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  • Bridget Hilton-Barber

RELAX, RETREAT, RESTORE - Let the Lowveld and the Mountain work its Magic

When life snaps at your heels like an irritable terrier, it’s time to head to Limpopo and assume the recovery position. Our gorgeous area is home to many healers and therapists who are passionate about pampering and caring for you. From forest bathing and massages in the mountains of Magoebaskloof to rasul treatments and even a Merlot bath in Tzaneen – there are so many wonderful ways to feel relaxed, rejuvenated and restored.

Take me to the river: Head deep into the mountains and down to the river. This is where you’ll find the River Wellness and Spa @ Zwakala, one of the newest additions to Magoebaskloof, combining charming riverside cabins with a wellness centre offering assorted massages and treatments - plus an outdoor bath for a special type of forest bathing. The concept of forest bathing emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a way to combat tech-boom burnout. Shinrin yoku means to be calm and quiet amongst the trees, preferably barefoot, and to take in the forest atmosphere. You’ll find lovely places around Zwakala to forest bathe along the gorgeous river, as well as rejuvenating hikes, walks and cycling trails.

Your feet tell a story: Get your feet read and restored by Natural Therapist, Colleen Ballenden, who is both a Reflexologist and Reiki practitioner. Start off with a gentle foot soak in geranium and lavender scented water, and then lie back and let Colleen treat your feet. It’s one of my favourite ways to unwind and de-stress. Foot Reading is based on the teachings of Chris Stormer who wrote Language of the Feet and Reflexology is used to balance physical health and restore emotional wellbeing. You’ll be amazed what you can learn about yourself through your feet as Colleen’s readings are supportive, encouraging and affirming… helping you to recognize your strengths, develop personal awareness and make empowering decisions.

Take time for mountain meditation: Colleen’s Growth Centre is a holistic and spiritual institution on the mountain. A quiet sanctuary, this is a place where you can go and meditate, spend some calm time alone and just be. Take a yoga mat and do some gentle stretching in the fresh mountain air. You can find healing in the rose quartz garden, gather energy in the jasper circle and make peaceful patterns in a Zen sand tray. The Growth Centre is a gentle and joyful place which has brought me (and many others) peace over the years.

Try a merlot bath Soaking in wine may be even more heavenly than drinking it. Vinotherapy comes from France, of course, and is a specialty spa bath that adds red vine leaf extract and post-winemaking grape crud (marc) to clean warm water. The marc and red vine leaf extract are high in polyphenols which makes them great antioxidants. This is one of the most fabulous spa treatments on offer at The Earth Spa at Tzaneen Country Lodge. Slip into the outdoor bath under the trees and let your worries be washed away. Then have a relaxing massage – what an amazing combination. The Earth Spa offers a variety of other blissful beauty and body treatments – take your pick from a series of packages that will connect you to your inner princess and prince.

Indulge in the ancient ritual of rasul Head for the Zen Spa at Fairview

Hotel just outside Tzaneen, and discover the glorious rasul and steam spa treatment, an

ancient Arabian wellness ritual that fuses the power of purifying mineral-rich clay

with heat and steam. It’s a blissful holistic haven that will transport you to exotic

climes, soothe your mind, boost your circulation and ease muscle tension. I always come out purring. The Zen Spa also offers a range of other treatments designed to rejuvenate, rebalance and restore your body, mind and soul. Set in gorgeous gardens, the Zen Spa is popular with locals, visitors, brides, couples and people in search of thorough pampering.

Enjoy earth-friendly soaps and creams Hazel’s Harvest produces small-batch

soaps, beeswax balms and specialized skin creams which do not contain

unnecessary, environmentally damaging or harmful chemicals, and are packaged

using earth-friendly materials. Created with love and individual attention to quality,

none are tested on animals. Her handmade soaps are made with pure essential oils mixed with avocado, coconut, baobab and beeswax – and come in fabulous fragrances like lemon & rosemary, orange & cinnamon and baobab & lavender. The sausage tree cream, which is a moisturiser and an excellent treatment for skin ailments is made from a pure, cold extract of the fruit of the Sausage Tree (Kigelia africana) mixed with avocado and coconut oil.

Discover the power of helichrysum Take your nose on a fascinating tour of Thomac Essential Oils, set on a farm high up in the hills of Magoebaskloof along the Cheerio Road. Road. Their farm specialises in Helichrysum Splendidum – also known as Southern Immortelle - which is a natural anti-aging and anti-anxiety remedy, and you can discover how the oils are extracted and distilled for their incredible health benefits. I use their spray as an effective mood enhancer. Julie McMahon is the essential oil guru and Thomac which is the only producer of helichrysum essential oil in the world. They wild-harvest from the surrounding hillsides, which means it’s organic and sustainable, never cultivated, and remains a functioning part of the natural ecosystem. You can learn more about the wonders of helichrysum and buy some of their amazing products.

Find the essence of essential oils Megan Gardiner has a deep knowledge and love of all things healing. She has spent most of her life in the wild hills of Magoebaskloof and lives on the family farm where she stocks natural, pure and healing essential oils and balms from the surrounding community including African wormwood, black pepper, cedar wood, cinnamon, ginger, eucalyptus, clove bud and grapefruit. Her online shop also offers her bulbinella balms and Hazel’s Harvest products while her book of essential oil recipe blends will be on sale in November - a perfect Christmas gift.

Feel the love of Limpopo’s forests Another fabulous product is the range of essential oils and lifestyle products made by Lopo Botanicals. Lauren Strever is the creative talent behind this eco-focussed, nurturing company which produces handcrafted small batch oils, natural perfumes, sanitizers, room sprays and scented candles. Lauren studied aromatherapy 20 years ago and travelled to Grasse in the South of France in September 2022 to deepen her knowledge of perfumery. She uses the finest natural ingredients in her range and all her products are an offering of wellbeing to mind, body and spirit. The names are affirming –

like Brave, Bloom and Power, a face serum for wise skin, made with ingredients that

have ultra-nourishing properties.

Enjoy some of these wonderful treatments and products when you visit Magoebaskloof. The beauty of the area lends itself towards relaxation and rejuvenation. The mountains, the forests, the fresh air and wholesome food. Remember your body holds deep wisdom. Trust in it. Learn from it. Nourish it. And let the wellness angels of Magoebaskloof help you heal.

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