I was in my early twenties when I travelled around the USA. I remember walking into a Backpackers in New Mexico, the Abominable Snowmansion, and falling in immediate passionate and impulsive love with the hippie manager. I landed up staying there for about six months, sleeping in a teepee, eating vegetables and taking part in occasional Native American ceremonies.
It was a wild and delicious holiday love affair. When my visa expired I sobbed a lot, came home to South Africa, kept in touch for a few weeks and then moved on.
I’ve never forgotten that experience, that time, that hippie life and that freedom.
A few weeks ago and maybe thirty years later, I walked into another Backpackers. This one was at home in South Africa, in Hogsback. Hogsback is in one of the most magnificent parts of the country. It’s remote, wild and unspoiled, a world of mountains, forests and extreme beauty.
Sitting behind the counter of the Backpackers was the owner, Shane Eades. He was gorgeous with thick dark hair, a fabulous monobrow, bare feet and an aura of peace and kindness.
And sexiness, I gotta say.
Looking at him, and the place, I was immediately taken back to my time at The Abominable Snowmansion and to my wild hippie love affair. And while I did not have a wild hippie love affair at Terra Khaya, I did fall into a nostalgic thing of oooh, ‘WHAT IF.’
Shane reminded me so much of that time of pure freedom.
He kind of epitomises freedom.
As does Terra Khaya.
Shane has created something magical up in the mountains. Terra Khaya is an eco-friendly and off-the-grid lodge, creatively designed, beautiful and inspiring. It’s all about conservation, community and consciousness; the ethos is about respect for the land and respect for one another. It’s also about positivity.
Shane checked us in then showed us around.
The individual chalets (huts, suites, shacks, I am not sure what to call them) are nicely spaced apart, made of totally recycled materials, cosy, comfortable and quirky. Each has a view of the mountains and forests. The facilities are shared but this is okay. There are enough showers and loos for you not to ever wait. They’re compost loos, a first for me, and the showers are outdoors but private, with plenty of hot water.
Unlike the Abominable Snowmansion, there are no teepees at Terra Khaya. Maybe there are but I didn’t see them. There are the stunning chalets and the campsite. And they do have occasional ceremonies, not Native American ones but rather African. A Tree Festival, Dance and Music ceremonies. And there are tons of beautiful animals, friendly dogs, a few cocks that will wake you at the crack of dawn, cats that snuggle with you at night, and also, horses that sit on tents.
I know this because we met two Germans who were the only unhappy travellers at Terra Khaya. A horse had sat on their tent.
‘Sorry,’ said Shane. ‘The website does say you should love animals. And Terra Khaya is not for everyone.’
It was for me. I loved it. And I left there feeling refreshed, relaxed, a little bit in love and also, as part of their ethos, oddly positive.
When I left Terra Khaya I’d asked Shane for directions home.
‘I got so lost on the way here,’ I told him. ‘I’m terrible at directions, really bad.’
‘No you’re not,’ he said. ‘You’re not bad at anything. You never could be.’
And guess what guys.
He was right.
I did not get lost on the way home.
Turn left. Turn right. Breathe in. Relax. Feel the energy. Be positive. Be natural. Be kind. Trust the universe.
Believe in yourself.
Visit Hogsback. It’s one of the most stunning parts of South Africa.
And stay at Terra Khaya.
Unless you don’t want a horse to sit on your tent.