If you’ve kept up to date with my travel blog, you would’ve read about the time I had a little adventure finding life’s metaphors in the woods or when I first experienced the moving dance of “biodanza” (something everyone must try once in their life). They happened at one place: the Wild Spirit Backpacker’s Lodge along the Garden Route, South Africa.
Made possible with a whole load of conscious love from a young, glowing Ola and her family for over 30 years, what started as a seasonal B&B on a farm has turned into a homestay with an active community environment. An eco-friendly must-stay for “discerning independent travellers”, I’d be lying if I said I found any lodge that ignited the same warm, fuzzy feeling as this special place.
If you’ve made the incredible decision to visit South Africa, make sure you stopover at Wild Spirit Lodge for a spiritually rewarding experience: to have a greater self-awareness and learn to live deliberately, purposefully, meaningfully.
Here’s 15 reasons why you should head over to take home the art of conscious living!
1. You’re not staying at some hostel, hotel or resort. You’re welcomed into a home that practices conscious living.
“We are building this for us as much as it is for our visitors,” says Ola, “I think people tend to stay longer than planned because there’s authenticity in the conscious lifestyle we aim to inspire. And authenticity comes from being transparent so here’s a glimpse of how we live.”
The land is sectioned off into garden cottages, a fruit and vegetable farm, camping grounds, a decorated Tree House Deck atop a huge shared kitchen and log fire, a cosy living room and private nature trails. Added with a couple of horses, fluffy dogs and adorable fat cats. Doesn’t this just paint a picture of a home? A giant communal one!
2. You’re more than likely to meet interesting locals and travellers from around the world.
Wild Spirit Lodge attracts an awesome chilled crowd of all ages, each with a story to share and a new perspective to learn. During my stay, I met artist, digital-nomad types who visited to clear their minds for creativity, get work done or just relax in the best place for it – many whom I still keep in touch with. At one point, the Tree House Deck looked like a co-working space with laptops lined up along the long communal wooden table. Sometimes it’s nicer to be out in nature surrounded by pleasant white noise rather than inside an office.
3. You’ll feel like you’re getting off the grid – time to disconnect, and reconnect with yourself.
Because you’re enclosed by the indigenous forests, beaches and high mountains of Tsitikamma National Park, Nature’s Valley and Plettenberg Bay, you’ll feel separated from the world to switch off and do your own thing. A detox perhaps? And unless you have your own WiFi, the internet connectivity is spotty and limited, forcing you to connect with what’s in front of you (a good thing).
4. Yoga classes take place every morning and are run by donations.
Ah, I love when things are run by donations! I just feel there’s a more genuine service to be provided – it’s done out of love, and I can give how much I can/think its worth. If you’re guided by Ola herself, you’ll learn the essentials of basic body alignment – “people forget that we need to learn how to work in the framework of our own bodies to think clearly” – a must for progressing in yoga. Even the attendees’ yoga mats needed to symmetrically line up. Alignment of life, people!
5. There’s an undercurrent of childish (the good kind) playfulness.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m a big fan of getting in touch with our inner curiousity as a child. The way the surrounds are decorated with painted rocks, colourful signs and other playful props bring out the best child in us. It’s not about losing inhibitions, just about letting go and being free of deeply ingrained limitations of the mind.
6. There’s plenty of mind-body-spirit activities on-site to keep you busy and learn new things.
It doesn’t matter what day of the week you arrive. There could be dancing lessons, drumming workshops, cooking classes, a fire-dancing show or other live performances.
7. To get back to nature, you get the best of all worlds: beaches, hills, mountains and forests!
And if you feel like getting out, a short drive away is kayaking, hiking and swimming. You’ll never get bored with these therapeutic exercises. While over-development threatens much of South Africa’s Western Cape, here you’ll witness botanical life that originally gave The Garden Route its name. Rain, hail or shine, the landscape suits all Mother Nature’s moods.
8. There are no hippie-sters.
People aren’t there to be seen, they’re not there because it’s the cool hippie thing to do – hippie-sters, we call them! (I can’t take credit for this word, I got it off a rad Ben at the lodge.) It’s just a genuine warm environment to be in.
