R650 - R900 nightly for the cottage
Budget Getaways Review
As the name suggests, here’s a getaway with plenty of spirit, coupled with a healthy dose of fresh forest air to rejuvenate those weary city bones.
Nestled at the edge of the majestic Knysna forest at Gouna, Tree Spirit Cottage embodies the wholesome goodness and energy of organic farmers and friendly hosts, Anthony and Fiona Paton.
The farm spans over 8ha and comprises a mix of forest and fynbos. Apart from lying on the threshold to many official hiking trails, you're likely to spend most of your time local, taking short strolls and fraternizing with the farm gang, namely, Fred and Bam Bam the donkeys, Hillary the pig and a roost of farm chickens. There's also the fascinating little San Ambroso Museum, and a local art gallery to while away the afternoon.
Let's take a closer look at the accommodation. The cottage sits in a quite corner of the farm, overlooking a pretty dam. Powered by solar and gas and stylishly decorated in light tones, it's an open-plan affair ideal for couples.
The double bed and large bath is tucked up against a massive window looking onto the forest - bath time at its best. A cabin bed occupies the far end of the living room (in the event the babysitter ditched you at the last minute), as does a library of DVD’s and books. The spacious living area comes with wood-burning stove, and opens to a covered verandah. The kitchen is fully equipped.
Stepping outside, there's a unique stone and mosaic braai area - no boring Webers at Tree Spirit.
The newest addition at Tree Spirit is a second cottage also located alongside the dam. both bedrooms are en-suite and tastefully furnished. The spacious open-plan kitchen and lounge area open up onto a sunny wooden deck overlooking the dam - you'll be hard pressed to find a better view with your breakfast.
If self-catering seems like too much effort, Fiona is on call - just so happens she's a UK-trained chef who escaped the restaurant scene to settle in Knysna. The result: delicious organic meals conjured from home-grown produce and cooked on her wood-burning stove.
It’s hardly surprising the reviews for Tree Spirit sing nothing but praise… “Spotless, nicely furnished, with everything that we needed,” says a recent Irish fan. “Comfortable with great views and amazing meals,’’ raves another from California.
Our verdict? You're unlikely to do better in these parts.
"We had a lovely restful, tranquil stay at Tree Spirit Cottage. The surroundings were peaceful and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Fiona was a great host who supplied us with delicious fresh veggies and herbs from her garden. We enjoyed having Bam-bam the donkey and Hilary the pig trotting around the farm. If true rest and relaxation away from the crowds is what you need, Tree Spirit Cottage is the place to be."
(Gillian O'Shaughnessy, visited Jan 2017)
"Tree Spirit Cottage is an amazing gem hidden in the Gouna forest. Fiona and Anthony are superb hosts and you could not ask for more. The cottage is perfectly positioned alongside a small dam and offers you all the comforts of home. Even to freshly picked herbs and veggies from Fiona's veggie garden. Bambam the donkey will keep you company alongside the braai at night. During our stay at this wonderful little cottage we got engaged at the Knysna Ellie Park and we will definitely be back at Tree Spirit Cottage soon for another romantic weekend away. Thank you Fiona and Anthony!"
(Michele Steyn, visited Oct 2016)
"We spent a fantastic, cold June weekend at Tree Spirit Cottage. Despite the cold weather, the beautiful cottage was warm. The view from the cottage is lovely, looking over the dam and surrounded by natural Fynbos vegetation. The children rode their bikes around the farm while my husband caught a fish in the dam next to the cottage. Anthony and Fiona are excellent hosts, with many interesting and amusing stories to tell. Fiona is an excellent chef. Although we used the wonderful braai facilities and seating area, Fiona's meal was the highlight! My children adored the friendly animals, particularly Bam Bam the donkey and Hilary the pig. They spent so much time with them. Bam Bam even ran along on a few bicycle rides. There are lovely hikes in the natural forest nearby. We took one, which we all enjoyed. The setting of the farm on the mountain is particularly appealing. It is so quiet, although it isn't far from Knysna. We enjoyed the peaceful days in nature and the nights looking at the milky way, while sitting around a fire. My 9 year old daughter cried her heart out when we had to leave. It was great to see the children enjoying nature so much. We will definitely be back. It's the type of place that will have you feeling no stay is long enough."
(Keren Oosthuizen, visited Jun 2016)
"The directions said the road was interesting and it certainly was. The sights out the window as we drove were reminiscent of the pictures conjured up by the stories we had read of Knysna, mostly courtesy of Daleen Matthee. The Gouna valley is breath taking, Knysna is so much more than the famous heads. Upon arriving at Tree Spirit we were greeted by Fiona and her entourage of animals. The sheep and their adopted pig pal, ”Bam Bam” the friendly lovable donkey who walked us to our cottage where he would visit often to the delight of the children. Fiona is an awesome friendly honest to goodness host, she even left us some delicious strawberries hand-picked from her organic garden. On occasion we were lucky enough to be visited by the resident Bush buck, when lily pads were on the breakfast menu. Mrs Bush buck headed for the hills when we came across her on our morning run. It was hot during our stay so the outside shower (with hot water!) was an awesome way to cool off. A lazy braai ended our evenings with a sunset second to none. The evening rivals that of Sutherland, we traced many a satellites path across the night sky. The lack of noise that we have become accustomed to was nowhere to be found, just pure tranquility and peacefulness aplenty,it was amazing, we loved it so much we stayed an extra night. We will definitely be going back."
