Immerse yourself in Nature - A travel story by Anji Connell

Image One 3Immerse yourself in nature – isn’t that just what the doctor would order in these turbulent times, [mine did – he does happen to be my hubby though!]

A stay in Hout Huisieprovides long, languid, and utterly magical days spent simply being, swimming, snorkeling, cooking, eating, reading, napping, and sipping wine. Allowing your body time to reset your natural circadian rhythms; your master clock controlling your sleep-wake pattern, ensuring your days start early with the larks and end in deep, carefree sleeps.

From our first foray in South Africa, a constant has been the mention ofChurchhaven- in reverential tones, “if you like this,” they say, “you will love Churchhaven!’. Finally, we made it there – It did not disappoint! This place is truly magical, and fortunately, we had the most idyllic base from which to discover its delights – Hout Huisie is unique – it’s literally on the beach looking over the lagoon with wetland to the side. There are so many reasons to love this place.

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From the Perfect Hideaways website, I expected a fairly basic shack – on first sight, however, as we descended the dirt track road through the fynbos of the West Coast Nature Reserve Hout Huisie literally glows – it beckons to you, “this can’t be it, it’s too big,” and the location! With the biggest grins we drive on, unbelievably, this was our home for the next 4 nights…. wow wow wow wow!

Hout Huisie is like being part of a David Attenborough documentary – it’s National Geographic in 3D. The endless sky, the Langebaan lagoon views, the wetland, and the mountains in the distance – the views change by the second. It’s a visual immersion.

And then there are the sounds of the waves gently lapping the shore contrasting with the constant roar of the Atlantic Ocean only minutes away on the other side of the peninsula. Birds are sweeping and swooping by, chirping and calling, pink flamingoes perform their distinctive stance and dance, stomping their feet in the sand scuppering up food to filter in their beaks with their heads down, submerged in the water. Happily grazing until it’s time to move onto the next bank as the tide gently buries the current one.

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Sunrise, sunsets, clouds, seamless blue skies, the water changing through greens to blues and back again, the incredible tides. The house is at times almost surrounded by water, the wetland to the side immersed. Not to mention the stars, and it seemed almost a joke that we also had the most perfect full moon! Flamingoes are another constant. Hawkes perched on the roof tops at sunrise and sunset ready to swoop up the field mice at sunrise and sunset. Deer in the “back garden. A family of Peahens pops by daily to sip the dripped water from the outdoor shower. And then there’s the braai!!! It’s a work of art in itself. A destination- packing up your goodies to track the wooden deck to the fire pit is fun.

There is absolutely no need to move from the deck. Just sit and luxuriate and breathe it all in as you watch nature reveal and unfold itself to you. Reading is almost a chore; peeling your eyes away from the views is too hard to resist. When you feel ready to explore, a walk along the shore is totally spellbinding. To the right, you see nothing but sea, sand, and wetland. Searching for pink flamingo feathers is a must, as is a paddle, a refreshing dip in the lagoon, a bit of bird spotting, coastal foraging, and snacking on the scrummy crunchy “sea pretzel.” And when the tide is out – and by out I mean vanished, gone leaving a sandy beach reminiscent of the satellite moonscape we’ve seen, stretches almost to the mountains on the far side of the lagoon.

Taking a left from the house will take you to Churchaven village and, if you are lucky enough, a serendipitous meeting with lifelong resident Roy Lloyd whose Grandfather was the areas very first resident. His wonderful stories of life lived here then and now are fascinating. Only 11 of the original residents remain today and two of the houses remain without electricity. Further along, you will get to the houseboats. On the way, you will meet the happy families celebrating life and making memories on the beach.

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The more energetic can of course, cycle through the reserve and kayak in the lagoon.

This truly is barefoot living. It’s off-grid, with no internet, and the electricity for the lights, hot water and fridge comes via small rooftop solar panels, and 2 x 12V batteries. There is a dedicated phone charger and a gas bottled fuelled oven, and the fire pit – what more do you need? The furnishings are comfy, and snuggling in the sofa, the armchair with the log fire roaring at the end of the day is another delight. Battery-powered lanterns are a lovely touch – no need to power the overhead electric lights; just fill the house with lantern light, taking one with you to guide you to the uber comfy bed and a deep, deep sleep to be woken at dawn to the morning chorus, the sublime light, and another day in paradise.

The flamingo spirit animal is a symbol of joy and fun, and it’s said seeing a flamingo means you need to bring more fun into your life – its a reminder to live your life to the fullest; Hout Huisie is unequivocally the place to do so.The only niggle – the flamingoes, could be pinker.

I don’t need an excuse to return – but to see a “flaminglet” yes, that’s a baby flamingo with the “flamboyance,” and yes, that’s the appropriate term for these colourfully-feathered creatures, would be the icing on the cake! I will return.

Find out more about Hout Huisie
All images and story written by Anji Connell ACID+Anji Connell Interior Design.

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