At night, when the resident nyala, zebra, impala, wildebeest, kudu, bushbuck, warthog and farm horses are all snoozing beneath the stars, under the acacias and wild figs tucked into the long grasses, or cosy in their stables, the nearby Euphorbia forest is abuzz with hoots and tweets from the resident owls that settle themselves upon the branches for the evening. A signature call of the land, high up in the mountains overlooking the Easterkloof Nature Reserve of Magaliesberg. Only the odd song of the nightjar or a whistle from the gentle breeze as it ruffles the leaves of bushwillows are likely to join the nocturnal choir of the farm. Everything else is peacefully at rest after an action-packed day on OwlsWood farm.
Set on 275 hectares of walking, hiking, biking trails, picnic spots and enchanting forests, at the foot of the Tankwani Gorge, OwlsWood farm has been gracefully restored, revealing its old stone bones and charming character as a sturdy custodian of the contemporary touches that have been discerningly added to the farmhouse. Its transformation is as poetic as its heritage. More than eight sleeping quarters and their beautiful bathrooms occupy the main farmhouse, around the courtyard and down to the kit houses or corrugated cottages, that sit away from the property in the gargantuan garden. Vast, open living, entertaining, cooking, gathering, dining and reclining spaces all meet and leave each other in symphony with the nature that allows itself in and out with the fresh farm air. Its ambience is that of a chapter half-way through a decent novel of life and love on a farm in Africa. Nothing too fussy and completely calming, yet all encapsulating and seductive. Little reading nooks adjacent open fire places and curiosity collectable bookshelves over Nguni rugs, beneath typical safari-style furnishings all come together harmoniously with the polished screed floors and whimsically adorned walls.
You’ll lovingly occupy all of the different pockets of places to languidly hang out throughout the day. The early morning light is beautiful as it creeps into the courtyard, warming you up with your hot brew, listening to the bathing sounds of the helmetshrikes and groundscraper thrushes as they dive in and out of the fountain, landing on the odd bougainvillea branch and back into the water. The roses, agapanthus, salvia, aloes and decent selection of herbs all rise out of potted wine barrels or cement troughs, tilting into the light. Through the grand entrance hall and its slender glass iron doors opening out to the long verandah and into the garden, leading down to the swimming pool area with its pavilion that’s perfect for sunny afternoons by the water, snacking on an al fresco spread from heaven, as the horses graze in unison. As soon as the sun announces its pending departure for the day you’ll take a drive to one of the stunning lookout points, cooler boxes and blankets all aboard the back of the bakkie with your chairs and table for that perfect sundowner, overlooking the magnificent colours of the valley. Evenings will be spent on the stoep, or around the indoor fireplaces, or at the pub – shooting some pool and sliding some freshly kneaded dough into the pizza oven. After which a round of charades beside the blazing boma beneath the syringa tree, listening to the owls as they cue the orchestral night sounds once again. All that’s left of the day is to climb into one of the bounteous beds and drift off with memories of the hours spent on the farm, on the hiking trails, in the nearby waterfalls, beside the pool and around the table with your most favourite people in the world. Just what farm life is all about.
What we love!
- The gorgeous open plan kitchen that has a typical farmhouse feel, albeit on the contemporary side and kitted out as a cook’s playground.
- The property is completely immersed in the wilderness – though not far from the nearest town – and emits a mountainous feel with its spectacular views and drives to lookout points.
- The courtyard is a calming sanctuary at any time of the time, with its beautiful vegetation and cocooning warmth.
- Spending hours at the pavilion beside the pool with the animals free-roaming around you as you feast and sip and dip and recline, taking in the sounds of the bush that surround.
- There are so many lovely ensuite bedrooms, kids rooms and gorgeous cottages to choose from when it comes to sorting out the sleeping arrangements with your clan. The property ideally caters to 12 guests but there is ample room and ample choice.
- Taking a drive to the lookout point – only 2kms away – with all of the goodies you need and enjoying a spectacular sunset with the whole team.
- Walking the property in the early morning or evening, with the dogs and the clan, discovering new routes that can go on for hours on end.
What you need to know…
- There are a number of walking paths and hiking and biking trails for you to enjoy on the property. But should you wish to visit Easterkloof Nature Reserve for other walks and visiting the waterfalls you are able to organise a daily permit with the Nature Reserve directly, and explore the whole area.
- The nearest town from the property is Mooinooi which is only 10 minutes away.
- Buffelspoort Dam is very close by, and offers up more adventures should you need them. The water is crystal clear and clean and great for water sports.
- OwlsWood farm is a fantastic spot for birders, given the population of species in the area – including white backed vultures, eagles, kites, hornbills, kingfishers and cuckoos to name but a few.
- There is an airstrip nearby on a neighbouring farm, which is great fun to watch and witness small planes doing flips and things that planes tend to do.
Reviewed by Colleen Ogilvie