(Candy De Jager, visited December 2015)
"Tree spirit cottage is situated far enough from town to appreciate the peace and quiet that nature brings, yet close enough to enjoy main attractions. Anthony and Fiona, together with all the friendly farm animals, really made our stay memorable. The three course vegetarian dinner made by Fiona is highly recommended."
(Charl Louw, visited January 2015)
"If you read the comments below most people say they wish they had more time on the farm, that is exactly how i feel about my experience, it was amazing and I wish I had more time to take in the farm and the lazy atmosphere it provides. It was amazing and I will say one of the best places I have stayed at. We (my girlfriend and I) use budget getaways all the time when going away and this was one of the best places we have stayed at. The hosts are very welcoming and the cottage is private. I loved making a big fire in the pit under the stars, if you looking for a getaway to get-away from town life this is the place. The location is also excellent and the facilities are great. Do it and book, you won’t be disappointed. I will be going back."
(Zebulin Rangasami, visited June 2015)
"Upon arrival we were welcomed with open arms and by very friendly donkeys. Fiona picked fresh salad and herbs from her garden which was such an awesome and welcoming gesture. Everything was perfect from the beginning to the end. The cottage and the location is perfect, it is truly a piece of heaven and well worth every cent. We will most definitely go back and stay longer next time, two days was not enough. The peace, quiet and tranquillity of the farm was truly just what we needed. Thank you Fiona and Anthony for the best getaway ever!"
(Nicoline van Heerden, visited April 2015)
"Well priced, hosts very hospitable and a truely forest cottage experience, we will visit again and again. Lovely nearby Gouna Forest walks with the historic Ambrose Church, a boat with your own mini lake in front of you, private with wonderful forest sounds. It's the farm animals (donkeys and sheep and chickens) that crept into our hearts and the information given by our hosts on organic permaculture was astounding. An absolute jewel of Knysna."
(andre du plessis, visited April 2015)
"In February we were on a visit to South Africa and we stopped in Knysna. I had read about Tree Spirit Cottage and we very lucky that is was free when we called. The reviews are correct. What a location! We never left the farm for a few days as the peaceful atmosphere was what we needed and enjoyed. The animals were wonderful we enjoyed daily visits from Fred, Wilma & Bam Bam the donkeys, they also have loads of sheep with their babies. We were very blessed to see the Water Buck visit the dam for his lunch of lotus leaves. He is very shy and If there is any noise he will not appear. Now to the hosts Fiona and Anthony they were so welcoming and I was delighted to find out she was Irish. So we had many chats. We opted a few nights to have our meals delivered to our cottage. Fiona is a wonderful cook, she spoiled us no doubt. This is a place we will definitely come back to and II would recommend it to anyone travelling in that area. It was also so refreshing to see how Fiona grows and uses her own produce. It could not be fresher! They have solar so you do have to be a little careful not have too many things on at once. The farm is eco-friendly. You don't need an alarm clock as the many roosters are very happy to let you know morning has arrived with their "cock a doodle do". We has fresh eggs every morning after Fiona had collected them. This added to our holiday and made it a wonderful experience. We were sorry to say 'goodbye'."
(Eilis kelly, visited February 2015)
"The South African sunrise, the donkeys and sheep, the happy frogs at the pond singing me to sleep, the pampering, the conversations, the camaraderie, the exquisite freshly made meals, and thoroughly delightful company of Anthony and Fiona, everything was perfect. This was more than a getaway. It was an experience that will last a lifetime."
(Wende Wylie, visited November 2014)
"The place is beautiful, no doubt, but the real treat was the pampering! We were never wanting for anything, even while it rained. Fiona and Anthony are the heart and soul of the farm, welcoming and fun, schedule to have Fiona cook for you, you will not be disappointed. We, too, loved the morning visits from the donkeys and sheep. I highly recommend the Tree Spirit Cottage for anyone who wants to refresh and relax. Even if you never leave the grounds, you will have plenty to see and hear just by sitting out on the covered patio. Plan your trip now!"
(Karen Rusk, visited November 2014)
"This is an amazing getaway with the added bonus of awesome hosts! After getting lost driving up the beautiful mountain we finally got to our destination, Fiona showed us to our retreat and we were in awe of the tranquility. Your stoep looks out onto a little dam (complete with rowing boat) where the birds greet you as they have a late afternoon dip. There's a nice braai/pizza oven next to the forest too which we only got to use once as Knysna decided to be wet the rest of the weekend. Luckily there is a small kaggel and lots of DVDs, books & games to keep you snug inside. The rain didn't stop us from going on the Terblans Nature Walk just around the corner, which is a must-do activity when there! The donkeys were super cute and love it when you give them some fruity treats. Fiona was kind enough to send me pics of the lambs that were born a few days after we left, so sad we missed it. All-in-all this is a wonderful retreat. The fridge is tiny (as they are solar) so don't pack too much food in that can spoil, but definitely come prepared as you will not want to leave once you get there! Oh and ladies, the bath is amazing, so nice to chill in there with a book with a view of the outside world next to you."