9. This is the place for simply chilling.
Overhead at Wild Spirit Lodge: “People think chilling is laziness but it’s not.” I laughed. And agree. Some of us don’t realise we’re busy filling our minds with, well, sh*t that don’t matter. It can feel like we’re being productive but at the heart of it, what is it all for? Slow down, unwind, maybe pick up a book at the library housing spiritual and travel reads. There’s chilled music (jazz if lucky!) during the day and depending on the occasion, it gets groovier with house beats in the evening as their Night Owl Bar becomes busier. Wake up early with your new friends and catch a golden sunrise or enjoy a glass of wine over a purple sunset.
10. ART – art everywhere! Absorb all the inspiration of your surroundings.
I’m a big believer in seeing beauty in everything. Everything – scraps, wood, other unused materials – finds a home here and is transformed into something else. Art is all around you. In fact, there are also artists-in-residence who showcase their work in an attached small arts and craft shop where you can purchase custom-made jewellery.
11. The personable ‘Earth Angels’ – “conscious individuals” themselves – interact with you and help keep the peace.
“Apart from having skill sets, we hire people who believe in living with freedom.” Even though Wild Spirit Lodge accepts all, the team is discerning in looking out for obnoxious party peeps or, ah, other questionable people. Vibe: sorted.
12. The affordable home-cooked organic dinners and dessert are a sole reason to visit.
Besides Meat Free Mondays, there’s hearty, flavourful vegetarian and meat dinner options every day cooked with organic, local ingredients. Don’t forget the cheaper than chips guilt-free homemade cookies paired perfectly with complimentary tea and fresh farm milk.
And if you’ve run out of groceries or want something different, a short walk leads to Nature’s Way Farm Stall, a lovely little deli to stock up on local wine, antipasto ingredients (do try their cheese!) and scrumptious sweets.
13. You’ll relish an eco-friendly, self-sustainable way of living.
As part of the experience, you’re encouraged to participate in self-sustainable living: permaculture gardening, development of biogas digester and grey water catchment, introduction of indigenous and medicinal wild flowers and more. You have the basic responsibility to care for the home and environment, like not wasting the precious untreated freshwater sourced from the waterfall (healthier than bottled water!). To give you an idea of the extent of commitment here, these environmentalists even have their business cards written on the back of cut-out cereal boxes.
14. You’ll then learn it’s a good thing to go back to basics as it doesn’t take much to be happy.
“You can be sitting in an office making lots of money and spending it all on things you don’t need, or you can be perfectly happy living on a farm.”
Of course, we all won’t quit our urban careers to be farm people, but being here reminds you the utmost victory of life that is your health and the beauty of a simplified lifestyle without material goods.
15. And finally, in feeling a sense of fulfilment in the conscious community that is Wild Spirit Lodge – a special something that I believe is missing in ‘the outside world’ –, I asked Ola, “What do you think the world needs?” Her answer, just to emphasise on the attitude here:
“The world needs to learn how to love everyone that’s in front of us – young, old, smart, pretty, uneducated, privileged, black, white… pink, yellow, green, purple.”
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For more information on the Garden Route, check out the official South African Tourism page.
HOW TO BOOK
Dorms, en-suite double and family rooms are located within three double-storey garden cottages from R130-R1200/night. You can also opt for camping with your own tent (R80) or sleeping in their pre-pitched safari tents (R300). Check out their Accommodation page for more details, as well as info on guest facilities and meals. To enquire, fill out their contact form.
HOW TO GET THERE
Wild Spirit Backpacker’s Lodge is located between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth along the Garden Route.
- By Car – Many people rent cars (Avis, Budget, Hertz) to explore spectacular South Africa as it’s convenient and fairly cheap. Wild Spirit is located 3km along the R102 Nature’s Valley Road, just off the N2. The N2 junction with the R102 Nature’s Valley is located at The Crags, 13km west of the Tsitsikamma Toll Gate and 20km east of Plettenberg Bay. Once you are on the R102, look on the left for the large brown sign to Khoinania/Wild Spirit. GPS Address: -33° 56′ 51.58″, +23° 31′ 14.35″.
- By Coach – Reputable bus companies Intercape and Greyhound will take you on an 8-9 hour journey to Plettenberg Bay (R350-550), 20 minutes from the lodge. You can then arrange for Wild Spirit to pick you up for roughly R150.
- By The Baz Bus – South Africa’s hop-on hop-off door-to-door backpacker’s bus service arrives daily directly at Wild Spirit. You can check out their varied travel passes and timetables here.
The perfect base for exploring Nature’s Valley Beach and Lagoon, nature walks, canoeing and kayaking, eating at the quaint Farm Stall, and plenty more! Check out Wild Spirit’s Activities page for a full list of stuff to do.