Budget Getaways Review
You're not even halfway through Blyton's classic, The Faraway Tree, and already the kids are hankering after a real forest adventure... Problem is, the rooikrans pushing up against the Vibracrete in the backyard doesn't quite cut it.
Well, have we got the spot for you! Platbos Forest is a unique swathe of indigenous forest covering the lower slopes of the Baviaanspoort Hills, 15km from Gansbaai. It is here where friendly hosts Francois and Melissa Krige have turned their passion for all things green and ecological into a gentle way of life.
Their guest accommodation embodies this same deeply-felt respect for Mother Nature and comes in three forms, namely, Old Olive Cabin, Platbos Forest Camp and Honey Bee Camp.
Tucked under the Platbos twisted canopy is Old Olive Cabin, a rustic timber cabin aptly named after the 800-year-old wild olive tree that stands nearby. The cabin is well and truly buried in the forest, with access to the front door via a short walk along a narrow path.
Stepping inside, the main bedroom has a double bed, with an additional double sleeper couch in the lounge for the kids. The kitchen is fully equipped and open-plan to the living area, where you’ll also find an indoor fireplace.
Your bathroom comprises an open-air hot shower and a compost, waterless toilet, which we’re assured is a far cry from your average longdrop.
Platbos has on principle cut itself off from the clutches of our high-voltage parastatal - everything here is off-grid, which means solar lighting, donkey boiler hot water and gas cooking.
All linen and towels are provided, as is wood for the donkey boiler.
For even closer commune with nature and ideal for a slightly larger group, Platbos Forest Camp is situated about 200m from the cabin, with an equally appealing setting beneath the forest canopy and plenty of open space, nooks and crannies to keep the kids enchanted.
The forest camp is yours to book exclusively and sleeps four. There are two tents with twin beds, as well as a Tipi tent, which serves as a social hub. It also has a double and three-quarter bed if needed. The Tipi is best for summer as it's not entirely waterproof. You’ve got a semi-enclosed kitchen and cooking area equipped with pots, pans, cutlery and gas cooker. Hot showers are al fresco, as is the funky washstand and basin.
Towels and linen are provided at the Forest Camp, but be sure to bring along the Pretzel headlight (rip-off Chinese version of Petzl), as only candles are supplied.
Secluded and also booked exclusively is the unimposing Honey Bee Camp. Honey Bee has a single permanent tent and is well suited to couples looking for a spot of privacy. Shaded by a large tree the camp has a small equipped kitchen with stove an outdoor shower heated by a donkey boiler and a cozy fire and braai area. All linen and towels are provided.
There’s more than enough to keep you busy in and around Platbos. Head off on the two-hour forest trail, with useful info sheet in hand. Gather yourself unto yourself on the labyrinth (marked by mother-of-pearl shells). Head out and explore the surrounding area, with wine farms, horse riding on the beach and coastal trails among the options. Prepare for your Monday meeting with the boss with a shark dive off Gansbaai.
Shade and silence doesn’t mix much better than this.