We drive north from Pretoria, over the savannah-like veld dotted with acacias and euphorbias, and turn east at Polokwane. The road narrows, and winds its way past townships, spaza shops and roadside car washes. Further away from the city, the villages take over, with little houses spread across the hills like a patchwork quilt sewn without a pattern. It is the end of winter, and the driest time of the year. As far as the eye can see, the landscape is a dry, golden hue. We continue along a dirt road, and the cloud of dust behind us completely blocks out the view in the rearview mirror. Then we turn off on an even smaller road, drive over a hill and suddenly we’re in a lush forest. The high trees, covered in lichen and creepers, block out the searing midday sun and we drive along in a soft green light. We have arrived at Kurisa Moya Nature Lodge.
To get to our cabin, we have to walk through the forest along a winding path. Here, there’s no cellphone reception and no electricity. It’s just you and the ancient forest. Now and then the birdsong is interrupted by a screech of a samango monkey foraging in the treetops high above. I think that the phrase “balm for the soul” must have been coined here.
As the sun sets, golden rays shine through the canopy and creates a fairytale place where you wouldn’t be the least surprised to see an elf look at you from behind a tree. Then there is a compact darkness accompanied by a palpable chill, and we light our fireplace. We set a little table in front of the fire, and soon there is a knock on the door. It’s Grace, bringing our dinner. Home cooked with love, tasty like your mum’s and enough to feed a large family. A full moon has now risen, and the forest is bathed in a silver light. I cannot resist the urge to walk out there and lay down on the path to soak up the age-old sprit of the forest and the healing light of the moon. I feel like I have been transported into another world.
In the morning, we are woken by the samango monkeys who are feasting on the fruits of a tree right above our cabin. I can’t help but feel that they are dropping many of the fruits on our roof just to ensure we know that they are there. I want to stay in this cabin forever, but we have more to explore. Our guide David takes us on a walk through the forest, pointing out trees and flowers and, above all, birds. There are plenty of them here, and David is one of the top birding guides in South Africa. We feel slightly ot of our depth, but slowly relax and enjoy the privilege. This is a biodiversity hotspot, and you will be able to see plants, trees and birds rarely (or never) seen elsewhere. And even if you’re not into flora and fauna, I can assure you that the forest will enchant you.
Kurisa Moya is a world apart. A little paradise nestled between two mountains where the forest has been left untouched for hundreds of years. You can see the magic, and you can feel it!
For more information: http://www.krm.co.za