Basically back to nature

Helen Crooks

TEN years ago Shane Eades was living the corporate dream. He headed up a 70- strong catering company serving meals at film sets in Cape Town. But interesting though that high-flying lifestyle was, it was far removed from the boyhood dream of where he hoped his life path would take him.

“From an early age I felt a close affinity to Mother Earth and understood the importance of being self-sustaining, while at the same time protecting the environment as much as possible.

As a child I dreamt of owning a farm where I could grow my own veggies and have friendly animals roaming around at will,” Shane said on our recent visit to his dream come true, the Terra-Khaya eco lodge and backpackers in stunning Hogsback.

But the corporate world beckoned and Shane got caught up in the film industry until 10 years ago when he set his boyhood dream in motion by purchasing a large tract of land in the remote village. On visits, bit by bit, the farm was cleared of invasive wattle trees, replacing them at every opportunity with indigenous plants.

But true to Shane’s self- sustaining mantra, the wood from the wattle was not wasted. Instead it was used for building and making furniture for the “chic shacks” which were erected in the clearings using only recyclable materials. With buildings complete, the remaining wattle is also used for heating water, cooking on the wood-fired stove and keeping warm – important in the sometimes snowy and frosty winter climate in Hogsback.

Showing us one of the loosely-named shacks (these shacks may be minimalistic but are inviting and comfortable) Shane mused: “That is one expensive wall.” And indeed it is. Using empty bottles of Jagermeister to allow light to shine in and empty bottles of beer for the wall filling certainly comes at a price.

“A lot of drinking went into that, hence the expense … never mind the hangovers.”

Chic shacks aside, there is also a spacious dorm which accommodates budget- conscious travellers and a camping site for those who truly want to get back to nature.

Terra-Khaya is completely off the grid when it comes to electricity and water comes from a stream.

There are showers heated with a donkey boiler and there’s also an outdoor bath, which may seem a bit odd, especially in the middle of winter, but with the water being piping hot, Shane says it is a really special treat being able to bathe in the outdoors with a view to die for. Like a jacuzzi, really.

There is also a large kitchen with, naturally, a wood-fired stove and a spacious communal area which can be enclosed with doors when the night chills set in.

If, however, you need to make contact with the cyber world, laptops can be charged using solar power, while Consol glass jars fitted with small solar panels will light your way to bed.

As far as possible, everything at Terra-Khaya is made from recycled materials, with the exception of the concrete foundations to the buildings and the roof sheeting.

“Nothing could be worse than leaky roofs, so that had to be new,” said Shane.

But otherwise old kettles are transformed into plant holders and all “waste” material carefully separated into bins for re-use.

But it is not just the eco-friendly aspect that sets Terra-Khaya aside. A continuation of Shane’s boyhood dream sees pigs, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, geese, dogs and cats wandering around at will. And if you want to take your dog along on a trip to Terra-Khaya that’s just fine as long as they are farm-friendly.

While Terra-Khaya may be a little bit too rough and ready for tourists who like the fine things in life, and its lifestyle maybe more suited to the younger generation, older visitors have also reveled in its unique ambience.

“I tried to persuade a guest in her sixties to enjoy the outside bath. At first she refused but eventually curiosity got the better of her. The next day she said ‘I have to check out Shane. I can’t imagine what else you will make me do that I will enjoy as much as that bath’.”

While we did not get the chance to stay there, it’s easy to see, with its laid-back lifestyle and magnificent views, why some guests arrive at Terra-Khaya and never want to leave.

CONTACT: info@terrakhaya.co.za, www.terrakhaya.co.za PHONE: 082-897-7503

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