explore. Filled by the recent rains, waterfalls cascade into the Ebenezer Dam, but on Stanford Lake’s jetty, peace pervades the beautiful space creating time for reflection. You can follow the nature trails that wind their way through the property or choose for any of the activities in the area from outdoor adventure to more pampering options. On the same property, you could enjoy a soothing foot treatment with Colleen Ballenden to promote relaxation, relieve tension, and improve overall well-being - a great way to unwind and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the surrounding countryside.

Stanford Lake Lodge offers four unique and upmarket Cabins on the lakeside and three budget, semi-detached Cottages surrounded by beautiful gardens further up the hillside, each of which offers the perfect combination of comfort and scenic beauty. The lake reflects the enchanting surroundings like a mirror and is constantly transformed by the mesmerising tendrils of mist but inside, the wooden walls, natural fibres and earthy colours give the cabin a charming natural warmth. So whether you're looking for a romantic escape, a family getaway, or a solo retreat to relax, you have everything you need for a perfect winter getaway at Stanford Lake Lodge.

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There are many other options to choose from this winter in Magoebaskloof which have cosy fireplaces ranging from the smaller venues like The LogCabin, Glenogle, the Little Inn or Herb Cottage to venues with a number of rooms like Viewpoint Cabins, Zwakala River Retreat, Boscobel Cottages, Mountain Fly Fishing or the Pennefather Complex in Haenertsburg.


Sequoia Garden Retreat

Another gorgeous winter escape in Magoebaskloof, Sequoia Garden Retreat offers guests a historical gem known as Croft Cottage. Steeped in history dating back from the first gold rush in Haenertsburg, this cottage is still reminiscent of times gone by when buildings were crafted from hewn stone and mud was used as mortar. The Dique family were the first owners of the farm Goedvertrouwen, with the documents signed in 1899 by Jan Smuts who was the Registrar of Deeds at that time, later to become Prime Minister of South Africa.

The farm was subdivided and changed hands with Dr Joubert buying it in the 1930’s and the Holloway family in 1951. The first Sequoia trees (Californian Redwoods) were planted by Dr Joubert followed by Jack Holloway Snr who propagated some 40 Sequoias successfully from suckers in the mid-eighties and these majestic giants line the driveway to the main house. Today, Sequoia Garden Retreat, owned by the Van Heerden family, is a working Kiwi farm as well as the six hectares of gardens, two fishing dams and the beautiful, private guest cottages.

Meadow Cottage looks out over a delightful dam surrounded by azaleas, maples and blooms of every description. At the top of the property, near the barn built in 1919, Croft Cottage was originally a store room built of stone and later became a Crofters cottage - a simple, unassuming and tiny home for tenant farmers eking out a living by planting potatoes, raising chickens and pigs. Today, this delightful open-plan, self-catering cottage has a gorgeous queen-size bed made from the farm’s original Sequoia trees and, looking up, the apex roof has duck egg-coloured rafters with mood lighting to create a soft and tranquil atmosphere. But best of all, for the frosty winter nights in the mountains, Croft Cottage has a highly efficient wood-burning fireplace which keeps it toasty and warm no matter how cold it gets outside.

Haenertsburg is renowned for its azaleas and cherry blossoms during Spring and the wonderful colourful hues of Autumn, but winter presents a completely different landscape. With temperatures going to well below freezing point, Sequoia Garden Retreat turns into what can only be described as a Winter Wonderland - the cold literally takes your breath away. After a crisp, clear day out and about exploring Sequoia and the other attractions ‘The Mountain’ has to offer, it’s delicious to come home to Croft Cottage, pour a glass of red wine while enjoying the warmth of the fireplace and admiring the spectacular winter star-spangled skies.

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