Heaven is indeed a place on earth...
I haven’t spent too much time in the Cederberg but on the few occasions I’ve found myself there, I felt a great sense of peace and tranquility. I’m not sure if it’s because of its vast, arid beauty or the majestic mountain range or strange rock formations, or perhaps its because of its rich history going back thousands of years. The original people of the Cederberg were the San or Bushmen people (hunter-gatherers) and then later the Khoikhoi people (pastoralists). Their ancient rock art can be found all over the Cederberg and I have a feeling that its this prehistoric presence that makes one feel so connected when you visit the area.
Not so long ago, the name Cederberg Ridge Wilderness Lodge, popped up onto my screen. I wasn’t searching places to stay or even the Cederberg area but what initially caught my attention was that it’s one of my husband’s favourite places on earth, especially to run. After doing some research, I knew it was the perfect retreat for our family – hubby could disappear into the mountains, and my son Max and I could enjoy the comforts and beauty of the lodge.
Covid threw a bit of a spanner in the works and it took us some time to make it all happen, but last week, our Sandes Clan, accompanied by great friends Craig and Vush (and their son Koby), arrived at the luxurious wilderness lodge.
I like to consider myself somewhat of a wanderlast traveller, having had the priviledge to explore many wonderful places and at the same time, appreciate the cultures that add so much flair and life to every country I’ve visited. My husband, Ryan and I have stayed at some of the best and worst accommodation available, but what we experienced last week is hard to come by. What caught our attention from the get-go was the phenomenal service. It’s just not something you “see” any more – yes, many luxurious hotels have fantastic service, but there is almost always an invisable wall between you and the staff, and often it all seems rather forced. It was different here. The staff were warm, inviting and friendly but always professional and this was from the ground staff to the restaurant waiters. It felt like home, except that it was an “away-from-it-all”, very stylish home, with no toys lying on the floor that could cause grevious bodily harm should you step on one.
The beautifully decorated suites are spacious and the views from you own private patio overlook the raw and rugged Cederberg mountains. The comfortable king size beds are enveloped in sumptuous linen and personal bar/ tea and coffee station bursts with the most delightful selection of surprises! In winter you can snuggle up in front of your own en-suite private fireplace. On hot summer days, like we had, lying next to the salt-water pool, sipping ice-cold cocktails, is the best place to be.
There’s also a restaurant, sitting room, bar and library (with TV) all housed in the main lodge building which is decorated in warm earthy tones with a delighful mix of textures which gives you that welcoming yet chic feel as to walk in. The food is sublime! I had to ask where the chef had trained as he is THAT good, and the waiters are some of the best I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I was lucky enough to be spoilt by Vush and Craig, who treated me to a divine treatment at the lodge’s spa. My therapist, Carole, has magical hands and I left the room feeling light and carefree.
Adjacent to the pool terrace and indigenous gardens, lies a firepit and there’s a large lawn for croquet! The main building’s large wrap-around veranda is the perfect spot to sip your G n T whilst watching the sun set.
If you’re not in the mood to stay put throughout your entire stay (and trust me, its hard to leave this place!), there are various guided or self-guided walking and mountain bike trails, as well as a wide range of activities & excursions. We were really interested in the rock art which the area is quite famous for, and we were not disappointed. Our field guide, David, shared his vast archealogical knowledge on our walk “back in time” and the pride with which he shared his expertise left us smiling inside and out.
My short article doesn’t do this magical place enough justice and so the only thing left to do is to encourage you to visit them and experience it for yourself. They are running a fantastic special at the moment so go to www.cederbergridge.co.za
A massive thank you to Thabiso from African Inspiration, and Craig, Leisha and their whole lodge team for allowing us to experience a piece of heaven.
Photos: Craig Kolesky