You wake up one morning and you just know. You have to get out of town. You have to go some place far away. To think. To breathe. To slow down. I know most of you know what I am talking about …
This is how we’ve felt for some time now. The year is well on its way and it is moving along at the speed of lightning it seems. We are already in May and before you know it, it will be June and the count-down to year end will be upon us. Its scary, isn’t it? Time really doesn’t wait for anyone. All of this made it so easy for us to book a little weekend breakaway in the Karoo. We wanted escape everything. We, especially me, didn’t want to hear anything and didn’t mind at all if the place we stayed was so remote that we were unreachable for a few days 🙂 .
With Noel being on leave for a few weeks in April, it seemed like perfect timing to head on out of town for a few days. Him being home made it easier to leave earlier in the day so we could arrive at our destination while the sun was still out and enjoy the place a little before having to head on indoors. So with all the arrangements made, we had packed most of our bags the Thursday night in the hope of leaving just after breakfast the Friday morning. But as Murphy would have it, our plans didn’t quite work out that way. Even though I packed as lightly as I could, it is something I’m yet to master! Who knew a weekend away required so much stuff!? We finally hit the road just after 11.00am!
Ravenna Mountain Retreat, now known as Karoo Pride is situated about 30km between Montague and Barrydale. This meant that we would be on the road for at least 2 hours – the reality – 3 hours – as we stopped twice to stretch the legs and empty the bladder. It was really hot in the car, it seemed that summer was giving us one last taste before it said goodbye for a few months. As we drove through the countryside, as beautiful as it is, we were saddened to see the true effects of this drought we are currently experiencing in the Cape. All the rivers and streams were completely dried up. All we saw was barren ground. (This drought is so much worse than we think – please try and save water any way that you can. ) What did make us smile were the animals grazing in golden fields and windmills barely moving on a sunny autumn afternoon 😊.
We arrived at a gravel road that would eventually take us to the chalet we would call home for the next few days. I say eventually, because it is a 2.5km drive on this dirt road before we saw any form of civilisation. At some point we even thought that we were lost, but in the distance, a few men were ploughing the fields of the farm and we breathed a sigh of relief.
Our check in at reception was quick and easy. In no time we were in front of what I can only describe as a humble abode! Our self-catering chalet was a 4 sleeper at the back of the farm attached to the main house. But, we had the best chalet in my book. It was secluded and tucked away – just what I needed for some peace and quiet. Neither of us were in the mood for people, to be honest. This weekend was to be all about rest and relaxation and not having to be around other people – well, that was a cherry on the top. Don’t get me wrong. Noel and I are really social people and love company, but there are times like these when we prefer to just be alone.
The chalet consisted of a small lounge area with a built-in jet master, a tiny kitchenette (that surprisingly, didn’t fall short of anything and fulfilled its purpose perfectly), a bathroom and loo, and two bedrooms. The furniture was outdated and rustic – just like we had imagined it would be. We really didn’t have any expectation of modern décor or trending furniture. No, we expected wicker arm chairs, dated wallpaper and old photographs.
Once the car was unloaded, we took a walk down to the dam. Oh…My…Word….the view is truly priceless. There is a deck that rests on wooden stilts in the middle of the dam, so when you sit there, you see the water, the farmlands and the majestic Langeberg Mountain range. It doesn’t get better than this!
We needed to go back into town after discovering that “packing lightly” meant forgetting a few essentials. I stayed behind and enjoyed the spectacular view while Noel went into town. The silence was deafening to be honest. You don’t hear a thing. No cars, no taxis, no people. Every so now and then, I heard some sheep on the neighbouring fields, but other than that, some birds and dragonflies were my only company. I loved the silence. It forced me to be still, something I had forgotten how to do.
I stayed out there for the longest time. It took Noel just over an hour to go into town and back and yet being out there on the terrace surrounded by all this beauty, I lost track of time and truly could have sat there forever. It was exactly what I needed. Quietness so that I could hear my thoughts and contemplate where to next…for me, my life, my future.
We shared a few glasses of wine on the patio that evening after supper and out of nowhere this little fur Angel appeared. A Jack Russell (the neighbour’s dog) had found us and decided that we would be her adopted parents for the weekend. Seriously, this dog was so attached to me that we were inseparable the entire weekend. She even slept with me in our bed nestled cosily under the covers, keeping me warm in the cold Karoo nights. When nightfall came, we sat on the loungers underneath the stars. It was truly magical. Not a breath of wind and a silence like no other. Although we were dead tired from the long drive and the unbearable heat, we just couldn’t get ourselves to go to bed. We didn’t want to let go of this. It’s like when you’ve been searching for something for so long, when you eventually find it, you hold onto it for dear life. I think we only went to bed after 1am.
