I chose Thaba Thipa as our destination for Cliff’s birthday weekend away for a few reasons. It is relatively close to home, just outside Bela Bela (Warmbaths) and only 180 km from our home in Boksburg. It has 2 swimming pools and for the children there is a jungle gym and an enclosure with farm animals and a few tortoises. I was also on a tight budget and it was very reasonably priced.
When we arrived we immediately headed for the swimming pools, one is solar heated and the other ‘cold’. The cold pool was wonderfully balmy and the solar heated one as warm as bath water. Fjord would have been quite happy to spend our entire stay in the pools.
I chose Duiker chalet for our stay, which is the smallest but best suited to us as there is a bunk bed in the bedroom. Eland log cabin or Impala chalet may have been even more perfect but they were priced slightly out of my budget. I had a look around Klipspringer chalet which adjoined ours; it has a corner bath and much bigger lounge with seats that convert to beds. Duiker chalet was, however, more suitable for us – when the children are asleep it’s easier to use the kitchen or watch TV without worrying about waking the children (we only watched because there was a one-day international cricket match on). The chalets look over the central lawn where Eland antelope visit almost every night. Eland log cabin looks out onto the bush and is a little more secluded.
Veronica is a very friendly hostess. I stupidly burned 3 fingers on a hot plate soon after we arrived and she kindly gave me burn cream and extra ice cubes to for the water to imerse them.
If you visit in the hot months it is crucial to pack whatever big guns you have in your mozzie fighting artillary. I have never been so plagued by the critters. On a hot night you can’t sleep with closed windows despite having a fan in the room. Even the fan did not shoo them away. For our second night I bought a liquid plug in mosquito killer, but even that did not really work. I think what’s best would be a repellant lotion, and / or to spray the room with Doom Mosquito room spray before going to bed.
On Saturday we went to De Wildt/Shingwedzi Cheetah Centre, not realizing that it was 66 km from Thaba Thipa, 21km of which is on a dirt road. If you go there, allow extra time for slower driving on the dirt road. The dirt road is not fantastic but our Hyudai Getz managed without problem. In retrospect we should rather have visited Bambela animal rehabilitation centre, which is closer and was Veronica’s recommendation.
On Saturday night after our braai Cliff and I went for a heavenly swim in the warm pool. We luxuriated there for a long while enjoying the peace and watching a distant thunder storm repeatedly light up the same cloud.
On Sunday morning we did the hike on the property. Team tracker Fjord had fun looking for the markings on trees and rocks to follow. The walk is not very long but you should probably allow about 90 minutes to do it if you want to really enjoy it. Take a water bottle along, you will need it! The path is steep and rocky for the first half. Near the end of the hike as we approached the chalets we saw the group of Eland near to a hide and water hole. It would be a shame to stay at Thaba Thipa and not do the hike.
Our entire stay at Thaba Thipa was very peaceful and relaxing, exactly what we were looking for in a weekend break. Acacia loved the farmyard animals the most, I should have bought a bag of carrots to feed them, she was so excited when feeding the goats a few peelings. Fjord is madly in love with the place. He says it was his best holiday place ever and he wants to go back 1000 times. It certainly is very child friendly, which is a big plus.