(Abigale Moller, visited September 2014)
"I had an absolutely fantastic stay at the Tree Spirit Cottage. Located on a farm in the gorgeous Gouna Forest in Knysna, Tree Spirit Cottage offers a relaxing, modern atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, and amazing, gourmet meals prepared by the owner, Fiona, herself. She grows all of her fruits and vegetables herself, along with honey she extracts from her own bees. She and her husband also own dogs, donkeys, sheep, and chickens, all of which are so lovingly cared for that they are very friendly, especially the donkeys. I found interacting with them very therapeutic and relaxing. Fiona herself is very accommodating and friendly, and easy to get along with. I really enjoyed her company. The modern cottage has electricity, purified running water, a modern shower, bathtub, clothes washer, and TV with various DVDs to watch. No dryer, though. A fireplace is used to keep the cottage warm at night during the late fall/winter (when I stayed). No broadcast TV is available, and neither is wireless internet. The 3G signal is pretty weak (since it's in the middle of a forest), so any internet needs are best done in town. For the money, the value honestly can't be beat. Fiona and her husband have put their hearts and souls into their accommodations, and it definitely shows. Highly recommended."
(Scott Wells, visited May 2014)
"I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Tree Spirit. Fiona and her hubby are absolute sweeties and went out of their way to make our stay enjoyable. We experienced terrible weather during our trip, but that did not stop us from exploring the local town, museums and the fantastic Tree Spirit farm. The house was absolutely beautiful, the views were perfect and the farm animals ... well, they're something else! Waking up to the entertaining farm animals every morning was quite something we enjoyed. I'd definitely recommend staying at the Tree Spirit Cottage. It's an absolute gem and no words would be able to describe it. Check it out for yourself - the tranquil surroundings are spectacular!"
(Kelly T, visited January 2014)
"A Knysna Gouna Forest lover's paradise indeed. Very short distance from the beautiful Terblans Walk and start of the "Kom se Pad" scenic drive towards the very popular Olifant Walks and Diepwalle Forest Station. Mountain-biking and and 4x4 territory galore, and next to the very interesting San Ambroso church museum on Italian 1881 immigrant heritage famously written about by Dalene Matthee in her 3rd novel Mulberry Forest. A cottage with a very special setting and view onto a Lilly pond attracting buck visits in the mornings."
(Maritz Triegaardt, visited December 2013)
"We recently visited the tree spirit cottage and was delighted with our hosts and the cottage. We hope to return soon."
(Nico Nortje, visited October 2013)
"Beautiful secluded spot. Food was delicious and hosts just lovely. Our toddler couldn't get enough of the farm animals and we loved the escape. Walks in the indigenous forest were a real highlight and the 'off the grid' setup with permaculture veggie garden were an inspiration. We'll go back!"
(Rowan Duys, visited September 2013)
"Fiona is a great hostess and an excellent chef! Perfect for vegetarians. The farm is a dream location for people who love nature and peace and tranquility. My favourite spot is the pond with the beautiful lotus flowers, great for a swim in the morning. Will definitely come back!"
(Ulrike Claudius, visited February 2013)
"Tree Spirit Cottage is truly a unique venue. I found it to be incredibly appealing and thoroughly peaceful place. The setting is idyllic, perfect for those who need to completely de-stress for whatever reasons. I also found it appealing in that the owners, Anthony and Fiona Paton, live out their ideals of being in harmony with nature and in reducing their 'footprint' through solar energy and organic farming. Finally, Fiona's talents as a chef are astounding. All her meals were tasty, visually appealing and healthy! Both Anthony and Fiona were gracious hosts. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay there and will definitely go back again..and again."
(J. M. Thompson, visited April 2013)
"We stayed for two nights in early October on a week-long tour of the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, and this was by far the favourite place we stayed, both for the hospitality of our hosts and the natural beauty of the area. We had no problem navigating the 6 km gravel road, and were very pleased with the spacious accommodation, modern appliances (kitchen, bath, shower, laundry, satellite TV), and nice decorative touches. Anthony and Fiona were accessible any time we needed them and interesting to talk to, but gave us our space. We had a fully-equipped kitchen, but once we learned Fiona was a Gordon Ramsey-trained chef, we talked her into a full-board option. The food was organic and extremely fresh, right out of their extensive garden, and quite amazing. We originally planned to visit the local beaches, but ended up enjoying the views of the pond and surrounding mountains from our porch, and took some nice hikes in the area. I was impressed with their eco-conscoiusness, a modern solar array, no pesticides or artificial fertilizers, and filtered rainwater."
(Bart Croes, visited October 2012)
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