Snow White, eat your heart out.
You don’t have to be Snow White escaping from her evil step-mother to like the idea of a cosy and isolated cottage in the woods. In fact, if you remove the seven little men singing hi-ho from the picture, the whole idea of being tucked away from the bustle of the world in a comfy house surrounded by wildlife sounds rather romantic – even more so if you take Prince Charming with you.
Igababa Cabin just outside Louis Trichardt (a.k.a. Makhado) is as close as you’re likely to get to that fairytale cottage, but with a couple of South African improvements. Instead of that delightfully animated forest full of Bambies and bunnies, imagine glorious forested bushveld complete with local wildlife and a full contingent of happy, sing-a-long birdlife including white-bellied sunbirds, black-collared barbets, sombre greenbuls and even shy species such as gorgeous bush-shrikes and crested guinea fowl. Also, quite unlike you would in your average fairytale cottage, imagine waking up to a wall of windows, a timber deck and an uninterrupted view of the hazy southern face of the Soutpansberg mountain range beyond. A wallow pool off the deck is the ideal place to cool off after a stroll along one of the numerous footpaths through the berg and its foothills, and in the chilly winter months there’s no better way to spend an evening than soaking in a large outdoor bath under the trees, serenaded by southern boubous, Cape white-eyes and yellow-eyed canaries.
Electrified and equipped for self-catering, the cottage itself is fully-kitted with everything you could possibly need or want, plus a whole lot of extra luxuries you wouldn’t expect. Owners Alistair and Gail Maytham have not only made every effort to ensure complete privacy, but they’ve also made making yourself at home the only option for visitors to their little patch of paradise, and with their incredible attention to detail it’s surprising that anybody ever leaves.
Whether you’re escaping the clutches of an evil, apple-poisoning step-mother, or you just need a break from the city or a romantic weekend away, Igababa Cabin at Zvakanaka is the ultimate enchanting hideway.
Zvakanaka is less a photographic destination and more a place to unwind and shed your city stress. That said, patient photographers will have ample opportunity to snap away at the resident birds. Since they get fed almost daily, most of them are very relaxed, making it possible to get decent photos with even a 300 mm telephoto lens. If you like landscape photography and vistas, it’s worth clambering to the top of the mountain in front of Igababa Cabin. A booklet in the cabin contains a map and directions to the top. Make sure you’re fit enough, though – it’s a pretty tough climb up and almost twice as hard to come down.
If I want to go:
Where: From Louis Trichardt, drive north on the N1 for approximately 11 km and then turn right at the second Witvlag-sign. Follow the gravel road for a kilometre until you reach the entrance gate on your left. You must get the lock’s code from the owners when you book. From there the road to Igababa is well sign-posted.
GPS co-ordinates: S 22.97783° E 29.95278°
When? Igababa Cabin is available for booking all year round, but the best time for birding is during the warmer summer months (September to April). You’re also more likely to enjoy the small swimming pool during this time of the year. Having said that, there’s nothing quite as wonderful as lighting up Igababa’s fire place on a cold winter’s evening.
Cost? R700 for the unit per night – minimum 2 night’s booking on weekends and three nights for long weekends. Weekdays (Mon – Thursday) R600 per night. Reduced rate for single persons on weekdays.
• Igababa cabin is fully-equipped for self-catering purposes, including all kitchen implements and appliances, linen, blankets and towels, and wood for braaing.
Other accommodation at Zvakanaka:
Madala’s Cottage: Igababa Cabin is ideal for couples and individuals, but Madala’s Cottage is perfect for families and groups of up to four. Cost: From R900/night for four people (weekdays).
Camping: Zvakanaka has three (soon to be four) secluded campsites. From R60/person/night.
For more information, please visit www.zka.com
Phone Gail Maytham on 084 400 4595 or send an e-mail to [email protected]