Splendid Isolation

There comes a time when the inhabitants of the mother city – and other urban enclaves – need to escape the crowds. As travel writer Jared Ruttenburg discovered, Abrikoos Kloof Pod Reserve is the destination to do just that.

By Jared Ruttenberg

Tucked away in the craggy folds of the towering Cape Fold Mountains 20 minutes outside Montagu, Abrikoos Kloof awaits the discerning explorer to discover one of the Western Cape’s more remarkable stays.

Owner Dennis, an ex-Joburger who now resides in London, takes every chance possible to return to this piece of Cape wilderness. His vision for the reserve – to create a space for people from all over the world to escape their busy lives and focus on reconnecting with each other – is both exciting and contagious.

With a small collection of seven exclusive stays that will adorn isolated spaces along the hills of the reserve, the Abrikoos Kloof story is one in the making. And for those who enjoy returning to their favourite destinations, the reserve offers the tempting option for multiple visits, each time trying a different pod.

The first of the accommodation spaces, The Cave House, opened to guests in mid-2023, and I visited as soon as possible. The Cave House is built into a natural rock overhang in a remote mountain kloof. Make no mistake though, this is no rehash of The Flintstones – the luxury experience at Abrikoos Kloof ensures that every creature comfort is catered for.

Walking into the fully stocked kitchen, I smiled seeing the Delonghi coffee machine. Adjoining the four-poster bed and the bathroom (with a freestanding copper bathtub) is a double-sided log fire place, keeping the cave toasty and warm. Then of course, the Victorian loo with a view.

Moving outside, the sunken boma fire-pit provides ambience for al fresco dining with the braai at night. As comfortable as the cave and its environs are, when it’s time to explore the wild wide-open spaces of the reserve, a short but scenic hike to a nearby cave is easy enough to do.

One could also earn those Discovery Vitality points and get the heart pumping with an invigorating run in the wild outdoors. Those wanting to appreciate nature a little more gently can enjoy the wood-fired hot tub that is hidden meters from the cave. A minute’s walk further, you’ll find a posh farm dam, replete with a windmill and a relaxation deck. With all of these carefully considered spaces, I have a sneaky suspicion that The Cave House is going to see its fair share of proposals.

The newest member of the Abrikoos Kloof collection is The Barn House. The ultra-modern design is a striking feature in the landscape without detracting much from it: two living areas are joined by a glass corridor, with the whole structure clad in composite bamboo and custom-made brick work for the chimney stacks.

Both bathing and showering are also nature immersions as the freestanding Devon Slipper bath looks out over the fynbos, and the outdoor shower stands proudly under the stars.

Along the front veranda, a cut-out section of the covering allows abundant light to flood in and provides a fitting framing of the natural beauty outside, where a short walk taking you to the pool, hot tub, and pizza oven nearby.

While self-catering is an easy option at both The Cave and The Barn, the property collaborates with local caterers to offer a range of enticing dining options – whether that’s gourmet ingredients to make your own Karoo pizza masterpiece, an enticing three-course meal, or as in my case, a full breakfast basket to kick off the day.

As a celebration of the fragrant fynbos that surrounds the houses, amenities are provided by Fijn Botanicals. Liana is a proud Montagu local, and as a researcher, the surrounding fynbos fascinated her to the point where she conceived Fijn Botanicals.

The company offers a full range of earth-inspired and earth-friendly products that are used at a growing number of lodges and guesthouses around South Africa. Liana also runs Botanical workshops on the farm, which include harvesting and distilling of several of the plant essentials.

On my way home I joined one of these workshops, crafting my own bath salts from botanicals we harvested together. Back home, every bath or scrub will be a decadent reminder of the healing space of the Little Karoo – and an aromatic hint to return soon for the next experience in the line-up of Abrikoos Kloof luxury escapes. abrikooskloof.co.za

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