Pulling up in the darkness, we weren’t sure Google Maps had led us to the right place. A winding dirt track led us through the reserve; dimly lit, we hadn’t topped 40 km/ph in case adventurous tortoises wandered onto the road. But in front of us was a post with a clearly carved ‘3’ and the faint outline of a building. This would be our chalet for the night.
Reflections Eco Reserve is located just outside the town of Wilderness, which is along the Garden Route in South Africa. It’s about 4.5 hours from Cape Town, near to the larger town of George, which is between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Tim welcomed us at the entrance to the chalet. A friendly character who you warm to in seconds, he invited us inside the property and showed us around the chalet, explaining how the hot water is produced and where food waste goes. We chatted about the reserve and Tim’s journey from transferring it from nothing to the thriving ecological paradise that it is today.
Tim and his partner Angelique bought the plot of land back in 2007 and promptly bulldozed it so they had a clean slate to work with. Their land rehabilitation programme has seen them clear 42 hectares of alien vegetation; the land had become ridden with pine and wattle trees, which aren’t native to the area. They have since planted over 3500 trees, and the land is returning to its natural state. Native vegetation is already thriving, with each new season increasing the diversity of indigenous plants in the reserve, and it is abundant with wildlife.
Reflections offers comfortable mid-range accommodation in large canvas tents or timber chalets on a beautiful, remote plot of land located just outside the town of Wilderness. We opted for a chalet, unfortunately only for one night, but I really recommend staying at Reflections longer if your itinerary in South Africa allows.
My opinion of what a chalet is changed in the first moments I stepped through the door. This wasn’t some wooden shed. This was a three bedroomed, fully furnished, luxurious wooden apartment. It was bright and airy, and is cleverly designed to take advantage of the nature surrounding the property, with a huge decking area and even an outdoor shower.
Although secluded, the chalet offers all the comforts of home. It has a fully equipped kitchen, a bathroom with one of the best showers I’ve ever used and even a bathtub! Comfort is a clear priority, with a huge double bed in the master bedroom and sofas in the living area. There’s an open fire in the living area and a firepit in the garden – supplied with wood collected from within the reserve.
Everything about Reflections Eco Reserve is about protecting the environment surrounding it – it’s easy to see why; this is such a beautiful area.
By planting new trees, Tim and Angelique are not only able to return the land back to its native state; they also ensure they are offsetting the carbon footprint of Reflections.
All power at the reserve comes from solar geysers and wind turbines dotted around the reserve; it’s a completely off-the-grid experience. Each chalet has its own solar geyser on the roof, and there’s no air-conditioning, TV, or wifi, which keeps power usage low.
Natural, biodegradable cleaning products and toiletries are provided in the accommodation so wastewater isn’t contaminated with harmful chemicals.
It’s a simply invigorating experience to truly disconnect from the outside world and reconnect with nature at Reflections.
Reflections is almost completely surrounded by the Garden Route National Park, so is in close proximity to a lot of native wildlife species.
Over 140 bird species have been spotted in the reserve, including a breeding pair of African Fish Eagle. In winter, you can see the annual migration of the Half-collared Kingfishers from the sub tropical Wild Coast to the more temperate area of Reflections. One of the best times of day to go bird watching is early in the morning by the lake – the flamingoes usually hang out here.
In addition to birds, you might well spot a mongoose, tortoise, otters, bush pigs, porcupines and even caracals (lynx)!
Reflections is the perfect place to stay if you’re heading to the Garden Route in South Africa. But don’t make the same mistake as us and only stay a night – take a break, enjoy yourself and have some real downtime, surrounded by nature.
Disclaimer: A one night stay was gifted to us in exchange for coverage on my blog and social media channels. All opinions are, as always, my own.
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