Saturday morning, we were up early. We did some yoga all while the Karoo sun made its debut on a crisp autumn morning. No amount of words could ever truly describe this incredible experience. No wind, no noise, the warmth of first light gently on your face, the dam, the mountains and the sound of sheep bleating in the distance. Truly unforgettable, like something you can only imagine – except it was real!
I whipped up a wholesome breakfast knowing very well that the adventures of the day required that we had plenty of energy. After exploring the farm, we decided to go for a little hike up the mountain. There was a gravel road that already paved the way, but in 32 degree heat, this was no walk in the park. Luckily, we had water with us and our free tour-guide – Chino – the Jack Russell. It was the cutest thing ever. When we started walking, she went ahead of us as if to say “ I know the way guys, just follow me “ 😊. “The view from the top is always better “– reaching the top of the hill gave this well-known quote a whole new meaning. The view was magnificent…the meadows below, mountains for days and a silence that was worth a pot of gold.
When we got back to our chalet, the dip in the pool was so welcomed in the scorching hot weather. Once we had cooled down, we just relaxed with a good book and a glass of red wine😊. A few hours later, once our energy levels returned, we ventured off into the meadows and witnessed an awe-inspiring sunset. This was an amazing moment, but once the sun sets in the Karoo, the heat wave you may have experienced just a few moments ago becomes a distant memory and the chilliness embraces you. The fireplace inside our chalet was the perfect antidote for this. We laid there for the longest time – all lights off and just the blazing flames providing light. Karoo nights at its very best 🙂 .
Sadly, morning came and it was time to pack up and prepare for the long journey home. It was even sadder to ay goodbye to Chino – she eally crept into my heart.
We thought that we would stop off in Montague for a quick breakfast before hitting the long road, but that isn’t quite how our Sunday panned out. Very quickly, Sunday had its own adventures in store for us and we only arrived back in Cape Town just before 7pm. More about this spur of the moment adventures next time😊.
Our little breakaway to the Karoo was exactly what we needed. Being out in the middle of nowhere definitely has its perks. You may not see many people or have much to do, but the serenity makes up for this a thousand-fold. Although the farm has WIFI, the connectivity is very intermittent and to prevent unnecessary frustration, I just didn’t bother checking my phone after a while. This forced me to be present in each moment and truly experience what was around me without the mindless distractions of social media. Noel and I got to spend quality time together and actually had conversations without one or both of us trying to multitask, by speaking and checking our phones at the same time.
It also allowed us to spend time apart. We had agreed before we started the trip that the weekend could very well be a “me-time” weekend, because we both felt that this is what we needed. Time for ourselves, without having to worry if the other person is enjoying themselves or wanted to do something when the other really didn’t feel like doing anything. When you are in a relationship it is so easy to forget about your own needs and only focus on the other person. We made a point of taking time out for ourselves – you have to be comfortable being alone.
Noel and I read our books, took leisurely countryside walks (together and alone), picnicked by the dam, witnessed amazing sunsets and sunrises and made memories that will be looked upon fondly in years to come. There may not be much to do in the Karoo, but sometimes that is exactly what you need. Just being – it recharges the batteries that everyday life depletes so quickly and the Karoo is just the place to do it.
About the Karoo Pride
Ravenna Mountain Retreat now known as Karoo Pride was purchased in 1910 by it’s previous owner and was named after the Ravenna Mountains in Italy. About 4 years ago, the farm ceased producing apricots and the new owner converted it into a fodder farm.
Eight self-catering chalets are nicely spread across the grounds with a very small vineyard on the one side and the forest and countryside on the other. Each chalet has its own braai area with a patio, which is perfect for enjoying a good meal with a magnificent view. Apart from taking walks along the rocky paths or enjoying the view from the amazing deck, there isn’t much to do here. A small play area by the deck will however keep your little ones occupied if you have a family.
Karoo Pride is the perfect home away from home for couples or families who are seeking to escape their city lives and enjoy the mellow country life, even if it is just for a little while. For those who still need to do be busy whilst on their Karoo retreat, a visit to the nearby towns such as Barrydale, Ashton and the Robertson Wine Route is sure to meet your needs 🙂 .
For more information about Karoo Pride, visit their website http://karoopride-route62.co.za/.
“The fun begins where the tarred road ends.”- Anonymous
Have you recently visited any interesting places in the Karoo? I would love to know… Noel and I are always seeking a new adventure 🙂
This is not a sponsored post.