I see a lot of caravan parks and campsites. But, every now and again, a place comes along that’s so magical you want to keep it greedily all to yourself. One of these is Coral Tree Camp, high up on its own little ‘shelf’ on the forested mountainside in Magoebaskloof in the Limpopo province.
The camp is deep in the kloof and only accessible by 4×4, which helps to maintain its “Top Secret” status. I towed the tough Gecko Off-Road caravan up to Coral Tree using 4×4 lowrange. The Gecko’s weight out of the factory is 1320kg (Tare) and can be loaded to 1900kg (GVM); luckily, I had a powerful Range Rover Autobiography V8.
If you are worried about getting to the camp, especially if you are towing, I would suggest that you give Elspeth or Ralph Humphreys a ring. This enterprising couple started farming on this piece of paradise some 20 years ago. They built their own house and started farming avocados on the lower slopes of the mountain. The Humphreys now farm with macadamias and herbs in addition to the avos.
They had horses and stables on the farm for many years, and later, after selling the horses, they decided to turn the buildings into the now popular Herb Cottage.
It’s quite a steep climb up through indigenous forest to your mountain eyrie. The bonnet of the car seems to aim heavenward for a good section, until suddenly you are on a magnificent flat, grassed plateau. The whole campsite is fringed with flowerbeds, and when you get your bearings, you will stare slackjawed as you take in the plunge pool and wooden deck of a building on your left.
The building with the deck is the roomy kitchen area. It has a big communal table, and a large indoor braai. The communal area is open and spacious, looking out over the Magoebaskloof forest. But, when the mists roll in, as they often do in this area known as “The Land of the Silver Mist”, the braai transforms into a warm inviting hearth as you roll down the canvas screen for protection from the approaching chill.
Coral Tree Camp Images
The open-plan bathroom with forest views will gladden any romantic’s heart. Coral Tree Camp has solar lights, and the donkey boiler is lit for you every night. I was surprised to find plenty of hot water the next morning, too. Dogs are permitted, but they need to be of the well-behaved variety, as the property’s not fenced and there’s wildlife around. Please contact the owners first if you would like to bring your pooch.
Coral Tree Camp is a private camp for a minimum of two people or a maximum of eight. Therein lies the magic of the camp. Book it for two people, and you have the whole camp to yourself. No other party can book it.
You also have to book the camp for a minimum of two days; but I guarantee that you will be back. It really is that special. There is also a two-bedroomed cottage that you can rent. The bedrooms of the Herb Cottage both have en-suite bathrooms.
Coral Tree Camp is just the place from which to visit and explore the surrounding area. You don’t even have to go far – just down at the farm workshop you’ll find Elspeth’s Glass Art Studio, and the Cheerio Road is just a couple of kilometres up the Magoebaskloof Pass on your way to Haenertsburg.
Take a drive along this small country road to taste the organic cheese at Wegraakbosch before you head to the famous Cheerio Gardens. These gardens, set alongside three dams, are world-renowned for their colourful spring spectacle when the cherry trees and the azaleas blossom. Adding to the riot of spring are the foxgloves, irises, hydrangeas and camellias. The gardens are the highlight of the Haenertsburg Spring Fair.
From the Cheerio Gardens, head on to the Zwakala Brewery just down the road. If you really want to explore the greater Magoebaskloof area, take a trip to the Ebenezer Dam, the Debengeni Waterfalls, the Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve − or even a slightly longer journey to the Kruger Park. And I am just scratching the surface: there is enough in the Magoebaskloof area to keep you occupied for months.