Heading up Old Cape Road, passing Simola Golf Estate and onto the gravel road branched to the left, we smile at the sight of the Gouna sign, knowing our country getaway has officially begun. The Gouna Pass is an adventurous drive between lush indigenous forests, golden-brown rivers and birdsong leading us high above Knysna, toward Diepwalle Forest Station.
Took the turn-off at San Ambroso Church and we soon find the Tree Spirit farm-gate swinging open while Fiona ushers relaxed sheep out of the driveway, extending a warm greeting. With a particular affinity for Donkeys, a child-like excitement kicked in while getting acquainted with Bam Bam and all his friends. What a pleasure to have this type of encounter with them all, especially little Luka, the 6 week old lamb who loves scratches behind his ears. The poignant bonded relationship between Fiona and her farm animals is immediately evident.
Tree Spirit Cottages are situated on an 8.5 hectare farm which dates back to the late 1800’s, and carries remnants of the Italian settlers who once occupied this land in hopes of establishing a silk industry, as featured in Dalene Matthee’s well-known book, The Mulberry Forest.
Above: These ruins remain from the wall of an original Italian settlers house.
All the hard work that owners, Ant and Fiona Patton, are putting in to land rehabilitation is apparent and admirable at Tree Spirit Cottages. What one wouldn’t automatically know is the natural approach they have to clearing alien species; natural is their approach to everything, as no chemicals or poisons are used whatsoever – not on land, plant nor livestock. The abundance of recovered fynbos and prevalence of bees, frogs, birds and other wildlife is indicative of the health of the farm.
Upon arrival we pause for a moment to breathe in the Gouna Forest and fynbos that surrounds us, enjoying the view over the dam which is great for swimming, fishing and rowing, as an ensemble of birds and frogs break the silence.
Cottage One is lovely and has a light and airy feel with its open-plan style and two sets of double doors that open onto the verandah. The farm and cottage is powered by the sun, with fresh and filtered rain water that is used for bathing, cooking and drinking. The bathrooms are rigged with a gas geyser to provide hot water as needed, as is the stove in the quaint, fully-equipped kitchen.
Ant and Fi’s knowledge, understanding and application of sustainability is truly inspiring. Guided by the principals of permaculture, they have created a symbiotic relationship with their land, where they strive to be at one with nature.
Guests can explore the farm on foot, traverse the forest; admire the prolific vegetable gardens, and glimpse the magnificent fynbos honey producing bee hives from a safe distance while encountering wild and farm animals along the way.
Staying at Tree Spirit Cottages offers a peek into natural farm-life and off-the-grid sustainable living. With the peace, solitude and natural surroundings, Tree Spirit is ideal for a nature-loving family or a couple looking for a romantic getaway. We can`t wait to return to this place of serenity, high in the hills of Gouna. ♡
Recycling, Green cleaning, Use of local and organic produce, Sustainable energy acumen, Water Wise practices, Conservation & land rehabilitation.
Click here for accommodation details and more information on their Green Acts for Sustainable Tourism in South Africa.