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  • Lisa Martus

PICNIC PERFECT PLACES FOR AUTUMN

Updated: Mar 21

The mellowness of Autumn in Magoebaskloof makes it easy to selectively ignore the inevitable reality that winter will sneak in on the heels of the breathtaking landscapes and colours of this season.  Autumn has some of the most beautiful, vibrant and rich colours of the year with a palette of mustard yellow, burnt orange and rusty reds but also conjures up the warmth of a golden sunset.  Nature’s dramatic colour change is best enjoyed by hiking, biking or strolling through the autumnal hotspots of the area like Sequoia Garden Retreat and Cheerio Gardens but it is also a perfect time to pack a picnic of yummy treats from the area and get out into nature with friends and family.  We got the inside scoop from some of the locals who have sussed out some of the most lovely spots.





PICNIC FUN WITH KIDS

Caitlin loves getting her kids, aged between 6 and 11, out into nature spaces where they have the freedom to play.  She says that The Long Tom Monument Picnic Site is a great choice for a family with kids who want to let off some steam and have the space to play or kick a ball around, while you enjoy the colours of the changing season over to the Wolkberg mountains from your picnic table full of local fare.  Caitlin’s local foodie choice:  Baklava from Habibi Restaurant or pastries from the Eatery over the weekend are sweet treats everyone loves and Wegraakbosch cheese, of course.  Blueberries are a must in season but in autumn, they would pick up chestnuts at the arboretum and roast them for an unforgettable taste sensation.


How to get to the Long Tom Picnic Site: follow the Wegraakbosch road (M road), to the cleared grass and picnic site / monument on the right.  This off-the-beaten track spot is the site of the cannonball crater left by a Long Tom Siege Gun used in the Anglo Boer war.  


CHILL OUT UNDER THE OAKS

According to Reuben, the best Autumn chill spot is the Dap Naude Picnic site under the beautiful Oak trees with the amazing blaze of colours.  You can lay out some cheerful picnic blankets for all the great foodie treats and head off for a hike through the forest or take a barefoot stroll along the river to a great swimming spot for kids, dogs and young-at-heart humans.  There are usually not a lot of people around and it is pretty secluded so it feels like your private playground.  The drive there is stunning and gives the feeling of an adventure underway. Reuben’s picnic treats: He loves a cheese board so would pick up some Wegraakbosch cheese, olives and chorizo to have with crackers or freshly-baked bread, along with a cold Zwakala beer of course!


How to get to Dap Naude Picnic Site - Take the P road at Boscobel Cottages and follow the road until you see some benches under the oak trees alongside the river.  Or take the scenic route from Kuhestan Cottages on the J road through Woodbush Forest towards Dap Naude Dam and the picnic site beyond that under a copse of trees.


HEAD FOR THE HILLS

Mountain-lover, climber and hiker, Bronwyn Egan says that ‘Cleopatra's Pool in the Wolkberg Mountains is a picnic spot where reality beats the dream! Here you don't have to imagine looking over the edge of the world because the pool you are swimming in becomes the edge… just 5m away from you. No champagne is needed, nor soft background music, nor house plants nor gourmet food. The air is suffused with birdsong riding on wind and the bubbles in the river dance down your throat as you look out over the autumnal landscape far below. 





The long slog up to the Horns, which look out over the lowveld, provides you with an appetite for your simple back-packed sandwiches and the veld rolling across the mountains is full of treasures that catch the eye and entice you to walk further. Orchids and gladioli, watsonias and red hot pokers dot the landscape while under the rock crevices, colorful Streptocarpus hide their flowery faces. This spot is perfect for those who enjoy earning their lunch and rewards the effort with breathtaking views in a magical setting.  Choose a sunny day to get the best views.’

Bronwyn’s local foodie choice:  Hylton’s sourdough bread from T-Mart with Magriets apricot jam from Stella’s Farm Deli as well as cheese and chorizo from Wegraakbosch. 


How to get to Cleopatra’s Pool:

Book a guide who can get a permit with the Wolkberg Wilderness Reserve.  Allow two hours to walk from the cars to the picnic spot or plan for a day’s excursion.  Contact The Mountain Company on 082 441 8088 | mistymountainvillage@gmail.com


AUTUMN HUES AND YOU!

Pack a picnic and get out into the beautiful landscapes ablaze with the golden colours of the season.  





AUTUMN COLOURS


Autumn is a delight at Sequoia Garden Retreat. Golden trees stand out against blue skies along the Liquid Amber Lane while elsewhere in the gardens, autumn paints beautiful hues of red, orange and yellow.  The days are crisp and cool  but the sun warms your face as you meander down to the picturesque dam which mirrors the autumn colours into infinity.  The silence is absorbed into every cell of your body as it resets from stressed-out to serene.  The slight rustling of leaves lifted by a breeze is a balm for the soul - perfect for a solo stroll or romantic picnic with your beloved.  Book one of the two luxury cottages at Sequoia Garden Retreat to enjoy it at its best.   They only accept prior bookings for garden day visits and picnics. (Connect with them on sequoiastay@gmail.com to find out more. www.sequoiastay.com)


Cheerio Gardens next door, is also ablaze with autumn colours which visitors can admire from one of the many well-maintained trails weaving through the gardens.  You can even settle in at Cheerio Cafe with a cappuccino and generous slice of pecan nut pie to enjoy the captivating magic of this enchanting space.  (WhatsApp Cheerio Gardens on 071 771 5152  or email hello@cheeriogardens.co.za) Another scenic option is The Nook on Otterholt Farm where you can enjoy the autumnal scenery on the 3km Otterholt Meander and book in advance for a lovely picnic basket to enjoy next to the peaceful dam. (Julie: 073 223 6256)


Looking for spectacular scenery ‘beyond your imagination’?  Head to the Waterwheel Country Retreat near Magoebaskloof Adventures on the George’s Valley Road (R528).  If you are looking for a quiet picnic spot, take the nature trail through the riverine forest towards the waterfall.  There are several spots near small streams - some have beautiful mossy rocks and ferns and others are tucked into colourful lichen-covered boulders on a wild flower carpet.   (Call Rolene on 081 048 4841 or Ian on 074 024 6519 to book)   


If you prefer to wander far away from the crowds, head up to the top of one of the many mountain peaks for soaring views and a champagne picnic for two.  Whatever it is you choose to do, you will be enchanted by the spectacular scenery in Magoebaskloof, delicious local foodie treats and Autumn at its mellow best. 


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