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On the edge of Plettenberg Bay on the Garden Route, hidden amongst the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountains, Bobbejaanskloof is a magnificent property at the heart of a dramatic private wilderness featuring indigenous fynbos, old forests and sweeping plains. And yet, just a ten-minute drive away, Plettenberg Bay offers everything you’d expect from one of South Africa’s most sophisticated, and popular holiday spots.
Everything about Bobbejaanskloof makes sense in the South African context. As the focus of the property, the four-bedroom, three-bathroom farmhouse is everything you’d expect of a homestead designed in the local vernacular style and built to give the impression that it’s always been there. Across the courtyard the recently added family suite sensitively blends in with the older structure and feels just as time-worn. The farmhouse has those deep stoeps that face onto unimaginably distant views. The walls are washed a bone colour, the shuttered sash windows are a contrasting mahogany, and the roofs are tin. Come the rain, that pattering is one of Africa’s most characteristic sounds, which, for many old Africa hands, conjures up memories of a childhood spent out in the wilds. But come the sunshine, those deep stoeps provide welcome respite from the heat of the day. They’re furnished so that life led outside is as comfortable as it is indoors. There are sofas out here, deep armchairs, storm lanterns and woven rugs. Everywhere you look, both in and out, there’s an elemental style to the materials chosen, from the rough roof beams to the latte ceilings, the polished elephant-grey cement floors to the Nguni hides dotted about on them. Baskets, wicker and riempie define the look of Bobbejaanskloof, as does the muted colour scheme. Everywhere there’s an obsession with nature, its textures and patterns. And there are scrubbed wooden bowls, brass lamps, raffia shades, heavy, handmade glass, armchairs dressed in rough linen slip covers – it’s that ‘I had a farm in Africa’ look, only this time it’s South Africa in the spotlight.
The decor mixes by Gregory Mellor are brave, the look iconic – it reflects a lifestyle synonymous with South Africa’s. It’s relaxed and laidback, and is freed from that old-world-and-its-obsession-with-social–hierarchies feel. The range and diversity of what it is that makes this house so peculiarly local are enormous and a stay here is as much about absorbing its style as it is enjoying its pristine surroundings.
Bobbejaanskloof’s owner understands provenance: the old cupboards, the campaign chests and the four-posters might well have arrived on a wagon. She gets the context: this is a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, tailored for contemporary living. So life led here is informal. In the kitchen at the heart of the house a huge table invites long lunches or dinners while you cook. Sink into a leather-covered armchair in front of the fire and down a whisky. Or run a bath in one of the deep tubs in bathrooms kitted out for contemporary living.
If your family is as large as those of generations past, the three bedroom Nguni Cottage is just 900m from the farmhouse.
In a land filled with space and gorgeous sunlight, the owners of Bobbejaanskloof are able to break the rules and invent new ones, blur boundaries and conjure surprise after surprise. They’ve taken the best of the old and refashioned it with what’s current and relevant.
What we love…
• The views from the generous stoep that face onto savannah, and the Tsitsikamma mountains with Formosa peak in view.
• The endless stars ablaze at night and the precious privacy with only one lone farm light seen in the distance.
• Zero pollutants – no pesticides, no light, no noise, clean air and own water from rain.
• Glancing zebra, giraffe, eland, springbok, wildebeest and sometimes elephant wandering along the fence line since Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve is next door.
• The botanical gardens with an abundance of succulents and swaths of colour that come and go at different times of year.
• The marked trails that run through Afromontane forest and along the Hartbees River gorge.
• The huge contemplation deck that hangs over the Kloof from which to view old Outinequa Yellowwood giants, meditate or do early morning yoga.
• The outdoor braai and boma set amongst huge Eucalyptus trees next to dam for long lazy lunches or a night under the stars.
• The deep linen sofas, the huge fireplaces in the lounge; the comfy four-poster beds; the plushness of decor and the natural art scattered throughout.
• The huge kitchen with everything a good cook needs and the handmade chairs that span a huge table for 12 with fire and outdoor views.
• The beautiful interiors by Gregory Mellor Design.
What you need to know
• The pool is unfenced so only babes-in-arms and kids over 8 allowed.
• The house is on a working farm with pedigreed Njuni cattle on the R340, an 18km drive from Plettenberg Bay.
• Baboons are sometimes in the area. Bats do sleep in the eaves during the day but are very shy.
• The farm security is excellent with an electric fence, a deep gorge surround the house, staff that live close by and an alarm system linked to armed response.
• There are two farm dogs, Anatolian Shepherds named Sirius and Luna who stay on stoep of family suite and are also allowed in the kitchen but well trained not to go anywhere else in the house. They are great with kids but can stay with staff if guests prefer.
• There is excellent WiFi, a landline and 3G signal from the entrance stoep only.
• There are fabulous restaurants and shopping facilities in Plett which is a 20 min drive. Thyme and Again stocks all the basics and is 10kms away and there is a great vegan restaurant close by.
• Tendi lives on the farm and can be booked in advance to cook some meals at an extra cost.
• The house is fully serviced Mon-Fri and can be serviced at weekends by prior arrangement.
• Nguni cottage is fully equipped and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The third bedroom has its own entrance and a small kitchenette – ideal for a nanny or your own chef. The cottage is completely separate to the main house and is a 10-minute walk away.
• There is a wonderful vegetable garden where you can pick produce for the table.
• There are jeep tracks leading to viewpoints with 10kms of dirt road – and another 10kms of grass track – ideal for mountain biking.
• There is an honesty bar should you run out of your own drinks and Tendi can do some shopping for you on occasion.
Reviewed by Paul Duncan
Images by Greg Cox
House - R12 500
With cottage - R17 500