Aaaaa man am I so happy to share this next post with you guys! One because the place I’m about to show you is epic on another level, I’m talking Grand Design scale and two it’s not only one of the most amazing houses I have ever stayed in, but it’s also completely off the grid and only an hour and a half away from Johannesburg.
My friend Leigh told me about Witklipfontein Eco Lodge a couple of weeks ago and when I went and had a look at their website I was blown away by the sheer beauty of it and after she came back and said that in real life it’s even better, I knew that we had to take a drive out to Vredefort (near Parys) for a couple of days to pretend wholeheartedly that this beauty of a house belonged to us.
Imagine if you will, stepping into a place that feels like it has quadruple volume ceilings, a house made almost entirely of massive glass panels that fold away so that you’re pretty much one with the outside. Imagine red clay walls created using soil from the actual farm, granite and saligna wooden floors, wooden panelling and epic steel structures that hold up this beast of a home surrounded by natural spring swimming pools and the peacefulness of sprawling plains and hills. It has a floor to celing library and a built-in elongated glass reading nook that literally takes your breath away and the same goes for their clay dome hang-out room, which looks like an amazing indoor cave.
The really cool thing about this house is because a lot of it is made with these massive glass panels that I mentioned above, pretty much every room can be opened up and this includes the bedrooms and the main bathroom, so you can sleep and bath basically outside. There are also beautifully designed (obviously) wooden shutters if you’d prefer a sleep-in. Here’s the crazy thing even though this place is epically big and so well designed inside and out, it still feels very much like a home, warm and inviting. The only thing I thought was missing was my name on the title deed.
Quirky fact: I actually asked the owners if they had contacted Grand Designs before they started building because it really does belong on that show. They said they did, but that they couldn’t cover it because it was too far away. Their loss I tell you.
Shane, the kids and I spent 2 nights at Witklipfontein and because it’s wifi and screen-free we really felt like we got away from it all. No checking emails, Instagram and Buzz Feed. No group building Whatsapp chats about the unresponsive water situation – we have this exact group and it drives me insane, I’m talking 0-40 notifications in less than 6 minutes. It was just us and nature, nature and us and we loved every second of it. Here’s another thing about this place, it’s self-catering but the kitchen is kitted out with the best of everything and so are the bedrooms and bathrooms, the only thing you have to bring is the food you will be cooking and your drinks of choice 🙂 Gin and tonics for the win! They also have a veggie garden, lovingly nicknamed Pick ‘n Don’t Pay which is overflowing with goodies that you are more than welcome to pick, which is pretty cool when making up a little salad to go with your braai.
Designed and built by Damien Huyberechts and his brother Xavier Huyberechts who owns GLH Architects this home was created for people to escape and focus on what really matters family, friends and our beautiful planet. And yes it’s eco-friendly and off the grid, producing its own electricity, hot water and treating the wastewater before giving it back to the earth. Damien and his wife Dorothy run Witklipfontein and the working farm attached to it and they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. They were super welcoming from the get-go and made sure that we wanted for nothing.
There are a few things to do if you don’t feel like just relaxing and just soaking up the amazingness of the house. You can explore numerous hiking trails, mountain bike, swim, go on a game drive, play a game of pool, feed the baby goats and even go on an organised treasure hunt, which I have no doubt the kids will love! There is also a spectacular viewpoint which overlooks the trees and rolling hills where you can have an sundown complete with French champagne for the adults and ice-cream for the kiddies.
I often get asked for recommendations for places to stay that are not too far away from home (JHB) and Witklipfontein Eco Lodge is definitely on the top of my list. Perfect for families with and without kids, this place can sleep up to 10 people and is ready and loaded to make your break away from the Big Smoke a very, very pleasant one.