There’s a River on My Stoep
I’m a big fan of celebrating special occasions with a getaway. Our most recent reason (or excuse) to get away was our 2 year wedding anniversary. We found our idea of hideaway perfection in a private little wooden cottage on the Magalies River in Hekpoort, Magaliesberg. It’s cloaked away on a countryside lane, away from any hint of the touristy and rather hums with all things wonderful, secluded, relaxed and farm-style. The self-catering cabin’s name leaves no more description necessary: There’s a River on my Stoep. And there really was.
Our leave calendars were not playing along with our need to head out and celebrate love but we did manage one night and a full day away, drifting along in bliss, encapsulated in that serene setting.
Welcomed by the Night Sounds
We arrived in the drizzly new dark of evening, just having missed the sunset after wrestling hateful Jo’burg traffic. We were so warmly welcomed to the farm by owner, Lourie that we instantly exhaled. It’s less than an hour from Jozi but feels like a whole different world.
We were serenaded into calmness by a choir of frogs as we moved our things into our cottage and peered out over its wooden deck. We couldn’t see the river in the darkness but those frogs told us it was there. The creaky, wooden cabin with the river on its stoep glowed from inside and we immediately wanted to stay for longer. It had a wooden soul and friendly calmness to it.
It’s the only cabin on the farm so we were guaranteed absolute privacy and full reign to explore every little corner of our setting. Privacy, the great outdoors and peace! This was our kind of place. Lourie and Peter Laatz’s home is a way away from the cottage in the background, giving guests the feeling of seclusion but also the assurance that their friendly faces are nearby if you need to beg for a teaspoon of sugar or a firelighter.
As I sorted through our belongings, finding our braai meat and salad, Graham looked around our adopted home and exclaimed delightedly, “This is the first place we’ve ever been to where I want to read the magazines left on the coffee table for us!” It was like they had prepared the reading material just for him as he paged through Porche, 4×4 magazine, Go! and Country Life magazines. Yip, this was our kind of place.
We braaied that evening and listened to the night sounds start to come alive around us. There were the calls of jackal in the distance and the nightjars crooning too. We even heard a skittish legavaan lizard (rock monitor) splash into the water somewhere nearby. The resident horses announced themselves just outside our fence and we watched them for a while, silhouetted by the moonlight that had come out as if by our request. We investigated the outdoor shower on the other side of the house but weren’t quite brave enough to try it out in the cool of the night that time. I opted for a bath by candlelight to warm the bones instead and was constantly in awe at the beautiful décor and details found in our cottage, from candle holders to paintings and trinkets from yesteryear to set the scene.
A Day by the River
I woke with the birds and couldn’t resist seeing our surroundings in the light for the first time, so I crept out of the cabin to meet the river. It was even closer than I had imagined. It was beneath us, so near that you could throw a fishing line in from the deck itself, if you felt that kind of need. It was wonderful to live on the water that way.
I put on my shoes and went for a wander around the farm as the mist lifted around me. The two giant resident dogs sensed me and came bounding across the lawn for hugs and hellos. They were gorgeous and so full of love and excitement- as any farm dogs should be. Emma is the Irish Wolf Hound who is still a pup, even though she was basically my size and Max is the gorgeous Great Dane cross who took it upon himself to show me around a bit that morning and even joined Graham and I later for a walk. They were gorgeous and made me miss our doggie fur babies too.
As Max showed me the rest of the river shore I spotted something in the early morning skies. The dark forms turned out to be microlights, enjoying the views from above. I waved of course. Then when walking up near the top fence and glancing across at the mountains on the other side I was greeted by hot air balloons in my view, also puffing along the skyline, welcoming the morning.
When I returned to our cottage, Graham woke up slowly and didn’t believe me when I told him all I had already seen. My photos did the convincing for me and he was up and ready to explore soon after seeing them. After a good, big breakfast we took another walk up towards the fence and met Peter (Lourie’s husband) in his aeroplane hangar. There he showed us his toys including a fun-looking plane. I had to lure Graham out of there with the idea of a beer and a row boat paddle or else he would have chatted and tinkered on planes with Peter in that hanger all day long.
A Row Boat Rendezvous
Our row boat rendezvous was a highlight of our day out on the river. The simple little boat was fit for two and we lazily rowed down the private stretch of river, armed with our backpack of beers and binoculars. The 1km long stretch of river is so serene. We saw so many birds along the water’s edge as well as some ducks in it. We spotted Malachite kingfisher, bee-eaters, crested barbets, bull-bulls, arrow-marked babblers, red-billed wood hoopoes and our familiar weaver friends too.
The fish were in a jumping mood too and we spun our heads around to many splashes around us as we glided along. The legavaans hid themselves from us but we did hear a few of them plop into the water from their perches on the trees or bank as they saw us coming.
Messing about on boats it’s a wonderful way to spend a morning.
Lounging and Strolling
The afternoon was all about riverside lounging. We lounged on loungers on our deck and watched the water below while stuffing our faces with holiday food. I lounged on a picnic blanket on the bank, reading my book with a glass of wine. The sweet Emma dog even came to visit and see what all this lounging was all about. There is no relaxation quite like lounging in a pretty, hidden setting with nature doing its thing in front of you in a private show.
Just before I nodded off for a lazy nap, Graham came down to propose an idea. A late afternoon walk before we had to drive back to reality. On our way out we bumped into Lourie who wanted to introduce us to someone very special- Jack, their stunning black stallion. He was asking for apples along with his friend Phoenix. Lourie then insisted we come meet some of her other unique family members at their house. There we found a flock of young peacocks, all willing to eat dog pellets from your hand if they were going asking. Life on a farm is a good life.
We headed out the main farm gate and across into the neighbouring farm, also owned by the Laatz. It is also where Peter’s airstrip is found. There we strolled, taking in the mountain views and meeting the other horses before saying our farewells to Lourie, Peter, the dogs and the birds.
There was a river on our stoep for that short getaway where we celebrated in our favourite, relaxed, exploring way and reminded ourselves again what real life is all about.
R800 per night for the cottage
TEL. 014 576 2294
CELL: 073 1484101 (Lourie)